Three Things to Do for the Environment This Weekend in Ottawa

Household items curbside marked “free” for Give Away Weekend in Ottawa – D. Deby photo

Here are three ways you can incorporate environmental action into your activities this beautiful spring weekend:

Take Part in Give Away Weekend

Clear your clutter, recycle household items that might be useful to others, and find free treasures. During Give Away Weekend, people are invited to set out unneeded but usable items at the curb, marked “Free,” for others to take. The City of Ottawa website has tips on what and how to share your stuff and how to dispose of items that aren’t picked up.

Enjoy Community Outdoor Events

This weekend brings a variety of community outdoor festivals, plant and art sales, which provide a great way to spend some time outdoors while supporting local. There’s Westfest, an amazing annual free festival of music, art and more. The juried New Art Festival is on in Central Park in the Glebe. A great place to buy heirloom organic plants for your garden is at Greta’s Organic Gardens’ sale on Sunday, Jun. 9. You can find fresh produce and local food items at one of Ottawa’s outdoor markets. There’s a plant swap at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne on Sunday, Jun. 9. And check out the new pedestrian plaza on William Street in the ByWard Market!

Help Clean Up Flood Debris

The City of Ottawa is urgently seeking volunteers to help clean up sandbags and other materials from sites of flooding. The City’s website has details on how to get involved.

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Doors Open Ottawa and Intergenerational Day 2019

Maplelawn Gardens in spring – D. Deby photo

June is a great month for creative, city-building events in Ottawa. Here are two happening the first weekend in June:

Doors Open Ottawa 2019

Have you ever wanted to see what happens behind the scenes at a local museum or historic site, learn what goes on at a food centre or greenhouse, experience an innovation centre, get to know embassies or places of worship, or visit a wildlife sanctuary? More than 130 sites of architectural, historic, cultural, religious, scientific or social significance are opening their doors to visitors on Saturday June 1 and/or Sunday June 2, 2019 for Doors Open Ottawa. A free shuttle bus takes people between many of the buildings, and more than 50 are downtown within walking distance of each other. Find details, including a list of participating buildings and an interactive map, on the City of Ottawa’s website.

Intergenerational Day 2019

For the first time, thanks to local organizers, Ottawa will be part of Intergenerational Day. On Saturday, June 1, 2019, groups around the city will host activities that bring together people of all ages, build relationships and celebrate the contributions of all generations. Everyone is invited to participate in events, and even contribute individual actions, large or small. Intergenerational Day events in Ottawa include community plant sales/swaps, art exhibits and fairs, neighbourhood garage sales and even an intergenerational picnic with a focus on climate action. Find out more (or contribute an activity!) on the iGenOttawa website.

Climate Action Events in Ottawa

Flooding and ducks on the Ottawa River Parkway recreational path – D. Deby photo

It’s heartening to see more attention to climate action in Ottawa.

Here are some opportunities to call for, find and implement solutions to our climate emergency:

The next Student Global Strike for Climate happens on Friday, May 24, 2019 from 12-2:30 p.m. Young people and their supporters in Ottawa will join millions around the world to continue to press for climate action. Starts at Ottawa City Hall (Laurier Ave.), with a walk to Parliament Hill and then Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna’s office.

A coalition of organizations and individuals are hosting several Town Hall events to inform the creation of a Green New Deal in Canada. The Green New Deal is intended to address a range of crises–from climate to work to housing to Indigenous rights–through a new economic model and relationships. The next Town Hall in Ottawa is on Sunday, May 26, at 2 p.m. at Tom Brown Arena hall (141 Bayview Rd.)

Evidence for Democracy and Science First are hosting Carbon Pricing: Fair & Effective Climate Action on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 from 7-9 p.m. at Impact Hub Ottawa. This panel discussion with speakers from Pembina Institute, Clean Energy Canada, the Business Council of Canada and the media will focus on climate solutions.

Ecology Ottawa is hosting a meeting to exchange ideas for its Renewable City Campaign and next steps for climate action in Ottawa. It’s on Thursday, May 30, 2019 from 6-8 p.m.

Future Rising Ottawa is organizing The Future Is Rising, a gathering on Parliament Hill, on Friday, May 31, 2019 from 12-1 p.m.

Speakers from Free Transit Ottawa, Extinction Rebellion, Ecology Ottawa and Solidarity Ottawa will share ideas for addressing Ottawa’s climate emergency at Confronting Climate Emergency: Ottawa and Beyond. The panel takes place on Friday, May 31, 2019 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Sandy Hill Community Centre (250 Somerset St. E.).

