Be a part of the funding strategy and strategic partnership forming process as we solidify the community led plan to help reduce emissions from buildings by 80% by 2050! This work will culminate in a variety of funding proposals to federal, provincial and municipal programs all aligned to the same vision – a Vibrant Ottawa Built Together! We need you as leaders of building and renovation companies, non-profits, progressive financiers, Invest Ottawa, The City of Ottawa planning and finance, to join us in this great work for the future!
We want to lower GHG emissions and kickstart the Green Retrofit Economy in Ottawa!
When: June 5th – 9:00-4:00
Where: Jean Pigott Place, Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave
On May 16, another cyclist lost their life on Ottawa’s streets. It happened just metres away from City Hall, and right next to Ottawa’s flagship piece of bike infrastructure, the Laurier bike lanes. This tragedy – like so many pedestrian and cycling fatalities that happen throughout the year in Ottawa – was avoidable.
While it is common to call these events “accidents,” the root causes of these instances are bad policy and design. The May 16 tragedy was a product of the choices we have made in building and designing our city. We have built our city around the car – prioritizing ease of travel and speed for car users. Every decision has trade-offs, and a recurring consequence of our current system is severe injury and death for pedestrians and cyclists.
This must end now. Ottawa can choose a better way forward – one that eliminates severe injury and death from our streets. Click here to demand action from your councillor and the mayor today.
Cities around the world are adopting “Vision Zero,” a road safety project that aims to eliminate severe injury and death on streets. Started in Sweden in 1997, the Vision Zero concept has moved to countries, regions and cities around the world. In Canada, cities like Toronto, Edmonton and Surrey have been leading the way in adopting Vision Zero, and re-designing their streets for safety in the process.
On May 22, Councillor Catherine McKenney urged council to adopt Vision Zero, and delineated what that policy could look like in the Ottawa context. Some measures Councillor McKenney proposes include:
On Wednesday, June 12, Ottawa City Council will vote on Councillor McKenney’s motion. It is urgent that council and the mayor hear from residents across our city, demanding that council step up the fight against severe injury and death on our streets.
On April 24, Ottawa Council declared a climate emergency. Even a few months ago, few people would have expected this move. The objection to the word “emergency” by some councillors took on a dark irony the next day, when a state of emergency was declared due to almost unprecedented flooding in the region.
For some councillors, the main priority was making sure the motion was not merely symbolic. If the city was going to declare a climate emergency, there would have to be action associated with it. Coun. Catherine McKenney had already submitted a request to city staff to study the environmental and financial impacts of an electric bus pilot project for OC Transpo in February, giving people concerned about the environment, public health and public transit hope that an electric bus project could be a first step following the declaration.
Last week, OC Transpo replied to McKenney’s request saying it does not recommend an electric bus pilot project for Ottawa, arguing that it would be more cost-effective to focus on the LRT system and monitor electric bus pilots in other cities, such as Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary. The cost of purchasing buses, retrofitting infrastructure to allow charging and training the workforce to support new technologies were all listed as reasons not to move forward with a pilot project. It would be better, Transpo said, to wait until the mid-2020s when a large portion of the existing fleet needs to be replaced anyway.
The cost of purchasing buses, retrofitting infrastructure to allow charging and training the workforce to support new technologies were all listed as reasons not to move forward.
The position omits one very important element of the pilot project: capacity building. A pilot project does not function solely to determine which electric bus model is best suited to Ottawa’s size and temperature range. It is also an opportunity to build the capacity for electric buses that will be needed in the long term. Infrastructure retrofitting and retraining programs would be expensive aspects of a pilot program: but they are necessary, and they will still be necessary in 2025 regardless of which buses are recommended by other cities.
Looking to the future, the transition to electric buses is going to become an even more pressing issue. As we get closer to the ecological tipping point where the disastrous effects of climate change become irreversible – which the United Nations says is only 11 years away – we will be forced to make large-scale changes to the systems we use every day. Delaying the pilot project is not a way of saving the city money, it simply reduces the timeline for an inevitable project.
