When I moved to Ottawa four years ago, one of the things that immediately made an impression was the abundance of green space all across the region. I can think of few cities where, during the course of the year, it’s easy to walk, cycle, ski or skate your way to a downtown office. Ottawa’s reputation as a safe, clean and green city is frequently cited as one of the reasons many people like to visit.
I learned recently that Ottawa’s municipal area includes more than 850 parks plus thousands of hectares of forests, wetlands and other natural spaces. On top of that, we enjoy more than 20,000 hectares of federal lands in the National Capital Greenbelt as well as additional NCC parks, parkways and recreational trails. As the City of Ottawa’s Greenspace Master Plan acknowledges, “a city that keeps its natural areas healthy also keeps its inhabitants healthy. Where people have ample room and can easily access the elements of a greenspace network for recreation and leisure, healthy living becomes part of daily routines and nature becomes an important, visible part of city living.”
I like to think that visitors must take note of how many Ottawans embrace an active lifestyle. To drive that message home, our friends in Ottawa Tourism’s sales department came up with an innovative way to promote Ottawa’s walkability – they wear red shoes, often Converse sneakers, when representing Canada’s capital at events. At the Shaw Centre, we’re taking a similar approach to highlight Ottawa as a clean, green, walkable destination: we’re handing out pedometers to event planners so they can track the many, many steps they take during their conference at our venue.
It is exciting to see the myriad ways that event planners incorporate our easy access to the great outdoors into their Shaw Centre events. Whether they plan a snowshoe trek or hike in nearby Gatineau Park, a trip to Lansdowne Park to watch the Fury or the Redblacks in action, or a boat cruise on the Ottawa River, it seems that taking advantage of Ottawa’s abundant natural beauty is as appealing to visitors as it is to residents. We’re equally proud of Ottawa’s reputation as a safe city; it’s a factor that weighs heavily in our favour as a destination for national and international travellers. I’m proud to call Ottawa home and even prouder to help the tens of thousands of visitors that come to the Shaw Centre each year experience the many wonderful outdoor activities that our city has to offer.