Depave Paradise – Ottawa

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Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots, and buildings interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground and creating heat sinks, warming up our cities. By removing pavement and replacing it with native plants, trees and shrubs we are increasing the infiltration rate, recharging our groundwater supply, and cooling our neighbourhoods.

Depave Paradise addresses the proliferation of hard surfaces in modern urban environments through the primal act of ripping up unused pavement and replacing it with soil and vegetation. Volunteers “liberate the soil,” using hand tools to pry up the pavement. Native plants, bushes and trees are then planted to act as filters and sponges for polluted stormwater runoff. The events attract media and political attention, and raise awareness of the issues surrounding the urban water cycle, while making measurable environmental impacts, reducing runoff and contamination and increasing green space.

Removing pavement can be a daunting task, but made easy when communities come together to transform asphalt into vibrant green space!

Ecology Ottawa has helped three Ottawa communities Depave:

As with most of the undertakings Ecology Ottawa participates in, these depaves didn’t happen alone. Other organizations like Green Communities Canada (http://greencommunitiescanada.org/) and Evergreen (https://www.evergreen.ca/), along with volunteers and organizers from each of the sites, were key to these projects success!

Why: Keeping our streams clean and our city cool

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Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots, and buildings interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground and creating heat sinks, warming up our cities. By removing pavement and replacing it with native plants, trees and shrubs we are increasing the infiltration rate, recharging our groundwater supply, and cooling our neighbourhoods.

Benefits of this project include:

  • depave_dundas_photo_1-200x155Increasing green community space increases the mental and physical health of residents.
  • Adding native species to the urban plant mix improves the biodiversity of the City landscape.
  • Green spaces decrease the city’s heat island effect and help cool things down, mitigating the effects of climate change.
  • Permeable pavement or plant covered soil decrease the runoff of stormwater, which lowers the volume of our combined sewer overflow that dumps millions of litres of sewage into the Ottawa River each year.
  • A clean river system ensures optimum water quality.

depave_dundas_photo_6-200x133Bringing community members together to remove asphalt and concrete is an empowering activity that renews, beautifies, and makes better use of neglected urban spaces. The hands-on depaving process captures the hearts and energies of diverse people with a shared goal of creating vibrant, beautiful, and healthy communities. This Depave Paradise demonstration project will motivate residents in the city to continue depaving, either on their own properties or in common spaces.

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