When it comes to climate change, some politicians and decision-makers question whether we can afford to implement the programs necessary to create a green economy. It is far past the time to start asking if we can afford not to. This is one of the great rhetorical questions of the climate crisis. But I don’t mean it in a rhetorical sense; I am asking, quite literally, if our city can afford to delay the expenses required to mitigate climate change into the future.
Putting off this pilot project is like saying the housing market is too expensive, so instead of buying a fixer-upper now you’ll wait five years and buy a mansion. Rather than shutting down any hopes of an electric bus pilot project, why not change the scope of what a pilot project could mean? The route planning, infrastructure building and worker training will all have to be done at a community level – Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary can’t do it for us – so why not start it now?
Photo of an electric bus is courtesy of Graham Hughes, via The Canadian Press
It’s our favourite time of year again… Soon the entire Glebe will be abuzz with lawn-hawking like you’ve never seen. It’s this annual mecca of bargain-hunters from near and far that gave birth to Ecology Ottawa’s Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale!
We look forward to another Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale engaging Ottawa residents, greening up our tree canopy and have a lot of fun doing it.
At this year’s Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale, on Saturday, May 25, Ecology Ottawa’s amazing volunteers will distribute 1,000s of free tree saplings at the event and to shoppers throughout the neighbourhood! We’ll be giving away young seedlings, having conversations with people about local environmental issues and create a community hub at 680 Bank Street (in the Kunstadt parking lot) with music, trees and other entertainments.
Our energetic volunteers will fan out throughout the neighbourhood all day, giving away 1,000s of free trees! Be on the look out for smiling folks in green hard hats.
We encourage you to come get your free tree at our event headquarters at 680 Bank Street (in the Kunstadt parking lot). In addition, we will be providing the public with access to portable washrooms, a hand washing station, and a water bottle refilling station—part of our commitment to the community.
Volunteers are at the heart of what makes the Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale such a successful event. Help us organize and pull off the city’s biggest free tree giveaway ever.
Volunteering for this event is a lot of fun, and opportunities are available for folks of all ages. Food and refreshments will be provided. And yes, volunteering for the Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale can count towards your high school volunteer requirement!
We are currently seeking volunteers to help with the following roles:
We need your help the most on Saturday, May 25th, from 6 am to 6 pm, as well as the day before and the day after.
PLEASE COMPLETE OUR VOLUNTEER FORM and we will follow-up with you shortly. This will greatly help us coordinate the more than 100 volunteers we expect to sign up.
Last, but not least, please tell all your friends, family, and colleagues in Ottawa about Ecology Ottawa’s Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale. We greatly appreciate you helping to get the word out.
Thank you all for your incredible support and for helping to make this event the best and greenest ever! We hope to see you on Saturday, May 25 at 680 Bank Street (in the Kunstadt parking lot).
On behalf of Ecology Ottawa and the Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale, we would like to thank our generous past and present partners, sponsors, and supporters. We would also like to thank the Glebe Community Association for organizing the community-wide Great Glebe Garage Sale. And the biggest thanks of all goes to the generous donors and tireless volunteers who are the lifeblood of this event. Without all this support, the Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale would not be possible. THANK YOU ALL!
In Ottawa, 40% of city-wide greenhouse gas emissions stem from transportation. This means addressing climate change must involve making our commuting patterns less greenhouse gas-intensive. When light rail transit (LRT) comes online, it will put 70% of Ottawans within five kilometres of a major transit hub. This provides an opportunity to scale up sustainable transportation through integration of active transportation (cycling and pedestrian) connections to LRT.
Our LRT project aims to identify opportunities to improve active transportation access points to light rail transit (LRT) stations. This project will result in widespread public engagement, as well as a research report focused on two stations (Baseline and Blair). This report will contain recommendations on opportunities to design and build active transportation infrastructure in order to make sustainable transportation safer and more accessible for all users.
Ecology Ottawa will be conducting four active transportation audits (one by foot, one by bike) for both stations. With a group of volunteers, we will walk and bike predetermined routes near the stations and take notes on what we encounter along the way. Our hope is to learn more about the challenges and opportunities for travel to and from Baseline and Blair stations.
