This past Saturday, myself and approximately 30-35 other Ottawa residents went for a walk through an area known as the South March Highlands to bear witness and to learn about an area that will soon be dug up in order to build yet another road as well as 3,200 suburban homes (video to come).
The walk was part of an ongoing campaign of ours.
By all accounts, this area is one of unique beauty to the Ottawa region. It is home to wetlands and forests, and endangered and threatened species such as the Blanding's Turtle and Golden-winged Warbler, and even a few bears. It is used by recreational mountain bikers and hikers as well as bird watchers.
In fact, on the walking tour we were even fortunate enough to see a red tail hawk circling in the sky above.
Meanwhile, across the Ottawa River lies Gatineau Park, another gem, which features unique wildlife such as black bears, beavers, whit -tailed dear, and timber wolves as well as approximately 230 bird species. There are of course also lakes, rivers, forests, and even caves.
In addition, it is a popular destination for cyclists (see photo), tourists, hikers, swimmers, climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. In fact, approximately 1.7 million visits are made annually to the park.
Unfortunately, like the South March Highlands, it too has seen its habitat threatened by the further encroachment of private homes into the area.
Far too often, there is a disconnect between the issue we are fighting for/against and the actual physical location.
This is the real challenge we face, but the reward is an improved awareness of one's community and the chance to bring people to together for a just cause.
For other more global issues, like climate change or ensuring water quantity and quality, it is still critical to make a connection to the local community (See an earlier blog of mine: "The Case for Local Governments")
On that note, today, Sierra Club Canada in partnership with the University of Victoria's POLIS Water Sustainability Project launched the ActionH2O campaign designed to "encourage communities across Canada to reduce their respective water
footprints through a focused outreach and engagement campaign."
The true beauty of this project is that it does encourage local action from people on the ground in communities across Canada. At its core, it aims for people to make a connection to an issue that affects their community and become aware of their own actions.
Making a local connection to our environment not only allows for us to enjoy its benefits, but also allows us to see the bigger picture. It's why we must continue to stand up for its protection.