GCA Environment Committee – Report – 2016 04 21
The meeting had good energy and was attended by a dozen people, mix of old and new faces.
Areas of interest identified for activity in 2016-17 were:
 trees;
 bees & pollinators;
 energy & climate change;
 3Rs and waste diversion.
Participants expressed a balance of interest in community actions and policy advocacy from a local perspective.

Planned & On-going Activities:
1. 3Rs & Great Glebe Garage Sale:
Efforts towards environmental stewardship and the responsible and pro-active disposal of left-overs from the garage sale.
– We are organizing central Glebe locations where garage sale participants can drop off left-overs in the following categories: Electronics (working computers and monitors for reuse, electronics recycling); Furniture; Books; Clothing & Household Goods; Bicycles; Tires.
– Guide will be flyered to all residents with help of youth and published in May Glebe Report (TBC)

2. Promotion of Tree planting in Glebe for Canada’s 2017 150th birthday
– We are not ready to set a target: some have called on us to plant 2017 trees…
– First step will be to organize mapping of spots where trees could be planted (backyard, frontyard, street allowances, parks). This should be done this summer.
– Door-to-door mapping work to be armed with information for homeowners regarding:
– advice on species of trees and local sourcing (draw on/reprint guide published in Glebe Report May 2014)
– advice on fruit & nut trees (liaise with Hidden Harvest)
– information on bee and pollinator friendly plants & garden supplier neonic practices (draw on/update guide published in Glebe Report May 2015)

3. Promotion of Pollinator and Bee-friendly planting
– Will provide info and offer of pollinator-friendly plants to Garden Angel volunteers for planting in community boxes
– Will provide info to residents (part of Glebe door-to-door tree campaign, see above)
– Will find out more on MTO plans for greening the south-side highway embankment following on the Kent St bridge replacement.

4. Energy efficiency in older residential builds.
Following up on the GCA Board discussion of home energy labelling and energy audits in Jan-Feb 2016, we are still brainstorming about what would be practical and helpful activities of interest to Glebe (old) homeowners. Potentially we can organize an information event, either free-standing, in partnership with GCA Heritage Committee, or piggy-backing/collaborating with GEDO (Green Energy Doors Open – see more below) for fall 2016. Information of interest can include energy-efficiency and conservation subsidies from various levels of government, NRCan Energuide for homes and info from energy retrofit trades-people and suppliers.

Possibilities also exist for identifying practical actions that residential blocks or the neighbourhood can take together in order to realize cost-savings through jointly obtaining quotes & screening suppliers, and/or through economies of scale in work contracted e.g. weatherstripping, thermography analysis, solar panels.

5. Green Energy Doors Open (GEDO) 2016
GEDO 2016 will take place Sept 9 through 11, with the Energy Showcase at Lansdowne Park, Horticulture Bldg on Sat Sept 10, 10am-3pm. Info http://www.ottawagedo.org/
We will help with event promotion, and potentially programming for the Energy Showcase.

6. Fossil Fuel Divestment
The Environment Committee organized a public event on fossil fuel divestment in June 2015, which included coverage in the Glebe Report (see http://www.glebereport.ca/2015/05/climate-change-and-the-case-for-fossil-fuel-divestment/ and https://issuu.com/glebereport/docs/gr_august_2015_final/14 ).

Over 60 city councils have voted to divest from fossil fuels. Victoria is the first Canadian city to take such a decision. Many cities, including Ottawa, have passed resolutions to reduce carbon emissions. Divestment is consistent with these decisions. Recently locally, the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa has resolved to divest, and both Carleton and Ottawa U have divest campaigns.

The Endowment Fund of the City of Ottawa contains approximately 4% of holdings in 8 companies which are on the Carbon Underground list of fossil fuel companies. These are the 200 companies whose untapped reserves of fossil fuels represent the largest risk to the Earth’s climate, if extracted and burned. Asking the City of Ottawa to divest itself of this 4% is not a very large re-allocation, but has considerable symbolic significance.

Follow-up by Environment Committee will include bringing the issue to the Board of the GCA (April 2016 Board meeting) (unanimously agree). We wish to ensure that all boardmembers will have adequate time to learn about the issue. Accordingly, Lenore Fahrig will make a brief presentation, take questions, note concerns and distribute a short backgrounder on the issue at the April GCA Boardmeeting. We then will table a motion at the following meeting (Agenda permitting), proposing that the GCA send a letter to Councillor Chernushenko and the Mayor asking that the City of Ottawa divest its Endowment Fund of holdings in fossil fuel extraction companies on the Carbon Underground 200 list.

We will also seek to discuss this issue with other community association environment committees.

7. Elm Tree and other tree damage at Exploration Park
A heritage tree (one of two remaining American Elm trees) from the original Clemow Avenue planting was damaged by removal of many large southfacing branches. In addition a Manitoba maple was cut down completely inside Exploration Park, despite being part of the park design plan. This was done by a City contractor, in very questionable circumstances/rationales, with knowledge by the City head forester. The adjacent parking lot has a development proposal which encroaches on the space of the heritage tree, an issue previously flagged by GCA Environment, Parks, Planning and Heritage committees in writing. The Councillor is aware of the issue. Carol MacLeod to pursue issue in collaboration with other committee heads.

Committee working process

The committee agreed that most actions can be most effectively pursued by the smaller clusters of people interested in a particular issue and do not require the larger committee. Angela to distribute contact list. Next committee meeting to be scheduled for June 2016.

Upcoming Events:

Government of Canada Climate Change Consultation. 7pm – Thursday April 28, Glebe Community Centre. You are asked to RSVP. More info:
http://cmckenna.liberal.ca/news-nouvelles/ottawa-centre-climate-change-consultation-april-28-2016/