City draft budget doesn't do enough for climate, housing emergencies, advocates say

By Natasha Bulowski, Ottawa Citizen, November 5, 2020

Despite the city declaring both climate and housing and homelessness as emergencies, the 2021 draft budget fell short of providing the kind of investment needed to tackle these big, complicated issues, advocates and some councillors say.

On Wednesday, the city proposed $15 million to create new affordable and supportive housing units, the same amount as in 2019 and 2020, even though 80 different organizations signed a letter to the city last month saying at least $20 million would be needed to tackle the emergency.

On the environmental front, the budget proposed $1.5 million to plant 125,000 trees and $3 million to enhance and retrofit facilities to reduce emissions and energy use, among other small investments.

(...)When it comes to money earmarked for environmental issues, Robb Barnes, executive director of Ecology Ottawa, echoed Tilley in saying that some money is better than none, but characterized the proposed budget as having a very “business as usual approach.”

“The city is just not serious about climate action at this stage,” said Barnes. “It talks a good game but we’re not seeing any kind of budget commitments that’s commensurate with the stated goals of the city and the city’s own analysis of what needs to be done.”

One thing Barnes would like to see is a diversion of funds from road expansion and maintenance into energy evolution, but that has yet to happen.

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