Written by Denise Deby.

Hot Air Ballon Ride by Shanta Rohse on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/23817022@N00/2220014826

“Hot Air Ballon Ride” by Shanta Rohse on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/23817022@N00/2220014826

There’s something not quite right with planning and development in Ottawa.

The process for rejuvenating LeBreton Flats has resulted in two proposals. Both have some positive features, but both are monumental in approach, rather than human in scale, with condo towers and concrete (not to mention automobile museums). What’s lacking is a vision of public space that is inclusive, accessible, people-oriented and in keeping with the area’s natural setting and heritage.

Over on the Ottawa River, development plans for parts of the area known as Asinabka—the three islands of Victoria, Albert, and Chaudière, along with Chaudière Falls—are contested, especially by Indigenous groups. Greenspace Alliance, CPAWS, Ottawa Field Naturalists and others have also called for a reconsideration of the development.

One of Ottawa’s most biodiverse areas, the South March Highlands, is facing continued destruction through development that our decision-makers can’t seem to stop, despite legislation that should protect the habitat and species at risk there.

In these and many other cases, citizens are presented with plans for development and invited to comment, or to choose between limited options, but without significant engagement in the discussion about what the sites should be in the first place. Instead, we’re left to support or oppose–or try to find out about–a plan that’s likely to go ahead.

In a letter at Unpublished Ottawa, Michelle Reimer refers to “the repeated cycle of D.A.D. (decide, announce, defend)” that is “exhausting for the average citizen but works favorably for developers and policy makers.”

Spacing Ottawa has a great write-up about the problems with the LeBreton Flats process, and what people can do about it, at http://spacing.ca/ottawa/2016/02/07/wwjjd-what-would-jane-jacobs-do-about-lebreton-flats/. Read it, and have your say at http://www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca/planning/master-plans/lebreton-flats (the National Capital Commission’s site for public input on the two proposals) until February 8, 2016.




Written by Denise Deby.


The South March Highlands is a unique area in Ottawa. It’s not well known, yet the forests, wetlands and rocky Canadian Shield within it are ecologically, geologically and culturally significant.

Home to more than 800 species, including at least 20 at risk, the Highlands contain some of Ottawa’s densest biodiversity. They also serve as important “green infrastructure”—storing and filtering water, cleaning the air, moderating climate and temperature, providing eco-corridors for species to survive, and offering trails for walkers and bikers, for example.

The Highlands are not protected, though.

Outside the city’s South March Highlands Conservation Forest, much of the rest is slated for development, which has been encroaching on the Highlands for years. Recently, developer KNL has applied to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to destroy up to 120 Butternut trees, as well as Blandings Turtles and Least Bitterns–all species at risk–and their habitats, which are protected under legislation.

What can you do to help protect the South March Highlands?

Paul Renaud, a field naturalist and long-time advocate for the Highlands, has some recommendations:

* Ask the City of Ottawa to include all of the South March Highlands in its Urban Forest Management Plan. Several areas including Trillium Woods and other forest and wetlands are being left out, says Paul. You can write to Mayor Jim Watson (jim.watson@ottawa.ca), City Councillor and Environment Committee Chair David Chernushenko (david.chernushenko@ottawa.ca), and urban forester Martha Copestake (martha.copestake@ottawa.ca). Find more information here.

* Comment by February 3, 2016 on KNL’s application to adversely affect several species at risk and their habitats in the South March Highlands. You can write or submit comments online at http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTI3MTcw&statusId=MTkyMDg1&language=en.

* Contact Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna (Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca), and ask her to get the National Capital Commission to declare the entire South March Highlands a National Interest Land Mass that can no longer be developed. (If you post your message to UnpublishedOttawa.com, too, more people will see it.)

If you’d like more information on the South March Highlands and what can be done, check out these links and video:




Written by Denise Deby.

Clothes - D. Deby

If you’re clearing out stuff you don’t need, and think someone else could use it, consider these options:

Agencies in Ottawa are co-ordinating to collect clothes and household items in good shape for refugees and residents in need. Councillor Rick Chiarelli has posted a handy map here of drop-off locations and links for Ottawa Neighbourhood Services, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and other organizations.

Helping With Furniture collects used furniture and household goods from certain parts of the city for delivery to refugee families. See details here.

Matthew House operates a Furniture Bank for people in need.

Organizations such as the Ottawa Mission and Cornerstone that provide shelter and services to people sometimes accept clothing and personal items, but check first to see what they need.

Dress for Success and Suits His Style provide professional work clothing to women and men who are economically disadvantaged.

Clothing and other donations to the Youville Centre go to young mothers and their children.

The Snowsuit Fund makes winter jackets, mitts and other outerwear available to kids who need them.

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore accepts furniture and e-waste.

St. Mark School is hosting an Electronic Waste Collection Depot this weekend. Find them on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 from 12-4 p.m. at 1040 Dozois Road in Manotick. (They’re also collecting gently used clothing.)

Alternatively, take your e-waste to EnviroCentre or another official centre or event near you.

You can consult the City of Ottawa’s Take It Back program to find out where to recycle or discard used clothes, household goods, electronics, hazardous materials and other things, or use their “Waste Explorer” to search for where to take a specific item.

