Committee approves 30-year Solid Waste Master Plan

A graphic with Ottawa City Hall is in the background. A vertical grey stripe and a horizontal lime green stripe are in the foreground with " Environment and Climate Change Committee update" in the centre.

The Environment and Climate Change Committee today approved the Solid Waste Master Plan(link is external) (SWMP) to guide how the City will sustainably manage waste over the next 30 years.  

Ottawa’s population is expected to reach 1.5 million by 2053, and the amount of waste the City will need to manage is forecasted to increase by 31 per cent. The City-owned Trail Waste Facility landfill is estimated to reach capacity between 2034 and 2035, if today's disposal habits remain the same. The SWMP details how the City will tackle waste-related challenges and needs as Ottawa grows while working towards the vision of a zero-waste Ottawa. 

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 waste services affordable. The plan emphasizes opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle in our communities, such as organizing repair cafés, offering recycling in parks and requiring green bins in multi-residential buildings. The City would invest in generating renewable energy from food waste and extending the landfill’s lifespan while exploring new ways to manage residual waste in the future, possibly using a waste-to-energy incinerator or mixed-waste processing. 

Over the 30-year term of the SWMP, the proposed actions would 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 would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 9,000 tonnes of CO2e, equivalent to removing about 2,750 passenger vehicles from the roads each year. 

The Committee also approved the new Solid Waste Long Range Financial Plan(link is external) (LRFP), which sets out how the City will keep waste services cost-effective and affordable over the next 28 years to 2053. The LRFP outlines the operating requirements and capital investments needed to maintain existing service and to fund the SWMP. The City would shift to a funding model where costs would be recovered from a curbside service fee. To support future capital needs, the City would replenish the solid waste reserve fund from solid waste revenues over the next several years. 

The LRFP would 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. Even with the increase, Ottawa’s solid waste fee would remain significantly lower than other comparable municipalities. Residents would continue to pay a fair price for efficient, reliable waste collection service. The City would ensure that service remains sustainable by making smart investments in the SWMP to manage waste in a socially, environmentally and economically responsible manner. 

The Committee approved three changes to tree planting programs(link is external) 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 would adopt a proactive approach to trees within the right of way, ensuring lost canopy cover is replaced whenever a tree is removed. The Commemorative Tree Program would be renamed the Tree Dedication Program, updating it to be more efficient and cost-effective while also expanding eligibility. A new Private Land Tree-Planting Program would distribute trees across the city and provide full-service tree planting in priority areas, free of charge. This program would increase tree planting while enhancing public education and awareness of urban forest stewardship. 

The Committee also approved the recommended methodology for the City’s Tree Equity Analysis,(link is external) which will support the Tree Planting Strategy’s goal of providing residents equitable access to urban forest canopy cover. Staff would use the American Forests methodology, chosen for its comprehensive and scalable approach that uses multiple socio-economic and health factors to guide equitable tree planting. The results of the analysis will enable the City to identify and target priority areas for tree planting across Ottawa, ensuring more equitable access to the health, economic and environmental benefits of urban forests while planting trees where they are needed most. 

Items considered at this meeting will rise to Council on Tuesday, June 25. 

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