Join us for our active transportation audits by RSVP to the links below:
Baseline station walk audit – June 1, 10am – 12pm https://www.ecologyottawa.org/baseline_station_walk_audit
Baseline station bike audit – June 1, 1pm – 3pm https://www.ecologyottawa.org/baseline_station_cycling_audit
Blair station walk audit – July 6, 10am – 12pm https://www.ecologyottawa.org/blair_station_walk_audit
Blair station bike audit – July 6, 1pm – 3pm https://www.ecologyottawa.org/blair_station_cycling_audit
COME TO OUR COMMUNITY EVENT IN BRITANNIA!
A free vegan & vegetarian community barbecue, full of fun and music! Come to celebrate our Green Infrastructure education and action campaign! Come out and get your free:
WHEN: June 29, 2019 at 11am – 2pm
WHERE: Britannia Park – Trolley Station
Ottawa, ON K2B 5Z6
In the last 3 years, Ottawa has seen catastrophic floods predicted to occur only once every 100 years. We have 11 years left to take bold climate action before this becomes the new normal.
The upcoming federal election is a chance to create a movement for change, one that will transition us to a clean economy and resilient world. We can’t afford to wait. The time is now.
To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Push for all parties to adopt strong climate platforms
Engage residents in discussions around voting for climate
ORGANIZE! Lead a team of volunteers. To apply to a coordinator position, email email@example.com for more information.
OFFER YOUR SKILLS! Are you a talented videographer? Musician? Event planner? Communications expert? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your skill!
BECOME A MOVEMENT HOUSE! Do you live in Kanata? We need lawns for signs, garages for storage, and living rooms for community-building. Email email@example.com.
Join us on Thursday, May 30th, from 6:00-8:00 pm for an open discussion on climate action in the city of Ottawa and possible opportunities coming up. We’re at an exciting moment in Ottawa, with lots of energy, potential, and attention focused on climate action. We invite you to come out and have your say in what Ecology Ottawa’s Renewable City campaign looks like over the next few months.
Though we won’t have childcare provided, the space is child friendly: we’ll make sure to have craft supplies and distractions in place for little ones, so please feel free to bring them along!
This meeting will be held at Ecology Ottawa offices: 1 Nicholas Street, suite 430
Lots of people struggle with the idea that our current flooding may be caused by climate change. For example Ottawa city councillor Eli El-Chantiry on CBC with Robyn Bresnahan said:
“Quite honestly — I’m a little bit — start to think about — like they told us it happened once in a hundred years. Now it happened in two years. So it’s gotta be something has changed. And what caused that change and what we need to change as well. And I know somebody says it’s climate change. I get that, it’s climate change. It has not much changed the climate on us in the last two years. So the first time you had that type of flooding was in 90 years; exactly 89 years and now you’re having it again in two years. So, has something severely changed? I think — I don’t know, I don’t have the answer. All what I can tell you, all communities from here to Temiskaming, they’re at risk, and all the way to Montreal, so it’s not just our area specifically. There’s something really — some, and some answer — had — I don’t have the answer for that question.”
Councillor El-Chantiry isn’t alone in wrestling with this one.
When we hear that a weather event is a once in a 100-year event we shouldn’t think “ah, we had a flood last year, now we’re safe for 99 years” any more than we would think “heads or tails, there’s a 50/50 chance, I got heads last time, so I’m certain to get tails this time.” That 100-year weather event is an expression of probability. There’s a one percent chance of such weather in any given year.
Probability is confusing. Even over 100 years there isn’t 100% chance of that 100-year weather event. According to the US National Weather Service Flood Return Period Calculator in a 100 years there is only a 63.4% chance of a 100-year weather event.
How those probabilities are calculated are from records of the past. But records don’t exist for every aspect of weather for every place or for all that many decades into the past. So probabilities are calculated from the partial records that do exist. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration site Weather.gov has an explainer on how partial data is used to produce probabilities of 100-year or even 1,000-year events.
