ASH’s first EcoFair opened eyes to local causes and info sources

Marilyn Whitaker


The Sandy Hill EcoFair in Strathcona Park on Saturday, May 13, 2023 had more than 20 exhibitors from eco-friendly organizations and attracted some 300 people. Visitors got to interact with exhibitors, take part in guided bird walks, and participate in a children’s scavenger hunt. After Covid restrictions and protracted cool, wet weather, neighbours were eager to meet, talk and enjoy a lovely spring day. It was also an opportunity to reflect on what each of us can do to reduce negative environmental impacts in our daily lives and globally.

The opening ceremony was led by Elder Irene Compton, co-founder of Minwaashin Lodge, who brought people together in a circle for drumming, singing, and reflection. Councillor Stéphanie Plante gave a welcoming address. Dozens of people joined guided bird walks, led by master birder Richard Knapton, and were able to discover many bird species in the park and along the riverbank. A children’s scavenger hunt ran throughout the day to encourage children to explore the park environment. BottleWorks was on site to collect empties in support of their work with at-risk youth. Importantly, people were able to wander to various booths, ask questions, and find out more about environmental activities and opportunities.

The EcoFair was a priority project for the newly formed Environment Committee of Action Sandy Hill. The intent was to enable Sandy Hill residents and others to learn about environmental programs, services, and opportunities to participate in environmental projects, particularly as they relate to biking, gardening and the natural environment, energy conservation, and waste reduction. Committee members contacted organizations at all levels of government, non-profits, and private-sector businesses, and many agreed to take part. Various groups also helped by distributing information about the EcoFair to their membership. Organizers were delighted with the response.

On the issue of solid waste reduction, for example, there was a city official who was happy to talk about garbage, recycling, and solid waste programs. Earthub, which repurposes or recycles items that are often missed in recycling programs, had a table with Sandy Hill resident Christine Aubry. Diverting clothing and other items from landfill and making them available to others who will enjoy them are the concerns of the uOttawa Sustainable Development Office and local vintage clothing store, Bee You Creative Styles. A range of approaches, expertise, and opportunities could be found on other environmental issues as well.

Many volunteers and the support of ASH helped make the inaugural EcoFair a success. People are looking ahead to another EcoFair next year. If you have suggestions or would like to volunteer, please let us know.