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  • Writer's pictureChristine McCuaig

Preserving Our Urban Environment: Ottawa's Initiatives for Environmental Sustainability

With the smoke from forest fires across Canada impacting air quality this week, it is hard not to consider our roles as urban planners in preserving and protecting our natural environment for future generations.

As urban planners, our roles go beyond just designing and shaping cities; they also entail supporting initiatives and raising awareness for programs that improve our environment. Urban planners play a crucial role in creating sustainable and livable communities by incorporating environmentally friendly practices into their designs and plans. They advocate for initiatives such as green spaces, renewable energy systems, efficient public transportation, and waste management strategies. By collaborating with environmental organizations, policymakers, and local communities, urban planners promote awareness and encourage the adoption of environmentally conscious practices. They strive to create cities that not only meet the needs of the present but also preserve and enhance the natural environment for future generations.

Looking locally, we would like to highlight two programs that the City of Ottawa currently offers aimed at reducing stormwater runoff, improving our water and air quality, and enhancing our tree canopy:

1. Rain Ready Ottawa:

The Rain-Ready program aims to address issues related to urban stormwater management and the potential impacts of heavy rainfall events. These programs typically focus on implementing sustainable practices to mitigate flooding, reduce stormwater runoff, and improve water quality.

Rain Ready Ottawa offers:

  • Information on projects for your home (see below) including a series of self-guided eLearning courses to help you implement rainwater management projects

  • Home Assessments that offer custom advice and solutions to your rainwater problems (Eligibility requirements apply, learn more at Rain Ready Ottawa Home Assessments

  • Rebates up to $5,000 to help you install practices that help manage rainwater where it falls (Eligibility requirements apply, learn more at Rain Ready Ottawa project rebates)

Rain Ready Rebates:

Rebates up to $5,000 may be available to help you install rainwater management projects. Rebates are available in priority retrofit areas (see eligibility) of Ottawa where studies have shown that actions on private property like redirecting downspouts and installing rain gardens are effective ways to manage rainwater.

Rain Ready Ottawa offers rebates for five practices:

  1. Downspout redirection (Up to $1,000)

  2. Rain garden installation (Up to $2,500)

  3. Soakway pit installation (Up to $2,500)

  4. Permeable pavements (Up to $5,000)

  5. Certified landscape designs ($500)

Rebates are available to residents who:

  • Are located in Priority Stormwater Retrofit Area

  • And one of:

    • have completed a Rain Ready Ottawa Home Assessment, or

    • are working with a certified Fusion Landscape Professional to complete their project, or

    • Have completed the relevant Rain Ready Ottawa eLearning courses

2. Trees in Trust Program:

The trees in trust program helps the City of Ottawa find suitable locations for street trees. Street trees are available by request on a first come, first served basis. If your City-owned street frontage lacks a tree and you have the time and commitment to help care for one, you may be eligible to participate in the program. There is no charge to the homeowner and supply and planting will be provided by the City. Criteria will be used to assess planting sites.

The 2023 program is now full, but the City is accepting requests for the 2024 planting season.


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