This past week we saw the examination of 2023 city budgets sections at Environment and Climate Change Committee as well as the Transportation Committee. It is not lost on me how interconnected these two committees can be as we look at how climate change mitigation is often tied to our transportation system. I want to see more initiatives that are linked to active transportation such as sidewalks and cycle infrastructure as well as reliable transit to make our communities more livable.
As a member of the Environment and Climate Change Action committee I appreciate that we are prioritizing energy efficiency and will have a thorough examination of waste reduction so we can stop expanding landfills. Reducing greenhouse gases takes many forms and municipalities are at the forefront of these efforts but we cannot do it alone. We need collaboration from our federal and provincial partners. We also need the buy in from residents on the importance of prioritizing waste reduction. I believe that this is possible.
This week’s City Council meeting was a very short one compared to what it will be on March 1 when we table the budget for 2023. We received the Office of the Auditor General’s audits and investigations report which included the Audit of the City’s response to the convoy protest. The City agreed to all 20 recommendations made by the Auditor General for the City’s response to the convoy protest. Management indicated two of the 20 recommendations have been implemented, with the remainder to be completed within the year.
We also received audits for the Ottawa Police Service’s and Ottawa Police Services Board’s response to the convoy. In addition, Council received the Auditor General’s report on the City’s pandemic governance structure. The audit noted the structure had the flexibility to augment and scale up or down to respond effectively to the pandemic and that the relationship between the City and Ottawa Public Health was a key success factor in the response. The Auditor General made four recommendations and management agreed with all of them.
Council also received audits on zero-emission bus funding mechanisms and agreements and an investigation related to the Carleton Lodge Long-Term Care Home.
Finally, Council received an update regarding the City of Ottawa’s response to the Public Order Emergency Commission. The update focuses on staff’s high-level interactions, processes, costs and other matters related to the Commission. The report to Council ensures there is a formal record of the City’s participation in the Commission.
A motion was passed at City Council on recognizing International Women’s Day coming up on March 8th. I appreciate that the city of Ottawa recognizes that gender equity is still an issue that must be dealt with in our internal operations and our programs and services.
The final budget council meeting will be on March 1st and no doubt there will be lots of discussion on the many department budgets that need to be reviewed and considered. I have heard from many residents about the priorities they expect in our communities and appreciate the time and efforts that they have taken to show an interest in our city.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia. A Ukrainian Children’s Choir visited City Hall prior to the council meeting and performed a couple of traditional songs in addition to the Ukrainian national anthem. Yulia Kovaliv, Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada, spoke to members of council following a moment of silence and reflection. The ambassador’s speech was very moving. She reflected on the efforts and concerns that are still facing her country. She thanked the City of Ottawa for the past and current support that we continue to provide to help them remain strong. At the conclusion of her speech, both council and guests gave a standing ovation. Her words had me reflecting on the generosity of our residents and I want to take this opportunity to thank all those in Bay Ward who have done so much to help support Ukraine over the past year through donations of aid to welcoming refugees and helping them settle in our community. Many of you have taken these newcomers into your homes and we have seen such goodwill towards them.