OSC at Pinhey Dunes event

The Ottawa Stewardship Council participated in a very successful public event organized by Biodiversity Conservation International (BCI) at the Pinhey sand dunes on Saturday August 26.

After several brief presentations about the singular importance of the dunes in the Ottawa area and some discussion on the importance of volunteer stewardship in its success, participants got a chance to walk about with scientific experts from BCI, to ask questions and gain greater insights into this unique ecosystem.

Working closely with BCI, we have been an active supporter of their dune restoration project through cooperative study projects with Carleton University, and Algonquin College. We have also worked with Hydro One to ensure its maintenance program along the hydro corridor was supportive of the goals and objectives of the Pinhey sand dunes conservation program.

The Ottawa Stewardship Council participated in the Pinhey Dunes outreach event in Ottawa on 26 August 2023.
The Pinhey Dunes outreach event was well attended by the public.

OSC Bee Hotels in Hydro Corridor

The Ottawa Stewardship Council has been working with the Briar’s Brook Morgan’s Grant Community Association (BMGCA), Hydro One, and the City of Ottawa for over five years to make the hydro corridor into useful community green space.

This summer, OSC’s Bob McFetridge made four bee hotels, which were installed along a one kilometer section of the Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor.

Ottawa Stewardship Council made four bee hotels, which were installed in the Morgan's Grant hydro corridor in Kanata.
One of four bee hotels installed in Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor this summer.

BMGCA’s summer student monitored the activity in the four hotels. By the end of the summer, all of the hotels had eggs laid in them. Bee hotels must be properly constructed and maintained to ensure they are actually providing a benefit to the bees. Next year the hotels will be cleaned after this season’s eggs have hatched to help prevent mold and parasite infestation, and to make them ready for a new generation of bees.

Ottawa Stewardship Council provided a bat house to the hydro corridor.
Bat house in the hydro corridor. (Photo by S. Gore.)

OSC also supplied a bat house, which was installed on the corridor in mid-summer. The bat house was made by students at École secondaire catholique Pierre-Savard as part of OSC’s urban natural area stewardship project in Chapman Mills West.

Learn More

For information on maintaining and managing a bee hotel, this is an excellent Canadian sourced guide: https://www.ealt.ca/blog/bee-hotel-maintenance

Rock Elm: A Native Species in Decline?

Carleton University third year Environmental Science students made their group project presentations last week.  One of the projects we sponsored, in partnership with the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club, was about Rock Elms (Ulmus thomasii).  The project team examined whether Rock Elm is a species in decline due to Dutch Elm Disease (DED) using data in iNaturalist.  They also reviewed the strengths and limitations of citizen science, the natural history of Rock Elm, tree species recovery programs, and the history of DED in North America.
From the data available, the team concluded that the Rock Elm mortality rate seemed better in 2017-2020 than between 2012-2016; however, they recognized the likelihood of sampling bias.  They also confirmed that the proximity to a dying or dead Rock Elm increases the likelihood that surrounding Rock Elms will also be dead or declining.
We thank the students for their excellent work demonstrating the scientific method and for highlighting the need for a Rock Elm recovery program.

Image of Rock Elm observations in Ontario.
Image of Rock Elm observations from the students’ presentation.

Learn more about Rock Elm.

Hydro Corridors – A Partnership for Community Greenspace

The Ottawa Stewardship Council continues to work on a model for sustainable maintenance, conservation, environmental stewardship, and safe public use of hydro corridors across the city.  Interest is building at Hydro One, the City of Ottawa, and communities across the city in developing a stewardship model for corridors owned by the City or Hydro One.

Information sign at Morgan's Grant hydro corridor
Information sign at the Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor.

Based on our work with the Briarbrook Morgan’s Grant Community Association in Kanata, we are learning about what is important for the community, how to better engage the City, and how to meet Hydro One’s requirements for access and clearance around towers. This collaborative approach led to Hydro One asking the OSC for advice and assistance in building links with communities where they needed to do corridor maintenance.

As a result OSC has advised several other community groups about how to work collaboratively with Hydro One staff in exploring what they can do on hydro corridors while in turn providing a positive impact on Hydro One’s maintenance practices.  The goal is to create ongoing cooperative links that will grow into active community led stewardship programs in the future.

ottawa stewardship council helping Morgan's Grant hydro corridor project.
Morgan’s Grant corridor planted with wild flowers.

