A 15-acre swath of Hydro Ottawa land will soon be a buzzing metropolis of bees, birds and butterflies as the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) helps plant one of the largest pollinator meadows in Eastern Ontario.
This collaborative project grew from the construction of Hydro Ottawa's new municipal transformer station, located on Cambrian Road just west of Highway 416 between Barrhaven and Manotick. The new station only required five of the property's 24 acres, so Hydro Ottawa has partnered with the RVCA, Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation, Canadian Wildlife Federation and City of Ottawa to create the new pollinator habitat on its surplus land. Seeding began on May 18 under RVCA's supervision and with the help of native seeding experts, NativeScapes.
Pollinators are responsible for a third of the world's food supply, making them critical to our survival. Planting pollinator meadows like this along utility corridors, rights of way and other public lands is an easy way to increase native grassland habitats that not only support bees and monarch butterflies, but also species at risk like the bobolink and barn swallow.
"We're excited to help create a thriving, vibrant pollinator meadow that supports native plant and animal species in pursuit of a healthier environment," said Meaghan McDonald, RVCA's Shoreline Stewardship Coordinator. "The more natural land cover we have, the better off our watershed will be in terms of biodiversity, air quality, water quality and our quality of life."
Hydro Ottawa is supplying the land and covering the cost of the project, including site preparation, professional seeding, selection of native seed mix, and annual maintenance over a five-year term. RVCA staff will oversee the seeding and will provide annual maintenance. The RVCA also planted 2,750 trees on another four-acre section of the property in 2020.
"It's about coming back to your roots and remembering why you are in this business in the first place," said Bryce Conrad, President and CEO of Hydro Ottawa. "Yes, we have a core responsibility to provide safe, affordable and reliable power, but it has to be done in a way that also protects our environment and mitigates our impact on it. An initiative like the pollinator meadow fits with our vision for a brighter and healthier Ottawa. It will provide environmental benefits to our community for years to come."
The station will be energized in 2022, and if all goes well many bees will be buzzing right along with it.
More information about the pollinator meadow can be heard on the ThinkEnergy podcast by Hydro Ottawa or on Hydro Ottawa's website: https://hydroottawa.com/en/outages-safety/outage-centre/planned-work/power-south-nepean-new-municipal-transformer-station.
For more information about the RVCA's stewardship team and how to apply for landowner grants, visit www.rvca.ca/stewardship-grants.
With files from Morgan Barnes, Hydro Ottawa