Ecology News

This month’s ecology news includes updates from the GCA Environment Committee, the Glashan shoolyard greening project, and an uplifting article about a fall harvest that occured at Commissioner’s Park.

What’s buzzing? The Bee-Friendlies
The environment: think global, act local – so what do we think locally?
Glashan schoolyard greening project update
Fall harvest at Commissioners Park


What’s buzzing? The Bee-Friendlies

By Angela Keller-Herzog

Bee-Marigold-02 The Pantry Common Room was filled to capacity on October 8 for a public talk entitled “Vanishing of bees and pollinators in Canada: local and municipal actions.” The highlight was a presentation by Beatrice Olivastri, executive director of Friends of the Earth Canada. The discussion was lively and mostly centred around the state of knowledge of and regulatory safeguards for neonicotinoid or systemic pesticides.

The audience included several experienced Glebe gardeners who have been creating pollinator-friendly gardens to help butterflies, bees and other pollinators. Even these seasoned Glebe gardeners were surprised and dismayed to learn that testing shows that garden centres and growers in Ontario were using those same neonicotinoid systemic pesticides in cultivating friendly blooms like salvia, daisies and alyssum. Campaigns have been initiated to ask garden centres to stop this practice, or at minimum, to label neonicotinoid-free plants. A number of municipalities including Seattle, London, Ontario and Prince Edward County have initiated local regulatory actions.

Following up on this presentation, the “Bee-Friendlies” was formed. It is a group of concerned citizens who want to learn and “buzz” more on this issue. For more information contact Kim Merrett at beefriendlies@gmail.com.

Angela Keller-Herzog is co-chair of the Glebe Community Association’s Environment Committee.

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The environment: think global, act local – so what do we think locally?

By Angela Keller-Herzog

The recent municipal election, while over and done now, had its interesting moments here in Capital Ward. It gave us a chance to find out what the leading environmental issues are in the hearts and minds of the local electorate.

On October 15, there was a Capital Ward all-candidates environmental debate that was organized by a collaboration of seven local environmentally active organizations: Ecology Ottawa (Community Network – Glebe), Healthy Transportation Coalition, Greenspace Alliance, Ottawa Riverkeeper, OPIRG Carleton, Council of Canadians (Ottawa Chapter) and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative.

The event generated an excellent turnout of about 50 local residents. Many of us got a chance to pose our most pressing environmental questions in what Scott Blurton described on his blog as a “marathon 2.5 hour debate.” The graphic shows an analysis of the questions asked.

Keller Herzog The Environment  graphic Nov 2014

The issue that received overwhelmingly the most attention by attendees was climate change, carbon and energy. Questions in this category included: “How do we reduce our carbon footprint?” “How can we become a green energy leader?” “How can we make gains in energy conservation?” and “How can we educate politicians about the alarming and accelerating evidence of climate change coming from scientists?” All three Capital Ward candidates agreed that this issue was key, but differed in how it should be addressed.

Based on the questions posed to candidates, the second environmental priority of Capital Ward residents attending this debate concerned trees and greenspace, with questions about the urban canopy, the sorry state of the “Bank Street reconstruction trees” (many are dead), wetland conservation and the expansion of the urban boundary. In his closing comments, Chernushenko indicated that the environmental debate had been the best of the debates he had participated in, with a wide scope of issues but also some in-depth discussion.

Angela Keller-Herzog is co-chair of the Glebe Community Association Environment Committee.

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Glashan schoolyard greening project update

By Kathi Elborn

November is an exciting month as Glashan goes from grey to green! As this issue of the Glebe Report goes to press, murals are being installed on the north side (Arlington Avenue) exterior school wall. Construction-level drawings for the grounds improvement and landscaping work from the OCDSB landscape consultant are being finalized and will soon go to tender. Phase 1 of the grounds work is to be completed by June 2015. Over a dozen new trees have already been planted on the north and south sides of Glashan Public School. Three new bike racks have been installed, with more to come. And critical fundraising efforts continue, especially as we need to raise an additional $25,000 to fully finance all of the Phase 1 project components.

Save the date!
Exterior wall mural launch
Friday, November 28 at 2:30 p.m.
Glashan Public School
What will it look like?
Hint: See you later, alligator!

