June 2023

Ecology Ottawa Council Watch, Nonprofit Housing, Boulevard Bylaws, PERC History,....

Hello readers,

May has ended, June is beginning, and this is the third edition of the PEN Newsletter!

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

Since the last newsletter there have been several important, annual events that residents city-wide eagerly await from one year to the next, like the Canadian Tulip Festival, the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, …and the Peace and Environment Resource Centre (PERC) Annual General Meeting!

At this year’s AGM the PERC Board said farewell to Linda McIntyre, who stepped down as Chair. Thank you Linda, you will be missed!

Charlie Scromeda was voted in as PERC’s newest Chair, and the Board was also joined by Owen Wady and Stefan Klietsch who will serve as Vice Chair and Treasurer, respectively.

Some PERC History

For our new readers who may be unfamiliar with our organization, the PEN is produced by the Peace and Environment Resource Centre, a local grassroots charity. PERC was founded as the Peace Resource Centre in January, 1983, by a group of concerned Ottawa residents who wanted to take action on peace issues of the time. In 1986, an article in Peace Magazine described the Centre as “a focal point of the Ottawa peace movement.”

“The Peace Resource Centre is one room in the basement of a church. Shelves along one wall are filled with books, booklets, and cardboard files; the friendly woman at the desk just inside the door explains that the collection is arranged by subject, geographical area, and working organization. A rack filled with magazines sits in one corner and two file cabinets in another. A man dressed in a shirt and tie, with a packsack and bicycle helmet beside him, is working at the oval table that fills much of the room. The ceiling is low; the walls are covered with posters and bulging cardboard boxes squat against the baseboards.

The Ottawa Peace Movement, Michael Duff, Peace Magazine, October 1, 1986

The organization initially started publishing the Centre’s first newspaper - then called the Ottawa Peace Calendar and News - in November 1985.

The first edition focused on the Centre’s involvement in educational radio and television. At the time, the Centre had recently received a $5,000 grant from the Canadian Institute for International Peace & Security, and PRC intended to use radio and television “as an excellent way of informing a broad spectrum of people about peace and disarmament issues and peace activities.”

With funding from the grant, the Centre was producing the first program of a series of hour-long documentary specials about the Canadian peace movement, to be broadcast on Skyline Cable TV and rebroadcast on Ottawa Cablevision.

“The documentaries will aim to provide balanced coverage of issues which concern the peace movement as well as to inspire more people to become active in the pursuit of world peace and justice initiatives. The series will use creative techniques, including interviews, visual imagery and music. to present peace, disarmament and security issues in a lively and appealing format,” the Centre wrote.

Stories from the PEN!

And now on to the Stories from the PEN, where you can read about inspiring individuals and organizations stepping up to engage in issues affecting our local communities.

  • This month’s first article comes from the Alliance to End Homelessness. In Ending Homelessness Starts With Non-Profit Housing, Sophia Kelly-Langer says that “scaling up non-profit housing in Ottawa means that we need to use every tool available” to create affordable, permanent housing. Some tools available include “changes to zoning decisions, fee waivers for non-profits, stacking subsidies to deliver deeply affordable housing as well as middle-market housing and ultimately committing to using public land for public good.”

  • Next is a call from Marianne Ariganello, from For Our Kids Ottawa-Gatineau, to Help Reform Ottawa's Boulevard Bylaws. Amidst rising threats to plant and animal species biodiversity, Ariganello says the City’s bylaws should be amended to allow residents to plant native species on the city "verge" (the space between the sidewalk and the curb) and the city-owned portion of residents' lawns.

  • And speaking of bylaws, the city of Hamilton has taken an action that Ottawa could take note of, and has become one of Canada’s first municipalities to protect renters from dangerous heat waves by requiring landlords to install air conditioning in apartments. You can read more about the bylaw in Gaye Taylor’s article Hamilton Plans Heat Bylaw for Rental Housing, reprinted from The Energy Mix.

  • This edition also includes some news from within Ottawa’s NGO sector with an update about opportunities for Building Non-profit Capacity, written by Chantel Haigh of Sustainable Capacity Solutions, one of PERC’s partner organizations.

Ecology Ottawa Council Watch

Help us hold Ottawa City Hall accountable!

Ecology Ottawa is reviving its Council Watch program, a volunteer-powered group coordinated by Ecology Ottawa that:

  • identifies issues of ecological significance before Council,

  • recommends actions for Ecology Ottawa and/or the Ottawa ecology community to take on these issues, and

  • conveys issues before Council to the broader public

The organization’s group of volunteers will be reestablishing its rhythms in coming months, and we look forward to being able to provide their coverage in the PEN. In the meantime, you can read an update on the program, from the group’s coordinator William van Geest, here.

