Did you know that Ottawa has a lot of inspiring sustainability features?
We believe the most engaging way to learn about sustainability is to see how people are putting the principles into action right here at home.
People in Ottawa are making a difference every day with small projects and big initiatives, we can see the tide is turning, decisions are starting to be made differently, we are moving in the right direction.
The Ottawa Biosphere Eco-City Council (OBEC), in partnership with Tucker House and The Otesha Project, created a self-guided tour of urban and rural sites that illustrate ten themes of sustainability. There are routes and stopping points for cars, bicycles, and private buses.
Download the Tour Book: English – Français
There are ten sites to match OBEC’s ten themes of Sustainability:
Natural Capital – Richelieu Park
What value does nature give us everyday? We sometimes take for granted that it is the ecosystem that provides us with clean air, water and fertile soil. We often put no or little price on these things, but if let them get destroyed more and more, we feel the pain and cost of reparation.Richelieu Park is a beautiful forest and maple sugar producer just minutes from downtown on bike. Have you enjoyed this treasure yet?
Habitat – Fletcher Wildlife Garden
The creation of parks and wild lands within a city will provide habitat for a number of species, while providing health and enjoyment for residents. If urban green spaces are connected with rural natural areas, these corridors can reduce genetic isolation among plants and animals. In rural areas, efforts to increase species habitat will often involve private landowners; encouraging them to allocate parts of their country properties, farms, or commercial forests to the protection of species.Fletcher Wild Life Garden is a great place to connect to why animals and humans need natural landscapes to survive.Your tour begins at our Interpretation Centre, where you can get an orientation to the FWG
from volunteers as well as other information on natural history and gardening. Take a few moments to visit the demonstration Backyard Garden, a series of half a dozen theme environments meant to inspire possibilities for your own space – or simply to enjoy. Next, start your tour on the Bill Holland Trail, our main trail around the FWG. Following a short walk
Sense of Place – Major’s Hill Park
When you think of who you are, what’s most important to you in life – is there a place that is home to you, a special place you cherish and protect? Our jet setting, and digital lives in Ottawa, tend to separate us from our sense of place, from what’s happening down the street, from our community. A big part of the sustainability movement is about re-establishing this connection to the place you live. Because every one needs to be an eco-steward of their special place. Weather you become a River Keeper or join your local community association, getting involved makes life richer, more fulfilling. In a global society, you have a sense of home, it’s your sense of place.Major’s Hill Park is a place where you really know you are in Ottawa, whether enjoying one of the many summer festivals or Canada Day fireworks, or just looking out over the Ottawa river where the canal connects the boats to the St.Laurence.
Transportation – Corktown Footbridge
This theme focuses on the movement of goods and people. Projects may address such issues as travel distance and time, energy savings, safety, and convenience. Because transportation is a dynamic system, projects build on each previous result. For example, an activity to develop a public transit system might follow a more fundamental study of transportation questions, such as the relationship of travel to employment and health.The Corktown footbridge across the Rideau Canal at Sommerset connects people and gives the ability for human powered transit. But it also creates a space for heart to the city. Lovers lock a lock on the bridge and throw away (recycle) the key – to symbolize their commitment and bond. Let’s make that commitment to living sustainably too!
Energy – FSS Building at University of Ottawa
Heating/cooling, transportation, manufacturing and agriculture are all major energy consumers, and are therefore potential areas for conservation. Projects could focus on such things as: energy sources, energy storage, natural sheltering, alternative energy vehicles, etc. A Biosphere Eco-City might also promote manufacturing processes that save energy or provide energy for other uses (e.g. district heating systems). In rural areas, agricultural projects might focus on conservation (e.g. low energy cropping systems) or supply (e.g. generation of bio-gas).This building is at the leading edge of energy conservation, using lots of natural light and efficient systems. A Green wall, not just any green wall, North America’s Tallest, actually helps reduce the energy needs of the building while making it so delightful to be in.
Food – Children’s Garden
In the past, much of the food for a city came from its surrounding region. In many countries, however, local supply has been replaced by national and international food distribution systems. An Eco-City project to encourage use of locally produced food could reduce the energy use and pollution of long-distance transportation. It would have two other benefits: fresher food for urban residents and higher incomes for local farmers. If such a project included heritage crops and meats, it could help maintain agricultural biodiversity. Development of urban gardens is another way to provide city residents with fresh food, as well an enjoyable pastime.The Children’s Garden gets the children involved in choosing and growing their own food. This is a great initiative by SLO-East Sustainability Living Ottawa East, an active sustainability community group.
Health – Playground for children of all abilities – Brewer Park
Health aspects of sustainability include clean air and water, safety, plus access to the environment for young, old and people with disabilities. This playground accommodates a wide range of physical, developmental, cognitive, and learning factors in children. All can come here for good outdoor fun.
Brewer’s Park Playground for Children of all abilities represents how great spaces are available for free to get out and enjoy the outdoors and instill the values of inclusion and active living.
Recreation – Mooney’s Bay Park
Parks and pathways are important elements of urban recreation, and their supply should be tailored to the needs of neighbourhoods. As well, rural areas have the potential to address some of the recreational needs of urban residents. An Eco-City project that coordinated the rural supply of recreational areas, such as camping and picnic sites, could provide enjoyment, while generating rural income. Another possibility is farm visits, which are an educational experience that brings urban people closer to nature. This also provides extra income that helps to maintain traditional farms, with benefits for both the environment and rural society.
Built Environment – Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence
The design of the urban area has a significant impact on sustainable development and quality of life. For example, a compact city design makes mass transit more viable, encourages walking and (by reducing automobile use) makes neighbourhoods safer. Also, the use of natural materials (e.g. stone and wood) for buildings may save energy and reduce pollution (produced in the manufacture of materials).At the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence, students learn how good design can save the energy needs of a building by 80% and some buildings can even be net producers of energy. Many trades come together under one roof to create the future we need to build now!
Waste Reduction – terra20
In urban areas, efficient processing and reduction of wastes will reduce the amount of land needed for dumpsites. One component of this is recycling, which reduces energy and materials use while providing local employment. In rural areas, training in the use and storage of farm chemicals can reduce groundwater contamination and protect farmers’ health.
Another way to reduce wastes is through re-design of equipment or re-structuring of manufacturing processes and business partners in an Eco-City can provide leadership in these areas. Projects focused on the recycling of parts can include products used in the home, office, or industrial plant.
Plasma technology may soon provide a reliable electricity supply through the very high temperature conversion of waste to energy. Terra 20 offers waste reduction strategies such as detergent refills at the ecobar, toys made from recycled materials and recycling and boxes to help you sort your streams!