With a generous grant from the Paint it Up! initiative of Crime Prevention Ottawa, local artist Nicole Bélanger was recruited to work with Glashan students to create a stunning mural depicting the students’ chosen themes of creativity and diversity. Are you curious to see what these enterprising young Grade 7 and 8 artists have been up to? Come to the launch planned for Friday, November 28 at 2:30 p.m. outside Glashan School on Arlington Avenue.

Always on the lookout for sources of funding to move the Glashan Greening Project forward, our indefatigable Glashan Greening Project chair Angela Keller-Herzog learned of the Paint it Up! program. Crime Prevention Ottawa, in partnership with the City of Ottawa, offers funding for outdoor mural projects that support graffiti prevention, community safety and the beautification of Ottawa neighbourhoods. The Paint it Up! program is an incredible initiative that empowers youth through community arts.

Hints of what the mural may become. Photo: Bob Acton

Hints of what the mural may become. Photo: Bob Acton

Glashan’s Greening Project was also recognized by Tree Ottawa for its efforts to make Ottawa a greener place. On October 14, Mayor Jim Watson, representatives of the OCDSB and the Glashan Greening Project attended a media event announcing Tree Ottawa’s goal to plant one million trees in our city by 2017 (an Ecology Ottawa-led initiative). Also on hand were Olympian Cody Sorensen, and representatives from RBC, one of the major sponsors. Principal Jim Tayler graciously accepted a small white-pine sapling on behalf of Glashan School.

Do you have a child who will attend Glashan in the future? Are you a member of the community who wants to make Ottawa a greener place? Then join us! Contact GlashanGreening@gmail.com to get involved. Keep up-to-date on our progress and plans by visiting our website (www.GlashanGreening.ca) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/glashangreeningproject).

Kathi Elborn is the communications person for the Glashan Schoolyard Greening Project.

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Fall harvest at Commissioners Park

By Kylie Taggart

On a bright fall day in October, the National Capital Commission (NCC) invited the Ottawa Food Bank and Moisson Outaouais to harvest more than 290 lbs of organic vegetables from the gardens of Commissioners Park, across from Dow’s Lake.

Linda Cruz, a volunteer with the Ottawa Food Bank’s community harvest group, holds up some Brusssels sprouts harvested from Commissioners Park. Photo: Kylie Taggart

Linda Cruz, a volunteer with the Ottawa Food Bank’s community harvest group, holds up some Brusssels sprouts harvested from Commissioners Park. Photo: Kylie Taggart

Every May, Commissioners Park becomes one of the most photographed parks in Ottawa, with rows upon rows of perfect tulips. The beds are replanted after the tulips have lost their bloom. This year curly kale, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, cauliflower and red beets were planted amongst the flowers.

Tina Liu, the NCC landscape architect who designed the beds, explained that planting vegetables was a pilot project. The project was kept fairly quiet, since the outcome was unknown. It was the NCC’s first attempt at a mixed planting project of this scale. “By the end of August we saw it was going well,” she explained. “We knew we’d have a bunch of food to donate.” Liu called the Ottawa Food Bank. “It is just to do something to give back to the community,” she said.

NCC landscape architect Tina Liu designed the gardens. Photo: Kylie Taggart

NCC landscape architect Tina Liu designed the gardens. Photo: Kylie Taggart

Liu said the gardens at Commissioners Park are not treated with pesticides and so the donated vegetables are all organic. She said she was pleased with the aesthetic appeal of the gardens. “I think they look as gorgeous as flowers,” she said. “We’re quite delighted,” said Jason Gray, the Ottawa Food Bank’s community produce coordinator. “It has the potential to be replicated in other gardens.”

The harvest from Commissioners Park will increase the diversity of the fresh produce the Ottawa Food Bank is able to provide to their clients. The Ottawa Food Bank also has a four and a half acre farm in Stittsville that produces more than 70,000 lbs of fresh produce every year. Gray said the project pointed to how much space exists in the city where food could be grown.

Jason Gray loads Brussels sprouts into boxes to be taken to the Food Bank. Photo: Kylie Taggart

Jason Gray loads Brussels sprouts into boxes to be taken to the Food Bank. Photo: Kylie Taggart

“We’re very encouraged the NCC called us up,” he said. Liu could not say whether the NCC would repeat the project. Volunteers from the Ottawa Food Bank and the Table de concertation sur la faim et le développement social de l’Outaouais helped with the harvest.

Kylie Taggart is a journalist and freelance writer who lives in the Glebe.

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