Environment takes centre stage in Capital Ward

By Michelle Nash, Ottawa Community News

Environment issues dominated the conversation at a recent Capital Ward debate.

All three candidates running for councillor, David Chernushenko, Scott Blurton and Espoire Manirambona, participated in the Oct. 15 debate in Old Ottawa South, organized by seven city organizations. The evening focused on what each candidate would do to support environment concerns at city hall.

Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital, Ottawa Riverkeeper and Ottawa Public Interest Research Group Carleton had a prepared question for the candidates, looking at reducing the city’s carbon footprint, increasing green infrastructure and supporting urban wetlands.

Chernushenko expressed his desire to push the city on issues such as reducing its carbon footprint, with solutions such as retrofitting buildings and creating design standards. He also mentioned the importance to empower people to make bigger changes than simply using green bins or rain barrels, adding that those changes need to start at a city level.

When addressing concerns about pollution in the Ottawa River, Blurton said he feels the city needs to take a closer look at what is going down its drains and make changes accordingly to stop the pollution.

Throughout the debate, Manirambona expressed his desire to work with constituents to find the appropriate solution to environment concerns and issues, adding that he felt worker co-operatives and giving people a stronger, more democratic voice was key to success in making the city a greener, cleaner place.

With the formal portion of the debate complete, candidates began to take questions from the floor and first up was one resident asking each candidate to address the recent concerns raised with the city’s green bin program.

“I hear this a lot at the doors,” Blurton said. “People have challenges. I am in support of the green bin program but hear of vermin issues. I think there are definitely things we need to work at and educate.”

Blurton added he feels that when it comes to the program, there could be ways to improve the current system. Chernushenko said he felt education was also the key to creating a successful green bin program.

“If people want weekly garbage, well guess what, they’ve got it,” he said. “If the garbage stinks, it’s because it’s not being diverted properly. But, maggots, vermin are real. So let’s start with education.

Maybe we need videos to show best practices or let people have different sized containers.”

Chernushenko then asked the crowd if any of them knew there were different sizes of the green bin containers, for instance, apartment-size ones for homes that do not have as much space.

Most of the audience responded saying they did not know that.

“The education was not nearly as good,” Chernushenko said. “I was assured there would be education and took city staff on their word and I won’t do that again.”

Manirambona said he loves the green bin, but when it comes to fixing the current problems such as maggots, vermin and frequency of use the answer lies speaking with residents and experts.

“I would go to the experts and listen to what they have to say,” Manirambona said, adding that he would also like to look at other ways of diverting the green bin waste, including finding closer, not-for-profit organizations to handle the processing, stating he believes this would create a better service for residents overall. The election takes place on Oct. 27. For more information about Capital ward candidates is available at Ottawa.ca.