Written by Denise Deby.

Citizens for Safe Cycling presents the fourth annual Family Winter Cycling Parade & Forum on Sunday, January 25, 2015 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The main event is a fun 4 km bike ride through Centretown, starting at City Hall. It’s a good way to try winter biking if you’re new to it, meet up with other cyclists and demonstrate that with the right supports, winter can include biking. After the ride, there’s a discussion on winter biking with city councillors, as well as prizes, coffee and hot chocolate.

Check CfSC’s website for more information (and link to a primer on winter cycling). Register here: http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/citizens-for-safe-cycling-4th-annual-family-winter-cycling-parade-forum-tickets-15071758034?ref=ebtnebregn

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February 13, 2015 is International Winter Bike to Work Day. Everyone is welcome to participate. There’s a friendly competition among cities to get the most people signed up—you can help keep Ottawa in the top 10.


Written by Denise Deby.

Super Bee to the Rescue by phrawr on Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/phrawr/9446571102/ Attribution 2.0 Generic

Super Bee to the Rescue by phrawr on Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/phrawr/9446571102/ Attribution 2.0 Generic

You’ve probably heard–pollinators including bees, butterflies, moths and birds are being harmed by pesticides, loss of habitat, climate change and other negative influences on their health and numbers.

Healthy pollinators mean healthy food. It’s estimated that more than a third of what we eat and many plant-derived medicines need pollinators to grow.

The Ontario government is proposing a plan to enhance pollinator health and reduce the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

The plan, which would come into effect this year, would decrease the amount of land where neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds are planted by 80 per cent by 2017.

The proposal is open to public comment until January 25, 2015. For more details and to comment, see the website.

The David Suzuki Foundation has created a letter you can adapt and sign here.

The Ontario Beekeepers Association supports the direction of the plan and calls for additional steps to protect pollinators. See their example letter here.


Written by Denise Deby.

OEB consultation invite via Ecology Ottawa

Ecology Ottawa’s invitation to the OEB consultation http://www.ecologyottawa.org/tell_the_ontario_energy_board_no_to_energy_east

Here’s what’s happening on the proposed Energy East pipeline:

The issue: TransCanada is planning to convert a natural gas pipeline through the Ottawa area to one that transports tar sands bitumen east on its way from Alberta to New Brunswick. (The Ottawa Riverkeeper has a map of the proposed pipeline route through the Ottawa River watershed here.)

The plan has prompted concerns about the potential of a spill, which would pollute groundwater, soil and rivers. The pipeline would also facilitate an increase in tar sands oil production, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Communities along the route are calling for renewable energy alternatives, rather than continued efforts to increase production of unsustainable energy.

What’s next? The Ontario Energy Board is holding the second of two rounds of public consultations on the proposed pipeline. They’ll be in Ottawa on January 22, 2015. What people say there will inform the Ontario government’s position on the pipeline and its effects.

Here’s what you can do:

1. For more information about the pipeline and getting involved, participate in Ecology Ottawa’s online webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 at 7 p.m. (Details here.)

2. Attend the Ontario Energy Board consultation. It’s on Thursday, Jan. 22 from 6-9:30 p.m. at the Brookstreet Hotel (525 Legget Dr.) in Kanata. Find more information and RSVP here: http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/html/oebenergyeast/attend_a_meeting.cfm#.VLv0oRs5A5s

3. If you can’t attend in person, you can attend online by following the instructions here: http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/html/oebenergyeast/attend_a_meeting.cfm#.VLv0oRs5A5s

4. Submit a written opinion or question to the OEB, by February 6, 2015—see http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/html/oebenergyeast/have_your_say.cfm#.VLvz6xs5A5s for details.

5. Sign Environmental Defence‘s petition asking Ontario political leaders to say no to the pipeline. (Environmental Defence also has some suggestions here for writing letters to the OEB.)

Ecology Ottawa has more information on its website, including a guide to Energy East, proposals on what the City of Ottawa can do and an analysis of why Energy East is a bad idea.

The Ottawa Riverkeeper is also working to raise awareness of risks of the pipeline.

The Council of Canadians has information and a petition on their website.

We’re not so much saying ‘no’ to Energy East as we are saying ‘yes!’ to all the better alternatives that exist.” – from “The Top 9 Reasons Why Energy East is Bad for the Climate,” Ecology Ottawa


Written by Denise Deby.

Brewer Garden Community Garden plots - D. Deby photo

More inspiration for sustainable gardening: the Community Gardening Network of Ottawa is holding a Winter Workshop Series.

The sessions, which look to be of interest to new and experienced gardeners alike, are:

What is Permaculture? Ecological Design for Gardens and More - January 15, 2015, facilitated by Bonita Ford, Permaculture Institute of Eastern Ontario

Seed Saving - January 20, 2015, facilitated by Greta Kryger, Greta’s Organic Garden

Square Foot Gardening - January 24, 2015, facilitated by Carolyn Klickermann, Certified SFG Instructor

Herbal Tricks & Tips: Simple Ways to Incorporate Healing Plants into Everyday Life - February 10, 2015, facilitated by Amber Westfall, The Wild Garden

You need to register for the workshops, which take place at various community centres around town; contact communitygardening@justfood.ca or phone (613) 699-6850 x12. The first three workshops are $10 each (or pay-what-you-can); the fourth, Herbal Tips & Tricks, is free.

