Council approves master plan to ensure water infrastructure capacity supports projected growth

Published on
June 25, 2024
Council, committees and City Hall

Council today approved Ottawa’s new Infrastructure Master Plan, focused on ensuring Ottawa’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems have the capacity to serve new housing to 2046 and beyond.   

The policies, programs and projects outlined in the master plan will allow the City to maintain reliable service levels while accommodating the growth identified in the Official Plan. Ottawa’s population is anticipated to reach 1.4 million by 2046, and the City will upgrade the backbone of its central water and wastewater systems accordingly. Major capital projects outlined to meet those needs include 20 water distribution system projects and 37 wastewater collection system projects. The master plan also responds to climate change and supports affordable, sustainable growth by accounting for impacts on both existing communities and the natural environment.

Council approved the Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP) to guide how the City sustainably manages waste over the next 30 years. The Trail Waste Facility landfill is estimated to reach capacity between 2034 and 2035, if today's disposal habits remain the same. The SWMP outlines 50 actions to divert as much waste as possible from the landfill, recover resources and energy from the remaining garbage, and dispose of residual waste in an environmentally sustainable way, all while keeping services affordable. Over the next three decades, these actions are expected to reduce waste by about 31,000 tonnes and divert almost one million tonnes of waste from the landfill, extending its life by 14 years. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 9,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, the same as removing 2,750 passenger vehicles from the roads each year. 

Council also approved the new Solid Waste Long Range Financial Plan (LRFP), which sets out how the City will keep waste services cost-effective and affordable to 2053. The LRFP outlines the operating requirements and capital investments needed to maintain existing service and to fund the SWMP. The City will shift to a funding model where costs would be recovered from a curbside service fee. To support future capital needs, the City will replenish the solid waste reserve fund from revenues over the next several years. The LRFP will ensure that the cost per household for waste services increases in an equitable and predictable way over time, to keep pace with the cost of service and capital needs.

Council approved an updated wildlife strategy and action plan to address wildlife issues across Ottawa. There have been significant environmental changes since the current wildlife strategy was adopted in 2013. Ottawa has seen accelerated climate change impacts, greater prevalence of wildlife-transmitted diseases, increased human population with more people making use of Ottawa’s natural spaces, and greater recognition of the value of green and natural infrastructure.

While the Official Plan will continue to be the City’s most important tool for protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat, the strategy also outlines a 10-point action plan that includes work to conserve wildlife habitat, improve public information and education, monitor wildlife-transmitted diseases, develop a plan on wildlife crossings, engage a wildlife resource specialist and evaluate alternative practices around beaver management.  

Ottawa Fire Services shared their annual report with Council. The Service experienced a notable increase in the number of calls, incidents and vehicle responses in 2023. It responded to more severe and complex incidents, especially those related to extreme weather. Despite these challenges, the service met standards for response times in most categories and continued work on strategic initiatives to meet increased demand as Ottawa grows.

Council heard that the Ottawa Paramedic Service continued to face significant challenges in 2023, including increased response volume, excessive time spent in hospital offload delay, and the continued occurrence of level zero events where no ambulances are available. As a result, the service did not meet all targets and legislated response times for emergency calls. The Service has worked to address these challenges by collaborating with hospitals and other partners to minimize the impacts of offload delay and reduce occurrences of level zero events. The number and duration of level zero events decreased by 7.7 per cent in 2023. In 2024, the service expects that the recent launch of the Medical Priority Dispatch System will positively impact response times for life-threatening calls. A new telephone system to prepare for Next Generation 9-1-1 will also help make calls more seamless.

Council approved three changes to tree planting programs which are early actions of the Tree Planting Strategy. These actions will plant more trees, enhance our urban environment and strengthen resilience to climate change. The City will adopt a proactive approach to trees within the right of way, ensuring lost canopy cover is replaced whenever a tree is removed. A new Private Land Tree-Planting Program will distribute trees across the city and provide full-service tree planting in priority areas, free of charge. The Commemorative Tree Program will be renamed the Tree Dedication Program, updating it to be more efficient and cost-effective while expanding eligibility.

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