Ottawa Sustainability Tour

Ottawa Sustainability Tour

11 July 2018


  • A self-guided tour of ten places that illustrate all 10 Themes of Sustainability, see preview of tour

English: Ottawa Sustainability Preview Tour

French: Ottawa Sustainability Preview Tour

  • All sites are interesting, accessible and can be visited spring, summer or fall by bicycle, bus or car.

Mayor Watson, Councillor Fleury & friends cut ribbon to launch the tour


  • Bicycle route of Ottawa Sustainability Tour

    You see how sustainability is created

  • The surrounding areas are fun to explore
  • There is a wonderful bike route connecting all the sites
  • Sites are accessible for at least three seasons
  • You can go any time to any of the sites
  • It’s free


  • Download a tour book

English: Ottawa Sustainability Tour Book

French: Ottawa Sustainability Tour Book

  • Plan your visit to one or all of the sites
  • Invite friends and family to go with you
  • Use bus, bicycle or car to get there
  • If weather is nice bring a picnic lunch
  • Take lots of pictures
  • Tell others about the tour


(Sites from East to West, as listed in tour book)

Natural Capital – Richelieu Park

Sugar Shack at Richelieu Park

Natural Capital is the potential of natural elements to meet human needs. The aspect of the Theme demonstrated at this site is the renewable use of a natural resource.

Richelieu park is a small maple woods in the middle of Ottawa. The trees are tapped for their sap from February to April. This is turned into maple syrup in Canada’s only urban “sugar shack” in the woods. All year, people visit Richelieu Park for a peaceful walk in the woods (which has great health benefits). Crowds come for the March-April Maple Sugar Festivals.

View panels on French-Canadian authors as you walk along a trail at the edge of Richelieu Park. Visit the Vanier Museopark museum to learn about local francophone history and buy maple treats. Nearby see murals of the Community of Vanier’s history on Montreal Rd. and McArthur Ave. Enjoy other examples of Vanier street art, including a 4-storey Inuit mural on Montreal Rd.

Sense of Place – Major’s Hill Park

German tourists at Major’s Hill Park

Sense of Place is a feeling of belonging to a community, city or other location. When people feel they belong, they show more care for the environment of that place and the people in it.

Major’s Hill Park is Ottawa’s oldest park. Across the Rideau Canal from Parliament Hill, it provides great views and access to many of the city’s major landmarks. Residents and visitors come here for a relaxing walk, and to view the beauty of lawns, trees and flowers in the park. For all of them it represents the beauty and welcoming nature of Ottawa.

Walk through Major’s Hill Park on your way to the National Gallery, the Byward Market or the Rideau Canal. See the house where Colonel By lived while he was supervising the construction of the canal. Take your photo with the Parliament Buildings as a backdrop. Come celebrate the Tulip Festival or Canada Day at the park. This place belongs to you.

Transportation – Corktown Footbridge

Corktown Footbridge March 2013

Sustainable transportation is the movement of goods and people in ways that minimizes use of resources and pollution. This site replaces vehicle traffic with walking and cycling.

Corktown Bridge connects the University of Ottawa with the Golden Triangle of Centretown, across the Rideau Canal. Students can avoid a longer trip by bus or car to access restaurants and shops on Elgin Street. Residents of Sandy Hill and Centretown neighbourhoods – east and west of the bridge – can travel sustainably to work or for leisure in the other areas.

If you are walking or cycling south along the east side of Rideau Canal, you’ll see the bridge on your right. Access from the west side is at Somerset Street across the beautifully landscaped Queen Elizabeth Drive. Go to the middle of the bridge and look north for one of the best views in Ottawa. Watching passersby is fun too. You’ll see Ottawa as a city of active people.

Energy – FSS Building at the University of Ottawa

Biofilter wall at University of Ottawa’s FSS Building

Conservation of energy is a key element of sustainability. This building demonstrates how passive design can reduce heating costs almost to zero.

The Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) Building of the University of Ottawa received gold level certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Most of its winter heating is provided by sunlight and heat recovery from a data centre in the basement. In cold weather it shares heat with other buildings on campus. In warm weather it provides hot water.

Visit the lobby of the FSS Building to view Canada’s tallest indoor living wall. Tropical plants, growing in the wall, filter and humidify all the air passing through the building. Feel the calming effect of this wall. You may get some delicious food from Boulangerie Première Moisson in the lobby. Then explore how the world’s largest French-English University is greening its campus.

Food – Children’s Garden at Robert Leggat Park

Young explorers in the Children’s Garden

Sustainable food is often local, using natural and heritage inputs, and grown in a way that protects pollinators, groundwater and soil. This garden teaches children many of these things.

The Children’s Garden at Robert Leggat Park began after Sustainable Living Ottawa East asked the city for permission to convert an underused city park to a garden. It quickly became a focal point for the community with gardens designed by kids (with adult help for heavy work), three-stage composting, learning about organic gardening and nature, and a fall harvest festival.

There was a conversion of the park by the City in 2017, so you’ll find the traditional garden patches converted to raised beds. Gardening and other children’s activities began again in 2018. Also, Children at Lady Evelyn School have created hand-painted boards for a new picket fence around the garden. Visit the site beside St Paul University on Main St.

Health – Playground for Children of All Abilities

Wheelchair accessible sandbox at Playground for Children of All Abilities

Sustainable health includes outdoor and indoor air quality, clean water, safe streets, enjoyable outdoor access, plus – as this site shows – access for children with a range of disabilities.

