Based on Ontario’s 2011 Air Quality Report, Ottawa’s air quality compares well with other cities in southern Ontario. However, there are still good reasons to pay attention to explore how air quality can be improved as the effects of air pollution are often experienced most strongly by children and the elderly.
Actions to reduce air pollution and its impacts
Many actions taken by the City have helped reduce air pollution, for example: encouraging public transit use; facilitating increased number of trips by bicycles through creation of dedicated bike lanes; and reducing stop-and-go traffic through increased use of roundabouts. Specific actions are summarized below.
The Transportation Plan, Pedestrian Plan and Cycling Plan are all directed at facilitating transit use and active modes of transportation, thereby reducing air pollution and other impacts such as congestion and traffic hazards.
Ottawa adopted an Idling Control By-law in September 2007. The by-law limits idling to three minutes when the outside temperature is between 5° C and 27°C.
Corporate Anti-idling policy
The City of Ottawa is committed to emission reduction from idling for the entire City fleet of vehicles and equipment. This policy provides direction for idling conditions while using City-owned or leased vehicles and equipment. Training on the policy is part of the City driver training program.
Smog Alert Program
Ottawa has implemented the Ontario protocol for establishing a local smog-response program. The program sets out steps to be followed to prepare for smog alerts, and actions to follow when a smog alert arises. Actions include advising the public, and reducing or stopping City activities (such as lawn mowing or tree cutting) that contribute to smog and encouraging the public to do the same.
Air Quality & Climate Change Management Plan
The City developed the Air Quality & Climate Change Management Plan to guide actions at the corporate and community level to reduce air pollution, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and improve the resiliency of the community. The Plan sets targets and recommends a variety of actions.