Rio: Sabourin: Time to act on climate and housing emergencies


The Citizen invited the candidates for the municipal elections on October 24 to share their thoughts:


The last city council declared a housing and climatic emergency. This month, Ottawa has the opportunity to elect a council that will take action on these complex and interconnected crises.


As your candidate for River Ward City Council, I propose that we adopt a City Green New Deal. A Green New Deal is a thoughtful approach that connects everyday decisions with long-term planning to address the major social, economic, and environmental challenges facing our city.

My plan is fundamentally about where we live and how we get around: housing and transportation.

We should start with investments to expand Ottawa’s public and nonprofit capacity. In the housing sector, I would prioritize green social housing. Social housing includes nonprofit organizations, cooperatives, land trusts, and community housing. Using these ownership models, we can build homes that are permanently affordable and insulated from the speculative market.


Ottawa must take advantage of existing federal support and municipal zoning powers to build green social housing efficiently. For financial sustainability, developments may include subsidized units as well as market rate units. Private developers still have an important role to play, with strong inclusive zoning regulations ensuring delivery of more affordable units in all new construction.

To fight the climate crisis, Ottawa also needs to upgrade our existing housing stock. As part of the Green New Deal, the city must design a program to modernize all public buildings, starting with Ottawa Community Housing. To stimulate equitable economic development, the City may create public contracting incentives for cooperatives, unionized contractors, and businesses owned by community housing residents. This would improve the standard of living for thousands of residents and reduce costs and emissions.


In the transport sector, the city needs to intervene to expand public options. Without well-maintained roads, frequent public transportation, and a connected cycling network, residents are cut off from local businesses and each other.

OC Transpo has not recovered from the significant cuts that undermined its ridership. In the River Ward, three of the four routes serving the Rideauview community were cut off and never returned. We should bring these routes back and improve service across the network.

To help residents make last-mile trips, our transportation system must become truly multimodal. Ottawa should develop a public bike share program, building on the successes of BikeTO. We should also explore a public ride-sharing service and provide indoor bike parking at all O-Train stations. Effective public transportation and bicycle infrastructure are climate justice imperatives.

It is crucial that Ottawa take decisive action in the next four years with smart investments and a renewed public sector focus.

My plan goes beyond housing and transportation to include fully funding social services, creating a mental health response team, and developing major city streets.

Find more on my website at

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