People’s Official Plan calls on Ottawa City Council to defer urban expansion decision

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

(OTTAWA) – Representatives from the People’s Official Plan¹ – a coalition of community and  environmental groups focused on strengthening climate action and equity in Ottawa’s new Official Plan – are calling on Ottawa City Council to defer a major decision regarding urban expansion. Currently, Council’s decision is scheduled for February 10, as it meets to vote on urban expansion recommendations from the January 23 Joint Meeting of the Planning Committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. 

Council should send the staff report back to the Committee until it has successfully addressed the following concerns:

  • Decisions related to unceded Indigenous land must be within a transparent, robust, inclusive reconciliation protocol. An appropriate protocol would centre on broad Indigenous engagement and benefit, and not be based on a rushed development process within age-old colonial processes that continue to drive wedges between communities;
  • Failure to account for the greenhouse gas emissions and related public costs of options, despite declaring a climate emergency; 
  • The Joint Planning Committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee’s disregard of the unanimous council directive to not even consider prime agricultural land in this urban boundary expansion; and
  • Poor quality and duration of community consultation on many dimensions of the new Official Plan, particularly the Growth Management Strategy.

“These major decisions are being rushed for no reason other than political expediency”, says Paul Johanis, Chair of the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital. “We were already concerned that the City has approved an urban expansion even though no expansion is the better option in response to the climate emergency. The long-term implications of COVID-19 are not taken into account in this plan and the massive (250 pages plus Schedules) draft Official Plan only circulated at the end of November is clearly not ready for primetime. Bungling into a controversy over Indigenous rights and land claims is the last straw. We call on the City to, at a minimum, adopt the staff recommendation to take the time to properly assess the implications of the expansion options that were proposed, or, even better, to extend the deadline they arbitrarily set for completing the review of the Official Plan. Climate justice, reconciliation and the well-being of all our communities deserve our best shot.”   

“Respectful consultation takes time. It has become clear that the City has not yet meaningfully consulted with all the Algonquin communities. This should take precedence. Indeed, the Province legally requires that the City engage and coordinate with Indigenous communities on land use planning matters”, said Angela Keller-Herzog, co-chair of Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES).

“Expanding the urban boundary to include 450 hectares that rates poorly under Council’s own methodology, is not sound public policy”, says Alex Cullen, President of the Federation of Citizens Associations. “We urge Council to take the time needed to properly consult with all affected stakeholders and to make a sound, evidence-based, decision”.

One Planet Living, the sustainable development framework put forward for the Tewin proposal by the Algonquins of Ontario, with funding from Taggart investments for the purchase of the land, is an aspirational label that relies on members to monitor their own progress. It lacks the rigor of independent assessment,” says Daniel Buckles, Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University. “The Zibi development, which is the only other project in Canada with the label, has already had to push back its target for zero carbon energy. It would be risky for the City to count on developers with little prior experience in this arena to hold themselves accountable to sustainability goals.” 

“Over 106 hectares (250 acres) of the best farmland in the City of Ottawa was added into the proposed new urban boundary at the last minute without proper debate, illustrating the problems of a rushed process.  The evidence shows that this land swap is not supporting ‘Transit-Oriented Development’”, says Phil Mount, Associate Director, Just Food and member of the last Land Evaluation Area Review (LEAR) conducted by the City of Ottawa. “Councillors should not be discarding the principle that they unanimously supported less than a year ago—to defend agricultural land from urban expansion without exception.”  

“We know urban sprawl is a climate killer,” said Robb Barnes, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa. “Council voted for more sprawl in May 2020, but there is still time to minimize the damage caused by this decision. The current process – rushed, with minimal consultation and completely lacking analysis on climate impacts – means council is flying blind on one of its most important votes this term. We need council to step back from the brink.”

Ottawa City Council’s upcoming vote on urban expansion is part of a broader series of decisions affecting Ottawa’s new Official Plan. The new Official Plan is the city’s major land use and policy document, meant to guide development of the city until 2046 and beyond. Council is currently slated to vote on the new Official Plan in June 2021.

