Report to/Rapport au :


Planning and Environment Committee

Comité de l'urbanisme et de l'environnement


31 July 2009 / le 31 juillet 2009


Submitted by/Soumis par : Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager

Directrice municipale adjointe

Planning, Transit and the Environment

Urbanisme, Transport en commun et Environnement


Contact/Personne-ressource: Michael Murr, Acting Director/Directeur intérimaire, Community and Sustainability Services/Services de viabilité et des collectivités

 (613) 580-2424, 25195


City Wide/à l'échelle de la Ville

Ref N°: ACS2009-ICS-CSS-0029




Refresh of the City's Environmental Strategy




Renouvellement de la Stratégie environnementale de la Ville d’Ottawa





That Planning and Environment Committee receive this report for information.





Que le Comité de l'urbanisme et de l'environnement prenne connaissance du présent rapport.




The City of Ottawa's Environmental Strategy was approved in October 2003 as one of five interrelated plans associated with the Ottawa 20/20 Growth Management Strategy.  The Environmental Strategy is designed as a blueprint to move Ottawa towards environmental sustainability and is based on four goals:



A variety of programs and policies have been initiated over the last several years to act on the goals and related objectives.  These objectives and programs are best captured in Getting Greener: On the Path of Sustainability - Directory of Environmental Initiatives, which was released in Fall 2007 as a first step towards refreshing the Environmental Strategy.


At a high level, it is suggested that the basic goals and commitments of the strategy are still valid and current.  The challenge is in designing, supporting and implementing a suite of environmental programs which taken together, represent the most effective way to approach these commitments and allocate resources on a priority basis to ensure that progress continues to be made.  This requires a systematic review of programs as they relate to commitments, identification of gaps where commitments are not adequately supported by programs, resource assessment and priority setting, and a way to monitor or track outcomes or progress.  This process has begun through the development of an environmental program logic model and will continue as part of the Environmental Strategy refresh.


Several key objectives have been identified for the refresh to date including the need to:



The refresh process will include several steps:



It is anticipated that this work will take approximately one year with the goal to bring forward a refreshed strategy to Council in Q3 2010.





La stratégie environnementale de la ville d'Ottawa a été approuvée en octobre 2003 et reconnue comme l’un des cinq plans associés à la Stratégie de gestion de la croissance - Ottawa 20/20. La stratégie environnementale a été élaborée comme plan directeur pour instaurer dans la ville d’Ottawa le principe de durabilité de l’environnement. La stratégie s’est donné quatre objectifs :



Nous avons lancé au cours des dernières années une diversité de programmes et de politiques afin de concrétiser les buts et les objectifs connexes. Ces objectifs et programmes sont mieux définis dans Le Répertoire des initiatives du programme - Pour une ville plus verte: sur la voie de la durabilité, qui a été publié à l’automne 2007 comme première étape pour renouveler la stratégie environnementale.


À un certain niveau de l’administration, on est d’avis que les objectifs et engagements de base de la stratégie sont encore valides et à jour. Le défi relève plutôt de la conception, du soutien et de la mise en œuvre d’une série de programmes environnementaux, lesquels, considérés comme un tout, représentent la manière la plus efficace de prendre en compte ces engagements et d’affecter les ressources par ordre de priorité afin d’assurer une progression continuelle. Il s’agit notamment d’effectuer un examen systématique des programmes relativement aux engagements pris, de déterminer les lacunes là où les programmes n’apportent pas un soutien adéquat aux engagements, d’évaluer les ressources et d’établir les priorités et de trouver une manière de surveiller ou de faire le suivi des résultats ou des progrès. L’élaboration d’un modèle logique de programme environnemental a constitué le point de départ du processus qui se poursuit dans le cadre du renouvellement de la stratégie environnementale.


Plusieurs objectifs principaux ont été ciblés dans le cadre du renouvellement de la stratégie, notamment :



La procédure de renouvellement comprendra plusieurs étapes :



On prévoit que ces travaux prendront environ un an, avec pour objectif de mettre au point une stratégie renouvelée qui sera présenté au Conseil; au troisième trimestre de 2010.




