Ottawa in brief

The City of Ottawa is the capital of Canada and the fourth largest municipality in the country by population. Its boundary encompasses an urban area surrounded by a large and varied countryside, including prime agricultural lands and broad plains as well as wetlands and forests. Ottawa is also known for its vast rivers and waterways, which have played a distinct role in shaping the city’s history, culture and economy. Initially the centre of Canada’s timber industry, economic activity in the city has evolved over the years and is currently defined, to a large extent, by federal employment. As part of the National Capital Region, the City partners with the federal government as well as with the City of Gatineau, Quebec on a range of issues, from the health of the shared interprovincial Ottawa River to maintenance of the bridges that cross it.

Sustainability profile

Creation of the amalgamated City of Ottawa in 2001 brought 11 urban and rural municipalities and a regional government together into one local government structure. Recognizing this new geographic and political reality, City Council adopted a consolidated Official Plan in 2003 to set guidelines for managing growth sustainably in the 21st century.
The City has undertaken a variety of environmental and sustainability initiatives since the plan’s adoption. In 2005, for example, Council approved an Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan that outlined specific greenhouse gas reduction targets for both the corporation and the community.

Thematic priorities for the exchange

Low-carbon development:Ottawa has taken a number of steps to reduce carbon emissions. Measures undertaken to date include, among others, an Energy Management and Investment Strategy that has invested over $14 million since 2004 to reduce utility costs, commissioning of a landfill-gas electricity generation facility, the introduction of a “Green Bin” organics diversion program, and a municipal Green Building Policy. A new light-rail transit system is also projected to reduce GHGs considerably within the city. Ottawa is interested in learning about ways it might be able to reach its goal of reducing GHG emissions to 4.6 t eCO2 per capita by 2024. It is particularly interested in encouraging modal shift; reducing fossil-based energy consumption, particularly in the residential sector; and increasing local renewable energy production.
Other specific interests include:

  • Long-range energy and emissions planning out to 2050 (understanding short-, medium- and long-term planning horizons and implementation phases with regards to deep emissions reductions)
  • developing a roadmap for achieving a 100% renewable energy Ottawa by 2050
  • identifying strategies and best practices for engaging residents and community organization in the development/ownership of community-based renewable energy projects
  • approaches for building community or neighborhood-scale district energy systems (e.g. establishing municipal energy corporations versus joint ventures with private-sector companies)