Welcome to Green Venture

Green Venture is Hamilton’s premiere environmental education not-for-profit organization. We are dedicated to finding positive, practical and long-lasting ways to make Hamilton (and area) the most environmentally friendly place to be, every single day.


Latest News

Yorkview Elementary School students, parents and members of the community, in partnership with Green Venture, removed 172m2 of old asphalt by hand on Saturday, September 29 as the first step in their schoolyard revitalization.  Local MPP Sandy Shaw and Anne Tennier, an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) volunteer, were on hand to see how a three-year, $740,000 province-wide OTF grant awarded earlier this year is starting to have an impact. This funding will support 36 projects by 2020.  Other cities who will be leading Depave Paradise projects in Ontario include Peterborough, Kitchener-Waterloo, Thunder Bay, Collingwood, Kingston, Ottawa, Mississauga and York Region.

“Thanks to the funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, transformational environmental projects across our Province and right here in Dundas are made possible,” said Sandy Shaw, MPP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. “It is truly inspiring to see what can be accomplished when students along with community partners work together to enrich where we live, work and play.”

The revitalized schoolyard offers benefits to both students and the broader community including greater biodiversity, reduced storm water run-off and cleaner water. Designed in consultation with the students and community, support from this Yorkview Elementary School Depave project was generously provided by OTF through Green Communities Canada, the Raingers Rain Garden partnership project with Bay Area Restoration Council, Dougher Community Fund through Hamilton Community Foundation and Tree Canada Greening Canada’s School Ground.

The new space will include two storm water management rain and pollinator gardens, native trees and shrubs, naturalized seating areas, and cedar garden boxes for each classroom. The input of more than 150 students and members of the community informed the garden design.

“This depave project has been a great journey for our school so far, says Brian Gauthier, leader of the Stewardship Team of Yorkview’s Parent Council, “It has been an opportunity to draw on the amazing and diverse talent we have across our school community. When we are done, Yorkview will have this amazing monument to the passion and skill of our community that will educate and delight our students.”

Managing storm water more effectively is a key element in the green space design. Hard impermeable urban surfaces like asphalt interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground. When rainwater flows over pavement it picks up a wide range of polluting materials, including motor oil, anti-freeze, tire residue, pet waste and cigarette butts. Green spaces help filter and absorb polluted storm water.

Many partners from the community have committed in-kind support including Groundhog Excavation, Dougan & Associates, Play Think, Brent J Clark Designs, Turksta Lumber, City of Hamilton Urban Forestry and many parents, community members, school administration and teachers.

And coming up on Saturday, October 13th between 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., the Dundas school community will plant hundreds of native plants and trees, build garden boxes and create a new environmental learning and play space. Volunteers are needed! This family friendly event is happening rain or shine! Please dress for the weather and be ready to get your hands dirty! Don’t forget to wear sturdy, closed shoes. Reusable water bottles and gloves are encouraged! Everyone is welcome to help to transform this paved area into a beautiful, functional garden that will encourage people to recognize the benefits of protecting water and air quality for human health.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $120 million to some 700 projects this year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario. www.otf.ca


For more information, please contact:

Laura Anderson, Program Coordinator, Green Venture 905‐540‐8787, Ext. 158   laura.anderson@greenventure.ca

Green Venture is a community-based, non-profit organization committed to helping Hamilton-area residents live more sustainably where they live, work, and play.

www.greenventure.ca    Twitter: @Green_Venture    Facebook: GreenVentureHamilton

Photos by: fehn foss www.fehnfoss.com + Alejandro www.instagram.com/onelooseboot

The end of summer is a bittersweet time for the students here at Green Venture. On the one hand, we
are all moving on to another year of interesting studies, but are sad to see the summer end. We’ve all
had such an incredible time here at Green Venture. The opportunity to gain work experience in a field
we are all interested in, before even being done our degrees, was both valuable and enjoyable. We all
gained varied knowledge in all the sectors Green Venture explores, from composting, to energy
conservation, to education. In addition to this, to be employed at EcoHouse was both interesting and
rewarding – the opportunity to see these innovative changes for environmental sustainability in action is
not available at all workplaces. Between the office work and camp, being employed as Environmental
Programs Assistants was a diverse and valuable experience.
The camp was a learning experience for both us and our campers; we all grew as people and EcoStars!
To be able to see kids who came to camp start to be aware of their environmental footprint, and try to
make more conscious decisions was a wonderful experience. Though kids can be a handful, in the end
it’s a really rewarding experience to be able to work with them. Everyone enjoyed hands on crafts like
seed bombs, running games like foxes and rabbits, big nature hikes, and the variety of fun field trips we
went on. We still laugh about some of the things the kids said. They also taught us a few things too! To
be able to teach and learn from kids who come from various backgrounds was one of the best parts of
the job.
Overall, our experience working with Green Venture was memorable and valuable. It was a wonderful
way to spend the summer, and hopefully we’ll be back next year!
Guppy, Panda, Bear, Hawk eye and Dragonfly

Creepy crawlers came to Eco House for a visit during week two of camp with Safari Science. The campers did better better than me, I could barely be in the same room with some of the crawlers.  The campers however were brave and actually held them. We also had fun swimming at Sir Wilfred recreation’s pool. I enjoyed the walk to the pool and running into another camp and we had a battle of who sang the best camp songs! The last day of camp all the campers got a reusable straw to help eliminate  one time plastic uses as straws aren’t even recyclable.

Hello everyone!

I’m Victoria or as the campers will know me Guppy, I’m one of the newest Environmental Program assistants hired for the summer of 2018. When I first came to the Green Venture’s Eco House for the seedling sale in May, I had no idea I would have such an awesome opportunity to work here over the summer. I was amazed with all the environmental education set up around the house alone and I thought to myself this place would be perfect for me to get some REAL work experience in the field I’m studying. I asked if there was any last minute hiring and to my surprise there was. When I came for my interview I was stoked just to be in the Eco House again!

I’m a student at the University of Guelph studying Environmental Management. Just last semester in a project course my friends and I designed a fully sustainable high-school. It was so exciting to come to the Green Venture’s Eco House and see so many of the aspects that we had implemented in our school put to work here. For example, the solar panels that provide energy to be used or sold to the government for use, the grey water toilet which recycles water, the insulation used in the Eco House that allows for energy savings in heating and cooling and even the green roof.

I have worked in several rec positions with children and adults, including some summer camps that involved animal welfare and environmental education programs and planning! I believe that teaching children about the environment at an early age can really create a greener future. I’m super excited to work with the Eco star summer camp, and to create some fun programs for the kids that will teach all about ecological practices through some hands on activities.

There’s still spots available for camp sign up today!!!

Our camp weeks run 9 to 4:

July 2 to July 6

July 9 to July 13

July 23 and 27

July 30 to August 3

Before and after care is available.

To register contact Virginia (Snow) at 905 540 8787 X154 or education@greenventure.ca or sign up on our website www.greenventure.ca

Introducing another of our 2018 EcoStars Summer Camp counsellors…

“My name is Panda. As a current Environmental Sciences student at McMaster University I could not be more excited to be working at Green Venture this summer!  I have had previous experience in environmental education for people of all ages and I am thrilled be able to share what I know, as well as develop and expand my knowledge further through all the incredible programs offered here at Green Venture. Being a part of an organization that shares my values of creating a cleaner and healthier community is truly a dream come true.

As a kid at heart, my favourite hobbies include; hiking through the great outdoors, monkeying around with some rock climbing, learning about various ways to preserve our environment, and getting my hands dirty with some gardening. Many of these fun activities and more will be taking place during the Eco Stars Camp! What better way to spend the summer than by letting kids be kids again and getting back to the elements to explore nature.

My previous experiences with environmental education and as a camp counsellor proved to be a lot of fun, and I enjoy nothing more than seeing campers outside, making friends and enjoying their summer to the fullest! I look forward to meeting each and every one of the campers! If you haven’t registered yet, sign up today!”

Our camp weeks run:

July 2 to July 6

July 9 to July 13

July 23 and 27

July 30 to August 3

Before and after care is available.

To register contact Virginia (Snow) at 905 540 8787 X154 or education@greenventure.ca or sign up on our website www.greenventure.ca


Green Venture is all about living sustainably, and exploring ways each of us can avoid making our mark – on the environment that is. From healthy soil, fresh air, to clean drinking water, what can we do, and what we can consider, when it comes to all the choices we make in our daily lives. Funny thing is, a lot of them are actually really really easy. But still, we struggle. The Lightning Bike is all about energy. The energy we use in almost absolutely all that we are and do. Look around, everything around you not from nature, required energy to produce, ship, sell, be consumed, and then trashed. We get this energy from a variety of sources, some cleaner than others. Burning coal, nuclear, solar, wind, natural gas, etc, etc – there’s lots of it so we use it freely and in abundance. Its super cheap to, so that makes it easier to disregard as well. But what of Human Power? That is, power or energy created through a physical action. Could be rowing, biking, walking, all would work. The premise being that in order for my computer to be on right now allowing me to type this, I would either need to be riding a bike hooked up to a generator, or, I would have had to cycle earlier to charge some batteries in order to power my computer. Maybe I would be drafting this with pen and paper before typing it into my computer just to save time, but I didn’t do that because last months hydro bill was only $67. Why even turn my computer off at all – save all that start up time.

I fabricated these custom, retro style bars for use in multiple riding positions.

