City combs through application to see if Ottawa should apply for Bee City status

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City staff are combing through an application to make Ottawa a “bee city” after a councillor heard buzz from a constituent about the plight of pollinators.

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli received the environment committee’s full support on Tuesday for researching the requirements of the Bee City program. There’s a local petition calling for Ottawa to take action with nearly 1,200 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, he noted.

The city already has projects promoting bee health, such as a community garden program, Egli said.

“I think it makes a statement to people out there that are concerned about the environment that the city does take it seriously and we are taking steps to move forward that agenda to treat our city in a little more of an environmentally friendly way,” Egli said.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, who brought the motion to the committee on behalf of Egli, said the city needs more initiatives for “strengthening the pollinator health in the city.”

File photo from 2009 of a man helping Dan Davidson, the director of the Ontario Beekeepers Association, get his bee beard organized. MIKE HENSEN / THE LONDON FREE PRESS

There are 19 Bee City municipalities. The Bee City Canada website says there’s no membership fee for a certified Bee City.

Now, City of Ottawa staff have to figure out if there’s any extra cost to helping the bees and satisfying the Bee City requirements. The committee wants to hear back from staff by the end of next March.

The Bee City application would require the city to explain how it would create healthy pollinator habitats, educate people about the importance of pollinators and “celebrate pollinators during International Pollinator Week.”

RIdeau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt suggested that instead of striking a new working group, as suggested by the application, the city should take advantage of its environmental advisory committee to do the work.

Catherine McKenney