Most recently OSC has been actively engaged in advising city councillors on the importance of including almost 250 kilometers of hydro corridor lands into the City of Ottawa’s greenspace management plan as well as having them identified in the City’s new Official Plan. These efforts are showing promise as the councillors with whom OSC has met are supportive of the value of recognizing corridor lands and of the need for a cooperative long-term agreement with Hydro One such that communities affected by activities on hydro corridors may take active roles in their environmental stewardship, conservation, and recreational use.

These discussions, and the involvement of an increasing number of community groups and associations who have contacted the Council and its partners, are growing.  We are encouraged by the number of individuals and groups who want to learn how stewardship can improve their impact on the ecological quality of hydro corridors and by steps being taken by City Councillors to support the initiative.

Councillors Jenna Sudds and Jean Clouthier are looking at forming a working group of community organizations and City staff that will help advise on best approaches and practices for creating a model.  The goal is for interested communities living near or adjacent to corridor lands to become engaged with Hydro One and the City in the proper care and stewardship of these significant tracts of greenspace. The Council has provided considerable input into these plans and continues to offer its assistance.

Morgan’s Grant Corridor Project Update

Morgan’s Grant has had a busy summer.  Using a second year of financial assistance from Hydro One, the Briarbrook and Morgan’s Grant Community Association hired a full time student to carry out a maintenance program in the hydro corridor this summer.

The student cleared wild parsnip from designated areas, removed a variety of noxious plants from around towers and areas where people were likely to access, and talked with visitors about the work and goals of making the corridor a community conservation area.

Wild Parsnip. (Photo G. Roy, 2020)

The student also ran a research project on the efficacy of mowing and of using chelated iron to control wild parsnip. Chelated iron is used primarily as a fertilizer but under certain conditions if it is applied in the wrong concentration can damage wide leaf plants such as wild parsnip. The tests were carried out over the summer on test plots offered by a land owner near Carp who was interested in the outcome. Although some success was observed, the general consensus was that more research needed to be done before the application of chelated iron could be considered as a means to control wild parsnip and other wide-leaf noxious plants.

Volunteers and the summer student also cleared the bases of several hydro towers of garbage, roots, and weeds to improve safety of access, increase opportunity for native species to expand and improve the general appearance of the area.  The results were clearly appreciated by Hydro One staff on their late summer tour of the corridor. Volunteer efforts like this do two important things:  they help maintain safety and security in the immediate areas around towers so that workers are less likely to be injured and they show to Hydro One and the City the potential of community stewardship as a vehicle by which these important urban environments can become healthy and safe greenspaces for the benefit of everyone.

You can find the student’s reports on controlling wild parsnip by mowing and using chelated iron here:  Morgan’s Grant Greenspace Revitalization.

The maintained area of the corridor is dominated by long grasses, native plants and flowers that support a healthy urban greenspace and pollinator meadow. The pollinator hotel donated by Hydro One is on the left. (Photo G. Roy, 2020)

2019 Events and News

5 December 2019 – Carleton University Environmental Science Projects

Carleton University third year students presented their Environmental Science group projects this week.  We sponsored two projects:

  • Pinhey Sand Dunes – record insect diversity on this unique site and make recommendations for public engagement, and
  • Carp River Restoration Site – monitor seeded and invasive plants and make recommendations for citizen science and public engagement.

The Pinhey Dunes students recorded 6 insect species, looked at lessons learned from other dune restoration projects worldwide, and developed a questionnaire and pamphlet to improve public knowledge about what makes the site ecology special.


The Carp River students recorded 19 plant species in a 350m stretch and identified three invasive species:  wild parsnip, flowering rush, and phragmites.  They also looked at five citizen science projects  and recommended a public awareness event and use of iNaturalist to promote yearly collection of data to see how the site flora change over time.

30 November 2019 – Hydro Corridor Visioning Workshop

The Briarbrook and Morgan’s Grant Community Association (BMGCA) held a workshop to engage the community in a visioning exercise for future uses of the hydro corridor, which runs 1.5 km from Old Carp Road to Terry Fox Drive.  We have been working with BMGCA, Hydro One, and the City of Ottawa for four years to support the evolution of the corridor into greenspace.  Councillor Jenna Sudds and Hydro One’s Terry Tysick also attended.  There was some discussion about how to extend Morgan’s Grant model to other publicly owned hydro corridors in Ottawa.  Read our post for more details:  Morgan’s Grant Hydro Corridor Visioning Workshop.