In short, the partial data is plotted on a graph and a curve is generated that fits the data. New data might change the shape of the curve. There is always some sort of weather so the area under the curve adds up to 100% probability. It’s a little bit of the unlikely plus a larger dollop of the more likely. The fat part in the middle of the curve is the most likely and the skinny part off to the right, where the curve is getting flatter and flatter, is where things are less and less likely. The 100-year event corresponds to the place where there’s only 1% of the area under the curve out there to the right.
All this is true without climate change.
The prominent climate scientist James Hansen has compared climate change to loading the dice of extreme weather probability so that extremes are becoming more likely.
When we hear weather forecasters talk about a given day’s weather and compare it to “normal” they are using a figure for “normal” that is an average of 30 years for that day’s date. Climatologists have long known that “normal” changes over time and so every ten years they update “normal” to be based on the most recent 30 years.
The 2019 Canada’s Changing Climate Report tells us that Ontario and Quebec have both experienced warmer spring temperatures and increased winter and spring precipitation since 1948.
Some of these data points will have been accounted for in the 100-year probability forecasts, but not all; and it is the more recent data that are least likely to have been included while at the same time being the most likely to represent a change from the historic values. That doesn’t mean floods every year, but it does mean a new shape to those curves fitted to the data. It does mean water levels that once had 1% probability now have something higher.
For decades scientists have hated the question “was this event caused by climate change.” The careful answer has been that climate change increased the likelihood of it happening. But in recent years some scientists have begun calculating how much the likelihood has increased due to climate change. This is called “attribution” and instead of avoiding saying an event was caused by climate change, they can say climate change made the event a certain percent more likely to happen.
So if we’re seeing an increased frequency of flooding of the Ottawa River, we’re seeing the beginnings of what climate science predicts. It’s a pretty subtle difference but the reason we can’t say climate change caused this flood is that the changing climate is analogous to loading dice to come up six more often, but that doesn’t imply that unloaded dice never come up six.
Photo credit: Wikipedia commons
This past weekend, we were planning to write you about good news from city hall. Last Wednesday, Ottawa joined hundreds of cities across Canada in declaring a climate emergency. We were elated that our municipal leaders voted overwhelmingly to show leadership on the climate crisis, and we wanted to spread the word.
Recent events have overshadowed this jubilant mood. Over the weekend, flooding devastated homes and communities all over the Ottawa area. As we write this, area dams are buckling under the force of water, and the Ottawa River has yet to crest. Lives are being interrupted and thrown into disarray. And after the third year in a row of extreme weather disasters, Ottawans are wrestling with a sense of climate anxiety that no longer feels distant or abstract.
During the debate around council’s climate emergency declaration, some councillors had asked if climate change was a “real” emergency – on par with crises like opiate addiction, homelessness and violence in our streets. The answer – sadly – is all too obvious now. Climate change is undeniably a real emergency, and its impacts will be felt even more deeply in the years to come. It’s not yet clear if spring flooding will be a disastrous new normal for our city. But it’s clear that climate change poses more than a single threat, and can upend the status quo with alarming speed and violence.
This is why tackling climate change is the most urgent issue of our time.Action in cities like Ottawa, which are directly or indirectly responsible for half of Canadian emissions, is critical. Council’s declaration of climate emergency is a positive step, and is more than symbolic. In fact, it moves forward at least five critical elements. Click here to read more abouthow this declaration moves the needle on important issues like climate equity, resiliency, and aligning Ottawa’s emissions goals with scientific requirements.
As Councillor Shawn Menard noted last week, Ottawa is still at the beginning stages of responding to the climate crisis. Now, we must demand that council be bold in its plan for change. Put simply, we have 11 years to do three big things. We must dramatically change how we heat, cool and electrify our buildings. We must dramatically reduce emissions from how we move around our city. Finally, we must plan the future development of our city in a way that makes the first and second goals easier to accomplish.
There are so many opportunities to tackle these big challenges in the months and years ahead – from putting a stop to wasteful urban sprawl, to making our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, to creating a green jobs boom by retrofitting our buildings. There’s still time to tackle the climate crisis while building a better city, but we must act now.
In the meantime, we urge you to help our friends and neighbours who are most in need at this critical time. Click here to find out about how you can volunteer to help.