Tree Protection By-law included in climate change master plan for Ottawa

(Ottawa’s Climate Emergency protest in April 2019. Photo: Flickr)

The Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management (SCEPWWM) has approved the new Climate Change Master Plan and is recommending that Ottawa Council approve the new plan on January 29, 2020 in light of the City’s declared climate emergency in April of this year.

The Committee has also recommended council approve a new Tree Protection By-law, which would come into effect in May 2020.

The new by-law would consolidate two existing by-laws, streamlining regulation and enforcement. Other changes include requiring compensation for permitted tree removals, implementing new fines for tree removal without a permit and changes to internal processes to ensure greater consideration of trees earlier in planning processes.

Two new forestry inspectors, funded through increased revenue from the new fees, would enforce the by-law and monitor tree protection, while a new forester would handle tree issues in infill development.

The old McCurdy maple woodlot, behind Talltree Crescent off Abbott.
The old McCurdy maple woodlot, behind Talltree Crescent off Abbott.

City staff are expected to return to the Committee in late 2020. At that time, they will provide further recommendations to protect existing trees, along with reviewing the need for strategies to protect heritage trees and rural woodlands next to the urban boundary.

The Committee also recommended Council approve new targets to reduce carbon emissions by 100 per cent – by 2040 as a corporation and by 2050 as a community.

To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called for a 100-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Climate Change Master Plan would help Ottawa meet the new targets. Over the next five years, the City would continue to implement Energy Evolution, develop a climate resiliency strategy, apply a climate lens to the new Official Plan and infrastructure, pilot corporate carbon budgets and encourage community action. Staff would come back to the Committee by mid-2020 with details on 20 additional projects to help reduce emissions.

According to the City’s latest greenhouse gas inventories, emissions decreased by 14 per cent in Ottawa between 2012 and 2018. The City’s corporate emissions, which account for about five per cent of Ottawa’s total emissions, decreased by 36 per cent.

Staff would be expected to provide annual reports on emissions, progress towards the carbon-neutral target and the master plan.


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