Ottawa’s Vital Signs

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who has worked in international and community development, and is currently trying to figure out how to connect the local with the global in her everyday life.

Ottawa River by Denise Deby

The Community Foundation of Ottawa has released Ottawa’s Vital Signs 2009, a report on the results of its “annual checkup” of Ottawa.  The report presents indicators of Ottawa’s quality of life, along 11 different dimensions, including the environment.

According to the report, Ottawa has done well in some ways, less so in others.  For example:

  • Most Ottawa households recycle glass, paper, plastic and cans (rating: “very good”).
  • At least 24 species in the Ottawa River valley are at risk of becoming endangered, due to threats to their habitat (rating: “poor”).
  • Combined storm water and untreated sewage overflowed into the Ottawa River on average 100 times per year between 2005 and 2008 (rating: “very poor”).

Community members who participated in coming up with the rankings considered the environment one of the 4 top priorities for Ottawa, along with health and wellness, the gap between rich and poor people, and housing.  The report’s “vital signs” and “checkup” metaphors also draw attention to the links between the natural environment, human health, equality, belonging and other indicators of well-being.

The Community Foundation of Ottawa will be holding “community conversations” free of charge for the public to discuss the priorities and what to do about them.  The first of these will be on Tuesday, October 20 from 2-4 p.m. at the Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch.

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