The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the approach being taken to refresh the Environmental Strategy.  The report also responds to a Motion from Council (Motion No. 41/9) passed in response to the Audit of Environmental Commitments in Ottawa 20/20 that directed staff to review the environmental commitments to ensure that they continue to reflect the City's environmental vision and objectives and that the Corporate Plan includes actions required to implement these commitments.


The Environmental Strategy was approved in October 2003 as one of five interrelated plans associated with the Ottawa 20/20 Growth Management Strategy.  The Environmental Strategy is designed as a blueprint to move Ottawa towards environmental sustainability.  It elaborates on the four broader goals for a green and environmentally-sensitive city established during the Ottawa 20/20 process and most recently, continued into the refresh of the City Official Plan as adopted by Council on June 11, 2009. These goals are reflected in various forms in such documents as the Window on Ottawa 20/20, other Ottawa 20/20 strategic plans, and the City Strategic Plan.


A variety of programs and policies have been initiated over the last several years to act on the goals and related objectives.  These objectives are possibly best captured in Getting Greener: On the Path of Sustainability - Directory of Environmental Initiatives, which was released in Fall 2007 as a first step towards refreshing the Environmental Strategy (  The section below provides a summary of the four goals of the Environmental Strategy along with a description of some of the major initiatives undertaken in each area over the last several years:


Goal 1:      A Green City - The City will have a network of greenspaces where residents feel relaxed and that supports healthy watercourses, protects biodiversity, improves air quality and helps combat climate change.


Preserving greenspace is both a key commitment of the Environmental Strategy and the City Strategic Plan, which includes an objective to expand the amount of City-owned greenspace in Ottawa and several related priority actions.  Progress on this commitment can been seen in the approval of the Greenspace Master Plan and associated Official Plan Amendment, the Urban Natural Features Strategy, TREE program, and the recent commencement of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan planning process. Targets in this area include obtaining 4 hectares of open space per 1,000 population (a target which the City was meeting as of 2005). The current Environmental Strategy discusses the concept of a biodiversity strategy, which has not been completed to date, although the Environmental Advisory Committee has done some work on a strategy.  The potential role and contribution, and need for, a separate strategy can also be discussed during the refresh.


Goal 2:      Development in Harmony with the Environment - The City will take an ecosystem approach that considers and protects natural cycles such as water, carbon and nutrients as well as natural habitat before and during development.  It will use developed spaces wisely, making best use of existing infrastructure, minimizing disturbance of existing greenspaces and sub-watersheds.  First priority will be given to developing lands within the current urban boundary and avoiding outward sprawl.


Strengthening ecosystem planning and design is an ongoing priority within Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability. There is no associated priority action in the City Strategic Plan, but there are a number of ongoing initiatives meant to further this commitment. This includes revision of the Environmental Impact Statement guidelines (whereby some developments are assessed in terms of potential impact on the natural environment), recent direction to prepare a sustainable design checklist for use in the development review process, the ongoing subwatershed planning program, the crafting of a stormwater management policy, on‑line posting of study terms of reference, and the recently adopted Urban Tree Conservation bylaw.  The new City Official Plan continues this effort through additional guidelines for sustainable design, increased definition and protection of the Natural Heritage System including significant woodlands.


Goal 3:      A Focus on Walking, Cycling and Transit - The City will create pleasant transportation corridors for commuting and recreation where people can walk and cycle safely.  It will develop a convenient and cost-effective public transit alternative to single-occupant vehicle use, work to reduce commuting and shopping distances, and safer cycling environments for cyclists of all skill and age levels.


From an environmental perspective, this goal focuses on improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The City Strategic Plan includes a number of priority actions to support this goal including:



This goal has been a key focus over the last year with the approval of the new Transportation Master Plan, Cycling Plan, and Pedestrian Plan.


