Vote for a Sustainable Ottawa on October 22 2018

What’s the most important thing you can do for the environment on Monday, October 22? Vote.

Our municipal government is responsible for many of the systems that affect our ecological footprint as citizens and determine the city’s environmental health.

The people we elect need to lead the creation of sustainable, equitable and safe systems in many areas: planning and management of our built urban and rural environment (including development, infill, and affordable housing); action on climate change (including renewable energy); protection of our environment (including greenspace, trees, flora and fauna, water sources and quality); transportation (prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users); a strong local food system; and waste and recycling. They need to prioritize these in funding decisions. They need to value and support community engagement, local action, and accountability to residents as essential dimensions of our city’s governance. They need to work toward a different and better relationship with the Indigenous peoples on whose land we have built this city.

Some of the candidates for mayor and councillor have clear platforms on these issues (some may have even written the book on them). Others have positions or track records that indicate that these are not among their priorities.

If you need more information on the candidates for mayor, city councillors and school trustees before you vote:

  • Ecology Ottawa has done a survey of all candidates about their positions on local environmental issues.
  • The Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital has posted the results of a survey of municipal candidates on environmental issues.
  • The Ottawa Food Policy Council’s survey of candidates covers food issues.
  • OttawaStart has published a list of links to municipal candidate Q&As and debates.
  • The City of Ottawa website has lists of all candidates, including their websites, as well as information for voters about how and where to vote.

See you at the polls on Monday, October 22.

 

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Forest Wellness Walks with Forest Therapy Ottawa

Friends of the Carp Hills photo via Forest Therapy Ottawa

What a great time of year for a rejuvenating forest walk! Andrea Prazmowski at Forest Therapy Ottawa leads Forest Wellness Walks in and around Ottawa-Gatineau. These gentle walks provide an opportunity to slow down, take time to experience nature and be mindful of the wonder and life around us.

The guided walks are also a wonderful way to experience some lesser-known but notable natural areas around the city, judging by the list of upcoming public walks this month:

  • Thanksgiving Forest Walk at Morris Island Conservation Area, on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday Wellness Walks at Stony Swamp, on Wednesday Oct. 10, 17 or 24, 9:30 a.m.-noon.
  • Crazy Horse Trail in the Carp Hills on Saturday, Oct. 13, 1-3:30 p.m.
  • See.Breathe.Be Forest Walks at Gaia Wellness Retreat, Gatineau Hills, on Sunday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 21, 3-5:30 p.m.
  • Old-Growth Pines, Gillies Grove National Historic Site (home of the tallest living tree in Ontario!) in Arnprior, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 9:30 a.m.-noon.

Some walks are on accessible trails, have flexible pricing and/or support local environmental groups. Check the Forest Therapy Ottawa website for further details and registration links.

Spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve physical and mental wellness, promote energy and attention capacity, and enhance happiness and creativity. Among the many good reasons to go on a forest walk very soon.

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For more forest time in fall colours, visit one of the many trails in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, for example in Gatineau Park or the Greenbelt, where the NCC’s Fall Rhapsody is on from Sept. 29 to Oct. 21, 2018, or in natural areas managed by the City of Ottawa.

Trees

The storm last Friday was a grim reminder of the precariousness of Ottawa’s built and natural environments—including the area’s tree canopy.

A coalition of community groups has organized a series of local events to mark National Tree Week, September 23-29, 2018, and to draw attention to the importance of trees and their habitats. Those events are ongoing, and perhaps all the more significant now.

One of the purposes of the week’s activities is to connect tree protection to Ottawa’s election. Ottawa’s trees are threatened not only by extreme weather, exacerbated by climate change, but by infill and urban development, disease and other factors. The intention is to convey the message to municipal officials and administrations that they need to lead the preservation and promotion of local trees and the green spaces and infrastructure that enable trees to flourish.

Everyone is invited to participate in the week’s activities, which started with Tree Fest Ottawa’s Fall Tree Festival last weekend. Upcoming events include tree planting by students on National Tree Day, Wednesday Sept. 26, and the Canadian premiere of India’s Healing Forests film on Thursday, Sept. 27.

