P-4 for Ottawa

The City of Ottawa does not have a framework for engaging the community and private sector in environmental stewardship.

What’s needed? A framework for allowing credible organizations to be trusted caretakers of municipal green space.

The Ottawa Stewardship Council wants the City to implement a P-4 framework for environmental stewardship (community-led green initiatives).

The P-4 model offers an inspiring and unifying vision for our city that people and businesses can embrace.

What is the issue?

Ottawa’s new Official Plan has ambitious goals related to:

  • climate change and
  • protecting and enhancing the city’s natural heritage, greenspaces, waterways, and urban forest.

The City cannot accomplish these goals on its own.

Community organizations across Ottawa are currently carrying out environmental stewardship in partnership with the City.  While many are locally effective, their activities are ad hoc, create inefficiencies especially during their inception, and function apart from one another without a coherent purpose.

The Ottawa Stewardship Council identifies the existing barriers to environmental stewardship (community-led green initiatives) in the City of Ottawa.
Existing barriers to community-led green initiatives in the City of Ottawa.
What is the solution?

The City of Ottawa must implement a Public, Private, Plural Partnership (P-4) model for community-led green initiatives. The P-4 model is a formalized, collaborative approach to environmental stewardship involving community stakeholders.

What is the P-4 model?

The Public, Private, Plural Partnership is a concept by Dr. Henry Mintzberg.

McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg is an original thinker on management theory and organizational structure.  In his book Rebalancing Society, he proposes a modification to the Public, Private Partnership (P-3) model that adds the Plural sector, which includes non-government organizations and cooperatives.

Mintzberg states that PPP partnerships leverage the unique strengths and capabilities of each sector to achieve collective goals that would be challenging to achieve individually.

The public sector provides governance, regulatory oversight, and policy frameworks, the private sector brings in resources, expertise, and innovation, while the plural sector provides community engagement, social and environmental awareness, and stakeholder representation.

Why is it a good approach?

The P-4 model mobilizes the people and businesses of Ottawa in support of their city and the planet.

  • It is strategic. It translates City priorities into operational reality by engaging the community and private sector in initiatives of common interest. 
  • It lessens the burden on city staff by providing a public-facing point of contact for stewardship who guides groups through the process and ensures city resources can provide the necessary support.
  • It leverages local knowledge, expertise, and resources to better care for municipal green space and the natural heritage system.
  • It helps people take action and be part of the solution.
Ottawa Stewardship Council shows how the P-4 model support the City of Ottawa's Official Plan goals. Environmental stewardship initiatives can advance goals related to health, social justice, and economic development.
Environmental stewardship initiatives can also advance goals related to health, social justice, and economic development.
How do we make it happen?
P-4 - what is needed for success in the City of Ottawa.
What is needed for success of the P-4 model in Ottawa.
Could you be part of a P-4 or P-3 now?

Yes! There are groups across Ottawa that have environmental stewardship agreements with the City related to the care of municipal greenspace. Most of these are likely Public-Plural Partnerships that have formed over time.

Here are two Public-Plural Partnerships that we are aware of:

– Friends of Petrie Island
– Friends of the Carp Hills

Tell us about your P-3 or P-4. Contact us.

What we’re advocating is that the City and Plural groups use a P-4 framework when evaluating and proposing respectively new community-led green initiatives.

A group with an existing agreement may want to reevaluate its initiative using the framework. For example, does the partnership’s goals align with the city’s priorities? Are the right partners involved? Is there a way to include a private sector component?

What if the City decides not to implement a P-4 model?

Groups can and should still use a P-4 model to plan and structure their green initiative. We plan to offer a project template (coming soon).

In order to implement an effective process for community-led green initiatives, the City of Ottawa still needs to do three things.

  1. Hire a Environmental Stewardship Coordinator.

    Someone needs to be both a gatekeeper and an advisor to groups wanting to carry out green projects on municipal land. The City has limited resources and must deploy them effectively.
    The City used to have a part-time stewardship coordinator who helped groups get their projects started. In fact the OSC benefited from her advice and support in its Urban Natural Area projects, which launched in 2014.

  2. Define a process for selecting applications.

    There will be many groups who want to carry out projects. Not all of them will have a viable plan or approach. Staff and councillors will need a means for evaluating and prioritizing applications.

    We would argue that initiatives should be selected on a strategic basis: do they advance one or more goals of the Official Plan?

  3. Allocate staff bandwidth.

    Even with the help of an Environmental Stewardship Coordinator, some city departments will need to be involved in the selected projects. The need for support will be greatest at a project’s inception.
Learn more

OSC: What is a P-4 and why is it a good model?

OSC: How to implement the P-4 Environmental Stewardship Model in Ottawa (PDF)

OSC: What are other Canadian cities doing? (PDF)

OSC: Example P-4s for Ottawa

Templates – coming soon!
– P-4 Charter template.

P-4 brief for Engage Ottawa – 25 June 2024 (PDF)