Goal 4:      Clean Air, Water and Earth - The City will ensure that human activities do not alter earth, air or water in ways that could harm health of humans, plants and animals; and that air emissions do not contribute to climate change.  The City will foster natural water systems that support healthy aquatic environments, and land that supports agricultural activities, healthy plants and animals, and is safe for recreational and other uses.  The City will seek to reduce waste, noise and light pollution.


This goal is focussed on conserving our resources and reducing our emissions.  The Environmental Strategy also includes a commitment to manage material, human and natural resources as efficiently as possible.  This commitment can be relatively broad in its application, particularly in regards to such matters as fossil fuel use and the generation of waste.  The overall concept of our “ecological footprint” and the resource use involved in our lifestyle and general development patterns makes this commitment very complex in terms of municipal mandate, but also fundamental to achieving the vision and objectives of Ottawa 20/20 and the Environmental Strategy.


Although there are a wide variety of programs at the City level to address surface and groundwater quality and quantity, there is no supporting action amongst the current City Strategic Plan priority actions.  Environmental initiatives which do support this commitment include sub-watershed planning and stream protection policies, work of the Water Environment Protection Program, Environmental Effects Monitoring, participation in the source water protection initiative, real time control for combined sewer areas, Sewer Use Program, Rural Clean Water program, and most recently, the approval of the Ottawa River Funding and the Integrated Protection Plan for the Ottawa River.  This commitment is clearly relevant and becoming more so as concerns about the quality of the Ottawa River and other related waterways increase.  The lack of specific priority action items in the City Strategic Plan merits further discussion during the review of the Environment Strategy and the next strategic planning cycle.


In addition, the current Environmental Strategy identifies the need to develop an overarching Water Environment Strategy to provide a comprehensive view of how the City will maintain and enhance its healthy water environment for today and future generations.  To date, this has not been defined or completed but has been identified as one of the priority projects within the Ottawa River Quality Assessment Report approved by Council in July 2009.  This component is discussed on page 11 of this report.


With respect to air emissions and climate change, the Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan (AQCCMP), approved by Council in 2005, outlined a wide range of measures, which could be taken to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and address air quality.  The corporate target for GHG reduction (20 per cent reduction from 1990 levels by 2007) established in the AQCCMP has been met and it is now necessary to establish a new target.  The GHG reduction target for the community as a whole (20 per cent reduction by 2012) is not on track to be achieved.  This target is also reflected in the City Strategic Plan, which states that reduction of GHG emissions by up to 20 per cent by 2012 is a priority.  The GHG inventory showed that as of 2004, community emissions were actually up by five per cent.  This highlights community GHG reductions as one area where particular attention is required.


The AQCCMP also emphasized the need to increase air quality monitoring and better understand air quality in the city.  The recently completed National Capital Air Quality Monitoring Pilot began to address this concern and is evolving into additional work to understand air quality in the City and the connection to human and environmental health.  City programs related to fleet emissions, anti-idling, and transportation all help to address air quality issues.


The City Strategic Plan includes an objective to reduce residential dependence on landfill/dumps by 30 per cent in 1000 days (with several actions designed to achieve this target). The environmental audit recommended that a commitment to reduce the amount of waste that Ottawa residents and businesses send to landfill be included.  Recent developments and programs designed to address this objective include the launch of the Green Bin program and the ICI Waste Diversion Strategy.


Other resource conservation initiatives designed to reduce the environmental footprint of Ottawa citizens include water efficiency measures, the City Green Building Program, and the Green Building Promotion Pilot Program.  Green building and meeting of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards are also objectives in the City Strategic Plan.


This is a very broad goal and commitment, which would benefit from more explicit direction and discussion during the refresh process.





The refresh of the Environmental Strategy is being led by the City's Environment Working Group (EWG) which was formed to provide an integrated, corporate-wide view to environmental issues, opportunities and priorities.  Chaired by Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager, Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability and City Environmental Commissioner, members of EWG consists of General Managers and Directors of various City departments which deliver environmental programs and develop environmental policies such as Community Sustainability, Environmental Services, Infrastructure Services, Planning and Growth Management, Public Works, Ottawa Public Health, Transit Services, and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.  The EWG is charged with ensuring that protecting and enhancing the environment is a priority across the City, both from a policy perspective and within all applicable projects and day-to-day operations.


