‘Grey’ rather than ‘green’ grades for city coun­cil­lors

Orleans Star - - OPINION - By Tricia Van der Gri­ent tricia.van­der­gri­ent@transcontinental.ca

While kids are al­ready back to school, city coun­cil­lors are get­ting graded on their green vot­ing prac­tices.

Ecol­ogy Ot­tawa re­cently pre­sented the re­sults of their fifth an­nual re­port card, which looks at how city coun­cil­lors voted on is­sues that in­volve the en­vi­ron­ment.

The re­port card looked at 17 key de­ci­sions made be­tween Novem­ber 2009 and June 2010, on is­sues such as trans­porta­tion, clean en­ergy, green space, waste re­duc­tion and ur­ban growth.

Or­léans councillor Bob Monette was the only one to re­ceive a fail­ing grade. Mayor Larry O’Brien im­proved his F from last year’s re­port to a C-this year. Clive Doucet, Diane Holmes, Alex Cullen and Peggy Felt­mate all re­ceived A+.

The ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors, how­ever, scored lower than a C.

Monette says he would not change any of the de­ci­sions he made based on the re­port. “I can jus­tify ev­ery one of my votes,” he says. “I feel I fol­lowed what my con­stituents wanted.”

He says the costs as­so­ci­ated with many of the mea­sures, such as an OC Transpo bud­get in­crease and bans on mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion con­tri­bu­tions from cor­po­ra­tions, were not amenable to res­i­dents in Or­léans.

“There is al­ways a cost to these mea­sures and I try to find a bal­ance be­tween what’s good for the en­vi­ron­ment and what works for the com­mu­nity.”

Monette said the re­port did not re­flect his work over the past term, point­ing to his role in un­cov­er­ing the mal­func­tion at the Keefer sewage reg­u­la­tor, which led to a mas­sive raw sewage spill into the Ot­tawa River in 2006.

When the in­for­ma­tion went pub­lic, it led to the in­fra­struc­ture up­grades and a cleanup un­der the Ot­tawa River Ac­tion Plan.

Jen­nifer Ro­bitaille, Monette’s op­po­nent in the up­com­ing elec­tion, says she would have voted the same way as Monette on some of the is­sues.

“I can un­der­stand some of his rea­son­ing,” she said. “Peo­ple do think en­vi­ron­ment is im­por­tant, but as soon as there’s an in­crease in taxes there’s an up­roar. Go­ing green costs money.”

Ro­bitaille gave as an ex­am­ple the con­tro­ver­sial U-Pass, which will now be in­cluded in ev­ery uni­ver­sity stu­dent’s tu­ition. She says the manda­tory bus pass is an en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble mo­tion in the­ory, but is not prac­ti­cal for stu­dents in res­i­dence and those who com­mute from re­gions that OC Transpo does not reach.

The Ecol­ogy Ot­tawa re­port is avail­able at www.ecol­o­gy­ot­tawa.ca/coun­cil­watch

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