The Lightning Bike at Green Venture is looking to explore questions around energy, and this
exploration is going to require some real physical commitment. As of right now, the bicycle part of the
Lightning Bike is complete, and my tech guru Tim is working diligently to complete the generator box
that turns pedal power into 1500 watts of juice. I’ve asked for some cool LED’s on it, but we will see
about that as LED’s require power on their own, so do I want to pedal for some LED’s? Maybe I’ll be
okay with a mechanical set up. After all, before abundant electricity, equipment and home appliances
were mechanical and required our physical input in order to operate. As soon as the generator power box is complete, the exploring will begin. 1500 watts. I wonder how many watts my computer and the monitor are using right now? And can I type while cycling? Anybody know any really good cyclists? Contact me if you do.

By Christopher McLeod

Our EcoHouse living roof project is getting a bit of a fix this summer.

 2015 – living roof modules

In 2015 we installed the green roof modules on part of the pergola, but due to weight considerations, we opted instead not to add more modules. Instead, we tried our hand at growing some creeper vines. the idea was the the vines would eventually cover the pergola, creating a lush canopy.

It didn’t go exactly to plan, as a couple of bad winters knocked out the vines and its original placement in the shadow of one of our more aggressive white pines didn’t help.

So, this spring, the Virginia creeper was repotted and moved, and look at it now! We’ve got some tendrils climbing the posts, which is precisely what we were going for.

 2018- new growth virginia creeper

Come and take a look at it later in the summer for our “Green Venture Community Day” (Sat Aug 11) , or visit us for the Uproot fundraiser dinner in September, and take in the vista under the pergola. For more information on Uproot tickets, please contact moira.mcguigan@greenventure.ca or call 905-540-8787.

The Golden Horseshoe area is home to numerous orchards, farms, and vineyards, and all of these depend on pollinators. The Government of Ontario estimates that 13% of its annual crop revenues, or $978 million dollars, can be directly attributed to pollinators. The majority of pollination is done by commercially raised bees; these insects are not native to the area, and their populations have been in decline for years. Our native pollinator populations are also in decline – because of habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution. The importance of native pollinators is undeniable, and by planting a pollinator friendly garden, you can do your part to aid in pollination population growth and stabilization. 
Pollinators in southwestern Ontario are not limited to just bees; butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, and flies all contribute to pollination. These native pollinations will often not pollinate non-native plants, so it is imperative to fill your garden with plants native to the Hamilton area. Planting flowers in clusters will also help pollinations easily locate and move between blooms. You should aim to have flowers blooming throughout the entire season, from May to October. A list of pollinator friendly species native to southwestern Ontario, along with ideas and info about pollinator friendly gardens is available here. Native gardens require less maintenance, less watering, and protect biodiversity.
In addition to the planting of native species, you can made your garden a friendly habitat for native pollinators. Simple things, like a bee bath or a bee hotel, provide pollinators with all the things they need to flourish. To make a bee bath, fill a dish with stones and shallow water. This allows bees to drink when the weather is too hot, facilitating the continuation of their pollination journey. A bee hotel provides a place for solitary bees to nest. Make one by filling a milk carton with bamboo rods. Instructions can be found here. It is important to note that when you are making a bee hotel, you should use untreated wood and bamboo.
link about pollinator friendly gardens: http://www.gardenontario.org/subdomains/conservation/resources/guide.pdf

link on how to build a bee hotel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9-gJuDgKnU

My name is Moira and I am one of the new staff members here at EcoHouse!! I am currently working as an education support staff member, and I am the coordinator for our Annual Fundraiser Uproot!  While I am new with Green Venture, I am no stranger to education.  I studied at the University of Guelph and graduated in the spring of 2015 with an Honours Degree in Sociology & an accompanying Minor in History, and I am also employed with the City of Hamilton at Battlefield House Museum & Park as a historical interpreter.

In my roles with the city and my roles here, I am very lucky to combine my main passions: my love of historic homes, educating people of all ages and making the world I live in a greener place!  I am very lucky to have grown up in Hamilton and I have always enjoyed our green spaces and our push to make our community more green minded.  I am continually learning and adapting to make my life as sustainable and waste free as possible, so, I am super excited to work at Green Venture.  In my short time here, I have already made changes in my personal life, which will positively impact my aim for a greener lifestyle.


So far, I have been introduced to some of our education programs, and my favourite aspects are our seed bombs (the perfect addition to any gardening arsenal, especially for a lazy gardener like myself) and our smoothie bike (who doesn’t like smoothies as a reward for physical exercise?).  The seed bombs are a bit mushy to make, but most children love the experience of playing in clay and soil, plus- they are told to get dirty and make something similar to a mud pie. For me, the aspect of turning a unused, or underdeveloped piece of land in a beautiful, colourful garden is a wonderful treat for any community.  The smoothie bike on the other hand, is a fun program even for adults. They get to create their own smoothie recipe, they have the opportunity of keeping the bike for a week and they have a guilt-free snack break.  Those participating are using energy produced solely by riding a stationary bike to blend their smoothie on the attached blender.


These are just two examples of the amazing educational programs that we have available here at Green Venture.  We know how much of a challenge it can be to find school trips that both meet the required curriculum and are engaging for the kids. At the EcoHouse we can help everyone meet their goals and have a great time.

To book a tour contact Virginia the Education Manager at education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x154 or click the teachers link on our greenventure.ca home page.  And who knows, maybe you’ll have me on one of your tours!

Or if you would like to come to our fundraiser event Uproot visit our website or contact Moira at. moira.mcguigan@greenventure.ca



 Moira- wearing her other hat…so to speak… as a historical interpreter.

Green Venture welcomes our newest Education Program Support team member, Jamie MacLean…

“I’ve had my eyes on Green Venture for quite some time, and I am thrilled to be working with education programs. I studied Environmental Sciences and Biology at Trent University and have since been involved in outdoor education and sustainable farm /garden practices. Working alongside an organization that focuses on living a greener, more sustainable life is the perfect place to be!

My favorite programs here at Green Venture are Vermicomposting and the Smoothie Bike (wouldn’t want to get those two mixed up!). The Vermicompost bins get kids thinking about their food waste and how it can be reused in the garden to grow new fruits and veggies! The Smoothie Bike is a great activity to get active and show the power of human energy and learn about local whole foods. Plus, we all get to try some tasty smoothies at the end!

When I’m not here talking about my love for soil, you can catch me riding my bike around town, reading some gushy books or playing derby with Hammer City.

I can’t wait to meet your students. To book a tour, presentation or smoothie bike. Please contact Virginia at 905 540 8787 x154 or education@greenventure.ca or visit our website for more information.”

– Jamie

After working For the City of Hamilton for ten years helping engage our community and City staff in making Hamilton a little greener and more sustainable I have taken early retirement and now have the opportunity to get involved with Green Venture again. It feels like coming home!

I was Executive Director of Green Venture from 1995 to 2007. During that time I was busy with all aspects of administration, planning, staffing, daily operations and financial management. However what I loved best about my job was engaging with the public and students and sharing my passion and knowledge about the natural environment and ways to protect it.

Returning to Green Venture at this stage I get to do all the fun stuff without having to worry about the administrative work. Since I have returned, I have had the opportunity to make worm bins with the students at Millgrove School so that they can reduce their lunch garbage by composting their food scraps at school. I have made seed balls with the Sparks of Stoney Creek and helped them learn how plants grow. Seed bombs are my favorite activity with the kids. When I tell them they have to use their hands to mix up seeds, clay and soil they reactions are loud and honest. There’s lots of “ewwwws” but also some “Yes!”. I normally ask them “Who lives on the Earth?” Everybody! “Who needs to take care of the Earth?” Everybody! “Who needs to get their hands dirty?” Everybody! I want them to have fun but still understand how important it is for every one of us to do our part. I am so inspired by the knowledge and enthusiasm that these students exhibit.

Our planet is facing a lot of challenges. We are worried about climate change, plastics in the oceans, species at risk, toxics in our food and water etc. But there are a lot of great people who are passionate about making changes and protecting our natural environment and I am glad to be able to work together with them to make our community and our world a little better.

Groups might be making paper, running the Waste Race, they might even get to be the Mayor in a town hall meeting! We know how much of a challenge it can be to find school trips that both meet the required curriculum and are engaging for the kids. At the Eco House we can help everyone meet their goals and have a great time.
To book a tour contact Virginia the Education Manager at education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x154 or click the teachers link on our greenventure.ca home page.

I look forward to meeting you all!!!
Heather Donison

Let’s get growing! Are you an avid backyard gardener or have a community garden plot that is waiting to
be filled this year? Interested in experimenting with container gardening? Want to grow interesting and
beautiful heirloom tomato varieties? Green Venture’s second annual veggie and herb seedling sale is at
EcoHouse on the weekend of Doors Open Hamilton. We’ll have a variety of tomatoes (over 15 different kinds!), bell and hot peppers, eggplant, herbs, kale, broccoli, herbs and more! This fundraising event supports Green Venture’s gardening initiatives at EcoHouse and in the community. All of the seedlings are grown at the EcoHouse by our dedicated staff and volunteers.