The EWG has looked at the goals and commitments of the Environmental Strategy at a high level with the overall conclusion that the commitments are still relevant and generally convey the City’s environmental vision and objectives.  The commitments are also reflected in other Ottawa 20/20 plans albeit with slightly different language and levels of detail.  Although the refresh of the Environmental Strategy will include some affirmation and revision of these commitments to provide a consistent vision and renew corporate and community buy-in, the major challenge does not lie at the level of general goals and commitments but in implementation and development of a model to ensure that targets are set and priorities acted upon across the corporation.


While the core commitments and objectives of the Strategy are expected to remain relevant, a refresh is required given the time that has passed since the approval of the original strategy in 2003, general assessment of progress that has been made, Planning and Environment Committee (PEC) strategic priorities for 2009-2010, and recommendations made by the Audit of Environmental Commitments in Ottawa 20/20.


These include, but would not be limited to, the need to:


·          Review and refine environmental commitments through a public process

·          Integrate environmental priorities across the corporation and develop an explicit action plan which is linked to the budget process and the City Strategic Plan

·          Move to a more outcome based or performance assessment approach with a more complete set of targets and performance measures, and related data management system

·          Define and complete a water environment strategy

·          Update some targets and objectives such as the corporate GHG reduction target

·          Address areas in which existing targets are not being met (such as community GHG reduction targets) or where the focus and connection with the City Strategic Plan does not appear to reflect current priorities and emerging programs (such as water quality protection)

·          Address more directly the City role in community resource consumption and reduction of the environmental footprint (however it is measured) of individual residents, as well as resource consumption through procurement and activities in City operations

·          Understand true environmental impacts (PEC priority)

·          Encourage energy self-sufficiency (PEC priority), and

·          Explore incentives to reward sustainable innovation (PEC priority).


Audit of Environmental Commitments in Ottawa 20/20


The audit of environmental commitments in Ottawa 20/20 as reported to Council in August 2008 is also playing a constructive role in scoping and defining the refresh of the Environmental Strategy.  The audit emphasized the need for an overall logic model grounded in targets and performance monitoring, and a better understanding of environmental objectives and roles and responsibilities across the corporation.


Management concurred with these conclusions and is looking to the EWG and the refresh of the Environmental Strategy as a key response to the Audit.  As noted previously, while the basic goals and commitments of the strategy seem current, the challenge is in designing, supporting and implementing a suite of environmental programs which taken together, represent the most effective way to approach these commitments and allocate resources on a priority basis.  This requires a systematic review of programs as they relate to commitments, identification of gaps where commitments are not adequately supported by programs, resource assessment and priority setting, and a way to monitor or track outcomes or progress.  This process has begun through the development of an environmental program logic model and will continue as a focus of the Environmental Strategy refresh.


Environmental Program Logic Model


The development of an environmental program logic model is one response to the concern in the audit of environmental commitments that there is a lack of integration amongst environmental programs making it hard to assess and set priorities and measure overall progress towards these commitments.  Document 1 provides an overview of the logic model work done to date. The basic characteristics involve an effort to make direct connections between actions and programs, and short/medium and long-term outcomes.  There is an emphasis on developing a coherent picture or narrative of the suite of environmental programs, and measuring cumulative progress towards commitments.  Although many environmental programs at the City follow this pattern and measure progress individually, there is no overall or consistent forum or tool for looking at the big picture and assessing priorities across environmental program areas.  This is the role of the logic model.


Development of a logic model for environmental programs has now gone through two internal iterations beginning with the creation of a general framework for the logic model and completion of an initial model using the approved Environmental Strategy and existing programs as outlined in the Getting Greener:  On the Path of Sustainability - Directory of Environmental Initiatives released in Fall 2007.  This model was then used as a basis for a developmental workshop of program management staff involved in environmental programs in May 2008.  Initial results now have been presented to the Environment Working Group and will be used as a starting point for refresh of the Environmental Strategy and in response to the audit of Ottawa 20/20 commitments.