The idea for this playground was brought to Ottawa by a member of Rotary Clubs International who saw an example built by a sister club that she was visiting in Australia. Ottawa Rotary Clubs banded together, got direction from the City and raised money for this special playground at Brewer Park. Here, children of all abilities have healthy access to the outdoors and fun.

Visiting the site you will see a large play structure and a sandbox that are wheelchair accessible. There are also swings for children with poor motor control, soft tiles to prevent injuries from falls, and equipment that teaches through touch and sound. If you walk or bike to the nearby Rideau River, you can cross under Bronson Ave to the campus of Carleton University.

Recreation – Mooney’s Bay Park

Dragon boat seen from Mooney’s Bay Park

Sustainable recreation is non-motorized, using human and sometimes animal power (e.g. horse riding). Mooney’s Bay Park supports many examples of outdoor sustainable recreation.

This large park on the Rideau River began as a summer swimming area, but its activities have multiplied. It hosts the world’s largest one day beach volleyball tournament and a dragon boat festival. On one side, an outdoor track has hosted both the international Francophone and Invictus Games. Elsewhere there are treed walkways, bicycle trails and a good toboggan hill.

The Giver 150 Playground was built in 2017 at Mooney’s Bay as Canada’s largest playground. There are dozens of structures with Canadian themes that children will love. Elsewhere in the park, you can find a quiet bench for a picnic lunch and watch boats on the river. Also walk over the river to the Rideau Canoe Club or the adjoining Hog’s Back Park with its beautiful falls.

Habitat – Fletcher Wildlife Garden

Viewing Green Heron at Fletcher Wildlife Garden

The living spaces for plants and animals are their habitats. While most habitats are rural, many are urban, and natural to some degree. This site is a naturalized area in the middle of Ottawa.

The Ottawa Field Naturalist ( created the wildlife garden to demonstrate how to make wildlife-friendly habitat and gardens on urban and rural properties. Visitors meander past an amphibian pond, evergreen woods, an old field (returning to nature), an old woodlot, a butterfly meadow, a ravine and a backyard garden. Each has lessons and uses native plants.

If a woodland bird were migrating over Ottawa, it could look down on a cool dark patch amid the noise and light, and know it had found refuge for the night. Visit Fletcher and think of what a sanctuary it is and take home ideas for your own yard or roof-top garden. Then walk to the adjoining National Arboretum and Experimental Farm to relax and learn there too.

Design – Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence

Welcoming visitors to ACCE on launch of Ottawa Sustainability Tour

A sustainable building is designed to fit in with its environment, minimize the use of resources, and support the health of people who use it. This building demonstrates that in many ways.

The Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence (ACCE) received platinum level certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Its biophilic concepts integrate natural systems in a built environment. So the ACCE building has a green roof, a bio-filter wall, solar cells, rainwater collection, and a highly efficient building envelope.

More than that, ACCE is the home for all of Algonquin College’s construction trades, from sheet metal, welding and carpentry to civil engineering and architectural design. Trades do projects together, to learn cooperation for real-work situations. And they manage building elements. Exposed structure, ductwork, plumbing etc. show them and you how the elements work.

Waste – terra20

Sustainable waste management includes product design, processing of waste, reuse and recycling, and waste conversion to energy. This store illustrates recycling and product design.

terra20 – Environmentally friendly products

terra20 is North America’s largest eco-retailer. Recycled materials were used in the store’s construction and all of its products promote a healthy environment. For example, its Ecobar dispenses safe and healthy cleaning and body products in refillable containers. Home furniture and accessories, toys, cosmetics and clothes are from recycled and natural materials.

Wandering through the store is so interesting. A backpack with a solar cell to charge your phone, or jewelry from recycled materials may catch your eye. Or a full line of baby care products. There are also beautiful dishes and bowls made from reused glass. Aisles are wide and easy to browse with good staff support. A great place to buy a special gift.


Follow the bicycle route in the tour book to visit all the sites, as well as beautiful vistas along the parklands, Rideau Canal, Experimental Farm, university and college campuses. The route takes you through many less-seen parts of Ottawa.

Take the bus, bring a picnic lunch, and visit one of the outdoor sites with a friend. Walk around the surrounding area.

Bring the family on an educational tour. Discuss ideas of sustainability you picked up visiting the sites.

Take visitors on the tour to show them how sustainable Ottawa really is. For example, participants at two international conferences in Ottawa have done the Sustainability Tour, and for many this was a highlight of their visit.


  • OBEC led development with strong planning support from Tucker House and Otesha
  • Over 60 people volunteered (see p 34 of tour book)
  • Ottawa’s Mayor launched the tour on 14 September 2013 at Vanier MuseoPark

    Steering Committee for Ottawa Sustainability Tour


  • JustChange provided $1000 for durable aluminum signs for the 10 sites
  • IBM provided $3000 to print English and French copies of the tour book


AC Hub Newsletter, Algonquin College, Being a Bird in North America, Canada Green Building Council, Canadian Organic Growers, Capital Velofest, Centretown Community Association, Centretown Community Health Centre, Charlatan Newsletter, City of Ottawa, CKCH Radio, Gemagram, Ecology Ottawa, Just Food, Just Voices, National Capital Commission, Ottawa EnviroCentre, Ottawa Field Naturalists, Ottawa Learnery, Ottawa Sustainability Fund, Ottawa Rotary Clubs, Ottawa Tourism, Ottawa University, Première Moisson Cafe, Rogers TV (Daytime Ottawa), Sustainable Living Ottawa East, terra20, Vanier Museopark, Vélo Vanier, VrtuCar