1. People’s Official Plan member organizations who endorse this message include: Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES); Ecology Ottawa; Greenspace Alliance for Canada’s Capital, Federation of Citizens Associations and Just Food.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: 

Two Dates in February 2021 | WORKSHOP How to Start a Community Garden

community garden
Community Gardening Network of Ottawa

Join us on Feb 16 OR Feb 20, 2021 and learn about the steps involved in starting a community garden. How to search for land, what is essential when starting a community garden, the supports available, tips for organizing and much more! Suitable for new gardens, or existing gardens looking to onboard new volunteer coordinators!

The attendance of at least one garden coordinator (or a member of the garden who is working on the proposal) at a How to Start a Community Garden workshop is a requirement in order to apply for funding through the Community Garden Development Fund. The coordinator must have attended a workshop in one of the past 3 years as criteria and processes have changed throughout the years, and we encourage more than one to attend at a time.


TUESDAY EVENING SESSION: Tuesday, February 16, 6:30–8:30pm.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON SESSION: Saturday, February 20, 3:00–5:00pm.

FOR QUESTIONS please contact Sun Shan at

Farm-specific Value-add Training

Starting in March we will offer a training series Adding Value to your Farm with sessions including:

  • Adding a commercial kitchen component onto the farm;
  • Equipment options in Ottawa Kitchen for farmers; 
  • Sourcing local food products for food businesses

Keep an eye on this space for the latest updates and details on dates, trainers, and pricing.

Greenhouse Training


Organic Seedling Production 
On Saturday, January 23 and Sunday, January 24 — from 9-12 both days — we are offering a 2-session intensive workshop for those looking to learn greenhouse production of organic seedlings.

These sessions are led by Sophie Clark of Trout Lily Organic Seedlings, and cover topics from operations to configurations (irrigation to ventilation) as well as lessons learned on timing, expedience, convenience and efficiency. The sessions will not be recorded, attendance is ‘live’ only.

When: 9:00a.m. – 12:00 on January 23 and 24, 2021
Where: Online via Zoom
Pre-requisites: None
Language: English 
Cost: $70 (Some subsidized spots for those with serious financial barriers)

For questions or more information contact:

To register, please e-transfer the workshop fee ($70) to and send an email with your password and contact information to Carmen (works Wed-Fri) at 

Ottawa (virtual) Screening of Gather

For anyone who missed the first screening of Gather — a film that celebrates and honours the critical and leading role Indigenous peoples play in protecting biodiversity on Earth as the basis of our shared food — we hope you can join the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and Just Food for a second and final screening of the film from February 4-6

While the Indigenous food sovereignty projects in the film are based in lands south and west of here, their importance will resonate with viewers all over Turtle Island.

This is a free event, with the request that those watching, who can, will donate to Wabano’s Indigenous Food Sovereignty Project, (please choose Wabano Indigenous Food Sovereignty Project on the drop-down list) housed at Just Food Community Farm, with funds going to purchase seeds, tools and other materials for food production starting in 2021.

Gather will be open for viewing for 55 hours!
Watch at your own leisure from Thursday, February 4th at 5 PM to Saturday, February 6th at 11:59 PM

Length of film: 1 hour, 14 minutes 

Register by noon on Wednesday, February 3rd here
You’ll be sent the movie link by email by noon on February 4th

Please click here to donate to Wabano (and please choose Wabano Indigenous Food Sovereignty Project on the drop-down list).

We’re also very grateful to the many people who donated to the
Wabano Centre’s Indigenous Food Sovereignty Project. All proceeds from the film screening will go towards Wabano’s food project
at the Just Food Community Farm in 2021.

More info:

The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health is an award-winning and internationally recognized healthcare facility located in Ottawa, Ontario. Wabano’s unique model of care emphasizes the importance of nurturing the mind, body and spirit through the provision of a full medical clinic, mental wellness and addictions services, community and cultural programs, and community outreach. The result has been the creation of a place of belonging where culture flourishes in support of Ottawa’s Indigenous community.

Just Food is a community-based, non-profit organization working towards vibrant, just and sustainable food and farming systems in the Ottawa region. 

New Farmer Training

Training Series for New Farmers: Vegetable Production 

Starting Tuesday, February 2 we are offering a 12-session series of online workshops for new farmers, focused on vegetable production and covering a diverse set of topics to start (or enhance) your farm enterprise. The training series will not be recorded, attendance is ‘live’ only.

