City Budget and Climate Change

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Last week I did a talk for the Law and Cities Program at their first Climate Cafe at the University of Windsor. Frankly I forgot to post my slide deck and presentation over the weekend as I was out of town. You can find it down below.

As my nerd cred is well established on reading the budget.

In the talk I was asked to speak for 15 minutes (so little time) or so and distill down the City of Windsor budget see how it stacks up on the climate change front. To be frank it is hard to do and the presentation and slides only really scratch the surface. You can download the slides below but as you aren’t going to hear me talk about it, there are a couple of things that I would point out:

  1. Capital expenditures due to the structure of the budget likely under report the active transit or environmental/climate impact for expenditures. For example a number of road projects in the budget are currently also identified in the Active Transit Master Plan. Unfortunately the budget doesn’t currently breakout sub-costs for sidewalks or bike lanes as a part of a road project, so those items are just captured as roads. This means when I totals categories I couldn’t split costs.
  2. The City of Windsor has taken major steps in past years but due to the budget structure it doesn’t include any of those previous investments (LED Streets Lights, Solar Panels on municipal buildings etc.) unless they need fixing. Same on the operational side where people and programs are in place to help mitigate and adapt to climate events which are just embedded in the City’s core operations at a departmental level. Therefore the budget, although a representation of the City’s priorities and values might not be the best tool to measure their climate action.
  3. The charts in the presentation are calculate from this data where I did make arbitrary attribution of certain types of projects to certain categories. We can certainly debate whether that attribution is entirely accurate. Frankly I went with my gut based on the information in the budget documents but you can probably quibble over project being listed in X or Y category or maybe me not including/excluding a certain project. As there was no standardized methodology that I was aware that I could build from, I used the frameworks that I felt was best.
  4. Grant funding does make up a significant portion of some of the budget expenditures (looking at you cycling infrastructure). They are reported like other budget items but the other levels of government do need to come through to move some of those projects forward. Hopefully the grants are successful as if they aren’t it will likely mean delaying key projects or having to pull money from the levy.
  5. Forgive and spelling or types in the presentation, I finished it 10 minutes before I arrived at the University. I did update one number in the presentation. I had an inaccurate total for the total capital budget expenditure in the deck that presented, I shared this error and this updated deck with the organizers last week and the updated version of this slide deck is attached to this post.

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