April Environmental Events in Ottawa

Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa-March 27, 2009-First Flowers 6 by Douglas Sprott on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/dugspr/3397985880/
Ottawa-March 27, 2009-First Flowers 6 by Douglas Sprott on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/dugspr/3397985880/

April is always a busy month for environment-related events. Here are a few coming up:

For inspiration about acting on climate change:

Development and Peace, the Canadian Religious Conference, Equiterre and Citizens for Public Justice are holding a talk on Paris Climate Conference: And After? along with the film This Changes Everything. It’s at Saint Paul University (223 Main St.) on Tuesday, Apr. 5, 2016.

Catch This Changes Everything again on Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2016 at Carleton University with a screening hosted by Carleton Climate Commons Working Group, 350 Ottawa, Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op and Carleton Cinema Politica.

Also on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, Impact Hub Ottawa hosts What’s next after Paris? Community action for a post-carbon future. Panelists Mitchell Beer (Smarter Shift/The Energy Mix), Mike De Souza (National Observer), Andrea Flowers (City of Ottawa), Graeme Cunningham (Bullfrog Power), Janice Ashworth (Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op) and EnviroCentre’s Carbon 613 will talk about getting involved in creating a sustainable world.

Ottawa hosts a National Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation for industry, governments and organizations Apr. 12-14, 2016.

For inspiration on understanding and protecting nature and ourselves within it:

Local conservation biologist and author Robert Alvo launches Being a Bird in North America at Octopus Books (Glebe) on Saturday, Apr. 9, 2016. It’s a book that uses humour and science to provide a new perspective on birds.

Celebrated primatologist Jane Goodall will be speaking in Ottawa on Monday, Apr. 11, 2016 about her lifetime of research and her sustainability work with youth. (Proceeds from the event support the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada’s conservation, humanitarian and youth programs.)

The City of Ottawa is hosting Engaging Citizens in Science to showcase groups that are involving people in understanding and documenting nature. As well as speakers Dr. Jeremy Kerr (University of Ottawa, co-founder of Bumblebeewatch.org) and Andy Kenney (University of Toronto, Neighbourwoods Program), several groups will present their citizen science and research initiatives. It’s on Tuesday, Apr. 12, 2016.

The film Love Thy Nature, coming to the Mayfair Theatre Apr. 10, 11 and 13, 2016, explores humanity’s connection with the natural world.

On Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016, Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees plays at the Mayfair. The documentary follows scientist and environmentalist Diana Beresford-Kroeger as she explores ancient trees. (See http://www.cacor.org/ for details.)

The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club has several upcoming birding and other events. Check details on their website.

For inspiration on making Ottawa a more sustainable city:

Janette Sadik-Khan led New York City’s program to create safer, more liveable streets, and wrote about the experience in Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution. She’ll be speaking in Ottawa on Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2016 at Streetfight: NY’s Urban Revolution Comes to Ottawa, a discussion organized by Ecology Ottawa and other groups.

Of course, April 22 is Earth Day. Check for events at https://earthday.ca/.

To stay up to date with local environmental events, check out the great event calendars at Green Ottawa, Ecology Ottawa and Transition Ottawa.


What’s On in February

Written by Denise Deby.

Churchill Avenue in February - D. Deby

You don’t even need to brave the elements to take part in some of these environment-related activities.

Ecology Ottawa is calling on people to get involved when the city’s Environment Committee meets on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016—in what Ecology Ottawa calls a key moment for climate action in the next 12-18 months. The Committee will be considering a Renewable Energy Strategy, the climate change management plan and a motion that includes strengthening Ottawa’s greenhouse gas reduction target and other measures. (See more here and here.) Attend the meeting (9:30 a.m. at City Hall) and/or contact your councillor and the mayor.

The Environment Committee is also reviewing a report that has implications for whether the city will support harvesting of fruit and nut trees for citizens and groups in need rather than treating it as waste. Find the report here.

The National Capital Commission is hosting The Urban Forest: From Science to Poetry through its Urbanism Lab series. The session will look at the importance of forests in the city for biodiversity and health. Speakers are Dr. Tom Smiley (Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory, North Carolina), Dr. Jérôme Dupras (Université du Québec en Outaouais) and Diana Beresford-Kroeger (author and scientist), moderated by Michael Rosen (Tree Canada). The event on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016 from 6-8 p.m. is full (there’s a waitlist), but it’s available live online. (Hope the discussion includes the at-risk South March Highlands.)

There’s another Urbanism Lab event on February 24 on cycling and Sunday Bikedays.

EnviroCentre and the Healthy Transportation Coalition host the Sustainable Transportation Summit: Building Equity into Ottawa’s Transportation System on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Sessions cover how to improve equity in transportation planning and delivery, and practical steps that we in Ottawa can take to make sustainable transportation available to everyone. The Summit is 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (with a lunch at 12:30) at City Hall. More information here.



