Chairman’s Report


2016 was a year of building for OBEC. The Council strengthened its operational role and the Board addressed priorities set by previous boards, notably in team building. Much effort went into creating a new structure, with teams grouped strategically into committees. Together the Board and Council began to address capacity and efficiency. There was good fortune too, with charitable status from Canada Revenue and gifts of expertise and money from other organizations. This will help OBEC to:

Build capacity to share sustainability

Activities reflected this. OBEC continues as a key supporter of EnviroCentre’s community sustainability projects. It also partnered to help develop public workshops on Themes of Food and Design/Natural Capital. Training of high school students led to three sustainability plans. And an environmental health workshop is planned for February 2017.

Following are the details:



1. Values and Roles

In April 2016, OBEC adopted a new purpose statement, to permit it to qualify as a charitable organization: “To advance education by providing structured educational programs, and preparing and publishing course materials, on sustainability principles and practices.”

In late 2015, Council had assumed operational responsibility for OBEC, and in 2016 it strengthened its role in project development and as a forum for discussion on sustainability. In addition to its AGM speaker – Alison Hunter on Volunteering – Council had the following guest speakers: Ulyana Osorio in January on Board Development, Katie Hayes in June on Environmental Health, and Aileen Duncan in November on the Prince of Wales Bridge.

Three new board members joined OBEC in 2016, bringing needed skills.

After seven months of work by Board and Council, OBEC finalized a new organizational structure in August. This situates teams into related areas under committees. The Admin and Human Resources Committee developed the most in 2016, with a four-person Admin team and HR Coordinator.

2. Planning & Administration

In October a Program Review and Forecast was given each member to reveal OBEC’s vision, summarize progress and forecast actions to 2017. A Power Point on OBEC supplemented this at the December Council meeting.

Council selected a new OBEC logo in June.

The Board and Council are discussing the use of IT for efficiency.

In December, OBEC purchased Commercial General Liability ($1 million) and Directors & Officers Insurance ($500,000).

3. Instruments

Capacity Check-up – Sustainable Eastern Ontario completed a capacity check-up of OBEC in October and presented it to the Board. This indicated that the priorities for building capacity are: a fund development plan, communication tools, board recruitment, a volunteer engagement strategy, and insurance. The board is taking action on all of these.

Website – In December, Elina completed her term as Website Team Leader and was replaced by Emad, a professional web developer.

Database – Discussions began in July on how to get more information from the Database. This will be addressed in 2017.

4. Affiliations

In September, OBEC joined Canada Helps, which collects and gives a receipt for online donations for a 3.5% fee, and provides educational services.

In December OBEC joined Volunteer Canada, which provides research and information, free legal advice and significant discounts on insurance.

5. Funding

In April, the Canadian Revenue Agency granted charitable status to OBEC. A Fundraising Team is still needed to get full benefit from this good fortune.

In June, Greenprint ceased to operate as a charitable organization and gave $1608 to OBEC as a legacy to continue the sustainability work it had begun.

Throughout 2016, Greenbooks provided a bookkeeping service to OBEC, on a grant through Sustainable Eastern Ontario.



1. Projects

Sustain Your Community – OBEC continued to support this EnviroCentre demonstration project addressing three OBEC Theme’s – transportation, energy and food. OBEC members helped organize an April food workshop for urban, suburban and rural community members. After the three-year project ends in 2017, OBEC might help take the model to other parts of the city.

Pinecrest Creek Development – In April 2016, OBEC partnered with Carleton University, Algonguin College and the City of Ottawa for a public discussion of presentations on design options along Pinecrest Creek in anticipation of a light rail terminal at Lincoln Fields. Water remediation proposals were to be sent to city planners.

School Sustainability Planning and Implementation (SSPI) – Begun in 2015, this initiative has trained 57 high school student leaders to develop and implement School Sustainability Plans. Three plans were completed in 2016, and OBEC held award ceremonies in City Hall (June) and one of the schools (December). A fourth school is completing its plan. In December, OBEC discussed with PAPLEN training of students at a French High School in 2017.

Environmental Health – Since June, OBEC has been planning a public workshop on Environmental Health, which will take place at Beaver Barracks on 25 February 2017. Workshops on other OBEC Themes might follow.

2. Outreach

In June, OBEC had a booth at a well-attended Ottawa Eco-Fair.

In December, OBEC forwarded quarterly report # 30 to UNESCO (OBEC grew from an Ottawa UNESCO pilot of the Biosphere Eco-City model).

Members made presentations on OBEC throughout the year: January – National Capital Environmental Non-profit Network, February – Algonquin College, March – Centretown Trees & Greenspace Committee, April – Let’s Talk Food, May – Volunteer Ottawa, August – Acorn, November – Volunteer Ottawa, December – OBEC Potluck.

- Jim Birtch, 21 January 2017