Posts tagged City of Ottawa

Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy

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As I currently sit on one of the city’s advisory committees, I find Dave’s presentation quite inspiring. His example of the Toronto newspaper announcement for a zoning change and a magazine story about a campaign opposing the privatization of transit are sharp contrasts to how similar information for the arts and entertainment are presented.

City proposes cuts to tree maintenance budget

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Shared via here.

Shared by jg

A great article from Apartment613!

Courtesy of jhscrapmom on flickr

Courtesy of jhscrapmom on flickr

Trees are the thin green line holding our cities back from the concrete abyss. Adding a line of ash or maples instantly transforms the mean city streets to a more humane and hospitable place and adds both beauty and privacy to the urban space. However, the advantages of the urban forest go beyond aesthetics to the more practical domains of energy savings and air quality. For example, having a tree in front of your house to break the wind can result in energy savings of 10-15%. They are also giant air filters, absorbing as much as 7,000 particles per litre of air as well as sucking up carbon from cars and buildings.

Given all these economic, environmental and social benefits, the proposed $2 million cuts to the city’s $11 million forestry program is a bit of a puzzle. According to the CBC, the cuts will mean that the regular trimming of Ottawa’s 310,000 trees will happen only once every 32 years, instead of once every 5 to 7 years as is currently the stated practice (although apparently that time line is more aspiration than fact). One disturbing (and completely unsubstantiated) rumor floating around is that the city will choose to just cut down trees that may become a problem over the next few years rather than deal with the risk.

The cuts to the tree budget are part of the city’s efforts to deal with a number of upcoming fiscal shocks that ironically have little to do with the deepest and most widespread global recession of recent memory. Instead, the strain is largely coming from the $36.7 million settlement to the contractors of the canceled north-south light rail line as well as money for the $13 million for the green bin program, $20 million for infrastructure and a $10 million increase to the police budget. Other fiscal measures on the table include cuts to OC Transpo bus routes, eliminating the $500,000 Crime Prevention Ottawa program and a 4% hike in property taxes.

Don’t get me wrong; fiscal probity is important, and it’s always hard to find budget cuts that won’t cause some self-righteous blogger somewhere to complain. However, it seems as if the council’s priorities in this case are a little off kilter. For example, they just pledged to spend $12 million ($6 million more then intended) on an electronic system to announce the stops in buses – not exactly on my list of things to spend on when I have a $32 million bill coming in. I have no beef with the police, but given that their budget has doubled over the last decade did they really need $10 million more this year? Couldn’t they have got by with only $8 million?

Upkeeping trees is a policy to improve energy efficiency, clean the air and beautify the city all at once. Not upkeeping trees endangers both a valuable resource and public safety. This might save money, but it is certainly a waste of common sense.

Savour Ottawa – Eat local and let someone else cook!

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Mmmm… fresh food. Visit www.savourottawa.ca for more pictures, videos and links.

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