Municipal Action on the Environment: Vancouver, Ottawa

Written by Denise Deby.

Human Rights Monument by Ross Dunn on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/rdb466/17860996059
Human Rights Monument by Ross Dunn on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/rdb466/17860996059

Municipal governments have a lot of influence on the environment. Their decisions affect how we manage waste, use energy, take transportation and nurture green space. Through their actions, or inaction, cities influence air, land and water health, climate change, and the distribution of resources and benefits among citizens.

Urban governments can also be at the forefront of spurring positive environmental change, sometimes even when other levels of government fall short.

Vancouver is one city that has committed to being “the greenest city in the world,” with 2020 as the target date. Vancouver’s plan includes developing renewable energy systems, enhancing sustainable transportation, creating zero waste, strengthening the local food system and taking action in several other areas.

Can its commitment inspire Ottawa? On Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, Vancouver city councillor and deputy mayor Andrea Reimer will be here to talk about her city’s plan. Joining her are Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, who is active locally, nationally and internationally in prompting decision-makers to address environmental and social justice, and Ottawa city councillor and chair of the city’s Environment Committee David Chernushenko.

The event, from 6-9 p.m. at City Hall, is organized by Ecology Ottawa, which in addition to its regular campaigns, promotes environmental leadership and stewardship at all levels of government, including federal.


Outdoor Time

Written by Denise Deby.

30X30 Biking - D. Deby

I’ve signed up!

In May, I’ll be taking on two challenges, both designed to get me outside.

David Suzuki Foundation’s 30X30 Nature Challenge

In the 30X30 Nature Challenge, you pledge to get out into nature for at least 30 minutes every day, for 30 days in May. “Nature” can mean a park, a yard, a path—anywhere there’s a bit of greenspace and some flora, fauna or natural elements to observe.

It might sound like a big commitment in our busy lives, but research shows that taking time in the outdoors can improve health, happiness and community life, and give us a better appreciation of our environment. (This 30X30 Nature Challenge infographic presents some of the benefits.)

If you need ideas for spending time outside, the David Suzuki Foundation has some “daily tips” on their website: think outdoor sports, cloud watching, having a barbecue or digging in the dirt.

I’m looking forward to participating. When I signed up last year, I was going through some health challenges, and I’m pretty sure getting outside helped me feel better and stay centred. Plus, I discovered that while I do spend a fair bit of time outside, making the commitment helped me justify the time I spent—providing a great reason to take a walking break from work, sit on a park bench and read or discover nearby food trucks on my bike. I’m hoping to stay just as motivated this year.

Bike to Work Ottawa

May is also Bike to Work month. In this challenge, you commit to cycling to and from work, whether it’s every day, or a day or two a week. You can join as an individual or as part of a workplace team. (If you don’t have a workplace team you can set one up–the campaign has information to help.) Organized by EnviroCentre and the City of Ottawa, Bike to Work includes a chance to win bikes and other prizes. Stay tuned for events as well. On Thursday, Apr. 30, there’s a Cycle Commuting Forum with advice from EnviroCentre, Ottawa Velo Outaouais and the Ottawa Bike Lanes Project (at MEC Ottawa, 6:30-8 p.m.)

I’ve signed up for Bike to Work, too. Last year I didn’t let working from a home office stop me—I participate by recording my bike trips for meetings and errands on my Bike to Work page.

You can sign up for both challenges any time during May. Hope to see you outside!

Spring. Bike. Ottawa

Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Kathleen Wilker and the CfSC Spring. Bike. Ottawa team for information.


Spring is in the air, and that means (more) cycling!

Citizens for Safe Cycling is hosting Spring. Bike. Ottawa on Saturday, Mar. 21, 2015. It’s an opportunity to get together with other cyclists, and find out what’s happening locally and provincially that affects biking.

The event includes a panel discussion with Schuyler Playford, CfSC director, on CfSC’s work and recommended cycling priorities; Jamie Stuckless, Share the Road Cycling Coalition, on Ontario’s cycling strategy; and Nicole LaViolette, lawyer and author, about laws in Canada that affect cycling. Other speakers include Glenn Gobuyan of PIXO design, on wayfinding, and Trevor Hache on the Healthy Transportation Coalition in Ottawa.

RightBikeOttawa Bicycle Lanes ProjectEnviroCentre and Ottawa Centre Eco-District will also be on hand. There’ll be refreshments from Bridgehead Coffee and Branch Out Bakery, too. Lots of good reasons to come out!

Bring your unused bikes for Cycle Salvation to refurbish for RightBike’s bike share.

Spring. Bike. Ottawa happens at McNabb Community Centre (180 Percy St.), 1-4 p.m. See https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/ottawas-bike-social-springbikeottawa-mapping-change-tickets-16029473587 for details and to register.