Across North America, populations of Monarch butterflies, bees, and other pollinators are in steep decline due to herbicides, pesticides, climate change and a reduction in natural pollinator habitats. Pollinators are responsible for a third of the world’s food supply.
Utilities are ideally suited to restore these environments thanks to the number of utility corridors, properties, and right of ways along roadsides throughout their service territory. Moreover, vegetation management along utility corridors is compatible with the type of vegetation necessary to support pollinators.
In 2019, Hydro Ottawa, via its affiliate Hydro Ottawa Limited – the electricity distribution company – began construction on Cambrian, our largest municipal transformer station ever; situated on 24 acres of land in the south-end of the city. The new 90-megawatt facility will support future growth in Nepean which is expected to more than double over the next 20 years due to planned residential and commercial developments, including the recent addition of a new 10-megawatt Amazon distribution centre.
Hydro Ottawa collaborated with the City of Ottawa and eco-experts from the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) to create one of the largest pollinator meadows of its kind in eastern Ontario. Given the transformer station requires only five of the 24-hectare site, Hydro Ottawa Limited dedicated 15 acres to a pollinator meadow. acres were reforested in 2020 with 2,750 trees and the meadow was seeded in the spring of 2021. Hydro Ottawa is supplying the land and covering the costs of the project, including site preparation, professional seeding, and selection of native seed mix, and annual maintenance over a five-year term.
“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,” says Bryce Conrad, President and CEO of Hydro Ottawa. “An initiative like the pollinator meadow fits with our vision for a brighter and healthier Ottawa.” Hydro Ottawa is proving that no one, plant or creature, is too small to be sondered, and that great opportunities come from symbiosis.
When the station is energized in 2022, south Ottawa will have an abundance of power, and portions of the pollinator meadow will be in bloom to welcome many species as its guests, including the birds and the bees that will call the meadow home. To learn more, listen to the episode “The Birds and the Bees About Pollinator Meadows” on our ThinkEnergy podcast.