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Bioregional has endorsed Ottawa-Gatineau’s Zibi project as Canada’s first One Planet Community and the world’s tenth.

One Planet Community status is the gold standard in sustainability ambition for development projects, representing not just endorsement of green building standards but an ongoing commitment to all aspects of sustainable development through the lifetime of a project. Zibi, which means ‘river’ in the Algonquin language, is a waterfront area located in the downtown cores of Ottawa and Gatineau overlooking both the Ottawa River and Chaudière Falls. The name of the development was chosen as a public commitment to the Algonquin-Anishinabe people, on whose unceded land the Ottawa Valley, much of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec is situated.

Redeveloped from industrial brownfield land once dominated by a paper mill, the 37-acre site will include a blend of commercial and retail properties, condominium developments, a hotel, waterfront parks and open spaces and a network of pedestrian and cycling paths.

Over three million square feet of development is planned. Zibi will provide a unique opportunity for people to live, work, play and learn in one of the National Capital Region’s most picturesque and historic areas. Working with Bioregional, developers Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corp. have used the 10 principles of the One Planet Living framework to help guide sustainability and eco-friendly planning for Zibi. Its One Planet Community status is underpinned by a sustainability action plan based on these 10 principles.

Zibi’s plan highlights include:

  • A district-wide energy system, which aims to provide Zibi with zero carbon energy by 2020
  • A target for only 2% or less of the waste generated by the completed development to go to landfill
  • 90% reduction in transport greenhouse gas emissions compared to the regional average, thanks to prioritising walking, cycling and charging points for electric vehicles
  • Cutting water use by more than half compared to the regional average – water-using appliances will be super-efficient and non-potable water will be used for irrigation of green spaces and toilet flushing
  • Radically increasing biodiversity (by 400%) above existing levels on the site
  • Housing opportunities for a diverse range of renters and buyers, and preferential allocation in some of the commercial space to local and socially responsible businesses
  • Working together with the Algonquin-Anishinabe community in ways that generate lasting and tangible benefits to present and future generations; creating a new model for how private developers engage with First Nations in Canada

A strong point of Windmill and Dream’s commitment with First Nations and to the One Planet community framework is the creation by the Algonquin-Anishinabe of an Advisory Council on Integrity. The Committee is made up of individuals who believe in the importance of sustainability, and who wish to ensure the integrity and appropriateness of the Zibi development on issues of First Nations culture, heritage and socio-economics.

Pooran Desai OBE, Co-founder of Bioregional and International Director of its One Planet Communities Programme commented: “If everyone on earth consumed natural resources at the same rate as the average Canadian we would need four planets to support us. One Planet Communities – like Zibi aims to be – are places where it is easy, attractive and affordable for people to lead happy and healthy lives within the environmental limits of the planet.

“We are thrilled to launch the Canadian flagship in the One Planet Communities network with such an ambitious and innovative project. Zibi sets a new standard for sustainable development in Canada. Windmill is showing leadership at the global level and we are delighted that Zibi is joining our network of the earth’s greenest neighbourhoods.”

Rodney Wilts, Partner of Windmill Development commented: “This endorsement from Bioregional – and the required planning and monitoring that goes with it – brings us that much closer to our vision of creating one of the world’s most sustainable communities. We are not just focusing on the energy, water and resource saving performance of the buildings; we are equally concerned with encouraging and supporting sustainable behaviours from its residents, visitors and the businesses working
out of it.”

Jason Lester, Senior Vice President of Urban Development at Dream commented: “Becoming a One Planet Community is more than receiving a stamp of approval. It’s a long-term commitment to bring our ambitious plan to life and to continue to work diligently to build a better community through sustainability.”

Brenda Odjick, Chair of the Algonquin-Anishinabe Advisory Committee on Integrity commented: “Windmill has extended a hand in friendship to the Algonquin-Anisinabe people. Never before has a private developer been as inclusive and collaborative in this part of Canada, and as consistent with the Algonquin values attached to the environment and to community.”