Mayor Jim Watson’s Monthly Column

Ottawa: #1 Sustainable City in Canada!

In Ottawa we are fortunate to be blessed with beautiful surroundings. The Ottawa and Rideau Rivers, the Rideau Canal, and the Gatineau Hills are just a few of the features that make our City such a beautiful place to live.

However, our geographic good fortune comes with a responsibility to preserve these surroundings and do what we can to make our city sustainable for the long-term. This relates not only to our environment but also to how we build and maintain our infrastructure and grow our local economy so that our City continues to be a desirable place to live.

In this term of council we have been cognisant of this responsibility and worked towards fulfilling it. I have previously used this space to explain the merits of some of our green initiatives (ie. reducing sewer overflows into the Ottawa River, increased recycling, fighting the Emerald Ash Borer) and infrastructure initiatives (ie. the $2.1B Light Rail Transit project) and record investments in cycling initiatives.

We as a council are pleased with the progress that is being made and also that this work is being recognized by outlets such as international magazine Corporate Knights which recently ranked Ottawa first in Canada and third in North American in the their inaugural North American Sustainable Cities Scorecard.

The Scorecard ranked cities based on five metrics: environmental quality, economic security, governance and empowerment, infrastructure and energy, and social well-being. Ottawa’s high-ranking recognizes both our natural surroundings and the work we are doing to build and maintain our city.

Ottawa would not be the sustainable city it has been recognized as without its compassionate residents who care deeply about our environment and who do their part through community cleanups, or conserving energy, or teaching their kids about the importance of recycling.

I often quote Lord Baden Powell, founder of the scouting movement, who said that it is our responsibility to “leave the campsite in better shape than we found it.” This holds true to our city as a whole and I look forward to making Ottawa even more sustainable in the coming years.

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