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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.