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With greenhouse gases rising, increased extreme weather events, warming oceans, more species at risk and political will across the country dwindling, Canadians are at a crossroads when it comes to addressing climate change—the biggest issue of our time.

While Ontario Premier Doug Ford “consults” residents about what to do about climate change (after repealing the previous Liberal government’s cap and trade system and cancelling hundreds of green energy contracts) and Saskatchewan challenges the federal government’s carbon price in court, there is an opportunity for municipal governments to step up and lead on this important file.

When Ontarians go to the polls to elect their municipal representatives on Oct. 22, voters should pay particular attention to candidates who propose concrete measures to protect the environment, advocate for sustainable development policies and equip our cities with green infrastructure in an effort to flight climate change.

It’s not just talking the talk on climate change, however. It’s also walking the walk and leading by example.

As a candidate in Ottawa’s Capital Ward, I am proud to have partnered with Tree Canada to offset greenhouse gas emissions to become carbon neutral—the only campaign in the city to do so.

Campaigns generate and emit carbon into the atmosphere with such activities as printing materials and signs, hosting events, and driving throughout the ward. Offsetting this carbon by planting trees is the right thing to do.

Not only do trees contribute to the character of our neighbourhoods, they also help sequester carbon and clean our air of pollutants. They can also help us adapt to climate change by acting as heat sink in the summer and preventing flooding.

A world-class city like Ottawa can and should do better on this front. That’s why I’m running for city council: to protect green spaces; to create more green infrastructure including low-carbon transportation options and systems to soak up and filter rain water where it lands; to advocate for sustainable development and better waste management; and to improve the city's Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) by developing hard targets and deadlines to meet them, while allocating appropriate funds to ensure staff can do their jobs. The UFMP should be linked directly to the city's climate change mitigation plan.

All cities should be required to apply a climate lens to every decision made by council so that residents know the impact those decisions will have on the environment.

Our youth and generations to come deserve a clean and healthy future with economic prosperity. Cities have the power to ensure this happens and are vital to making a difference in the global fight against climate change. Electing environmental leaders and sustainable development advocates to city council is key.

Anthony Carricato is a candidate for Ottawa City Council in Capital Ward.