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

From The PEN Archives

Back in June 1986, the Peace Resource Centre suffered a key loss when City Council voted to deny $6,500 funding request. Council votes were split 9-6, with the majority stating that “peace is an important issue, but it is not something the City should be involved in.

You can read the July 1986 article, “Peace not our business, says City Hall,” here.

Image credit: Ottawa Peace Calendar and News, July 1986

Other News

In addition to this month’s PEN Stories, a few other local and national news threads to cover:

  • Earlier this month, City Council voted to pause implementing new Green Building Standards as they await expected guidance from the province.

  • Pressure from farmers pushed the Ontario provincial government to abandon a land-use policy proposal that would have allowed agricultural land-owners to carve out up to three housing lots on each farm parcel. The proposal was intended to make it easier to build more housing, but farmers said it would be devastating for province’s agriculture sector.

  • On May 31, World Beyond War led a protest at the EY Centre to “oppose CANSEC and the profiteering from war and violence it is designed to support.” Read more about the World Beyond War and its work here.

  • The City is considering a partial “pay-as-you-throw” program for garbage collection. Homeowners would receive 55 bag tags each year, with a $3 charge for every extra bag, bin, or garbage item put out for collection. The proposed system will be up for a vote by the Environment & Climate Change Committee this coming Monday, June 5, and City Staff are expected to recommend that the Committee approves it.

  • Starting July 1, OC Transpo will start providing free transit for children under the age of 12.

Image Credit: C. Bonasia


Below are a number of upcoming events and opportunities to get involved with growing and pressing issues in your community [the following list is not exhaustive]:

  • The last Open House scheduled for residents to provide feedback about Ottawa’s future bus network will take place tonight (June 1) from 6:30-8:30pm at 110 Laurier Avenue West. Ottawa residents and OC Transpo customers can also give feedback through an online survey.

  • There are several options for residents wanting to engage with the City as it develops a Climate Resiliency Strategy “to guide how Ottawa can prepare for and respond to the anticipated impacts of changing climate conditions.” You can find opportunities to get involved by visiting Engage Ottawa, where you can learn and share ideas about climate trends and risks through a virtual comments board and participate in community dialogue sessions organized by CAFES.

  • Renewable Power for All– Ottawa Art Build! – Sunday, June 4, 12:00–1:30PM, Patterson Creek East Park. Join the David Suzuki Foundation and Climate Justice Ottawa for an art build in preparation for the ⚡RENEWABLE POWER FOR ALL⚡ rally on Parliament Hill on June 5th. All supplies will be provided – you just need to show up ready to make art! We’ll also have snacks and drinks. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/6389842027747367

  • Summer Solstice Celebration, Concert with Just Voices Choir and special guest Christophe Elie: Saturday, June 17 - 7 PM, Church of the Ascension - 253 Echo Drive, Ottawa. Just Voices is a choir with a difference. We choose songs that inspire us to fight for our endangered planet, and to work for social change, peace and equality.

    • (Admission is $5 to $15 (pay what you can - cash only please). Proceeds will support the Ottawa Food Bank. Masks are recommended. Please self-screen and stay home if you have any symptoms. We will not be serving food and drink during the intermission (and recommend going outside, weather permitting). Follow us at: facebook.com/JustVoices)

  • Ottawa ACORN is launching its updated municipal housing campaign on June 17 at Centretown United Church, 4PM-6PM. Come take action with your neighbours on June 17th to cast your vote at the Tenant Rights Council and help Ottawa achieve as much positive change as we can!

  • Fridays for Future Ottawa: Global Climate Strike: The call has gone out for a Global Climate Strike to take place on Friday September 15, 2023. Like the original, calls for a strike and huge turnout in 2019, this is an appeal for a mass mobilization to face the crisis of our time. Planning for the September Strike is just starting. We are looking for volunteers and financial support and can be reached through our website at https://www.fridaysforfutureottawa.org/ or by phone or text at 613-314-7744.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to connecting with you again next month through the PEN Newsletter. In the meantime, please use the comments section of the newsletter or email [email protected] with thoughts or questions.

--Christopher Bonasia, PEN editor 

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

PERC appreciates all of our readers for giving us this chance to connect with members of our community, and we love being able to provide you with a forum to discuss pressing environmental and social justice issues.

But we also rely on your support to make this happen. If you are interested in helping our organization continue to use storytelling and networking to help individuals, non-profits, and community groups work locally for a greener and more peaceful world, please consider making a donation to the Peace and Environment Resource Centre. You can find out more on our website, or by using this link.

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