Preserving leafy-green Glebe streets for future generations  

The Neighbourhood Canopy Regeneration Project

By Della Wilkinson

The Glebe has been my home since I emigrated from the United Kingdom in 1990. My family and I started our green journey by making one lifestyle change a year, starting with the installation of an outdoor clothesline and more recently with the purchase of a hybrid vehicle. I joined the Glebe Community Association (GCA) Environment Committee in January 2020 because I wanted to volunteer in the community and take responsibility for my impact on the climate. Now I am the new chair of the committee, and I want to let Glebe residents know about an exciting opportunity to restore and preserve our tree-lined streets.

I have always believed that one of the Glebe’s biggest attractions for residents and visitors are the majestic trees throughout the neighbourhood. At least that is what attracted me to start a new life here. Thirty years later, I now find that some of my old walking routes through the neighbourhood no longer offer the shady sidewalks they once did because many of our trees have grown old and been cut down.

Tree Canada, a national non-profit organization dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in rural and urban environments, lists many environmental benefits for urban forests with supporting scientific references. These benefits include:

  • Reducing air pollution
  • Reducing the temperature of our neighbourhood
  • Reducing energy use in buildings
  • Reducing storm runoff and flooding
  • Providing habitat for wildlife

Fortunately, the Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES) has kicked off a Neighbourhood Canopy Regeneration Project to help restore the urban tree canopy.  The project’s aim is to involve community associations in identifying tree gaps and potential tree spaces, engaging with residents and landowners and leveraging existing city tree programs, like the Trees in Trust Program. CAFES has obtained a grant from the City of Ottawa and will be working in partnership with Ecology Ottawa.

The GCA is one of seven associations selected by CAFES to participate in this initiative. We aim to help ensure that the leafy green streets of the Glebe will exist for future generations. And we are counting on community support to make this happen.

Environment Committee volunteers hope to work with the GCA area representatives to identify suitable tree-planting sites on city-owned land. The volunteers will photograph and record potential sites using criteria laid out for the Trees in Trust Program, such as sufficient soil to support tree roots, lack of overhead and underground utilities, no conflict with traffic sightlines and at least seven metres from buildings and other trees. We will need to engage neighbours close to the potential tree-planting locations to explain Trees in Trust or other programs and to seek their help in watering trees. Many residents may not be aware that the city will plant a tree, free of charge, on city-owned frontage of rental and residential properties at the request of the owner, providing the owner pledges to assist with watering for the crucial first three years of the tree’s life.

Students in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University will also help the Environment Committee to develop communication strategies.

Our group held a kick-off meeting on September 14 to brainstorm ideas, including how to support tree nurturing. Some options include providing tree watering bags and movable rain barrels that can be refilled at participating residences. We will also be setting up a timeline to get the project underway – the goal is to select several sites for spring planting in 2022.

If you are interested in helping or have a watering bag, wagon or rain barrel that you might be willing to donate to the initiative, please contact us at

Della Wilkinson is chair of the Glebe Community Association Environment Committee.

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