27 November 2019 – Join Us at the Aquatic Expo

Join us at the City’s Aquatic Expo and Wildlife Speaker Series talk by the “Fish Guy”, Dr. Steven Cooke, on Wednesday, 27 November at Ben Franklin Place at 7pm. Dr. Cooke’s talk is titled “Fish Tales: An Exploration of Ottawa’s Underwater World.” Need help with a community stewardship project? Visit our table in the foyer.

October 2019 – Petrie Island Tree Inventory Report is Now Available

The Friends of Petrie Island (FOPI) have posted the 2019 Tree Inventory Report on their web site.  Key findings:  Together Silver Maple and Basswood comprise 52% of the 443 trees surveyed.  American Elm, Butternut, and Green Ash are dying from introduced diseases.  Wire-wrapping the trees does seems to protect them from beaver damage. The largest trees on the island are Silver Maples, with four measured at over 100 cm DBH.  OSC and the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club partners with FOPI to conduct the inventory, which will continue next year.

September 2019 – 2019 Carleton University Projects

This year we are sponsoring two projects for Carleton University’s third year Environmental Science students in the 2019 fall semester:

  1. Carp River Restoration Site Monitoring of Seeded and Invasive Plants – in partnership with Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, and
  2. Pinhey Sand Dunes Project – in partnership with Biodiversity Conservancy International.

For the Carp River project, students are conducting a survey of the site along its pathways to record the distribution of species that were seeded as part of the restoration.  Students are also recording the location of invasive species such as Phragmites and Flowering Rush.  The information can be used to measure the success of seeded species and to mobilize volunteers to remove invasive species.  Students are using iNaturalist to record and map their observations.

For the Pinhey Dunes project, students are assisting scientists by recording the insect prey of robber flies within the dune complex.  They are also researching other examples of dune restoration and of public engagement in ecological restoration.

17 and 18 August 2019 – 400 Trees Recorded in Petrie Island Tree Inventory

The Friends of Petrie Island, in partnership with the Ottawa Stewardship Council (OSC) and Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club (OFNC), conducted a tree inventory on 17 and 18 August.  Petrie Island is known for its biodiversity and Hackberry trees, which are at the northern extent of their range and uncommon in the Ottawa area.  The inventory information (e.g. species, diameter, health status) will be used to develop a forest management plan for the island. Invasive species locations were also recorded. Now volunteers will enter the information into a spreadsheet so that the data can be analyzed and uploaded to iNaturalist. Another inventory is planned for next year.  For more information see Friends of Petrie Island.

14 July 2019 – Carp River Living Classroom

OSC is working with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) and Friends of the Carp River to support development of a wetland education program at the Carp River restoration site in Kanata.  The Carp River Living Classroom will have many education elements, but one will be a mobile app called EcoTrekr, which is aimed at families and children in elementary/middle school.  On 14 July, the EcoTrekr development team ran a focus test on an early version of the app to gather feedback from users that will be used to improve the user experience.  MVCA will be posting more information about the Living Classroom and EcoTrekr as development of the site’s education elements progress.

June 2019 – Bee Hotel at Pinhey Dunes Hydro Corridor

This week Hydro One and the scientists working to restore the Pinhey Dunes installed a bee hotel beside the area’s hydro corridor near Slack Road. Last year OSC connected Hydro One with the research team to ensure that the corridor maintenance clearing was done without impact to the fragile dunes. Thank you to Hydro One for working with the community and funding the bee hotel.

For more information about the Biodiversity Conservancy research project, see Saving a Threatened Ottawa Sand Dune Complex.

11 May 2019 – Butternut Tree Planting

With the help of local residents, we planted 20 Butternuts yesterday at Kanata Lakes in areas cleared of dead Ash trees. The trees come from the Butternut Recovery Program and are grown using seeds from canker-resistant trees. Special thanks to Marilyn Poirier for organizing the volunteers.


6 April 2019 – Morgan’s Grant Hydro Corridor Community Green Space Revitalization

OSC continues to work with the Briarbrook and Morgan’s Grant Community Association to develop ideas for the hydro corridor that runs through their community. On April 6, about 35 local residents attended a facilitated meeting to discuss how this under-utilized 2 kilometer long green space could be used to benefit the community. The OSC and City of Ottawa made presentations.  You can read more about this project here:  Morgan’s Grant Green Space Restoration.

January 2019 – Pollinator Project Blog

Hillary Hale has generously allowed us to publish her blog. You can read it here: Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor: vacant land or abundant potential for nature and community?  Hillary was a student in the 2018 Environmental Science group project course at Carleton University. Her group’s project was Pollinators in an Urban Meadow, which studied the Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor in partnership with Briarbrook Brookside and Morgan’s Grant Community Association.


