Ontario Municipal Elections in our National Capital and Beyond – October 22, 2018

The Ontario Municipal Elections are coming up soon! If you want to find out where the candidates stand on water issues, this blog post explores some of the questions you should be asking. A good place to speak out for our river will be at the Mayoral Debate on the Environment that we will be co-hosting with our friends at Ecology Ottawa on September 26th!

The Ontario municipal elections are approaching fast! On October 22nd, citizens across our watershed will be electing new leaders. In our national capital, residents will be voting for a Mayor and a Council representing the city’s 23 wards. At Ottawa Riverkeeper, we believe our elected officials must have a firm grasp of the issues affecting the Ottawa River and its tributaries. Our years of engaging citizens across the watershed have taught us that people attach immense value to the amazing rivers that flow in our nation’s capital and beyond. Therefore, we expect our elected representatives to develop creative, well-researched solutions to the challenges facing our waterways. For future generations to swim, drink, and fish safely in our rivers, we need action today.

While the City of Ottawa has made significant progress over the years on a number of water-related files, some issues of concern remain. To help you discuss those with your local candidates, we have put together a short list of questions to ask at debates and town-hall meetings. We invite you to consult these questions and bring them with you to public events – don’t be shy, step up to the microphone! Your river needs you!

Moreover, make sure you attend this election’s only Mayoral Debate on the Environment in Ottawa. We’re co-hosting it!

WHEN: Wednesday, September 26th, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Shaw Centre (Room 215), 55 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa
WHY: Because a healthy river and clean water are important to us!
Register here: Ottawa Mayoral Debate

Finally, if you live in the Ottawa River watershed outside of the City of Ottawa, we hope that the questions below will inspire you to adapt them to your particular municipality. It is important to have our voice heard across the watershed. If you are taking a stand for our river in your town during the campaign, we’d love to hear about it. Contact communications@ottawariverkeeper.ca to discuss how we could collaborate further.

QUESTIONS FOR MAYORAL CANDIDATES

1. SEWAGE OVERFLOWS

Whenever we have heavy rainfall, or in the Spring when the snow melts, untreated water in our municipal sewer and sanitary system overflows into the river. This poses a significant health risk to the public. The City does publish information about overflows within 24 hours of an occurrence, but that leaves a long time for people to be swimming in, or paddling on, contaminated water. For almost two years, Ottawa Riverkeeper has been leading a campaign asking the City to commit to real-time reporting. So far, more than 3,000 people have signed on. As Mayor, will you support this initiative and make sure residents are informed of all sewage overflows as they happen?

2. STORMWATER MANAGEMENT

A number of North American cities are adopting above-ground solutions, such as increasing vegetation around streets, for managing stormwater overflows that reduce the volume of stormwater reaching the sewers and spilling into nearby rivers. By introducing green infrastructure, street-side vegetation, and permeable pavement where possible, and looking at ways that both create more attractive and resilient city streets, these municipalities are able to address stormwater runoff at a fraction of the cost of the larger infrastructure projects. How would you approach a stormwater management plan for the City of Ottawa that goes beyond current, localised projects?

3. NUCLEAR WASTE

Approximately 200 km upstream of Ottawa is Chalk River Laboratories, a research facility that has been generating and receiving nuclear waste for more than 70 years. Radioactive compounds such as tritium are regularly found in the City of Ottawa’s drinking water, always below the allowable limits as set by Health Canada. There is a proposal on the table to build an enormous and permanent nuclear waste dump at Chalk River, in a wetland complex that empties into the Ottawa River. Municipalities in Quebec have been very involved in the Environmental Assessment, expressing deep concerns over the proposal. To date, the City of Ottawa has expressed no concern about this project, despite compelling concerns from experts.  As Mayor, what will you do to understand the proposed project and the risks to our river and source of drinking water?

4. RIVER ACCESS

Across our city, there are public laneways that allow people direct access to the Ottawa River. These access points are constantly under pressure from “development creep”. People are building bigger homes and seeking approvals to develop 10 metres here and 5 metres there, reducing or eliminating access to our finest recreational asset in the city. What level of importance do you place on public access to our river and what can elected officials do about the constant desire to build on lands beside our rivers?

5. ECONOMIC VALUE OF THE OTTAWA RIVER

Can you share with us one or two ideas you have to maintain or enhance the economic value of our river?

 

Photo from abdallahh

2 responses to “Ontario Municipal Elections in our National Capital and Beyond – October 22, 2018”

  1. Ottawa Riverkeeper – another great initiative! Especially Question 3. Nuclear Waste. Fred Ryan, Pontiac Journal, states in Sept. 12 article:
    “Environment and Quality of Life”, another full file: .. oppose the Chalk River radioactive dump upstream (Rolphton’s plan to entomb an entire reactor there, too). That dump is the single largest threat to Pontiac’s future.”
    This is true for all regions on the river in Quebec and Ontario.
    All Ontario Municipal candidates running from Deep River through Ottawa will have received a letter calling on them to protect the Ottawa River by opposing CNL’s flawed and dangerous proposals at Chalk River and Rolphton. Be sure to question municipal candidates in your municipality!
    Or question those running in Quebec’s provincial election.
    Protect the Ottawa River!
    Johanna Echlin
    Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association

  2. Chris Cavan says:

    Thank you, Ottawa Riverkeeper, for urging people to vote and be informed about issues affecting the Ottawa River. Thank you for including Nuclear/Radioactive Waste in the questions you’re urging voters to ask the mayoral and other candidates in the upcoming municipal election.
    Radioactive waste has no place in the Ottawa River! We must inform ourselves about Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ (CNL’s) potentially lethal plans that could contaminate this incredibly beautiful resource and source of drinking water for millions of people in Ontario and Quebec. Our heritage River could become ruined for our use because of negligent, quick, cheap and dirty solutions that are currently proposed by CNL’s consortium of private, largely foreign companies. CNL’s critically flawed plans for over 40% of Canada’s $10 BILLION federal radioactive waste legacy must be halted and alternative and safer disposal methods and sites much farther from the Ottawa River found. Experts have viable and much more sensible alternatives. This is a crucial issue that affects all of us in the Ottawa Valley and beyond. Future generations are depending on us to oppose CNL’s very flawed current plans.
    Radioactive waste in any amount has NO BUSINESS being in our drinking water. Our River and our health is too important to risk and leave in the hands of a consortium of for-profit companies who could walk away from this fatally flawed plan for a mammoth radioactive waste and other hazardous materials dump in Chalk River which is less than a kilometre from the Ottawa River. Canadian taxpayers would bear ALL THE LIABILITY! This is a dangerous and extremely foolish plan.
    Entombment of a decommissioned reactor in Rolphton is another huge source of radioactive contamination waiting to leak into the Ottawa River. The current CNL plan to bury and abandon the old reactor in concrete is not an approved method of handling radioactive materials. The International Atomic Energy Agency is against this method, particularly at its site that is 100 metres from the Ottawa River in an active earthquake zone.
    Become informed! Find out how your municipal candidates support or reject the current plans by the CNL that could jeopardize the safety of the Ottawa River as a vital resource for millions of people for hundreds and thousands of years. Ask your candidates questions and vote to keep the Ottawa River safe from further radioactive waste contamination. Our children and grandchildren are depending on us!

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