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.

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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!

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.

* * *

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.

 

 

Creating the Impetus for Climate Action in Ottawa

Snow and ice on an Ottawa street – D. Deby photo

April’s snow and freezing rain, on top of several months of seemingly erratic weather, is a reminder that climate change is not a future scenario but a current reality.

Last week the federal government released a report, Canada in a Changing Climate. The report gathers the science on the effects of climate change in Canada, and sets out what is expected to happen with and without significant climate action.

One of the report’s main findings: Canada’s climate is warming more than twice as fast as the global average, due to a complexity of factors.

With climate change, we’ll continue to experience increased weather extremes and their effects: hotter temperatures, higher likelihood of high precipitation, flooding, changes to snow and ice cover, and risk of freshwater shortages, to name a few.

The report indicates that the degree to which we will experience these changes depends on how much and how fast we act.

For example, in Ontario, if greenhouse gas emissions are kept relatively low, the number of days over 30 degrees Celsius will increase by four in the latter part of this century. If emissions are high, the number of 30+ degree days is projected to increase by 38. The lower emissions scenario requires “rapid and deep emission reductions.”

Making those reductions requires concerted effort at all levels: individual, local, national and international. It’s daunting, but here’s a place to start:

Everyone is welcome to follow and contribute perspectives to the federal Canada in a Changing Climate initiative.

Infographic on Canada’s Changing Climate, from “Canada in a Changing Climate” report https://changingclimate.ca/CCCR2019/

 

Energy Action in Ottawa and Beyond

Solar panels image via publicdomainpictures.net

Welcome to Ottawa! Including to everyone driving big trucks en masse from across the country into downtown in the next couple of days. We’re so glad you could join us for Climate Action Week.

Climate Action Week is all about sustainable and renewable energy, focused on practical solutions to energy challenges. Yes, there are solutions, and yes, it’s time.

I get it. I want to be heard, be treated fairly and keep my family warm, healthy and safe too. My family roots are in fact in rural Alberta and small town B.C. and Saskatchewan, where my ancestors settled on Cree and other Indigenous lands and made a living there. I currently depend on fossil fuels that others work hard to provide.

The thing is, that’s what unsustainable means. An energy economy and livelihoods that are built on unsustainable energy sources—not to mention on trampling on Indigenous rights and damaging the environment that we all depend on—can’t last. We have to stop investing in this and make the transition to alternative sources, together. That—not fear and frustration and hatred—is what should unite us.

If your purpose in coming is to spread hatred and chaos, don’t bother. We have no room for that in this city, or this country.

If you’re a public figure trying to score political points from this mess, you should stop, and repair the damage you’ve caused.

If you’re concerned about all of this, help draw attention to the people, groups and businesses who are finding solutions. That’s the way we will all survive.

Climate Action in Ottawa

In January, Ottawa City Council voted 19-3 to change the name of the City’s standing committee on Environment and Climate Protection to Environmental Protection, Water and Waste.

This change in wording may seem minor, but it signifies something important. The new title suggests a view of the “environment” as something separate from our regular day-to-day existence, something we can allocate some small space to in our backyards or parks and tend from time to time. It conveys the perspective that the environment is primarily a municipal service to be delivered, rather than the very context in which we live and breathe.

Dropping the “climate” part goes counter to the urgency of taking action to address climate change, as underlined yet again by the world’s scientists and experts in calling for “‘rapid and far-reaching’ transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities” to limit global warming and its consequences. It’s a disconnect from the reality of the weather extremes that we’re experiencing and that are projected to worsen if we do nothing or too little.

At the same meeting, Ottawa City Council did discuss incorporating a “climate impact lens” across all committees and departments, but not right away.

Some municipalities, including Vancouver, Halifax and other cities around the world, are declaring climate change an emergency requiring immediate action. Here in Ottawa, political leadership at all levels—municipal, provincial and federal—is sorely lacking. Some positive measures have been introduced, but leadership has often been coming from community members and groups, including young people, instead. Some examples:

  • Inspired by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, high school and university students in Europe, North America and elsewhere are organizing school strikes for climate action. Groups have been meeting on Parliament Hill and Confederation Park every month or weekly on Fridays to press for change.
  • Powershift: Young and Rising is happening on Algonquin Anishinabe land (Ottawa) from February 14-18, 2019. Hundreds of people, particularly young people, are expected to gather at this climate justice conference, to share ways to prompt climate action and create an alternative vision of equitable, sustainable living, through art, organizing and other strategies.
  • Ecology Ottawa has launched a campaign calling on Ottawa City Council to make climate action a priority in the 2019 budget and next Term of Council Priorities, and is asking people to sign a petition on their website.

Also:

  • 350.org Ottawa will be hosting Elizabeth May on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 to speak about the connections between the tornadoes that hit Ottawa last October and climate change.
  • Several groups are taking part in Climate Action Week 2019 in Ottawa, February 14-23, 2019, hosting a series of activities focused on transitioning to sustainable energy sources.

We do have climate leaders, climate solutions and people who care. The shift is coming.

Indigenous People’s Rights Before Pipelines

Image of Gidimt’en Checkpoint sign – from International Day of Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Facebook event page

It’s 2019—time to be the change we want to see in the world.

Today, there’s an opportunity to stand with Indigenous peoples who are asserting their rights to their traditional, unceded lands.

The International Day of Action in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en takes place in Ottawa and other communities on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at noon on Parliament Hill.

The gathering is in support of members of the Wet’suwet’en People who are peacefully protecting their territories from construction of a natural gas pipeline by Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada.

Yesterday, RCMP moved in and arrested 14 people, on the grounds that the RCMP were enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to clear the way for construction of the pipeline.

The land protectors say this is a violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and of Wet’suwet’en law.

It signifies that Canada and Canadians are putting corporate profits and environmental degradation before Indigenous rights and any hope of a better relationship with sovereign Indigenous nations.

The Ottawa action will start at noon at the Parliament Hill front gate.

#timeisnow #Wetsuwetenstrong