World Cities Project

Ottawa and Hannover collaborating on low-carbon development and renewable energy

By Jon Connor

The cities of Ottawa and Hannover have officially started working together to identify strategies for boosting renewable energy generation and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced at the local level. Hannover is a city of roughly 515,000 and the capital of Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany.

The cities were recently paired as part of the World Cities Project, a global initiative led and financed through the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy. Broadly defined, the project pairs participant cities in the European Union with counterparts in four other countries—Canada, Japan, India and China—to promote the exchange of knowledge and best practices around the general theme of urban and territorial development. In Canada, the program’s main focus is on sustainable urban development, giving participant cities the opportunity to collaborate in three core areas:

  • low-carbon development and renewable energy
  • climate change resilience and adaptation
  • ecosystem services

Although most of the project focusses on identifying shared goals, approaches and best practices between partner cities, participants in the Canada-EU initiative also have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with their peers in other participating cities. In addition to Ottawa and Hannover, the program has paired Edmonton with Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain), Halifax with Tallinn (Estonia), and the District of Saanich, B.C., with Almada (Portugal). Delegations from each of the eight participating cities met in Toronto on July 6 for group training and the program’s first working meeting. Each European delegation then traveled to its Canadian partner city for a series of site visits, meetings and study tours.

Eager to showcase our city’s strengths and charms, the Ottawa delegation prepared a busy three-day itinerary that highlighted noteworthy development projects and sustainability initiatives underway in the city. After receiving a warm welcome by Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor David Chernushenko, the German delegation was quickly put to work, meeting with City staff and key environmental organizations from the community. These presentations and informal discussions were complemented by several off-site study tours, giving the Germans an opportunity to explore Canada’s capital city while also learning about our approach to issues like active transportation, renewable energy, green buildings and sustainable neighbourhood design. For more information on these activities, see the images below.

Next steps
The second working meeting of the World Cities Project will take place in Europe from Oct. 19 to 23. Following the structure of the first working meetings in Toronto and Ottawa, the Ottawa delegation will first travel to Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, for two days of group training before heading to Hannover to meet one-on-one with our program partners.

Our Delegation
The City of Ottawa’s delegation for the World Cities Project includes five members, some of whom are staff within the City administration and others who are leading sustainability advocates within our community.

  • Lee Ann Snedden, Chief, Development Review Services, Planning and Growth Management Department (City of Ottawa)
  • Sally McIntyre, Manager, Environmental Business Services, Environmental Services Department (City of Ottawa)
  • Roger Peters, Board President, Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op
  • Roger Marsh, Chief Energy Management Officer, Hydro Ottawa
  • David Chernushenko, Councillor for Capital Ward and Chair of the City of Ottawa’s Environment Committee

Addressing climate change is complex — but not impossible! Staff from the City of Ottawa’s Environmental Services Department meet with the German delegation to discuss the City’s Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan as well as climate change planning approaches used by the City of Hannover.

Staff from Planning and Growth Management’s Sustainable Transportation branch take the German delegation for an afternoon tour of Ottawa’s cycling infrastructure, with stops at Laurier Avenue, Churchill Avenue (Ottawa’s first ‘complete street’), and various locations along the Capital Pathway.

The Germans visit Old Ottawa East to learn about stakeholder engagement and how sustainability features were incorporated into the redevelopment of the Oblate Lands. In turn, the head of the German delegation, Astrid Hoffmann-Kallen, explains how Passivhaus standards were incorporated into a new residential subdivision in Hannover to create a “zero emissions settlement” with 330 dwellings and a certified Passivhaus supermarket!

Staff from the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op explain how their organization works with individuals and partners in the community to install solar photovoltaic projects throughout the city, such as the panels (shown above) installed in partnership with the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est on the roof of École secondaire catholique Franco-Cité.

The German delegation visits Chaudière Falls to learn about the City’s hydroelectricity resources and how Hydro Ottawa is planning to expand renewable electricity generation in the city.