The next steps in development of the model are:


1.  Continue to revise the basic program model through discussion with environmental program staff and through the Environmental Strategy refresh.


The model needs continuous and ongoing improvement and updating as environmental programs evolve and the review of the Environmental Strategy and related community engagement occurs.


2.  Complete a Gap analysis.


The logic model expresses a range of short and medium term outcomes, which should be supported by outputs and activities resulting from environmental programs.  By reviewing the logic model as existing or new outcomes are added, gaps in environmental programs can be identified, as can outcomes without any performance measures.  This gap analysis is an ongoing process to identify:


·          Short term outcomes without output or activities

·          Short term outcomes without targets/performance measures


3.  Design Performance Measurement component


This involves establishing a performance measurement system for each long-term outcome.  For example, there are targets and measurements in place for programs such as residential waste diversion, but not for some other outcomes.  In some cases this can involve quantifiable measures while others require a more descriptive approach.  The framework presented at the logic model workshop by Marbek Resource Consultants is included in Document 1.


4.  Establish an approach for Priority Setting in the context of the Environmental Strategy Refresh


Setting of priorities and assessing existing and potential environmental programs against outcomes is one of the most challenging tasks involved in the logic model and ultimately the refresh of the Environmental Strategy.  This kind of assessment should account for environmental, social and economic considerations.  Ultimately, an effective strategy will also lead to efficient and effective use of City resources and services, as well as linkages to the Economic Strategy and other City strategies.



Sustainability Lens and Choosing our Future Initiative


The refresh of the Environmental Strategy also needs to be considered within the larger context of Choosing our Future and aligningthe work with other strategic initiatives such as the refresh of the Economic Strategy.  This requires development of a sustainability lens or framework for systematic assessment and comparison of actions and outputs to assist in the assessment of new programs and priority setting.  Programs and short-term actions should all be assessed with a common framework using key environmental, economic and social indicators.


Development of this framework is a shared task with the Choosing our Future initiative which is addressing similar issues over a 30-100 year planning horizon.  While it is suggested that the refresh of the Environmental Strategy needs to focus on implementation models and a short to medium term action plan, Choosing our Future will be engaged in the more fundamental re-think of our sustainability vision over the long term beginning with a public forum in September 2009.  There will be close dialogue between these initiatives to ensure that the more immediate refresh of the Environmental Strategy begins to account for the broader and longer-term direction emerging from the Choosing our Future initiative.


Water Environment Strategy


As noted in the background section, the existing Environmental Strategy identifies the need to prepare an overall Water Environment Strategy (WES). The WES will provide an integrated framework for the various programs and initiatives being undertaken across the city, both within the rural and urban areas, to maintain and enhance the water environment.


The development of the WES is one of the short-term initiatives of the Integration Protection Plan for the Ottawa River which was received by Council on July 8, 2009 (ACS2009-ICS-WWS-0003).  The strategy will build upon the water protection policies within the Groundwater Management Strategy, the Official Plan, the Lower Rideau Watershed strategy, and when complete, will serve as the overarching protection plan for Ottawa's streams, rivers and water bodies.  The initial components of the Water Environment Strategy will be established through the Environmental Strategy refresh process.  This will require some more focussed consultation efforts to establish priorities, and discuss relative costs and benefits of measures, which exceed regulatory requirements and speak more directly to the holistic protection of the aquatic environment.  For example, should we shift more of our efforts towards maintaining the health of smaller streams and tributaries, and is there a desire to demonstrate leadership by going beyond the achievement of regulatory compliance?


The actual development of the Water Environment Strategy will extend beyond the Environmental Strategy refresh as it will involve more detailed program and policy development than is included in the broader Environmental Strategy.  The Environmental Strategy will set the context and objectives for the Water Environment Strategy.  The estimated completion date for Water Environment Strategy is Summer 2011.