Saturday May 5th, 2018 from 10am-4pm 
Sunday May 6th, 2018 from 10am-4pm

Prices will vary by plant and size. $1-$5 each

If you have any questions or want to know more email Laura at laura.anderson@greenventure.ca

Follow our event page on Facebook for updates from the Solarium: Green Venture’s Veggie and Herb Seedling Sale and on Instagram @Green_Venture

 Holiday sessions are times to enjoy your days off with family and friends but it is also important to remember to stay friendly to our mother earth by making sustainable choices when traveling, gifting, buying food, and making decorations.


Decoration tips for staying Eco-friendly

  • Decorate with items that are energy efficient and durable. For example, if you are using a tree to decorate you can purchase a living tree that you can plant outside or keep as a house plant after. When buying an artificial tree make sure you are investing in one that will last for years.
  • Lights are beautiful during holidays but they could waste a lot of energy so when decorating with lights make sure you are using LED lights or lights that have small solar panels on them. This way you are using green reusable energy and you are getting the beautiful decoration all in one.
  • Be creative and use nature to decorate your outdoor as well as your indoor or with materials you already own.


Stay Eco-friendly when it comes to gifts

  • Avoid excessive packaging.
  • Bring your own bags when shopping.
  • Plan your trips and do the shopping all at once so that you are making multiple trips and wasting gas and your own energy and time.
  • Save the gift bags you receive so that you can reuse them for the next holiday.
  • Send email cards.
  • Make your gifts by yourself, knit, bake, make art, preserve. This make your gift more personal too.
  • Wrap your gifts in more eco-friendly and creative ways, by using a scarf, old maps, newspaper, old cloth material, or make your own reusable gift bags. It is more fun and it gets very creative and unique.


Eat sustainably over the Holidays

  • Avoid wasting food when it comes to family dinners, get the portions right, pack the rest of the food in reusable containers and let the family members take away food with them when leaving your house.
  • Buy locally produced food.
  • Avoid using paper plates and napkins.
  • Donate whatever you accumulated during the holiday session before the food expires.
  • Avoid extra packaging when buying food.


Ifrodet Giorgees

Depave Paradise has officially wrapped for 2017! We’ve had our most successful year yet Depaving 5 sites for a total of 594m2 asphalt removed! One of our community sites, New Horizons Thrift, Vintage & Collectables, challenged us at Green Venture to a new post-depave vision – a permeable parking lot.  With the majority of our Depave Paradise projects being at schools, we’re used to planting trees, rain gardens, native plant gardens and outdoor education spaces, but this particular community group had a different idea in mind! In Fall 2017, residents from the North End community and Welcome Inn Community Centre – New Horizons Thrift Store partnered with Green Venture to Depave. The New Horizons Thrift Shop on James St. North was all broken asphalt and chipped compacted stone. Jen Kellner, Executive Director of Welcome Inn Community Centre and Suzanne Foreman, Manager of New Horizons brought the idea to life in partnership with Green Venture Depave Paradise coordinator, Laura Anderson. Several months of researching, planning, community engagement and volunteer recruitment went into the parking lot transformation project. The goal: create a permeable, sustainable and green parking lot that will be functional and environmentally friendly. With the help of contractors including Groundhog Excavation, Avesi Stormwater and Landscape Solutions, Fern Ridge Eco-Landscaping and LID Permeable Pavers, we came up with a plan to remove the asphalt, excavate out the compacted gravel and stone, add a drainage base layer of ¾ clear stone and high performance bedding, and lay down 2000 square feet of EcoRaster. Volunteers from the community came to help lay the EcoRaster, as the simple interlocking system easily fits together. We chose Ecoraster E50, a commercial grade permeable paver ideal for parking lots and driveways with snow conditions. The Ecoraster was filled with a mixture of premium garden soil and high performance bedding, custom mixed by The Dirt Depot, to provide drainage and soil for seeding. The permeable pavers have been seeded with clover, sheeps fescue and a mixture of eco lawn seeds. In the Spring, the community will reseed the system with creeping thyme and sedums. The secondary goal of this Depave Paradise project was parking lot beautification to increase pride in the North end. As a result we partnered with the Hamilton Tool Library to build 10 planter boxes that are installed along the back of the parking lot. Built by volunteers and planted with donations from the community including members of the Sunset Cultural Garden, these boxes will serve to add biodiversity and life to the parking lot. Over the course of the project, including our  volunteer planning committee, depave helpers, garden box builders and permeable paver installers, we had approximately 35 committed volunteers connected to the project.


Many thanks to the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund and City of Hamilton’s City Enrichment Fund for their funding support for this project.

Green Venture recently received a donation of Lifestraw Personal Water Filters. The personal water filters, which look like a baton tube with a filter camp on the end, remove bacteria such as E.Coli, Giardia and Cryptosporidium from water in a natural setting. Each filter has the capability to make up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water safe to drink. They are used in third world countries to provide access to clean drinking water.

In Canada, the most likely application is use in a natural setting (hiking, backpacking, camping, etc.), permitting one to drink directly from streams and lakes or from any container. They also have travel and emergency preparedness applications. Apparently you can buy a specially-designed water bottle to enclose the straw, although ours didn’t come with that.

Green Venture staff used the Lifestraws during the 2017 summer camp season, as part of our off-site emergency supply kits.

By reducing fuel consumption necessary to boil and purify water, the filters also have the possibility of reducing one’s carbon footprint, especially in area without a municipal water filtration system.

It’s a very interesting contrast to a water filter we actually built here at EcoHouse in 2008- as part of a CAWST workshop.  In those days, the workshop instructors showed everyone how to make DIY concrete forms to hold water filters for a village water treatment system.

2008 CAWST water filter building workshop at EcoHouse

The Lifestraw company also contributes a portion of proceeds of sales of the Lifestraw to providing clean water to schools in Kenya and India.  http://followthelitres.com/

If you’d like to see the Lifestraw, please visit EcoHouse and ask one of our education staff to show the new demo item.


The Ontario government, working with the hydro utilities, has announced a new program to assist customers having difficulty with their hydro bills. The program, the Affordability Fund, is designed for customers who are above the income thresholds for existing support programs, but still require some assistance.




Our daily activities have been polluting the ocean for centuries, this problem was magnified after World War II. Industries started manufacturing and synthesizing materials that were very harmful to the environment such as plastic products and inorganic pesticides. Oceans are mainly affected when humans are irresponsibly spreading harmful toxic substances such as oil, plastic, industrial and agricultural waste as well as chemical particles into the ocean. Another human action that is harming the marine life is mining for materials such as copper and gold. This causes water contamination and affects the life cycles of numerous marine organisms.

Pollution has so many effects on the ocean starting from a decreasing in biodiversity to behavioral changes, as well as increasing rates of cancer in animals as well as in humans. For example, oil spills could get on the gills and feathers of marine animals and make it hard for the animals to move or fly. Long term exposure can damage the animal’s eyes, lungs, skin and eventually lead to death. Another problem with oil spills is that oil has a lower density than the water thus it floats on the surface of water preventing the sunlight from reaching all the way to the marine plants. Therefore these plants cannot perform photosynthesis leading to lower oxygen levels in the ocean as well as the death of these plants since they cannot make their food anymore.

The main pollution problem in our ocean is plastic…. It’s is everywhere! The minimum time required for the plastic to degrade is 450 years which makes it stay in oceans for a very long time.  Thousands of animals end up mistaking plastic for food or the animals get tangled in it for rest of their life. When animals mistake the plastic for food and consume it, it leads to slow death caused either by the instant damage to their guts or the long term damage by taking up the volume of their stomach leading to the starvation of the animal. About 60% of the seabirds have eaten plastic particles, about 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic is ingested by the North Pacific fish, and 52% of sea turtles worldwide have eaten plastic.

These numbers are estimated to increase if humans continue with the same harmful habits.

Ways to decrease plastic ocean pollution numbers can start from your home:

  • Refusing to use single-use plastic bags, instead use biodegradable shopping bags.
  • Using reusable bottles for any beverages instead of using single-use plastic bottles.
  • Avoid excessive packaging products and bring your own reusable containers/bags when shopping.
  • When purchasing or finding a six-pack holder make sure to cut each one and properly dispose of it. These six-pack rings end up in the ocean choking wildlife animals like sea turtles.
  • Make sure all plastic products are properly recycled.
  • Talk and advise your family and friends about the importance of these steps to protect our ocean’s wildlife.

Other ways to protect our oceans is by getting out there and volunteering with local and international environmental organizations to go and clean up the oceans and beaches.

by Ifrodet Giorgees

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change released a discussion paper late May 2017 addressing food and organic waste in Ontario. By 2022 Ontario wants to ban food waste from being thrown in trash bags with other household garbage.

The purpose of the paper is to get Ontarians thinking about food waste in terms of how to reduce the amount that becomes waste and how to remove it from the disposal stream. Some of the framework’s goals are to enhance education regarding food and organic waste and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from food and organic wastes.

According to the paper, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations found that 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced is wasted per year. In 2014 $31 billion of food was wasted in Canada. Most of the food wasted (3.6 million tonnes!!!) was sent to landfill. The ministry states that when food and organic materials break down in an oxygen-deprived environment, such as a landfill, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. The paper suggests that food waste is a growing problem and offer more sustainable practices.

To combat the amount of food and organic waste being produced in Ontario, the ministry put forth a strategy that includes 15 actions Ontario can take to reduce greenhouse gases, and the amount of food and organic waste in landfills. Some of the action points include: “Banning certain materials, such as food waste, beverage containers, cardboard and fluorescent bulbs from disposal”, “Outreach activities targeted at households and across the supply chain” and “Donor protection limits or removed liability from donors who donate food in good faith”.

