Vibrant Communities In Focus
Image Credit: Brent Foster
Ottawa River, Ontario
Ottawa River Keeper is an independent watchdog organization that helps protect and
promote the eco-health of the powerful and vital Ottawa River.
A feisty woman stands at the helm of a humble patrol boat. Meredith Brown has been
championing the health of the Ottawa River for three years, taking calls from the public about
their concerns. She's building a "community network of river stewards," to help take care
of the river wherever it comes through their lives. During the summer of 2006, for instance,
more than a hundred people called her hotline to report a major fish kill.
"They hadn't seen dead fish washing up on their shores like this in sixty years. The calls
were upsetting, but it showed me there's a network starting … a network of concerned
citizens, and scientists and lawyers who scrambled to help us, and government agencies
who eventually responded. We all need to be concerned about our rivers, not just because
they're beautiful, but also because human health is put in jeopardy when the rivers have
dodgy effluent dumped into them, or there's questionable development along the flood
plains. We're a tiny staff of three, but we're good at lobbying people who can fix the problems
or make policy changes. We have a slew of great volunteers and Trillium has been our bread
and butter. The river belongs to the community and the community is taking charge!"