There are lots of donation boxes around the city, but if you use them make sure they belong to a legitimate charity.

Remember to recycle only things in good condition that someone else will want—don’t use these services as a way to get rid of junk.

Recycling used items is good, but it’s also good to donate cash (or volunteer) for causes you care about, and/or groups helping people stay out of poverty and conflict in the first place.

Written by Denise Deby.

Snow hats - D. Deby

Do you make new year’s resolutions? I have mixed feelings about them. They can inspire positive changes, but change is welcome any time of year–and without the stress of trying to get the whole year right.

Still, there’s something about turning a calendar page that provokes reflection about choices and priorities.

Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about.

Seize the day. Our municipal, provincial and federal representatives have demonstrated some political will to use their powers for good—for example, the way our city came together to support refugees, or the climate change measures our province has introduced, or the federal government’s willingness to even acknowledge climate change. In other ways, there’s been too little vision and action—towards a city and country that are inclusive and respectful, safe and sustainable. It’s a good time to encourage political leaders to make decent choices.

Live moments. Too many people around me have lost loved ones or are facing difficult challenges. Others (including me) worry about things that seem big but aren’t really all that important, rather than focusing on what matters and on the moments that make up a meaningful and joyful life. Time to embrace what’s of value, let go of things that aren’t significant, and be accepting of self and others.

Do what you can. Ottawa is a prosperous city, but not for everyone. It’s time to change that. The challenges can seem overwhelming, but one person can always do something: support a good organization, contact a politician about an important cause, reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. You know what to do.

Have a very happy new year, all year long.

Written by Denise Deby.

Spruce needles by AKuptsova on Pixabay CC0 Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/spruce-needles-tree-macro-branch-847388/

Spruce needles by AKuptsova on Pixabay CC0 Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/spruce-needles-tree-macro-branch-847388/

In this busy season, we often worry about doing enough—seeing everyone we want to see, making enough food for holiday meals, finding just the right gifts for family and friends.

Of course, the most important gift this time of year—or anytime—is time.

Sometimes, though, you do want to give a little something to people. If you’re still looking for those last few gifts, why not consider thingless giving, or other ways of giving sustainably?

Or how about a sustainable gift that gives twice? A few examples:

Gifts that donate: Through USC Canada’s Gifts That Grow, you can send your loved one a card while supporting a farmer or school gardens. UNICEF Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and many other organizations have similar arrangements for contributing to sustainability on behalf of someone else.

Gifts that reuse: Recycled gifts, chosen with care, can be a great option. Right now, when you purchase used clothes, toys, Christmas decorations or other items from Ottawa Neighbourhood Services, you’re contributing to their work to make needed goods available to low-income, refugee and other people in Ottawa. Ten Thousand Villages has good fair trade items, like ornaments made from recycled paper, or jewellery made from reclaimed materials. Ottawa has lots of other places to find art and crafts made from upcycled materials.

Gifts that support local: When you buy local, sustainable products, you’re substituting earth-friendly for mass-produced “stuff,” while supporting local businesses. How about terra20’s suggestions of Winter Hand Balm from Purple Urchin, vegan soap from saaboon or recycled glassware from Out of Ruins or Artech Studios? Check out Planet Botanix, Rainbow Foods, the Natural Food Pantry, Whole Foods, Green Tree Eco-Fashion, Twiss and Weber and other shops for eco-friendly local goods.

Buying someone a CSA share—i.e., a weekly delivery of local produce from an area farm—is also an investment in the sustainability of our food system.

Gifts that support sustainable causes: Ottawa has quite a few social enterprises that support social and environmental good. For example, when you buy jewellery, toys or other items through Operation Come Home’s Repurpose store, you’re buying upcycled as well as supporting artists who are youth at-risk or homeless. When you buy Beau’s beer, which is sustainably made from organic ingredients, you’re also contributing to the causes they support with their profits. A purchase of greeting cards of Ottawa scenes from Causeway supports employment programs for people who are disadvantaged. (I picked some up at the Westboro Pharmasave.)

Keep an eye out for companies that donate to environmental causes. For example, when you purchase art at Studio Sixty-Six during December, 10% of the proceeds will go to the Ottawa Riverkeeper.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Written by Denise Deby.

It’s been said that it’s hard for one person to make a difference in the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about one person who did make a difference. Even more remarkable, she was an eight-year-old.

Kate inspired many people here in Ottawa, and elsewhere, with her joy and determination. All the more impressive because she lived with a rare form of mitochondrial disease—so rare that she was the first person in the world ever to be diagnosed with it.

She literally changed the lives of others for the better. She was the embodiment of what is right with this world and what we should all strive for.” – Julie (Kate’s mom)

You can read about Kate on Julie’s blog at http://searchingforsolidfooting.com/.

CBC did a story here.



Written by Denise Deby.

photo 4 (2)

Way to go, Ottawa and Canada!

10,000-25,000 of us gathered at Ottawa City Hall and on Parliament Hill to tell leaders that we want to see climate solutions and justice.

It was a purposeful, joyful event.

Now it’s time for decisions, and action. We’ll be watching, and leading.

via Ecology Ottawa

Via Ecology Ottawa on Facebook


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 234 other followers