When: February 2 – April 24 (see full calendar below), mostly Tuesday / Thursday evenings 6-9 pm

Where: Online via Zoom
Pre-requisites: None
Language: English 
Cost: 12 workshops plus a review of your farm enterprise plan for $500 
(Some subsidized spots for those with serious financial barriers)
To take one to three workshops contact Carmen (working Wed-Fri) through

For questions or more information contact:

To register, please send an email with your contact information to Carmen (works Wed-Fri) at and e-transfer the workshop fee ($500) to

Mat Levinson – Capital Greens
Phil Mount – Flat Earth Farm
Dan Van Vliet – Van Vliet Horticulture
Simon Neufeld, MSc, CCA – Chief Agronomist, Earth Alive Clean Technologies Inc.
Moe Garahan – Just Food Community Farm+ Guest trainers 

Full 2021 Calendar – Training Series for New Farmers: Vegetable Production 

1. Tuesday, February 2 (6-9 PM)
Organic certification and record-keeping 

2. Tuesday, February 9 (6-9 PM) 
Crop planning and production (includes organic record-keeping, planning for pest control)

3. Thursday, February 11 (6-9 PM)
Introduction to Farm Business Planning (includes CSA model)

4. Tuesday, February 16 (6-9 PM) 
Best practices for Starts and Transplanting; Equipment / irrigation supplies and sourcing

5. Thursday, Feb 18 (6-9 PM)
Marketing, pricing and sales

6. Tuesday, Feb 23  (6-9 PM)
Accessing Land; Land tenure agreements

7. Thursday, Feb 25 (6-9 PM)
Soil fertility through organic production practices

8. Tuesday, March 2 (6-9 PM)
Financial Planning, Investment Strategies and Farm Taxes

9. Tuesday, March 9 (6-9 PM)
Intensive vegetable production techniques (including pest control)

10. Tuesday, March 23 (6-9 PM) 
Post-harvest handling

11. Tuesday, March 30 (6-9 PM)
Farm Safety

12. Saturday, April 24 – 10-3 
Small-scale farm infrastructure & equipment use – on site at Just Food Community Farm 

Start-Up Farm Program

Spots are available at the Just Food Community Farm for those interested in incubating a plant-based farm enterprise idea for the 2021 season (4 spots) and/or an artisanal poultry business (1 spot) for the 2022 growing season.

Pre-requisites:  Completion of Just Food’s New Farmer Training Workshops  (See above). If you have taken an equivalent, please email for verification.

For those interested in artisanal chicken incubation, please send a documnet outlining relevant background information and experience to

Language of support:  English 

Details here:

Farmer Training Topics Coming Soon…

This Winter: 

  • Value-add Food Processing 
  • Greenhouse start-up
  • Livestock production

This Summer:

English as Second Language New Farmer Training 

(including supports in French and Arabic)

If you are interested in these, please contact

More details coming soon!

The Seeds and Soil Home Garden Project

Just Food and the City of Ottawa’s Human Needs Task Force are partnering to provide
free seeds and soil to 3000 households living on lower income or who lost income because of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

Are you looking for a way to increase your food supply with a garden?
There is still time to plant greens, beans and other food for your home use.

Home gardens are a great way to grow your own food, stay active, and support positive
mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Distribution starting Tuesday, June 16. First come – first served!

All information can be found here: or

Ottawa Food Garden Project

On World Hunger Day, City of Ottawa announces support for more people to start food gardens at their homes   

On May 27th, Ottawa City Council voted to support household food gardens.  Councillor Theresa Kavanagh’s motion, The Ottawa Food Garden Project, an initiative that supports household food production, unanimously passed at City Council yesterday. This initiative will enable residents to request free soil and seeds to create or enhance their own home food garden. 

The motion, seconded by rural Councillor George Darouze, requests that the City’s Human Needs Task Force (HNTF) work with Just Food to identify solutions for funding and immediate human resource and volunteer solutions required to support the project. 

The Ottawa Food Garden Project is a food security initiative that also encourages residents to get active at home during the COVID-19 emergency. This citywide initiative, in partnership with HNTF and Just Food, will help to support residents in growing their own gardens in response to COVID-19.

