During a campaign, politicians tend to talk big about the environment, but too often green programs are the first on the chopping block at budget time.

With the municipal election less than eight months away, Ecology Ottawa is launching a campaign challenging candidates to make environmental issues a key part of their campaign.

“We need to make sure we have a strong environmental mandate so that they are actually going to follow through with their promises,” said Ecology Ottawa spokesperson Lori Waller.

“People have to realize how important the decisions made by city council are ... If you care about the environment, you’ve got to vote municipally.”

Waller said they are concerned with development patterns that encourage sprawl and more cars, rather than pedestrians, cycling and transit. Ottawa is also falling behind other cities in terms of encouraging energy-efficient construction.

They are also concerned with pollution going into the Ottawa River.

The current council has committed funds to fixing that problem, said Waller, but there is a question of whether the new city council will make it a priority also.

To start the campaign, Ecology Ottawa has organized an online networking and discussion forum for each ward on Facebook. It is also handing out postcards so residents can let candidates know the environment is an important issue. An online version is available at its website, www.ecologyottawa.ca