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