Written by Denise Deby.
I’m a big fan of Jane’s Walk. The annual event celebrates cities as places for people. It honours Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist who carefully observed how cities function and called for cities to be planned for, with and by people and communities. Her work has had a significant influence on thinking about city planning and urban engagement.
Jane’s Walk, started in Toronto by people who wanted to keep Jane Jacobs’ legacy alive, has spread to over 90 cities around the world, including Ottawa.
During Jane’s Walk, local residents lead free walking tours of urban places and neighbourhoods. The walks allow people to get to know their city, reconnect with nature and the built environment, and meet each other.
In Ottawa, dozens of residents have stepped forward to make Jane’s Walk happen. They’re volunteering their time to lead walks—and cycling tours–through many of our city’s hidden, historic, or intriguing areas. They’re people with a passion for the area and with insights to share, so bring your interest and your own perspectives.
There’s bound to be a Jane’s Walk in Ottawa for everyone. Just for example, you can:
- Learn about the Pinhey Sand Dune micro-environment off Woodroffe with Henri Goulet, a retired scientist and a specialist in biodiversity and conservation;
- Contemplate Ottawa’s neglected waterfront with storyteller and community activist Dennis Van Staalduinen;
- Discover Ottawa’s Great Forest with naturalist and educator Martha Webber;
- See the Byward Market area from a homeless person’s perspective with activist Jane Scharf;
- View turtles and learn about turtle habitat protection on Petrie Island and surrounding wetlands with Al Tweddle, chairman of the Friends of Petrie Island;
- Explore the social fabric of the Somerset West area with Jackson Couse, multimedia artist;
- Get to know “Wellboro” (Westboro and Hintonburg) through the eyes of artist Andrew King;
- Walk for health on Parliament Hill with Kelly McKay and Penny Burton of Ottawa Public Health’s Healthy Living Team.
These and other walks will explore nature, art and culture, history, urban issues and more. There are walks in English and French. You can find the full list and more details at the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website.
No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.” - Jane Jacobs, Downtown is for People, 1957 (from the Jane’s Walk main website).