The benefits of diverting food and organic waste from landfill include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, create compost which can improve soil health, reduce erosion and improve water quality. It creates economic and environmental benefits of recovering nutrients, energy and other resources that would be used in new products.

Here is the Ministry’s discussion paper: http://www.downloads.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2017/013-0094_DiscussionPaper.pdf.

I think green bins need to be more normalized, having more of them in parks and around cities. I also think green bins should be a part of classrooms and in schools to encourage the habit of composting.

What do you think about the strategies put forth? How do you plan on reducing the amount of food and organic waste entering landfills?

Aaliyah Atcha

Composting is the natural way to recycle organic matter that is very good for our soil. Making the soil very rich with nutrients that are needed to support other lives, plants, and other organisms. The most convenient way of composting is the one that uses aerobic bacteria to make the compost since it does not collect unwanted animals, flies and bad smell to your house and backyard. This type of composter thrives on vegetable food scraps, paper, leaves and any other plant parts.

Composting is important for your garden’s soil since it gives the plants the nutrients needed to grow healthy without having to buy fertilizers as compost material is considered a natural fertilizer, as well as it helps reduce the use of pesticides.

Making your own compost bin at home helps the environment by reducing the landfills, greenhouse gases relates to chemical fertilizer production, pollution due to use of pesticides, and it improves the quality of soil allowing it to absorb more nutrients and stay moist. On the other hand composting helps your budget. All materials needed to keep your plants healthy be found in your own home and backyard. Food scraps that you already throw away can be collected and turned into compost, saving all the money that you would otherwise spend on fertilizers, pesticides or even on buying new soil.

There are really simple and convenient ways to start a composting bin:

  1. Vermicomposting: Is indoor composting using special worms called Red Wigglers. Here at Green Venture we sell our Red Wiggler worms and vermicomposting containers that you could put under your kitchen counter without being worried of any smells or flies or worms escaping from the bin.  You only need to feed them once a week. For more information visit www.greenventure.ca
  2. Leaves Composting: This is a very simple method of composting where you can compost your tree leaves out in a small area in your backyard by mixing it with some grass clippings and letting it pile up. Make sure you turn the pile once or twice a week to allow air to get between the leaves and make the composting process faster since the composting bacteria are aerobic/they need oxygen to live.
  3. Green Cart: If your worries about maintaining your composter the City of Hamilton also offers the Green Cart program which pick up your food waste once a week with your garbage collection. For more information visit, https://www.hamilton.ca/garbage-recycling/green-bin-composting

by: Ifrodet Giorgees

Thinking about planting in your garden? Why not consider planting some of Ontario’s native plants. Here are the types of plants you can grow, the benefits of planting native, and how you can help create an environment that provides food and shelter for native animals and insects.

Plants that thrive naturally in an area are called native or indigenous species. Native species are great to plant because they are used to local soil and weather conditions, which means they survive longer while being low maintenance. Native plants are found to be much healthier and disease resistant which can help restore native biodiversity in the areas we live in.

Coneflower, EcoHouse, 2015

The Plants you can Grow and their Benefits

A good choice of groundcovers are Wild Geranium and Canada Anemone. Ecologists have found that these plants are easy to maintain and provide a solid source of food for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

Milkweed, Wild Strawberry, Big Bluestem, Bearberry and Mayapple are only a few of the wide variety of native plants you can choose to put in your gardens. The plants listed above are great if you are thinking about growing a pollinator friendly garden.

Milkweed, EcoHouse, 2017

Oak trees are a large source of food and shelter to many different species, and they help sustain biodiversity. They provide leafy food for moths, caterpillars and butterflies and they also provide large nesting areas for woodpeckers. Furthermore they provide living spaces for owls and bats. For those looking for more information about native species, invasive species and general knowledge about garden management tips, “Grow Me Instead” is an easy to follow guide that can help you with your inquiries.  (http://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GMI-Booklet_FINAL-FOR-WEB_May132016.pdf).

Planting native trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers of any type has numerous benefits:

  • can reconnect fragmented natural areas
  • restores a vital link in the water cycle
  • reduces wind and water erosion
  • improves air quality
  • rebuilds soils
  • reduces temperature extremes
  • creates refuges for wildlife and urbanized humans


If you are thinking about starting a garden or adding to your landscape, keep in mind the large benefits planting native can provide for the environment.

by: Aaliyah Atcha

Wow that felt like the fastest summer ever for me, how about you? So here we are trying to get back into the school routines. Packing lunches, getting to class on time and lots of sitting. How about a great school trip to get the students (and teachers) moving and excited about what they are learning about. We have great programming that is engaging for all grades – including High School!
I get to do the fun stuff and work outside with the kids and we play in the dirt. We mix up Seed bombs, help weed invasive plants or try to identify what food that might be growing in our Community Garden. Seed bombs are my favorite activity with the kids. When I tell them they have to use their hands to mix up seeds, clay and soil they reactions are loud and honest. There’s lots of “ewwwws” but also some “Yes!”. I normally ask them “Who lives on the Earth?” Everybody! “Who needs to take care of the Earth?” Everybody! “Who needs to get their hands dirty?” Everybody! I want them to have fun but still understand how important it is for every one of us to do our part.

Groups might be making paper, running the Waste Race, they might even get to be the Mayor in a town hall meeting! We know how much of a challenge it can be to find school trips that both meet the required curriculum and are engaging for the kids. At the Eco House we can help everyone meet their goals and have a great time.
To book a tour contact Virginia the Education Manager at education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x154  or click the teachers link on our greenventure.ca home page.

I look forward to meeting you all!!!


It’s a new school year… and here are some great ways to make your classroom greener. Teachers: Here are a few ways you and your class can become environmental leaders at your school.

The article is called “How to Bring Green into the Classroom” (https://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-school-teachers.html) and offers a variety of ways you can incorporate eco-friendly practices in the classroom. Alongside the article I also have a few ideas that you might consider for your classroom.

Calculating your carbon footprint

There are many different carbon footprint calculators online (here is one for reference: https://www.treesforlife.org.au/kids-carbon-calculator) that your class can use to see how much of a footprint they have. This is a good way to start a lesson about living more sustainably. It connects students to the environment and the impact that their actions have on it.

Conducting a small scale energy audit in the classroom

This would include having your class observe the different ways they use energy in the class. For example plugged in electronics, the use of lights, and the use of A/C or a heater. After their observations, students can come up with ideas about how to cut back on their use of energy. For example the article outlines turning the lights off before recess, and creating a checklist that students can monitor daily/weekly.

Walk or bike to school

Walking or biking to school can help reduce the amount of carbon emissions being released into the air. Discuss the different benefits of getting to school more “greenly” can have on their health as well as the environment. Perhaps having a walk or bike to school day each week for starters.

Bring plants indoors

Having a section of your classroom where students can take responsibility of caring for plants/growing food can help them connect with the environment and understand how things grow. It can also improve air quality in the classroom.

Litterless lunches

Challenge students to use reusable bottles, containers rather than putting things into the trash. Turn it into a schoolwide initiative where classrooms can compete to see who produces the least amount of waste.


Consider getting a green bin for your classroom to reduce the amount of food waste going into the trash. Have students take on the responsibility of taking out the green bin so it doesn’t give off a bad stench in the classroom. Also you might want to consider getting a vermicomposter for your classroom. A vermicomposter is the product of the composting process using various species of worms, usually red wigglers to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. You can feed the worm’s shredded paper, most vegetable and other food waste while producing healthy rich compost that can be used for planting. Feed your worms a diverse diet and always feed in moderation. If you have left over food that you don’t want to waste; chop it up and put it in a Ziploc bag in your freezer for later.

To learn more about Classroom Greening come for a tour of Green Venture’s Eco House. For more information contact education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x154 or visit our website at www.greenventure.ca

Aaliyah Atcha


The results of the Mohawk College study into heritage window testing that Green Venture participated in earlier this summer are now available as a download: Window Air Infiltration Research Project

An article about the project also appeared at https://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/new-study-shows-restored-200-year-old-windows-are-effective-brand-new-replacements.html

We would like to congratulate our Week 2 and Week 3 Eco-star campers! They were filled with energy and curiosity every morning to learn new things about the environment and learn how to make this world greener. We started the week by introducing the campers to our EcoHouse with a tour around the property and inside of the house. We played fun games like predator and prey, water preserving challenge, where the campers got to know each other and make new friends.

Our Eco-stars were visited by the Environment Hamilton, where the campers learned all about different ways to keep our air clean and ways to reduce pollution. They also got to learn and get their hands moving with some tools they used to measure the air quality at different places on the property and correlate and explain the results they received. They did not just use technology to measure air quality but they also got to learn how to use the biological factors to predict the quality of the air. For example they learned about the lichen and how it correlates to the good air quality.

Our campers also had an opportunity to visit Victory Gardens and learn how to harvest different type of crops. Our adventurous campers also had an amazing time on their trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens where they had a chance to go into the forest and feed different types of animals. They also played a fun game where they learned how certain animals collect their food for the winter and the strategies that they use to hide their food in safe places. They were also amused by the Lego statues and the beautiful flowers that were throughout the property.