Climate Justice Ottawa is hosting several events on climate action for volunteers and the public, including a Climate Quiz social on Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2019 as a fun way to share knowledge about climate change and learn about Our Time Ottawa and the Green New Deal. Check the Facebook page for details.

There’s a Sandy Hill Intergenerational Climate Picnic on Saturday, Jun. 1, 2019 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park (288 Chapel St.) as part of Intergenerational Day. It includes participatory art, live music and more.

Ottawa VegFest is hosting a panel on science and action related to Climate Change and Species Extinction on Sunday, Jun. 2, 2019 from 2:30-4 p.m. at the RA Centre.

Parents for the Planet is hosting a Picnic & Protest on Friday, Jun. 7, 2019 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

David Suzuki, Avi Lewis, Maude Barlow and other speakers will be at A Green New Deal for Ottawa to talk about the climate crisis and the Green New Deal, on Friday, Jun. 14, 2019 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Glebe-St. James United Church. Register in advance.

Check the links for details and registration for the events. Let us know of others!

Making Cycling Safe in Ottawa

Chalk tributes and calls for action for safe cycling, Ottawa City Hall, May 22 2019 – D. Deby photo

Update:Rolling for Justice Bike Ride and Gathering will take place on Wednesday, May 22 at 7:45 a.m. to show respect for the person who lost their life and to press for safe cycling in Ottawa. Everyone is welcome to cycle, roll or walk together, starting at the southwest corner of Nicholas and Laurier at 7:45 a.m. and ending at City Hall. Organizers encourage people to wear black and to ride silently. Further details on the Facebook event page, and/or follow #ottbike and #ottbikeaction on Twitter.

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Sorrow, anger, fear.

These are some of the feelings prompted by yet another death of an Ottawa resident, while he was cycling on one of Ottawa’s designated bike routes.

Sorrow—for the person who was killed, his family and friends and their loss.

Anger—that infrastructure- and driver-caused injuries and deaths are normalized in our city and that prevention of those injuries and deaths is not treated as a priority.

Fear—that while I’m cycling to and from work or errands my life is at risk. My own routes often take me on the Laurier Bike Lane, or through the Parkdale-Ruskin intersection. While the city has made some welcome improvements in cycling infrastructure, cycling in Ottawa is still unacceptably dangerous.

Improving it requires collective action and investments in better infrastructure, including changes in the way we think about and value those who use non-vehicle modes of transportation. As a cyclist, I try to bike safely and defensively, but all the helmets, lights, reflectors and bright orange vests I personally invest in are not going to keep me safe.

What was heartening yesterday was the groundswell of people, including city councillors, who spoke up, gathered outside City Hall, and left tributes to the cyclist. Hopefully this will be a turning point in our tolerance for cyclist and pedestrian injuries and deaths.

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Jane’s Walk Ottawa 2019

Jane’s Walk Ottawa poster “Explore, share stories about your community, and connect with neighbours” courtesy of Jane’s Walk Ottawa

Jane’s Walk Ottawa is happening on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday May 5, 2019.

This wonderful annual series of urban and neighbourhood walking tours is a celebration of the built and natural environments and how residents shape those environments through their daily lives.

This year Jane’s Walk seems particularly poignant, as communities in Ottawa-Gatineau pull together to address flooding, both shaping and being shaped by the rivers, urban and rural landscapes and infrastructure, and weather.

If you can, check out some of the impressive walks this weekend—the Jane’s Walk Ottawa schedule includes more than 50. Walks are led by knowledgeable local residents, are held in English and/or French, and are free.

Here are some examples:

There’s also a celebration to mark what would have been the 103rd birthday of Jane Jacobs, with a reading from Walking in the City with Jane by author Susan Hughes, colouring with Ottawa in Colour, games and cake, on Saturday, May 4, 4-7 p.m.; and a Jane’s Walk Wrap Party on Sunday, May 5.

Jane’s Walks celebrate, challenge and enlighten our perspectives on the city and the choices we make that influence it. Do check it out!

Consult the schedule of walks and interactive map on the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website.

Thoughts are with everyone continuing to deal with the flooding.

Image of Canadian Museum of History with Jane Jacobs quote “Designing a dream city is easy – rebuilding a living one takes imagination” courtesy of Jane’s Walk Ottawa

Faith Communities and Creating Green Cities

Trinity Presbyterian Youth Wildlife Garden – photo courtesy Katherine Forster, Faith & the Common Good

Guest post written by Katherine Forster, Faith & the Common Good.