Environmental Strategy Refresh Process


The review of the Environmental Strategy commenced in summer 2009 and will continue for approximately one year to Q3 2010.  Steps to refresh the Environmental Strategy are summarized below.




Review Best practices on environmental strategy and performance measurement

Q3 2009

Review of strategy approach and commitments through a working session with the Environmental Advisory Committee and interested residents

Q4 2009

Development of initial sustainability lens

Q1 2010

Refinement of the logic model based on existing programs and completion of gap analysis

ongoing - Q1 2010

Report to PEC on logic model development, progress on commitments, selective benchmarking of similar initiatives in other municipalities and detailed work items for the Environmental Strategy review

Q4 2009

Complete work items for review including approaches to filling gaps in the logic model and priority setting

Q2 2010

Complete Strategy refresh

Q2 2010

Release revised Strategy for comment

Q3 2010

Adoption of Strategy

Q3 2010


Given the conclusions of the audit and the extensive consultation that has recently been undertaken on the Official Plan Review, the Transportation Master Plan, and the upcoming community engagement in the Choosing our Future project, it is not suggested that the review of the strategy will include an extensive consultation and visioning process.  Rather, the focus will be on confirming the commitments and creation of a strategy, with stakeholders and the community, which is action-oriented and linked to performance measurement and the City Strategic Plan.





The Environmental Strategy is the key document to guide the City's overall environmental commitments and provide an action plan to meet those commitments.  Review of the strategy and in particular, development of a more integrated action plan with associated performance management framework will have environmental benefits across the corporation and the community.







The Environmental Strategy is applicable city wide.  Any potential rural implications would be identified and discussed in the context of the review itself.





There has been no general public consultation on this report.  The review of the Environmental Strategy will involve consultation including a review of environmental commitments as described in the report.  Key stakeholders beyond the EWG will include:



The general approach as described in the report has been discussed with the Environmental Advisory Committee.





There are no legal/risk management implications to this report.





There is no financial implication associated with the refresh of the Environmental Strategy, as funding is available within the existing Environmental Sustainability budget.





Document 1      Results Based Management and Logic Model Development





Community Sustainability will continue to move forward the refresh of the Environmental Strategy as outlined in this report under the direction of the City Environment Working Group.



AND LOGIC MODEL DEVELOPMENT                                                             DOCUMENT 1



Results-Based Management (RBM) is an approach that focuses on planning and managing for results as opposed to individual activities.


A Result is a change of some sort; and can be an:


·        Output: direct deliverable of what the organization does

·        Outcome: something (usually desired) that happens because of the output (although other factors may affect)

o       Short-Term Outcomes: Closely linked to outputs, they usually involve changes in behaviour or attitudes, or increased adoption of best practices (e.g. less idling)

o       Medium-Term Outcomes: Overarching results (e.g. reduced emissions) that occur from the collective effect of one or more outcomes, leading to…

o       Long-Term Outcomes: Ultimate goals of the organization (e.g. a green city)


At the heart of RBM is the development of a results "story", called the Program Logic, which is expressed through a Logic Model.



Why develop a Logic Model?


While the City has a large number of environmental programs and is making significant progress in some areas, it is difficult to see the overall picture and relate those programs to priorities and performance measures.   The concern was identified in the audit of Ottawa 20/20 environmental commitments.  Development of a framework which would provide the capacity to look across the corporation at environmental programs to identify gaps, develop performance measures, and assign priorities in terms of staff and budget resources is seen as a first step in addressing this concern and reviewing/revising the Environmental Strategy.  It will act as an ongoing tool to allow different departments to participate through a common framework or narrative.



How will it be used?


A logic model can serve a number of purposes:



Figure 1 serves to illustrate what a logic model framework might look like for environmental programs at the City. For each medium term outcome, a table detailing short-term outcomes, supporting programs, and targets and performance measures is developed.



Figure 1 – Logic Model Framework Illustration