Morgan’s Grant Hydro Corridor Visioning Workshop

On 30 November 2019, the Briarbrook and Morgan’s Grant Community Association (BMGCA) held a workshop to engage the community in a visioning exercise for future uses of a hydro corridor.  The corridor runs 1.5 km from Old Carp Road to Terry Fox Drive.  We have been working with BMGCA, Hydro One, and the City of Ottawa for four years to support the evolution of the corridor into green space that provides recreation and green infrastructure benefits.  Councillor Jenna Sudds and Hydro One’s Terry Tysick also attended the workshop.

There was some discussion about how Morgan’s Grant can act as a model for other publicly owned hydro corridors in Ottawa.  Corridors can serve many community needs:  recreation, sustainable mobility, physical and mental health, natural heritage, biodiversity, food security, and ecosystem services like storm water absorption.  The design must be resilient to access by Hydro One for maintenance and repairs, and to withstand extremes of weather.

Key issues discussed during the workshop include:

  • making the corridor more available for winter recreation;
  • enhancing natural heritage features – adding more local native shrubs and plants, including those that provide food like wild berries;
  • connecting the corridor trail into the network of Kanata North trails that can be used by bike commuters (a north/south link to tech business), and recreation bikers and walkers;
  • serving a broad demographic (children, adults, seniors);
  • adding benches and a place for meditation; and
  • adding crosswalk markings to bisecting roads to improve safety.

In 2017 Hydro One seeded the corridor with a pollinator mix designed by the University of Guelph. The mix consisted of:

  • 32% oats
  • 20% blue stem grass
  • 14% Virginia wild rye
  • 6% purple cone flower (rudbeckia)
  • 5% lanceleaf coreopsis
  • 4% common sunflower
  • 3% yarrow
  • 3% black-eyed susan
  • 3% showy tick trefoil
  • 3% common milkweed
  • 2% wild bergamot

Hydro One bought and installed two pollinator hotels in the corridor and provided funding for a summer student in 2019, who removed wild parsnip, set up and monitored test plots, and documented flora and fauna in iNaturalist.

Hydro Corridor in July 2018

Hydro Corridor in August 2019

Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor: vacant land or abundant potential for nature and community?

A meadow’s sunset within Collingwood, Ontario. Courtesy of Hillary Hale
A meadow’s sunset within Collingwood, Ontario. Courtesy of Hillary Hale.






By Hillary Hale, Carleton University

[Hillary Hale was a student in the 2018 Environmental Science group research project course at Carleton University. Her group’s project was Pollinators in an Urban Meadow, which studied the Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor in partnership with Briarbrook Brookside and Morgan’s Grant Community Association. This is her blog from the project.]

I spent a pleasant afternoon visiting the Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor last Autumn and observed a variety of interactions between nature and humans. What I noticed as I walked along the corridor highlighted its potential. The corridor could very well blossom into a beautifully vibrant area where nature and community flourish.

A swallowtail butterfly (pollinator) resting in a Barrie, Ontario meadow. Courtesy of Hillary Hale.
A swallowtail butterfly (pollinator) resting in a Barrie, Ontario meadow. Courtesy of Hillary Hale.

As I walked down the path surrounded by fluttering butterflies, I observed many insects flying from flower to flower pollinating plants, and at times, it felt magical. I also witnessed the joy of others. The laugher shared between a father and son riding their bikes along the pathway, families walking their dogs, even observing the contentment on one’s face while taking a stroll. All of these observations illustrated the innate desire for pollinators and people to use the area. But how could the space be improved, and would the benefits be fruitful?

A Key Aspect to Improvement? Pollinators.

To enhance ecosystem health pollinators are key, yet pollinators depend on flowering plants. By having a variety of pollinator friendly flowers, ecosystem diversity and colour are enriched (United States Department of Agriculture, no date). This creates an enticing community space as research on urban meadows shows people prefer colourful areas containing many flowering plant species (Hoyle, 2017).

Pollinators assist in plant reproduction by fertilizing plants (Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, 2015), and we humans rely heavily on them. Globally, 217 billion dollars is generated from pollinators representing one-third of food consumed (Pollinator Partnership, 2018). Urbanization, habitat loss and pesticide are a threat to pollinators worldwide (United States Department of Agriculture, no date). The hydro corridor could be a haven for pollinators. We can develop this ecosystem to combat the decline of pollinators locally while also developing our community.

