Greenspace Protection

Natural greenspaces confer many benefits and their protection is necessary for human health and to prevent further biodiversity losses (photo: S. Charles)

Natural lands are cherished by the communities that live around them. Ottawa’s greenspaces (forests, wetlands, parks and fields) are fundamental to the health and happiness of its human residents and the wildlife species that also call this region home.

Many Ottawa residents assume that natural spaces are protected, however, poorly-planned development and inadequate protection measures continue to pose a threat to our local greenspaces.

Ottawa is a sprawling city, and that threatens our beloved greenspaces

The City of Ottawa spans over 2778km2 and contains many beloved greenspaces. Ottawa is currently Canada’s sixth most populous city, however, it covers a land area greater than that of the five most populous cities combined. As a result of urban sprawl, the city’s valuable greenspaces are increasingly at risk from urban construction projects.

Too much of Ottawa’s new development relies on problematic development patterns including sprawling, single use, low-density and car-centric planning. Development projects routinely use large plots of land at the expense of vulnerable species and ecosystems.

By protecting greenspaces, we protect habitat for vulnerable species

A Blanding’s turtle, a threatened species that inhabits wetlands in the South March Highlands (photo: J. McNeil)

Ottawa’s natural areas are critical for a wide range of animal and plant species. More than 80 species native to the Capital region have been classified as at risk by the provincial and/or federal government.

Although legislation exists to protect threatened species, new development projects often threaten vulnerable species and their specialized habitats. Blanding’s turtles are classified as a threatened species, yet development in the South March Highlands Conservation Forest in Kanata has destroyed prime habitat and many young and mature turtles have been killed by traffic collisions on newly constructed roadways that cross the forest.

How can we act together to protect greenspaces?

Our “Keep Nature in our Neighbourhoods” campaign aims to mobilize Ottawans to protect vulnerable greenspaces in the city and demand more sustainable patterns of development across the city.

This initiative supports:

  • Less incursion of new development into vulnerable areas and maintaining clearly defined greenspaces
  • Better community design and planning practices
  • More protection for species at risk
  • Stronger enforcement of tools to protect local greenspaces and the species that rely on them for survival

Through community action and engagement, we intend to address the root causes of this unsustainable urban sprawl and fuel long-term changes in patterns of urban development. The negative impacts of current development patterns must be addressed to preserve vulnerable and ecologically significant areas.

Solutions are within reach!

A well-designed city that protects its vulnerable areas is a healthier city. One goal of sustainable development is the reduction of urban sprawl and associated consequences which include expensive and inaccessible transit, high greenhouse gas emissions due to car-dependency, budgets skewed in favour of road development and incomplete communities that contribute to social isolation, obesity and other health issues. Acting to protect natural greenspaces can help address many of the root causes of the environmental crisis and related problems that plague cities across the globe.

Some of these solutions include:

  • Stronger by-laws to protect trees and greenspace
  • New standard for community design including minimum density and transit connectivity requirements
  • Enforced standards for the protection of species at risk
  • Enforced standards for development in sensitive areas
  • Prevention of new roads and road widening projects in sensitive areas
  • Greater transparency in the city’s development process

Unsustainable development practices are common in cities across the world, and it is our hope that Ottawa can serve as an example of a city that adopts sustainable development practices to minimize harm on living organisms and reap the health benefits of green and sustainable urban development.

We look forward to working with you to protect Ottawa greenspaces for the health of our communities and local wildlife! Please spread the word about our greenspace protection campaign and sign the petition to Keep Nature in our Neighbourhoods!