Craft time was very interesting and fun with our Eco-star campers. They learned about the importance of taking care of our environment and reusing and recycling is one of the main ways to accomplish that. Our campers learned how to make birdfeeders from old water bottles and desk organizers from recycled containers. Stencil making was completed on recycled materials and we made paper from recycled paper. We also used natural material to make fun wood crafts from old tree branches.


Smoothie bike was one of our best educational and bonding time. Throughout the week we were able to make some fun recipes as a healthy snack replacement. We learned how to make hummus, orange and lemon popsicles, strawberry jam, and delicious mixed berry smoothies.

Our Eco-star graduates who have been hiking, swimming, learning new things and visiting new places, had to say goodbye to us as the camp weeks came to an end. We have made sure that our little eco-stars graduates for this year that will take pride and care of our planet!

Our first week of EcoStars Summer Camp was a success! We had a group of amazing campers who were eager to learn all about the EcoHouse, the environment, and the steps we can take to keep our planet green.

Our week started off with introductions where the camp counsellors and the campers got to know each other a bit better. We played games outside that taught the campers about bee pollination and animal habitats, we visited the bee hotel and became crocodiles for our crocodile race!

Campers got to make their own popsicles using our smoothie bike, we blended watermelon, banana and kiwi and filled up our popsicle molds which we were able to enjoy later on in the week! The EcoStars also made their own salsa where they cut up and blended their own ingredients with the smoothie bike. When the salsa was ready we had a taste test between store bought salsa and the homemade salsa to see which one we liked best. We all agreed the fresh homemade salsa was the winner.

During the week our EcoStars camp was visited by special guests, Environment Hamilton, who taught us all about lichen, air quality and Ontario’s native species. These hands on activities included campers measuring trees with special measuring tape and an iPad app, using air quality machines to measure the quality of air around the Green Venture property, and using hand lens’s to take a closer look at lichen on tree bark.

We took a trip to Mountsberg Consernation Area where campers learned all about energy conservation. We played a clothes line relay race and after lunch campers got to explore the petting zoo, the play area barn and visit some really cool birds including a Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle and a Snowy Owl.


Our week was jam packed with fun, we went swimming at the Wilfred Laurier Recreation Centre, painted and planted in clay pots, made seed balls and did a clean water challenge where teams created water filters to see who’s would filter a mixture of dirt and water the best.

Our week came to an end and we were sad to see our friends go, but before they left all campers graduated from the EcoStars Camp with certificates and took a pledge to keeping our environment healthy. We are looking forward to meeting our next group of campers and can’t wait to have another fun week!



It’s almost time for summer camp!
Well it’s that time of year when we pack up all our school tour stuff and get ready for camp!! We have lots of fun trips and activities planned for this year! We are also bringing back the reptile visitors!!! To help me this year with camp I’m excited to introduce you too our  three eager camp counselors: Maple, Tarzan and Smiley.  See you all at camp,




Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Maple, named after her favourite tree, proves true to her name. She is sweet, sappy and goes well with pancakes. She loves long walks on the beach, puppies, and her favourite colour is green.

 When Maple isn’t outside playing in the sun with her friends, you can find her practicing yoga outside in the shade. Ask Maple to show you her favourite moves this summer! She is super excited to be an EcoStars camp leader and can’t wait to meet the campers!





Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario

Smiley loves riding her white bike everywhere. And we mean EVERYWHERE. As far as we can tell, she enjoys watching her friends get tired by taking them on long beautiful hikes in Hamilton. Fun Fact: Since, she’s always discovering waterfalls, her goal this summer is to visit every single one in Hamilton. There’s more than 100 in the area, so let’s see if she can make it!

Smiley takes pride in saving the environment and wants to make sure everyone can enjoy the beautiful scenery in Hamilton. Come join her this summer to learn how to create a sustainable environment while also having fun every step of the way!



Hometown: Ancaster, Ontario

While not actually born in Italy, Tarzan takes deep pride in his family’s Italian heritage. He frequently claims his Nonna makes the best pasta in the world and even pronounces the word ‘pasta’ with a fake Italian accent. Despite this, we still love him.

When Tarzan isn’t swinging through the jungle, he can be found at his home in Ancaster trying new smoothie recipes. In fact, it is believed he has created the perfect smoothie formula which he keeps locked away in a vault. We’re pretty sure he just added an extra scoop of ice cream to a strawberry smoothie, but we’ll pretend we don’t know.

Tarzan, Snow and Maple are excited for camp! Have you signed up yet? Click here for more information on how to register: http://greenventure.ca/community/camps/

The Green Venture EcoStar Challenge has come to an end. We were so excited to have 1326 students from 79 different classes participate! After entering all the 111 challenges complete by these students, we drew for our Grand Prize Winners. A big congratulations to:

  • Hillcrest
  • Parkdale
  • St. Patrick
  • St. Brigid
  • Dr. Davey
  • Dundana
  • R.A. Riddell
  • St. Marguerite d’Youville

The winning schools have the choice of three Grand Prizes: a school tour of EcoHouse, our smoothie bike for a week, or a vermicomposting bin for their classroom. During the challenge we were able to see that many actions, small and large, are happening at schools around Hamilton. All the completed challenges have been entered on the Hamilton Climate Change Map, so you can see what students are working on in your part of Hamilton.

We hope that all the students who participated in our EcoStar Challenge will continue to learn about the environment and take actions to protect it.

Green Venture is pleased to invite the neighbours in as part of our annual open-house weekend. This year, the EcoHouse (Glen Manor) and its gardens (the Veevers Estate) are featured on the Doors Open Hamilton list of sites.

EcoHouse will be open from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday May 6, 2017 and from 12 pm to 4 pm on Sunday May 7, 2017.  We will be running as an open house for most of that time, but there will also be two special 30- minute guided tours each day. There is no admission charge, although donations are always welcome.

Doors Open Hamilton is an architecture and heritage focused event, and so here will be a rare opportunity to visit the site with an eye not just to our many environmental demonstrations and sustainability ideas, but also to explore the past of the building and grounds. At 1 pm each day, Green Venture will be offering a guided tour of the house, focusing on its heritage architecture and occupants. At 2 pm each day there will be a matching tour of the grounds, again focusing on interesting heritage elements.

Glen Manor driveway, 1982

Come and see our newest additions: the water treatment display, our bike rack made out of recycled metal parts, and the seedling racks in the solarium. Inside, in addition to the sustainable living displays, there will also be a special opportunity to visit the 1850s basement section of the building and the historical “mud room”.  These areas of the building are not normally open to the public, but are a crucial part of the heritage of the site. In these areas of the basement, the Veevers family maintained their workshop, their first indoor bathroom, and a unique dog kennel. Today these areas are storage and the location of the inverter for the solar and wind energy generation equipment.

Finally, Green Venture will also be offering a selection of vegetable seedlings for sale as a fundraiser. Looking to get a head-start on spring gardening? Why not take home a heritage tomato or pepper seedling? Our plants have all been grown without pesticides in the EcoHouse solarium. Some are heirloom seeds from the Hamilton Seed Library, located on site.



Can a restored heritage window work as well as a new vinyl one? GV is contributing to a fascinating project with Mohawk College: air testing a restored heritage window:

This is a research project by Shannon Kyles for Mohawk College Applied Research

The research project initialized by Shannon Kyles is aimed at determining the thermal efficiency and air infiltration of restored 19th century windows compared to new 21st century windows. The research will address this question: Is it true that restored wooden windows are less energy efficient than new ones?

In order to provide the most energy efficient building possible, John Deelstra, Mark Lucking and Brad MacDonald of Mohawk’s Building Reno department have worked with Shannon Kyles to construct a test building. Industry partners Roxul and Turkstra Lumber have helped to provide quality products. Green Venture will be providing the Blower Door Test.

For more information about the project, email shannon.kyles@mohawkcollege.ca


This is the final month of the Green Venture EcoStars Challenge! To celebrate the diversity of activities happening in classes and schools around the city, we are going to take a look at what is happening at Parkdale Elementary School. They have taken on projects both large and small:

  • GOOS paper (good on one side): keep extra paper to use as scrap
  • Hydration Station: just got a water station that allows students to refill water bottles
  • Reusable Water Bottles with School Logo: selling Parkdale water bottles to encourage
  • use of hydration station
  • The Lorax: grade 2’s are studying the Dr.Seuss book
  • Bank of Computers: reduce paper use by completing written tasks on Google Drive
  • Save Lunchable Covers: collect and return covers to the company, who then donates school supplies and recycles/reuses the sleeves
  • Reusable Snack Bins: Tupperware used in daily snack program to avoid waste
  • Recycle: all paper and plastic is recycle in every class

Good job Parkdale staff and students!

HAMILTON, ON – DEPAVE PARADISE (www.depaveparadise.ca) projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. On April 28th starting at 3pm they’ll be liberating the soil at St. Brigid’s by removing the asphalt by hand (and pry-bar) in a community work bee. Beautification projects like these are proven to increase sense of community ownership and stewardship, foster the development of community identity, bring people with various background together to work on a common goal, and help build community leaders.  They’ll return on May 5th to plant a new garden in the depaved space. Green Venture, St. Brigid Catholic Elementary School, 14th Hamilton Scout Group and local community members will be hosting Hamilton’s 4th Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a green space created through student-driven design. The garden will be split into four quadrants to represent the student’ vision including a peace garden, butterfly garden, rain garden and sensory garden.

