Written by Denise Deby.

Photo by Shanta Rohse on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/23817022@N00/2220015238

Photo by Shanta Rohse on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/23817022@N00/2220015238

In the Ottawa River, between Ottawa and Gatineau, the Chaudière Falls and three islands—Albert, Victoria and Chaudière—are a hidden but significant area with a lot of potential.

They’re home to a closed Domtar factory and largely cut off from public view, but a debate is raging about future plans for the site.

The area is sacred to Anishinaabeg. Local Algonquin Elder William Commanda had a dream to restore it as an internationally renowned gathering and interpretive centre and park for all people. Celebrated architect Douglas Cardinal worked with him on this, and continues to promote the vision.

You can find out more about the area and the vision at http://www.asinabka.com/geninfo.htm and http://freethefalls.ca/.

At the same time, Windmill Development Group is planning to build a mix of condominium towers and townhomes, commercial space and public areas on Albert and Chaudière Islands. They’re incorporating environmental sustainability into the design, but there’s a basic disconnect between the two ideas. In one, the islands are another residential-commercial development enjoyed by the people who live and pass through there; the other offers a national site at the centre of Canada’s capital where everyone can celebrate the river and land’s heritage, wander, meet, heal, build cross-cultural understanding and welcome people from around the world.

At the heart of the conflict are unresolved questions about who owns the unceded land, and who speaks for the different communities involved.

The answers? We as citizens need to understand that what our decision-makers choose will have an effect not only in Ottawa-Gatineau but across the country, where we are only just beginning to grapple with what reconciliation means.

If you’re interested in finding out more:

Indigenous Peoples’ Solidarity Movement Ottawa is inviting people to a Decolonial Picnic at Chaudière Falls on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015. Walk or bike from Dundonald Park (Somerset and Bay) to Victoria Island with a group starting at 1:30 p.m., or meet at Victoria Island at 2:30 p.m. Includes a tour of the Island and the Falls and a discussion about the proposed development, as well as food and music. Check the Facebook page for details.

A free screening of DamNation takes place on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. The documentary looks at experiences of dam removal and river restoration in the U.S. At the Ottawa Citizen building, 7-9 p.m.

There’s a discussion session on Chaudière Falls and the Islands on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015: what’s happening with the area, the importance of the land and waters, and what could be done. Noon-5 p.m; see FreetheFalls.ca for details.

The next morning, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, there’s a rally to support the vision of an inclusive site. It’s at the Human Rights Monument outside City Hall starting at 8:30 a.m.; see http://freethefalls.ca/events/free-the-falls-free-the-islands-rally-at-city-hall/ for details.

See also APTN’s recent story.

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Talia Klein of Savour Ottawa/Just Food for information.

Heirloom Cherry and Plum Tomatoes by Heather Flournoy - Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License https://www.flickr.com/photos/24126689@N05/2956533148/in/photostream/

Heirloom Cherry and Plum Tomatoes by Heather Flournoy on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License https://www.flickr.com/photos/24126689@N05/2956533148/in/photostream/

Savour Ottawa, which promotes local food producers, retailers and restaurants, is organizing a couple of great opportunities for people to discover and enjoy locally grown, creatively prepared and tasty food.

Savour Ottawa Tables

Between July 15 and August 30, 2015, Savour Ottawa is collaborating with several area restaurants and farmers to offer menu items that feature ingredients grown close to home. Participating restaurants, kitchens and cafés will be offering a table d’hôte menu, a special event, or prepared, take-home meals based on local ingredients. You’ll find dishes made with heirloom vegetables, seasonal herbs, local cheeses, organic poultry and beef, for example. Check out the menus at http://www.savourottawa.ca/tables/.

Harvest Table 2015

The fifth annual Harvest Table happens on Sunday, August 30, 2015. This is a multi-course lunch where Ottawa chefs partner with area farmers to create dishes that celebrate the local harvest. It will be held in the Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park, next to the Ottawa Farmers’ Market; you need to buy tickets in advance. Check here for details.

Savour Ottawa is an initiative of Ottawa Tourism, Just Food and the City of Ottawa. (Check out Savour Ottawa Online, where you can order food from local producers and pick it up at the Parkdale Field House every week.)

Tables General Facebook all chefs


Written by Denise Deby.

Murphy's Point - D Deby

One of the benefits of living in Ottawa is the proximity of provincial, recreational and conservation parks. Gatineau Park, Fitzroy and Rideau River Provincial Parks, and other nearby conservation areas and parks make for great day or weekend outings (or longer). Many offer hiking, swimming, canoeing/kayaking, interpretive programs, camping and more, as well as the chance to appreciate the diversity of ecosystems in this region.

Although any time is a good time to spend time in a park, the July 17-19, 2015 weekend has lots to offer.

Ontario Parks is holding Healthy Parks Healthy People on Friday, July 17, to draw attention to the health benefits of nature. Day use admission to provincial parks is free, and many parks have activities planned. (Check the website under “Event Listing.”)

Saturday, July 18 is Canada’s Parks Day, and admission to many national and provincial parks and historic sites is free. Some are offering special programming for the day, too. You can see some of the activities on the Got Parks website.

(Parks Day and Got Parks are courtesy of the Canadian Parks Council, a little-known but important network through which provincial, territorial and national parks connect and address issues of common interest.)

