Doors Open Ottawa, Porch Dances, Prose in the Park, Westfest–and Lemonade

Written by Denise Deby.

Porch View Dances 2015
Porch View Dances 2015 – D. Deby photo

Some fun things coming up this weekend:

Doors Open Ottawa

For a look inside some of the city’s interesting places, including some not normally not open to the public, check out Doors Open Ottawa on Saturday, Jun. 4-Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016.

You’ll get to see buildings of architectural, historical, scientific and other significance—and those that are just plain intriguing: the Central Experimental Farm (including the Saunders building with “a complete collection of all plants found in Canada”), Maplelawn Historical Garden, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind National Training Centre, Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, Parkdale Food Centre, the Hydro Ottawa generating station on Amelia Island (“believed to be the oldest operating hydroelectric generator in Canada”), Suntech Greenhouses, Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health (with “awe-inspiring architecture by Douglas Cardinal”), numerous embassies and more.

There’s a free shuttle bus that goes to 50 of the 120 participating Doors Open sites; or you can see 5 sites on a bicycle tour with Escape Tours (it’s a fundraiser for Trips for Kids Ottawa).

Check the Doors Open Ottawa website and guide for opening hours of buildings, and other information.

Canada Dance Festival

See part of the Canada Dance Festival—outdoors. Kaeja d’Dance presents Porch View Dances in Westboro on Saturday, Jun. 4 and Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016 at 4 p.m. The audience moves through the neighbourhood to watch local families perform dances created by professional choreographers—extremely fun. (For more outdoor dance, check out Aeriosa’s aerial performances and La Grande Fente’s pop-up dances in the Byward Market on Thursday, Jun. 9, 2016.)


The wonderful Westfest happens Friday, Jun. 3-Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016 in its new location, Laroche Park (52 Bayview Rd.). The free festival includes live music, art programming, an Indigenous pavilion, an artisan area and local food trucks, performance artists, spoken word artists, kids’ activities and more. See the website for the full lineup.

Prose in the Park

Another fun (and free!) outdoor event is Prose in the Park, happening on Friday, Jun. 3 (at Origin Studio) and Saturday, Jun. 4, 2016 at Parkdale Park. There’s a great line-up of authors, so check it out.

Great Lemonade Standemonium

On Saturday, Jun. 4, 2016, look for the Great Lemonade Standemonium, where kids around town will be running lemonade stands in their neighbourhoods, to raise funds for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. There’s more information and a map on the website.


Sustainability Photo Contest

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Carol Burnup, EnviroCentre for the information.

Creative Commons CC0 Image on Pexels
Creative Commons CC0 Image on Pexels

EnviroCentre is holding its first photo contest on the Spirit of Sustainability in Ottawa.

You’re invited to submit photos that celebrate how people in Ottawa are making the city more sustainable.

From EnviroCentre, here are the categories for entries:

Healthy, efficient homes

Show us how you improve everyday energy use in your home!

It can be something like changing to LED lighting, using Energy Star appliances, or making grand scale green renovations.

Connected, environmentally-aware businesses

Does your business have a green team? Are you turning computers off at night to save energy? Or providing incentives to staff to take transit or bike to work? Show us what you’ve done or are doing!

Engaged, sustainable communities

What are you, your family, friends or community members doing to make your neighbourhood a better place to live? Are you using your bike to get around or building a community garden? Show us your sustainable community or what you’re doing to create one!

Entries are due May 15, 2016.

Find out more at


A City for People?

Written by Denise Deby.

Hot Air Ballon Ride by Shanta Rohse on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
“Hot Air Ballon Ride” by Shanta Rohse on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

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 Read it, and have your say at (the National Capital Commission’s site for public input on the two proposals) until February 8, 2016.




Doors Open Ottawa, Giveaway Weekend and More

“Maplelawn Gardens” photo by Jeremicus rex – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Denise Deby.

There’s no shortage of things to do this weekend, June 6-7, 2015.

Doors Open Ottawa opens the doors to more than 120 Ottawa landmarks and interesting places. If you’ve ever wanted to see inside an embassy, an architecturally significant building, an artist’s studio, a greenhouse or a historic site, check the list (and schedule).

Giveaway Weekend happens June 6-7. You put household items you no longer want on your curb, mark them “free,” and people can take them away. (There are some restrictions—for example no cribs or car seats–so check the website for guidelines.) Lots of garage sales happen this weekend, too, so you might find something that you need (and keep it out of the landfill). Check OttawaStart or Used Ottawa for locations.

Saturday is also the Great Canadian Lemonade Standemonium, where people set up lemonade stands in neighbourhoods all over the city. The event supports the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

Ottawa Veg Fest is a celebration of all things vegan and vegetarian.  Organized by the National Capital Vegetarian Association, the event includes talks on health and sustainability topics, exhibits, food samples and cooking demonstrations. Admission is by donation.

Fletcher Wildlife Garden’s Annual Native Plant Sale is on Saturday, June 6. It’s the place to find native wildflowers and find out which plants are best for your yard or garden.

Velo Vogue’s Fashion Show is on Saturday, June 6. Get inspired to ride your bike, and check out local clothing and accessories, food and drinks. Proceeds support RightBike.

Random Hacks of Kindness might be your thing if you’re interested in brainstorming with others about environmental and social challenges. Participants will be designing apps for the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, Ottawa Riverkeeper, VoteSavvy and other organizations from Friday, June 5-Sunday, June 7.

Part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival June 4-13, The Global Savages (June 8-13) is described as an 18,000 year old story that presents the world view of Indigenous people, told by the Debajehmujig Storytellers, in outdoor performances that evolve as the storytellers engage with people and places. The Global Savages are also inviting people to join them early on Saturday, June 6 from 4:45 a.m.-8:00 a.m. for a Sunrise Walk on the Sentier des Voyageurs Trail from Gatineau to Ottawa.

Inter Pares 2015 Film Nights Series

Written by Denise Deby.

Bidonville poster

Ottawa-based non-profit Inter Pares is starting up a Film Nights series to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Inter Pares (which means “among equals”) is an impressive organization that works with groups around the world, including in Canada, to advocate for and bring about food security, women’s equality, health, peace and justice.

The intention behind the film series is to “showcase thought-provoking documentaries for free to inspire, inform and galvanize action for more equal societies” (from Inter Pares February 2015 E-News).

The first in the series is Slums: Cities of Tomorrow. The film, by Quebec filmmaker Jean-Nicolas Orhon, takes us to several informal settlements around the world to meet people who’ve created housing and homes for themselves.

The film challenges stereotypes about “slums,” and shows residents’ creativity and resilience as well as the difficulties they face.

The screening takes place on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 at 7 p.m. at Inter Pares (221 Laurier Ave. East). (The film will be subtitled in English.) RSVP before Monday, Feb. 9.