Depaving Day:
Friday April 28th, 2017 3:00pm-7:30pm

Planting Day:

Friday May 5th, 2017 3:00pm-7:30pm


Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, a key funder of this project, says that managing rain where it falls should be the first priority of stormwater management, to help meeting water quantity and quality targets in waterways. One of the key issues for Hamilton Harbour is the impact of urban runoff which contributes to high nutrient concentration and sediment into the Harbour. Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and buildings, interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground. By removing pavement and replacing it with green space, we are increasing the infiltration rate of rain water, cooling our neighbourhoods, keeping our water clean, and providing us and our children with greater connections to the natural world.

Bring your family and friends, young and old, and join St. Brigid and partners transform the schoolyard pavement into a vibrant and engaging green space for all to enjoy!

Volunteers are needed! This is a family friendly event and all are welcome. We will provide all necessary tools and safety equipment as well as food and drink for all volunteers. Please arrive dressed for the weather (Rain or Shine!), wearing sturdy shoes and be ready to get your hands dirty.

For more information about how you can get involved contact Laura Anderson, Program Coordinator at laura.anderson@greenventure.ca or 905-540-8787 ext. 158.

Many thanks go to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ontario Trillium Foundation for funding support provided for this project.  Our project partners: Green Venture, Depave Paradise, Green Communities Canada, St. Brigid, Bay Area Restoration Council, 14th Hamilton Scouts, Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, HWCDSB and many more!

“It has to be more than gardening and recycling”. That was my first thought when I began the process of gathering ideas for the EcoStars Challenge. I wanted to make sure that our Challenges represented the fact that living sustainably touches every part of our lives, and that Hamilton students have many styles of learning. That is why if you take a few moments to look through our EcoStar Challenges, you will find Challenges covering everything from jokes to maps to spoken word poetry. You will also find Challenges that encourage leadership (“start a writing instrument recycling program at your school”), as well as those that encourage community (“invite a younger class to join you for local snacks”). Our hope is that these small Challenges will lead to lifestyle changes at school and home.

To prove that change is possible, I like to tell visiting classes that when I was in school there were no green boxes or blue boxes, everything just went in the garbage! That I learned about recycling at school, and it slowly started to happen at home. At Green Venture we believe that giving students a chance to do hands-on learning around environmental issues, will lead to society wide change in the future.

Hamilton is a city that has been well mapped: road maps, transit maps, bike route maps, Matt Jelly Neighbourhood maps, and local food maps. But did you know that we also have a climate change map?? The McMaster Centre for Climate Change has gathered many local organizations (including Green Venture and Clean Air Hamilton) together and created two Climate Change Maps. One map records actions that people are taking to minimize climate change, and the other map records impacts that people notice around climate change. Part of our EcoStar Challenge is to get all the great activities that students are participating in, up on the Climate Change Map! As classes submit their completed challenges, one of our Green Venture staff adds them to the Climate Change map. Now everyone in Hamilton can see the exciting things that students are doing and be inspired to get involved in minimizing climate change.

The Climate Change maps are open to all individuals, families, schools, churches, businesses and organizations in Hamilton. If you are doing something around Climate Change, make sure you put yourself on the map!

To check out the Climate Change Maps go to: http://www.mapclimatechange.ca/maps.html

Green Venture is pleased to introduce our 2017 wine raffle, this year also featuring craft beer. Our “Corks and Caps Raffle 2017” features a single grand prize of 17 bottles of Ontario wine and 3 craft beer taster packs from the local area.  Tickets are only $5.00, and there is a limited run of 300 tickets. Those are good odds! Please help support Green Venture by purchasing a ticket.

The raffle draw takes place on April 3, 2017 and winners will be notified by phone, email, and as well as the result being posted via our web page and social media.

Tickets will be available at Seedy Saturday (Feb 4), at the Green Venture table, as well through our staff and board members. If you’d like to get a ticket for this swell prize, please email contact@greenventure.ca or call 905-540-8787, x117.

We are in the 4th month of our EcoStar Challenge, and it has been exciting to meet some of the students involved, and work on some Challenges with them. In December we travelled to St.Brigid, Fessenden, and Blessed Sacrament with our Smoothie Bike. The students were able to use the bike, learn about food, and get entered for their first challenge! Earlier in the fall we had fun visiting Fessenden to do a grade 5 energy presentation and a grade 3 worm presentation. When students from Ridgemount and Norwood Park visited us at EcoHouse for a school tour, they were excited to learn that they had been entered in the EcoStar challenge. And students at St.Marguerite d’Youville were very busy last fall, putting in a Raingers Rain Garden with Green Venture!

If your class would like to get involved with the EcoStar Challenge, we would love to help you get started!Smoothie Bike Kid 2101_1853 101_1784

Do you know a Hamilton alleyway that could use some love? Green Venture has received funding through the Hamilton Future Fund to beautify and revitalize an alley and we need your help! We are looking for nominations of alleys, from any area of Hamilton, that would benefit from some TLC. We are also looking for enthusiastic project leads who want to help us spearhead this transformation. If this is you and you would like to nominate an alley please fill out our nomination form here. Deadline for nominations is Friday February 10, 2017.

Is your class looking for a fun way to get started on the EcoStar Challenge?image-1
Why not book a Smoothie Bike Presentation for your class! A Green Venture staff person will visit your classroom with the Smoothie bike and some delicious ingredients to make your own smoothies. During the hour long presentation, we will lead the class in activities centred around understanding “local food” and “whole food”, before having the class pedal their own smoothie. We will give a brief overview to the EcoStar Challenge program, answer any questions you may have, and leave some EcoStar material with you. In addition, participating in the Smoothie Bike Presentation automatically enters your class into the grand prize draw for the EcoStar Challenge!

If you are interested in having the Smoothie Bike visit your classroom, please contact Green Venture to discuss cost and availability, at education@greenventure.ca

Hear what one teacher had to say about their smoothie bike experience:

image“What a thrill having the Smoothie Bike in my classroom. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I can confidently say I was pleasantly surprised…and so was my class! The bike was so easy to operate; the kids had no problem blending up the smoothies. The presentation by Green Venture was engaging and informative. We were particularly interested to learn about the differences between processed smoothies and whole food smoothies…a great connection to the healthy eating curriculum. We also learned about locally and non-locally grown fruits and vegetables and how shipping of fruits and vegetables impacts the environment. Fortunately, we were able to keep the bike for a few days and tried smoothies with spinach and avocado. We culminated our Smoothie Bike visit with an inquiry all about the different smoothie ingredients we were using. I wish I could have a Smoothie Bike all year long!”

-Grade 5/6 Teacher, Fessenden Elementary School, Hamilton


Green Venture has received funding from the Hamilton Future Fund to expand upon the success of the WestMill alley project and revitalize additional alleys. In 2015, Green Venture teamed up with various neighbourhood groups to beautify the ‘WestMill alley’, located between Westinghouse Ave. and Milton Ave., north of Barton street. Over 130 native species were planted, birdhouses were added, a mural was painted with the help of local artists, and solar lighting was installed to increase pedestrian safety. An official call for proposals will go out in January 2017, but if you have an alleyway in mind that could use some TLC, please get in touch with Erinn at erinn.todd@greenventure.caimg_3699



Canadian Organic Growers (COG) has partnered with Gaia College to offer the Organic Master Gardener course in Hamilton. Designed for those interested in maintaining bountiful food and ornamental gardens and lawns without the use of pesticides, students have described this course as “life-changing”, allowing them to see the important connections between soil, plant, humans, and environmental health. This comprehensive and popular course attracts everyone from backyard gardeners to landscape architects, covering topics such as soil health, water-wise gardening, and composting! The Hamilton course runs weekly from January 19 to April 20.

Course Details

Dates: Thursdays, January 19 to April 20

Time: 6:15 – 9:00 pm

Location: The Perkins Centre, 1429 Main St. Hamilton

Cost: $740+HST SAVE $50 when you register before December 16 with Discount Code HamiltonOMG

For more details and to register please visit http://www.cog.ca/our-services/OMG/

To registration or find more information about this, and other courses offered by COG please check out our website at www.cog.ca or give us a call at 1-888- 375-7383.

Who should take the Organic Master Gardener Course?

  • Community Gardeners and Community Garden Coordinators
  • Backyard Gardeners
  • Landscapers
  • Local food advocates
  • Organic farmers
  • Teachers and food education coordinators
  • Anyone who enjoys growing and eating their own food without the use of pesticides and chemicals

The EcoStar Challenge is underway! As of November 1st, we have 167 students who have participated in an EcoStar Challenge, and been entered into our grand prize draw.  What a great start to the school year.  eco-stars-blog

Can I let you in on the Big Idea behind the EcoStars Challenge? We want to know what Hamilton teachers and students are doing to live more sustainably, and we want to share those ideas with other teachers and students. We want to create a space where we can celebrate each other’s success (“good job planting a rain garden!”) and learn from each other (“I didn’t know you could recycle markers; we should do that at our school!”).  Every time a class completes a challenge, and that info goes on the climate change map, it gives inspiration to another class somewhere else in the city.  Whether you choose to complete one of the awesome Challenges on our website, or do a different environmental action, we would love to hear about it at Green Venture. That allows us to share all these great ideas and actions with all the schools we work with.

This week Green Venture will be visiting Cable 14 to talk about the EcoStars Challenge, and give some simple ideas of Challenges for classes to complete. Check our YouTube channel later in the month to watch the video and be inspired! 

