There are many positive steps in the city’s 2010 budget, but Ecology Ottawa is concerned that environmental initiatives are being targeted in order to keep taxes low.
“It seems like the environment is getting relegated to the back seat,” said Ecology Ottawa co-ordinator Sabrina Bowman.
While Bowman said they are pleased to see funding for the pedestrian and cycling plan, they are concerned about a lack of funding for the tree protection bylaw, which requires property owners to get permits before cutting down large, mature trees. Bowman said the budget also calls for cuts to tree trimming from once every five to seven years to once every 32. That would enhance the risk of exposure to the emerald ash borer.
“We know that councillors are under pressure to save money,” said Lori Waller, Ecology Ottawa’s policy co-ordinator. “But it seems that environmental spending is often targeted for the deepest cuts, and they’ve targeted a few key areas, like tree maintenance and transit service, for aggressive slashing.”
The 2010 property tax increase is projected to be around four per cent. City council will hear public delegations on the draft budget starting Jan. 25.