EnviroCentre Edition - Spring 2016
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Catherine Mageau-Walker (SustainLowertown Coordinator), Annie Mercier (LCRC Community Developper), Mathieu Fleury and Angela Palma Herriot at a Good Food Market in Lowertown.
Photo courtesy of SustainLowertown
Food and a Sense of Place in Beaverbrook
Julie Gourley, Program Coordinator, Sustain Beaverbrook
At a recent afternoon tea in a senior’s residence in Beaverbrook, a woman lamented that her bank was closing. She lives next to what was once the Beaverbrook mall in Kanata. At one time, this mall had a grocery store, a pharmacy, a barber, a bank, and other useful services – t was the community hub where neighbours would see each other, catch up and run their daily errands.
The mall was located at the main crossroads, next to the firehall, the library, and the senior’s residence. The community of Beaverbrook was built fifty years ago by Bill Teron using the “tricycle model” – a model where all pathways led to the centre of the community, such that a tricycle-riding child could travel safely.
Over time, the mall – the community hub – started to disappear. First the grocery store moved away and then one by one, the rest of the businesses followed, swallowed up by big box malls with huge parking lots, located across busy streets. This woman’s bank, which still served the original residents, was one of the last hold-outs, and now it was closing too.
In the fall of 2014, EnviroCentre selected Beaverbrook as one of the three communities for the Sustain Your Community project. Funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the project aims to empower residents to design and implement their own sustainability initiatives that result in long-lasting benefits for themselves and their neighbours around issues related to energy and water conservation, local food and transportation.
The community of Beaverbrook came together to form an action committee and its volunteers decided to focus on making locally-grown food more accessible to residents and to rebuild a sense of place. Essentially, the group wanted to revitalize the old Beaverbrook mall by bringing food and people back together.
The first step involved organizing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, where Beaverbrook families signed up to be part of the Waratah Downs Farm CSA. . Each Thursday during the warmer months, families picked up bags of fresh, organic vegetables. A sandwich board by the roadside attracted more families and by the end of the summer, 19 families were collecting fresh produce from the old mall.
The next step involved contacting the organizers of the Good Food Box program, a a program which delivers boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables grown by local farmers, or purchased from wholesalers at cost, to customers in multiple locations around the city, with the food typically costing half of what it would in the grocery store. The Beaverbrook mall now has over 60 families using the Good Food Box program, and volunteers from the Community Life Church running the site. The church volunteers have even offered to deliver the food directly to the senior’s residence in the icy winter months.
The City of Ottawa and other organizations, like EnviroCentre, are encouraging people to walk, cycle, and ride the bus more. As the old mall becomes revitalized, it will naturally also become an effective transportation node and a suitable location for transit stops, car sharing, bike rental stations, and so forth. Walking, biking, and riding the bus will become more natural choices.
Bringing food back to the old mall was the first small step in its nourishment to revitalizing it back to becoming the community hub once again. Through the re-imagination and reinvention of the Beaverbrook residents, perhaps in the future, the old mall can become the heart of the community again – where neighbours both young and old will meet, catch up and run their daily errands. , and
To learn more about SustainBeaverbrook and get involved, please visit envirocentre.ca/sustainbeaverbrook.
PERC thanks the above organizations for their support.
Thank you to Envirocentre for sponsoring the Spring 2016 edition of the PEN.