Councillor Kavanagh noted, “With this motion passing, we will be able to partner with social service agencies and reach a lot more families struggling with lower incomes right now than we ever could with the current resources at Just Food.”

Councillor Darouze highlights that “COVID-19 has led to significant increased food and income insecurity in Ottawa. The demand for community food production has also increased.”

The City of Ottawa currently funds and partners with Just Food on their Community Gardening Network and Community Garden Development Fund to enhance the capacity of community food production in Ottawa. The demand by households in Ottawa for assistance to garden has surpassed the capacity of Just Food staff and volunteers to respond in a timely fashion, given the short growing season and need for planting to happen in the next few weeks.

Just Food has confirmed the purchase of $5,000 worth of seeds for distribution to Ottawa families with the goal of serving a minimum of 3000 families.  Greely Sand and Gravel, who are also partners to the project, have committed to a significant donation of soil.   “We are proud to build upon our longstanding community gardening partnerships throughout Ottawa and support this project to ensure families have what they need to get started”, says Brent Pyper, owner of Greely Sand and Gravel.

“Supporting community food production mitigates the pressure on emergency food distribution channels and builds long-term food security and community resiliency”, says Just Food Executive Director Moe Garahan. The Ottawa Food Policy Council is supportive of the City of Ottawa providing increased COVID-19 emergency support for household food production. 

Councillor Kavanagh thanks Just Food, The City of Ottawa Human Needs Task Force, her colleague Councillor George Derouze and Greely Sand and Gravel company for their cooperation in getting this project going in a timely manner.

More information will be available on the website within the week as to how to get involved.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Councillor Theresa Kavanagh –
Councillor George Darouze –
Just Food Executive Director Moe Garahan –

SeedLing Saturday (May 23 – Some Spots Still Available) 

Just Food is hosting a SeedLing Saturday this weekend at the Just Food Farm! Seedlings and seeds will be for sale.

Includes pre-order and pick-up sales as well as on-site sale options.

WHEN: Saturday, May 23 4 time slots to choose from
10am- SOLD OUT
11am – SOLD OUT
12pm – Some spots still available
1pm – Some spots still available
WHERE: Just Food Farm, 2391 Pepin Court
RSVP: is a must!

*In order to maintain physical distancing we will only be allowing 60 people on-site at a time. More COVID-19 guidelines below.

To register, please click on the time slot you would like to attend, noting that seedlings will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. (We will email later registrants if seedlings are sold out).


Register now before the time slots fill up. (Please note – if you are only ordering online to pick-up, you don’t need to register, but you need to pick up between 10am-12 noon.)

Acceptable payment methods include online pre-payment, tap payment on-site and cash.

Online Pre-ordering Information

To pre-order seedlings online, please see the following vendors:

Vendors Selling On-site

  • Nanabush Food Forest: food forest plant exchange
  • Get Up & Grow! On pousse!: tomatoes
  • The Chi Garden
  • Flat Earth Farm
  • And more!

COVID19 related Health Guidelines 

The COVID-19 regulations set out by Ottawa Public Health will be in effect for all customers, including physical distancing. Please see further health guidelines below:

  • Tables will be spaced and limited in number to avoid overcrowding, with people asked to maintain 6 feet from each other at all times.
  • One-way traffic for both cars into and off the property, as well as one-way traffic for customers around the tables.
  • Separate pick-up-only area for pick-up orders, with tables spaced apart from each other.
  • Limited conversation time to maintain flow – people are encouraged to get in and out efficiently.
  • No touching the plants unless purchased. Only looking at what is on the table to keep distancing in mind.

Indigenous Voices on Food Security

The COVID-19 global pandemic has worsened the existing food security problems among many communities, including Indigenous communities.

Federally-funded emergency food supports are being used to tackle the food challenges brought on by the closure of borders, rise of unemployment, and food hoarding. However, these supports are inadequate for Indigenous communities including Indigenous community members living in Ottawa. 

To read more, please check out Elisa Levi and Tabitha Robin’s COVID-19 Did Not Cause Food Insecurity In Indigenous Communities But It Will Make It Worse published by Yellowhead Institute.