The campaign invites citizens and community groups to host discussions or events, and engage municipal candidates, during National Tree Week. Suggested types of activities include tree-planting, storytelling, tree walks, or meetings with ward candidates. See Ecology Ottawa’s page or Tree Action Now’s site for further information.

Fall Tree Festival 2018

Image courtesy Tree Fest Ottawa

Guest post contributed by Christine Earnshaw, Tree Fest Ottawa.

On Saturday and Sunday, September 22nd and 23rd, 2018, from 9:30am – 4:30pm, Tree Fest Ottawa presents its fall tree festival at the south end of Brewer Park near Brewer Pond. This outdoor festival combines learning + nature + art + play.  Connect with trees and your community in this little oasis of nature in the city. Free admission through the support of the City of Ottawa.

Main activities include:

  • Guided walks by a master tree identifier, an Indigenous Walk led by a knowledgeable Indigenous spot talker; and a guided bird walk
  • Get involved! Putting trees on the municipal election agenda with Tree Action Now! and talk by David Chernushenko
  • Immersive and exploratory forest therapy and edible foraging sessions
  • Learn about trees with Ask an Arborist and a Carleton historian discussing Ottawa’s urban forest
  • Get your hip waders on and explore the pond with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
  • Musical performances by Just Voices, Christine Graves, and a singalong with radio host Chris White
  • Art murals, photography exhibit, storytelling, interactive games, scavenger hunt, yoga, food and drink, and more…

Visit Tree Fest Ottawa’s website for the Festival Program.

Ottawa Election 2018

The municipal election is still a couple of months away (Oct. 22), but it’s time to be hearing from candidates about their plans for a greener Ottawa.

Ecology Ottawa has a useful tool to help understand candidates’ positions on environmental issues. They’re doing a survey of mayoral and councillor candidates about their plans for climate change action and an active and green city, and are posting the answers.

So far more than 50 candidates have answered the questionnaire, but more than 60 have yet to reply. You can help by contacting the candidates to ask them to make their views known by Friday Aug. 10.

There are additional questions that candidates need to be asked—about plans for cleaner rivers, and for restoring Chaudiere Falls and the islands, for example—but the survey covers a wide range of important issues.

“For example, in the last budget round, the city committed only $500,000 in new money for Energy Evolution while committing over 80 times that amount – $43 million – on new road building and expansion. …Environmental leadership is needed at City Hall. Ottawa needs a greener city council and the 2018 election on Oct. 22 is an important opportunity to make it happen.” – Robb Barnes, Executive Director, Ecology Ottawa in the Ottawa Citizen

See more about Ecology Ottawa’s municipal election campaign on their website.

Welcoming Ottawa Week 2018

African Caribbean Canadian Multiculturalism Day Festival in Strathcona Park, WOW 2017 – D. Deby photo

Welcoming Ottawa Week (WOW) is an annual festival of arts, cultural, sports and other activities that celebrate the city’s diversity and the contributions of the many newcomers who have made Ottawa home.

This year’s WOW includes more than 75 free activities across the city from Monday, Jun. 18-Saturday, Jun. 30, 2018. They include photo exhibits, soccer and basketball tournaments, a community picnic, a barbecue and bike fest, the design of a community mural, “myth-busting” events about immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and several multicultural celebrations. The Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival and the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival are also participating.

Other events of note:

Check out the WOW calendar for more events.

With one in four Ottawa residents having been born outside Canada, it’s more important than ever to embrace our diversity and get to know each other.

WOW is organized by the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership in collaboration with 50+ partners across the city.

#100in1Day Ottawa 2018

Image courtesy 100in1Day Ottawa/Synapcity

This weekend is packed with amazing things to do in Ottawa. For starters, there’s #100in1Day.

#100in1DayOTT consists of more than 100 creative and fun activities, all citizen-led, happening around the city on Saturday, Jun. 2, 2018.

The 100+ “interventions” are designed to illustrate the kind of sustainable, inclusive and accessible city we could have. Read more in Synapcity’s guest post and on the #100in1DayOTT website.

Here are just a few examples:

There’s so much more—check out the #100in1DayOTT website and interactive map.