Ottawans are lucky enough to live in a city that boasts 20,000 hectares of protected green space; the National Capital Greenbelt is one of a kind and the word’s largest publicly owned greenbelt. Since summer is finally on our doorstep, here are some interesting facts about the Greenbelt and, most importantly, tips for making the most of this wonderful space.
The Greenbelt: Past and Present
Jacques Gréber, a landscape architect, proposed the Greenbelt in 1950 to prevent urban sprawl and create protected space for the development of farms and natural areas. The Greenbelt was originally designed to surround the city and accommodate around 500,000 people, which was plausible in 1950. In 2001, however, Ottawa amalgamated with surrounding municipalities, which meant the Greenbelt now formed an arc through the city. Today, the Greenbelt is mostly owned and managed by the National Capital Commission and is one of the largest urban parks in the world.
Why is the Greenbelt Important?
The Greenbelt is an invaluable part of Ottawa; it preserves natural environments and maintains biodiversity by protecting streams, sand dunes, forests and wetlands, which benefits both human and ecological health throughout the city. It is also an unparalleled educational resource for scientists, school children and citizens who are interested in learning about natural environments, and has been the subject of numerous experiments and research initiatives. Last but not least, the land provides a home for many local farms, which supports sustainable agriculture in Ottawa and boosts the city’s economy and food supply.
How to Enjoy the Greenbelt
The Greenbelt offers countless opportunities for active living and outdoor recreation. Shirleys Bay is a great spot to launch small boats and canoe, kayak or sail along the Ottawa River. There is also an official campground within cycling distance of downtown Ottawa, dog-friendly trails (leashes optional in some spots!), three sheltered picnic spots with outhouse access, and even an Equestrian Trail. If you enjoy being active outdoors, there are three scenic cycle paths and over 150km of hiking trails, all of which vary in distance and difficulty level. And since this is the Great White North, there are a number of fun winter activities, including snowshoeing, tobogganing and cross-country skiing. With approximately 3.5 million visitors each year, the Greenbelt really does offer something for everyone.
We hope you have learned something new about the Greenbelt and are inspired to take advantage of Ottawa’s green space. And if you are interested in living near or around the Greenbelt, do not hesitate to get in touch.
Want to learn more about Ottawa? Take a look at 10 Things You Might Not Know About Ottawa.