Yes, we are looking ahead to 2017… Green Venture is pleased to set the date for the next Uproot event on Saturday, September 16, 2017. Join us again for a mouth-watering food-tasting event at the EcoHouse, featuring local chefs and caterers, locally sourced ingredients, and more. If you are a chef or caterer interested in showcasing your creations at the 2017 Uproot event, please contact us at 905-540-8787 x117 or email contact@greenventure.ca


Mother Nature was on our side during our Raingers Rain Garden build at St. Marguerite D’Youville on October 18th and 19th, 2016!



Before: Underutilized, eroded area of the school grounds


After: Rain Garden planted with native plants, shrubs and grasses and mulched with the help of over 50 students, teachers and support staff!

We enjoyed two beautiful days in the sunshine becoming responsible stewards of our watershed and our earth. First, we put our thinking caps on and learned all about stormwater, pollution, our watershed and what we can do to keep our water clean! Then, as the sun was calling our name, we took to the schoolyard to tackle the next challenge: how much stormwater can we capture! Using Green Venture’s stormwater house models, students from Mr. Czerniga’s grade 5/6 class and Mrs. Hunt’s grade 2 class helped to assemble a house that would capture more water than it let runoff. The students worked together to add rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs, cisterns and permeable pavements to their house to capture stormwater! We used all of these methods to catch stormwater before it becomes runoff, before it picks up pollutants like car oil, cigarette butts, litter, fertilizers and pet waste, before it goes down the storm drain, and ultimately before it ends up polluting our Hamilton Harbour!

101_1603101_1678 101_1588101_1590






Well on their way to becoming “Raingers”, the students took a walk around the neighbourhood to identify some of these stormwater management techniques in real life. We found many things such as downspouts that were disconnected from the stormdrain and running into front gardens capturing and filtering runoff, we found permeable driveways that slow runoff and allow stormwater to soak into the ground recharging the groundwater supply and many more. We identified problems and talked about solutions, and we sadly searched high and low but didn’t find one rain barrel (hint hint St. Marguerite D’Youville neighbours)!








Now these Raingers were ready to get their hands dirty! Kelly and Steve from BARC (Bay Area Restoration Council) led our St. Marguerite D’Youville Raingers to an underutilized patch of “grass” behind Mr. Czerniga’s portable. 101_1784We identified this site as a strategic place to plant a Rain Garden that would capture all of the stormwater that ran off the two portables at the school! Equip with trowels and enthusiasm the students dug and planted native shrubs, plants and grasses into their very own Rain Garden! Covering it with mulch with help from the after school daycare program, our Rain Garden was complete in one afternoon! And Mother Nature struck again when it rained for the next two days, not only watering our new garden but testing out the infiltration rate. We happy saw the rainwater soak into the native plant garden.  It was a fantastic two days with St. Marguerite D’Youville. We hope you enjoy your Rain Garden for many years to come!

Want a Rain Garden at your school?! Contact Raingers Program Coordinator Laura Anderson at laura.anderson@greenventure.ca or by phone at 905-540-8787 ext. 158

Connecting Older Adults with Public Transit

Hamilton – Totally Transit for Older Adults is back!  The popular program, which helps older adults take full advantage of Hamilton’s transit system, will once again be presented by Green Venture, a local non-profit environmental outreach organization.  Four free workshops are being offered at locations around Greater Hamilton in October and November covering such topics as local bus routes, bus fares and passes, seniors’ discounts and trip planning.  The worLets ride the bus oct 24 _121024 vs 012kshops equip participants with the knowledge and skills to navigate public transit confidently and efficiently.  The program is also expanding into Niagara Region, where three workshops will be held.

Each workshop lasts roughly an hour, and includes a 45-minute presentation followed by an optional demonstration for internet users showing how Google Maps can be used in trip planning.  There will also be an opportunity for workshop participants to request bus trip planning to two destinations.  Green Venture staff will mail participants step-by-step instructions for a round trip visit to each destination. (more…)

Green Venture’s staff is ready for the fall school tours. My name is Susan, and I am one of the Education Support Staff here at Green Venture. As we get ready for another year of school tours, I have been thinking back over my favourite activities to do with visiting students. One thing that I love to show off at Green Venture is our Sink Toilet. First I get to watch as the children reluctantly follow me into our demonstration bathroom (“you want us to all come into the bathroom?!”), then I amaze them by flushing the Sink Toilet. This toilet uses the same water twice: when you flush, the clean tap water cosusan-oct-blogmes out of a tap on top of the tank, so that you can wash your hands. Then that soapy greywater fills the tank, and is used the next time someone flushes. Amazing! My favourite game to run is the “Farm Disaster Game”. I only get to play this with grade 6’s, so if you are in grade 6 please come visit me this year! The children get into groups, and I give them a lovely bird’s eye view of their farm (which are all different). Then I start reading through a series of random natural events that take place over the “year”, and we see which style of farming either monoculture or companion planting has the most plants left alive. It is a huge wake up call to realize how hard it is to be a farmer, how unfair Mother Nature is, and how amazingly plants can work together.

– Susan

If you are interested in booking a school tour this year contact Virginia Stonehouse, Education Manager 905 540 8787 x154 or education@greenventure.ca


In honour of the National Trust Conference: Heritage Rising, held this past weekend in Hamilton, GV Executive Director, Michael Gemmell, offers some thoughts on Green Venture’s EcoHouse and its links to the past.

“I came to Green Venture in 2007 after working in the museum field for a decade. My original task when I was hired for Green Venture was to determine how to integrate the EcoHouse’s heritage shell into the existing programming. I hoped to put some new emphasis on the backstory of the site (historically referred to as “Glen Manor”), and specifically how it tied in to the concept of Adaptive Reuse.

Green Venture’s underlying environmental messaging is all about wisely using resources, whether that is energy, water, proper waste disposal, reduced inappropriate fuels in transportation, or greenhouse gas reduction through climate change education. The heritage property, known today as EcoHouse, has 165+ years of invested resources in all of those areas, and the key link to be made was the fact that is: were we (the community, the City, or even just GV) to eliminate this heritage property, all of that invested energy and resources would be lost. A much smaller amount of resources could instead be invested in maintaining the existing property (albeit with modifications to bring it into the modern era) and still respect the intention of its 1986 heritage designation.

While most of the time, Green Venture only pays limited attention to the backstory of its office and education centre, there are occasions when the heritage comes to the fore. Doors Open Hamilton weekend, the first Saturday and Sunday in May, is one such example. Every year, Green Venture shows off what new historical research has discovered about the site.  A variety of small artifacts remain at the house, although with a digital photo collection.

Some recent examples:

  • A small medicine bottle, located on the grounds, from the early 20th centurymedicine-bottle
  • Milk tickets from the 1960s dairy operation.glendale-dairy-ticket-sheets
  • A photo of Quigley Construction Company from a descendant of the Quigley family, the namesake of the road off of which modern Veevers Drive runs.           bill-marshall-and-quigley-construction-c1930

Our staff also take some pride in the unique circumstances of our office. The names of the former occupants of the house, Ronald and Bertram Veevers, are incorporated into room names. As part of our environmental education programming, their use of the property is contrasted to the modern use in a number of areas, inside and out. Green Venture also works to maintain a nearby park where a near duplicate of a commemorative stone found at Glen Manor can be seen. In 2014, Green Venture added a historical mural to the park commemorating the history of the former farm, which at one time included both our site and the park.

Completed Veevers Park mural, painted by Jotthi Bansal

Completed Veevers Park mural, painted by Jotthi Bansal

Today as director, my role has changed again. I am now more focused on the environmental aspects of our work than the historical elements, but the fascinating evolution of EcoHouse and the surrounding community into which it was constructed remains a item of significance.”

ecostars_logoThere is an exciting new program starting at Green Venture this fall: the 2016 EcoStars Challenge! We have received many comments from teachers that they would love to have eco-activities that they could do back in their school community. In response to that, we are launching the EcoStars Challenge. The idea is for classes to take on these Challenges (there are 33 to choose from) and complete them at school. All the Challenges centre around the issues of climate change, and have been divided into 5 themes:

Get Growing, Move It , The Arts, Recycle That, Energy Wise


In order to encourage classes to take on Challenges, we are offering seven (7) grand prizes, thanks to the support of Clean Air Hamilton. Winning classes will be able to choose one (1) of the following grand prizes:

  •  a 2 hour school tour to EcoHouse (transportation included)
  •  a class visit from Green Venture staff, to set up a classroom composting worm bin (all supplies provided)
  •  the smoothie bike in your class for a week, set up and training by a Green Venture staff (recipes & ingredients kit provided)

To get started on the Challenges, all you need to do is visit greenventure.ca and click on our “EcoStars Challenge” tab. You can read the complete rules, and look through the Challenges. Then your class can choose a Challenge, and off you go! When completed, simply go back to the website and fill out a completion form. The more Challenges your class completes, the better your chance of winning a free school tour!

I am really excited to see which Challenges classes take on: will students want to map the native trees at school? Will they choose to host an Earth Hour event? Will they decorate their class with recycled items? Will they create blackout poetry? Will they read a great book about being eco-friendly?Smoothie Bike trial run 160506 cropped

As each Challenge is completed, we will be posting their success (i.e. photos, video, art, written reports) on the “EcoStars Wall of Fame” as well as the Hamilton Climate Change Map. Be sure to check back often to see what changes are being made by the students across Hamilton!

