On Thursday morning I was pleased to have my motion on creating an inventory of high rise building over 6 storeys that did not have generators, pass unanimously. This could help our emergency team be better informed and prepared to help people in these buildings during power outages.
With more and more severe storms due to climate change the city of Ottawa must be prepared to help those in vulnerable circumstances which includes residents living in buildings that are over 6 storeys high that do not have a generator to operate elevators and other emergency features such as lights during a power outage.
Back in 2018 I vividly remember visiting apartment buildings that had been without power for multiple days. Not only were residents without the use of an elevator, they also had no running water since electricity is needed to pump water to units above 6 storeys. Gravity takes care of the pumping in lower units. On the 21st floor there were persons who needed oxygen tanks or required mobility aids. After many days without power they were frightened of what their fate would be if an emergency happened.
When I got elected as Bay Ward City Councillor, I soon discovered that municipalities had no say in building codes that would require buildings to have generators. I felt frustrated but was pleased when local MPP Chandra Pasma put forward a Private member’s Bill 47, Protecting Human Rights in an Emergency Act, 2022, that required generators for multi-level buildings. City of Toronto endorsed this bill although the city of Ottawa did not.
When MPP Chandra Pasma’s bill did not pass in Queens Park I decided that this issue still needed to be measured to find out how many buildings did not have a generator and this information needed to be in the hands of our emergency service teams of paramedics, fire services and police. I was pleased to have the support of Fire Chief Paul Hutt and Emergency Services Manager Kim Ayotte who recognized that knowing which buildings did not have a generator would be useful information when responding to an emergency situation.
My motion asks the city to undertake creating an inventory of buildings over 6 storeys without generators. I hope this information will be helpful in future emergency calls and hope that building management will strongly consider installing a generator in their building to be prepared for any future power outage situations. To quote the CEO of Hydro Ottawa, Bryce Conrad, to not have a generator for a building is “borderline criminal”. This speaks to the need for everyone to be prepared as climate change continues to cause severe weather patterns.
Thanks, to the City of Ottawa’s Emergency Preparedness and Protective Services committee members for supporting this motion and to Councillor Sean Devine for sponsoring the motion on my behalf as a member of this committee.