A healthy ecosystem, a healthy community

A pollinating bumblebee. Courtesy of Hillary Hale
A pollinating bumblebee. Courtesy of Hillary Hale.

Nature is beautiful and the studies show that health benefits include reduced stress, psychological wellbeing and reconnection with ourselves and others (University of Minnesota, 2016). Pollinators may not be the only ones benefitting from a rich ecosystem, our health and community would too. Research shows that green spaces provide neighbourhoods with a sense of community, acting as gathering place and fostering social interactions, improved well-being and increased safety (Landscape Ontario, no date). We can further community engagement locally building on, for example, the community gardens.

The community gardens hold abundant potential of engagement through group gardening, a potential farmer’s market, and learning opportunities – especially for youth (Landscape Ontario, no date). The corridor represents a multidimensional space budding with potential. If we provide pollinators with the right plants to enhance their ecosystem, we can also enhance our community. Two goals which benefit nature’s well-being, as well as our own.

Community garden within Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor. Courtesy of Hillary Hale
Community garden within Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor. Courtesy of Hillary Hale


The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum provides a quick and light interactive webpage which provides a high-level overview of bee pollination including diagrams and other informative photos.

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. (2015) Pollination: The importance of bees: pollinationCanadian Agriculture and Food Museum. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

This policy includes a detailed fact sheet regarding how urban meadows affect people and wildlife. The information presented is organized and concise which promptly equips readers with important information and resources.

Hoyle, H. (2016) Improving urban grassland for people and wildlifeUniversity of Sheffield Departments of Landscape and Animal and Plant Science: Living with Environmental Change. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

The Landscape Ontario webpage contains information regarding the social benefits of green spaces with sources provided. It is a quick way to understand and gather the social benefits of green spaces.

Landscape Ontario. (No date) The Social Benefits of Green Spaces. Landscape Ontario. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Pollinator Partnership provides the breakdown of the pollination process including what pollination is, its importance, who and what are pollinators, as well as approaches to help pollination. The webpage is very rich in additional sources which allow audiences to continue their learning about pollination.

Pollinator Partnership. (2018) Pollinators need you. You need pollinators.Pollinator Partnership.  Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Although this webpage is targeted toward pollinators within Pennsylvania, the materials presented are still very informative and transferable. This resource also provides tips for maintaining a pollinator friendly area and links that pertain to pollination, conservation and additional readings.

United States Department of Agriculture. (No date) The importance of pollinatorsUnited States Department of Agriculture: Natural Resources Conservation Service Pennsylvania. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

A detailed overview of the various ways in which nature affects our wellbeing. Links to additional resources are provided within.

University of Minnesota. (2016) How does nature impact our wellbeing? University of Minnesota: Taking Charge of your Health & Wellbeing.  Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Additional Reading

A publically available research paper that discusses the benefits associated with green spaces, such as health and well-being. The paper is interesting and detailed.

Braubach, M., A. Egorov, P. Mudu, T. Wolf, C.W. Thompson, and M. Martuzzi. (2017) Effects of Urban Green Space on Environmental Heath, Equity and Resilience. Nature-Base Solutions to Climate Change Adaption in Urban Areas. 187-205. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

The research described by Chee Keng Lee et al.includes a detailed breakdown of how urban green spaces promote various health benefits. This research paper is publically accessible.

Chee Keng Lee, A.H., H.C Jordan, and J. Horsley. (2015) Value of Urban Green Spaces in Promoting Healthy Living and Wellbeing: Prospects for PlanningRisk Management Healthcare Policy. 8: 131-137. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

The Forest Research article is an informative and digestible read which discusses the habitats of wildflower meadows, their advantages and case studies.

Forest Research. (No date) Wildflower Meadow Habitats. Forest Research.  Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Huerta (2017) compares and contrasts lawns and meadows and explains the benefits meadows in enhancing biodiversity, soil productivity and supporting pollinators.

Huerta, H. (2017). Meadowscaping – Benefits Above and Below the SurfaceBenton Soil and Water Conservation District. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Roadside Wildflower Meadowsis a publically available research paper which discusses the various aspects of roadside wildflower meadows including ecological, economic, and aesthetic benefits. It provides insights with respect to the importance and benefits of incorporating more wildflowers within an urban meadow.

Jack, A., C.A. Niedner, and A. Barker. (No date) Roadside Wildflower Meadows: Summary of Benefits and Guidelines to Successful Establishment and Management. Transportation Research Record. 1334: 46-53. Accessed: October 29, 2018.