Community Groups Rally to make Greenspace Protection an Election Issue

Media Release

Ottawa, March 20, 2022 – Though windy and wet, close to 120 people marched yesterday to protest the destruction of Ottawa’s forests and greenspaces. Residents assembled anchored by the “Protect Ottawa Greenspace” banner at the corner of Preston and Carling near Queen Juliana Park, the proposed site of the new Civic Hospital parking garage. Carrying tulips and protest signs that named the greenspaces under threat, the marchers were serenaded by honking cars supporting their action as they made their way to “The Man with 2 Hats” statue, a symbol of the deep friendship between Canada and the Netherlands.

For Christophe Elie, one of the organizers of ReImagine Ottawa’s rally, it was crucial to unite as many organizations possible, to halt the endless greenspace giveaway. “There are acres of greenspace and forests across the city under threat of development,” said Elie. “The crown jewel is Queen Juliana Park and the 40 acres of the Historic Experimental Farm that are home to over 700 diverse, mature trees. When Greenspace in our city is practically given away, it ignores the contribution of the land to our health and well being. The Farm isn’t even a proper site for a hospital because of its accessibility issues.” ReImagine Ottawa is calling on the Ottawa Hospital’s Board of Directors to immediately withdraw the proposal for a parking garage at Queen Juliana Park and a hospital on the Central Experimental Farm. 

The event attracted over 20 community groups including Council of Canadians, Sustainable Youth Canada – Ottawa, Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES), Save Hunt Club Forest, Big Trees of Kitchissippi, Carlington/Hampton Woods,, Climate Save Ottawa, Greenspace Alliance, the Ottawa River Institute and more. They came, drawn by the opportunity to work together on an issue that is important and urgent due to upcoming provincial and municipal elections. Alliances are now in place to mobilize and apply pressure on leaders to take action on the climate emergency.

After the land acknowledgement, Algonquin Elder and Ottawa’s Poet Laureate Albert Dumont spoke of the trees under threat in the city and their vital importance. He also offered a solemn prayer. Daniel Buckles, a founding member of Big Trees of Kitchissippi, and Forest Ecologist Ole Hendrickson, a volunteer with the Council of Canadians, both spoke of the importance of nurturing native species in urban forests and biodiversity in Ottawa greenspaces.  Hendrickson came with a bag of Red Oak acorns to share, which quickly disappeared. 

Angela Keller-Herzog and Clive Doucet, former Ottawa City Councillor, both reminded the crowd to question how greenspace land deals are made. Currently, Ottawa City Council is under two investigations. The Province of Ontario has launched a judicial inquiry into Ottawa’s light rail system, and now the federal government is studying the convoy protest. ReImagine Ottawa has over 8,000 signatures on a petition calling for an inquiry into the hospital site change from Tunney’s Pasture to the Experimental Farm.

A poignant moment at the rally was when representatives of Sustainable Youth Canada read the long list of forests and greenspaces under threat and reminded the crowd, “These are the carbon-capturing, oxygen providing, temperature cooling greenspaces that are being slated for development. Is this the legacy that you want future generations to inherit?”

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ReImagine Ottawa is a volunteer group of citizens concerned with developer influence in Canada’s capital.

For more information, please contact:

Deb Chapman
ReImagine Ottawa
Cell: (613) 804 1942