The Community Gardening Network of Ottawa has also posted a handy Garden Guide at http://justfood.ca/community-gardening-network/garden-guide/.

Written by Denise Deby.

New flyer_Ott 2015_v2

Spring may seem far away, but it’s never too early to think about gardening.

If you’re keen to delve into organic gardening or are already a savvy gardener, you might be interested in the Canadian Organic Growers’ Organic Master Gardener Course. It’s running for the first time in Ottawa, starting in February 2015.

Here’s more information from Anne-Marie Dufour, Organic Agriculture Program Coordinator at COG:

Examining the connection between soil health, plant health, human health and environmental health, this course will address sustainable land management practices to maintain plants in the urban landscape.

The Organic Master Gardener Certificate is designed for urban growers, community gardeners, landscapers, municipal parks personnel, environmental advocates, naturalists and conservationists. Please note, you will need weekly access to a computer and the internet for some course materials.

Topics include: botany & adaptations within ecosystems, soil ecosystem, soil testing, mulches and compost teas/brews, garden bed installation, soil fertility management, water-wise gardening, pruning, turf, landscape health, Permaculture design, organic standards. For more details, check out the full course syllabus.”

The course happens over three weekends—Feb. 14-15, Mar. 14-15 and Apr. 11-12, 2015—at the Hintonburg Community Centre. Early bird registration ends Jan. 23, 2015; early bird price is $670+HST; and regular price is $720 + HST. See COG’s website for further details.

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Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa-St. Lawrence-Outaouais also offers organic gardening seminars in April and May through their Organic Gardening in the City program. Check their website for updates.


Written by Denise Deby.

Mud Lake forest - D. Deby

In the transition to a new year, many people find renewed energy to do more toward the things they care about. Not everyone makes resolutions, but it’s often a time for reflecting on past efforts and committing to new ways to live sustainably.

Still, no matter how diligently we compost our kitchen waste, use our appliances during off-peak times or take the bus more often, we can still have that nagging feeling that some of the most important things are beyond our influence.

In 2014, for example, the IPCC confirmed that human-influenced greenhouse gas emissions are changing the earth’s climate in ways that will have severe and irreversible effects. In Canada, the federal government continued to promote unsustainable energy (a big greenhouse gas contributor) while undermining the systems and programs that monitor and address environmental problems.

In Ottawa, progress was mixed. For example, enthusiasm about new environmentally-minded planning initiatives was tempered by concerns about whose vision of our city was being served. Laudable efforts to build more sustainable-transportation-friendly infrastructure like the Churchill Avenue “complete street” were overshadowed by the deaths of people while cycling or walking. We still have a long way to go, and it can be difficult to know how as individuals we can contribute to improving the “big picture.”

Here are some reasons to take heart in 2015.

1. There’s evidence to suggest that significant change can happen through a groundswell of individual actions. Take winter biking. I’ve seen, over the past couple of years, people deciding to try it, and encouraging and supporting others by example and through social media, sharing tips on bike care, routes and how to dress. This is a big deal in terms of normalizing winter biking and drawing more attention to the need for winter maintenance of bike routes.

Savvy organizations like Ecology Ottawa have built on individual interests and energies to create initiatives such as Tree Ottawa and the climate change campaign that engage many others in Ottawa on the environment.

2. We have it in us to build local resilience by coming together to identify and create sustainable alternatives. Some recent examples in Ottawa: the West End Well Co-op, created by people in the neighbourhood as a gathering space to share food, ideas and inspiration for living sustainably; the Biodome Garden in Brewer Park, where community garden members are demonstrating and testing ways to extend the growing season; and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op, offering people a way to invest in community-owed renewable energy. These home-grown solutions have the potential to change the way we consume and use resources. They also serve as models, showing what people can achieve when they come together as communities, and when the city supports local initiatives.

3. This year may bring new windows of opportunity to influence political will and action on the environment. With a new Ottawa City Council, many of whose members are attentive to environmental concerns, and an upcoming federal election, it’s an opportunity to speak up, exercise your vote and encourage political leaders to make policy decisions that promote environmental solutions and stewardship.

If you’re looking for other ways to green your 2015, you might find some ideas in last year’s January post (with apologies for the post “recycling”). Share your own ideas with the rest of us! And have a happy new year.


Written by Denise Deby.


Here’s exciting news—Ottawa is getting a Tool Library!

Tool libraries lend out tools, just as conventional libraries lend out books. Tool libraries have been set up in Toronto, Hamilton, Halifax and Calgary. Most charge an annual membership fee for the opportunity to borrow tools from the inventory.

Tool libraries are a great example of the sharing economy, minimizing the amount of “stuff” people have to buy, and pooling community resources for items that most people need only once in a while.

In Ottawa, the tool library is a non-profit initiative intended to provide people with affordable access to tools. It will open at Arts Court in the new year.

In the meantime, the Ottawa Tool Library is holding a tool drive to help them get up and running. You can donate used or new hand tools, power tools and kitchen equipment. Check your cupboards, basement or garage for underused items you might have, clear the clutter and share with others! There are several drop off locations; check the website for details. They’ll be accepting donations again in January, and can use volunteers, too.

Stay tuned for more news about the Ottawa Tool Library!



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