Faith Communities as Allies in Creating Ecologically Green Cities

Whether it is an expansive turf lawn that can be changed into an urban meadow, or a flat roof on a community hall that can support a new living ground cover to soak up rain, or whether it is a new grouping of native shrubs that provide food & shelter for migrating birds, faith communities can help add beneficial green to a city, starting with their own landscape.

Many times faith communities are a prominent part of a neighbourhood’s “main street” or are in a central location of a local community. They become community hubs, improving the quality of life for local residents through offering services, seeking community partnerships and by providing meeting space for various programs for all age ranges, from scouting groups, to addiction support groups to gardening clubs for example. Community gatherings in these beautiful spaces provide that extra green benefit. Neighbours meet each other at local community gardens or in serene courtyards where music concerts are held or at special community events such as labyrinth walks or historic cemetery strolls. Many place of worship gardens are open to the public, offering a safe space, quiet reflection and a welcoming message to all. These green spaces are integral to community life and contribute to the wider neighbourhood as a sustainable and ecological example allowing biodiversity to flourish within cities.

Sustainable and Ecological Gardening Support for Places of Worship

Faith & the Common Good, a national environmental non-profit with a local active Ottawa Chapter, has been working to address this need in our city by offering support to Ottawa faith & spiritual communities that want to envision their properties in this new way.

In the past two years, the Ottawa Chapter has provided an Outdoor Greening program offering education, inspiration and funding support to local faith & spiritual communities that are interested in ecological and sustainable gardening. Resources and support include:

  • Ten Outdoor Greening fact sheets (how to on various subjects including drought resistant native plants, wildlife gardening and sustainable garden tips);
  • Ten Local Case Studies (showcasing local gardens including Sacred Medicine gardens, Labyrinth gardens and Community gardens);
  • Sustainable Garden Audits (which included plus a written Audit Reports that includes next steps);
  • Interfaith Sustainable Garden Network (providing updates about local initiatives, garden events and tips for beautiful and environmental gardens).

Along with the above resources and support five faith communities received free native pollinator wildflower plants from Wild Pollinator Partners (a new initiative in the Eastern Ontario region).

Winter Garden Presentations to Inspire Spring Gardening

As a follow-up to the outdoor audits and free native plant donations, this winter the Ottawa Chapter of Faith & the Common Good is providing educational gardening presentations & sharing their resources to other keen gardeners in preparation for the upcoming spring gardening season. It’s a pleasant way to spend a cold winter evening, talking about beautiful native blooms, lovely scenic landscapes and potential garden visitors like butterflies and birds! And it is also a wonderful opportunity for people of faith to learn how to “Care for Creation” in a very direct and tangible way.

Our new local network hopes that as this green garden movement grows (pardon the pun!) it will increase local habitat, provide more healthy green linkages and it start changing the ecological fabric of the city for the benefit of all.

Contact Faith & the Common Good if your faith or spiritual community would like to be the next ecological green space for the city! Contact Katherine Forster to learn more about how you can transform your property.

Local & National Environmental Foundations Fund These Important Programs!

Faith & the Common Good’s 2018-2019 Outdoor Greening Program in Ottawa is funded by TD Friends of the Environment, Ottawa Community Foundation and the City of Ottawa’s CEPGP program who have made possible the opportunity to visit 15 faith communities, support 2 new gardens and educate over ten new communities on the benefits of a sustainable and ecological garden. Many thanks to these granters for the generous support to our program!

Peaceful Community Garden Open to All – photo courtesy Katherine Forster, Faith & the Common Good

Momentum for Climate Action in Ottawa

Update: Ottawa City Council declared on Apr. 24 that the city is facing a climate emergency. Councillors passed a motion that includes attention and funding to get the city back on track on its renewable energy and other climate change-related plans and measures.

It’s an excellent step that needs to be followed by further action, but it speaks to the priority that our elected officials are willing to give to this. Thanks to City Councillor Shawn Menard for putting forward the motion, the majority of Councillors and the Mayor who voted in favour, and Ecology Ottawa and all of the individuals and groups–particularly young people–who organized to let Council know residents want to see action on climate change.

See Ecology Ottawa’s helpful Explainer for a detailed analysis of the climate emergency motion and its significance for Ottawa.

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Kudos to Ottawa’s Environment Committee for passing a motion for the City to declare a climate emergency and to intensify measures to address greenhouse gas emissions.

There was recognition that climate change is affecting Ottawa, that action on climate change is needed now, and that coming generations are counting on us to move quickly.

Much respect to Ecology Ottawa and to all the people and groups who shared their views with their elected officials, showed up outside City Hall and at the Committee meeting.

We’re looking forward to the full City Council passing the motion on Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2019.