If you don’t have access to a vehicle, don’t worry. Parkbus still offers a service to Algonquin Park from Ottawa. Check the schedule here. (The next trip is the August long weekend.)


Written by Denise Deby.

Just Food barn - D. Deby

Just Food has operated a working farm on Greenbelt land near Blackburn Hamlet since 2012. It supports new farmers to learn organic farming, and partners with area farmers and community groups on projects that improve access to sustainable food in the Ottawa region.

A couple of weeks ago, Just Food and the National Capital Commission signed a 25-year lease for a community farm on 150 acres of land at the site.

The agreement means that Just Food can continue to offer space and programs to support farmers, provide public education on food issues and help create a viable, healthy and sustainable local food system.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s growing on site these days, check out the Just Food Start-Up Farm Program farmers. Their vegetables, herbs, wild and forest foods, honey and other products are available to buy at the Just Food farm stand or from the farmers directly.

Just Food has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help it grow. They’re welcoming donations to upgrade the soil to make the land more productive. (The campaign coincides with the 2015 International Year of Soils.)

As well, anyone can become a member of Just Food. More information here.

From Just Food:

Just Food is a community-based, non-profit organization that has been working towards vibrant, just and sustainable food and farming systems in the Ottawa region since 2003.  In addition to the now established Just Food Farm, Just Food programs include Savour Ottawa, the Community Gardening Network of Ottawa, Buy Local Food Program (including the Ottawa Food Hub), and diverse food policy and food access initiatives.”

Update: Just Food launches the Farm Stand on Sunday, July 26! Check out the fresh, local produce grown by Just Food farmers.

Written by Denise Deby.


From July 3-5, 2015, people across Canada are calling for a new approach to the environment, the economy and society.

On July 5, thousands of people will gather in Toronto for the March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate. They’ll be drawing attention to the connections among social justice, good work, clean energy and a healthy environment, and highlighting solutions for addressing climate change. The March brings together a wide range of participants including representatives of Indigenous, marginalized and racialized communities, human rights, labour and environmental groups, and many others.

The March precedes the Climate Summit of the Americas hosted by Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, and a meeting of government and business representatives, the International Economic Forum of the Americas’ Toronto Global Forum.

Additional activities across Canada on July 3 and 4 are calling for fossil fuel divestment and a shift from tar sands to clean energy. You can follow these on Twitter through #JobsJusticeClimate.

(350 Ottawa is organizing a bus to take people from Ottawa to Toronto for the July 5 March, but check first to see if seats are still available.)

July Actions Image


Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa River from Victoria Island D Deby (2)

You already know about the Parliament Hill events, the neighbourhood barbecues, the fireworks. Here are a few other ways to make Canada a more liveable and just place:

1. Learn more about this country of ours by reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. The Commission sets out what happened at residential schools and recommends how non-Indigenous and Indigenous people can renew their relationships based on understanding and respect. Make reading the Executive Summary a Canada Day or summer project; listen to Indigenous people across the country reading excerpts of the report.

2. Chances are there’s a river or lake near your Canada Day celebration, and chances are it’s not protected by law from industrial pollution or other risks. Ask the Canadian government to reinstitute protection of lakes and rivers (in the 2012 “budget bill” they reduced the number of protected lakes and rivers from 2.5 million to just 159). Read about Gwich’in ultramarathoner Caribou Legs’ run from Vancouver to Ottawa calling for protection of water, and sign the Council of Canadians’ petition to the federal government.

3. Youth from the Algonquin community of Kitigan Zibi and from Wakefield and Chelsea are paddling the Gatineau River from Maniwaki to Ottawa together, arriving at Victoria Island on July 1. Learn more about Chimeda, “a journey of unity and love for our waters,” and their efforts to protect the watershed for everyone, here or here. (Also take a few minutes to read about the significance of Chaudière Falls and Chaudière, Victoria and Albert Islands in the Ottawa River.)

Guest post written by Carol Burnup, EnviroCentre.

"3D Green Energy" by StockMonkeys.com  http://www.stockmonkeys.com/ Chris Potter on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

“3D Green Energy” by StockMonkeys.com http://www.stockmonkeys.com/ Chris Potter on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Since March, EnviroCentre has been hosting monthly workshops to Ottawa residents on a variety of topics ranging from basic bike maintenance, understanding utility bills and misconceptions about draftiness and windows.

Given that two of the major areas contributing to greenhouse gas emissions in Canada come from the energy sector, such as heat and electricity generation, and transportation, the workshops aim to educate and empower residents on aspects of home energy efficiency and getting around more sustainably, so they can make changes within their own lives and contribute on a grander scale to the problem of climate change that faces us all.

The next workshop is coming up this Thursday, June 25 and is on the theme of how an energy assessment can help you plan your next reno. Register now for this workshop!

Or learn more about EnviroCentre’s other workshops.

About EnviroCentre

EnviroCentre is a local Ottawa-based environmental non-profit that helps residents, families and businesses save energy and money while reducing their impact on the environment.

With a goal of greenhouse gas reduction, EnviroCentre focuses its efforts in improving building or home energy efficiency and sustainable transportation.

To learn more, visit: http://www.envirocentre.ca/.



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