No, we didn’t spell it wrong.

Introducing Hamilton’s newest youth profession: Raingers. Move aside Rangers, we’ve got a new group in town and these Raingers are taking Hamilton by storm, literally! Green Venture and the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) have teamed up to train and inspire students to be active keepers of our water. Entrusted with the important job of protecting and preserving the Hamilton Harbour Watershed we will empower our young leaders to make lasting change.  These Raingers have a big responsibility!

In the natural environment, rainwater moves slowly through the land.  Once in the soil, rainwater that is not absorbed by plants will eventually recharge the groundwater table or enter creeks. Approximately 10% of rainwater that falls in a forest will leave as runoff. The rest is absorbed by plants, evaporates or soaks into the soil.

In urbanized environments most to all of the historical landscapes have been paved over. Rain flows quickly over impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways and parking lots. Rather than entering the soil the water is redirected to nearby storm drains. This water picks up pollutants along the way such as road salts, fertilizers and motor oil. These pollutants enter storm drains and are conveyed quickly to our streams and Hamilton Harbour.

The Solution

Through a hands on experiential stormwater management education program, Raingers will learn about the serious problems relating to stormwater and runoff including environmental and water quality degradation. Inside the classroom students will use model homes to measure stormwater, incorporating low impact development techniques such as rain barrels, disconnecting downspouts and rain gardens to capture stormwater before it hits the storm drain. The Raingers will then enter the urban environment (i.e. go outside) on an investigative journey to identify where water flows around their school and neighbourhood. The final step in training is when we see how far these students are willing to dig to create positive change. They will help to plant a rain garden at their very own school – capturing stormwater, reducing stormwater pollution and ultimately, protecting our watershed.

Rain gardens provide a perfect setting to teach about water quality, habitat creation and the impact of student actions on protecting Hamilton Harbour and its watershed. The native plants and species in a rain garden have high tolerance for excess moisture and increased levels of nutrients often found in stormwater. These gardens can be a powerful tool to make connections between land development, water quality, and personal actions. Today, a new era in stormwater management in dawning: managing rain where it falls, before it runs off.


EcoHouse west rain garden

What is a Rain Garden?

A rain garden is a sunken garden (typically 4-8 inches deep) planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses designed to capture, absorb and naturally filter stormwater. A strategically placed rain garden will intercept the flow of stormwater and allow water to slowly infiltrate into the ground rather than contribute to stormwater runoff. Compared to a conventional patch of lawn, a rain garden increases ground water infiltration by about 30%.

The Raingers Rain Garden program is available to any school in the Hamilton Harbour Watershed. For more information about our Raingers Rain Garden program please contact Program Coordinator Laura Anderson at laura.anderson@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 ext 158

Ostrich Fern

Green Venture is pleased to be able to now offer energy audit services for the Union Gas Home Renovation Rebate program to the Town of Oakville. This expands the area serviced by GV for the incentive program (and the related incentives through the Ontario government) to include Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Haldimand, Norfolk, and rural Brant County.

For more information, please call 905-540-8787 (toll free 1-866-540-8866) and use extension 115.

Steam and Tech visit 1

With the summer coming to a close, it’s been a sad week here at the EcoHouse- we just don’t know what to do with ourselves! It’s been a tough time packing up all of our crafts and games, but we look forward for the next summer to come. The three sessions of campers that we had were equal parts enthusiastic and creative, and we’re so lucky to have had them as EcoStars! Be it an adventurous hike in the woods, or a quick dip in the pool. our campers were down for everything! They were especially brave when facing our scaly friends from the reptile man. More than that, our campers were kind to one another, and it was really fantastic to see some new friendships form over the week.


We really hope to see some returning (and new!) faces next year, but until then we’ll be preparing all of the fun games and activities to come! Enjoy the last little bit of summer, and good luck with the coming school year everyone! We really do hope you can make an Eco-impression on your classmates, friends, and family.


Bright Eyes and Dandy



20160727_144716 It feels strange that we’re over halfway done summer camp, but that’s only because of how quickly it flew by! Our latest camp session was themed as Bugs n’ Blooms, and was jammed-packed with visits from the members of Bay Area Restoration Council, as well as some slithery friends from the Reptile Man. Our EcoStars took to the forest at the Dundas conservation centre, where we found all types of friends- both big and small! We even lent a helping hand to our community by helping prepare food with Victory Gardens’ food bank program.

I was so impressed with the curiosity, creativity, and genuine enthusiasm of my campers. I can’t wait to see what our next (and last!) week has to offer… let’s just say we’re soaked with excitement. Until then!


Bright Eyes Victory Gardens EcoStars camp field trip 160728 1


The Ontario government will be augmenting the existing home renovation rebate incentives already available through Union Gas and Enbridge Gas, and making retrofit rebates available across the province for the first time since 2012. This program “assist” by the Ontario Green Investment Fund will increase drastically the value of doing energy-saving home renos.

Homeowners who get a “before” and an “after” energy audit, and do at least two items from the approved list, can get up to $5000 back in incentives, including most of the cost of the audits themselves.  Full list of eligible measure can be found at UnionGas.com/HomeReno (more…)

With the end of our first session of EcoStars summer camp, I can’t wait for the next week of campers and activities to begin! Our Eco Explorer’s campers paved the way as the first official campers at the Eco House, and boy did they set the bar high (especially at our week-end talent show).


Green Venture is getting ready for their first EcoStar camp! With topics like Bugs & Blooms, H2Whoa that’s a lot of Water, and EcoExplorers, campers are sure to learn new skills and an appreciation for the environment around them.  As camp director I’m excited to introduce our two camp counsellors Bright Eyes and Dandy.


Depave Paradise projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and buildings, interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground. This in turn leads to flooding, poor water quality, and creates urban heat islands that are warming up our cities. By removing pavement and replacing it with green space, we are increasing the infiltration rate of rain water, cooling our neighbourhoods, keeping our water clean, and providing us and our children with greater connections to the natural world.

On May 28th and June 4th, we helped R.A. Riddell Elementary School, partners and local residents host Hamilton’s 3rd Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a beautiful garden – and it was a great success! (more…)

May 19, 2016



HAMILTON, ON – DEPAVE PARADISE (www.depaveparadise.ca) projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. On May 28th and June 4th, Green Venture, R.A. Riddell Elementary School, partners and local residents will be hosting Hamilton’s 3rd Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a beautiful garden for the community to enjoy. (more…)

What do you get when combine your life’s passion with an amazing team of earth-loving co-workers? …. Green Venture!

 My name is Chelsea and I am a new Educational Support Staff here at Green Venture.  My background is in teaching children how to grow food and dig in the dirt.  Working with kids is very rewarding (and at times challenging) and it is always nice to see a group of little ones exploring in the community gardens at Eco House.  There is so much to see, from the pollinator gardens to the community plots to the Red Wigglers who help to feed our plants.  The kids are excited and engaged and a lot of fun.  We help them make connections to their environment through games and arts and trivia, which is fun for both the kids and myself.

I have learned so much in the short time that I have been here and it’s nice to feel a part of the greater Hamilton community which is thriving and full of people helping to make our city a cleaner and greener place to live.  Green Venture is an awesome place to work and Eco House is a little hidden gem to those who haven’t yet discovered it.

Over the last few weeks the kids and I have been in the garden weeding, planting, and watering.  Have you noticed what a dry spring we have had? (more…)

Are you looking for a way to clean your home from top to bottom, with items you already have in your kitchen?  We asked the staff for their top tips and tricks for Spring Cleaning, using no chemicals or toxic ingredients. (more…)

An update on our grass alternative beds

EcoHouse is getting greener — four shades greener to be exact!  Last summer we established four small test plots for different types of lawn alternatives, right in our own front yard.  We wanted to understand the benefits of each type firsthand, and be able to show visitors exactly how each would turn out.  This has been an exciting project right from the get-go.  There was much debate amongst staff and board as to which alternatives we should choose, and the four finalists that made it into the exhibit were: (more…)

December 2, 2015


Green Venture and R.A. Riddell team up to Depave Paradise

Hamilton, ON – This year, we’ve launched something special to help give back to our community project and address some of our most complex and overwhelming environmental challenges. We are excited to announce the launch of our 2015 crowdfunding campaign for ‘Depave Paradise’ on Small Change Fund! (more…)

In just a week, the trick-or-treaters will be out but celebrating Halloween doesn’t have to be a bellyache (unless you eat all that candy!). This year, why not swap one of your traditions for something a little more eco-friendly, say making your own decorations or mixing up some homemade face paint? Here are 10 ways to green your Halloween: (more…)

Every now and again we need to be challenged and motivated to get out of our routines and try out new ideas and experiences, finding ourselves UpRooted! On October 3rd Green Venture hosted it’s first ever fundraiser, pulling up its own roots and trying new things to grow as an organization. What a success it was! Despite the strong winds, rain and unseasonably cool temperatures, people came out to help  celebrate 20 years of environmental outreach and education in the Hamilton community and donate  to help keep Green Venture going strong for the next 20 years! (more…)

Lighting in our homes counts for 1/4 of our energy bills. The type of light bulb we use at home can play a big role in just how much- or how little- we pay each month. So what kind do you use? What kind should you use? And what is the difference between them all? (more…)

As many of you know, Green Venture’s 20th Anniversary Celebration UpRoot Hamilton is rapidly approaching – this Saturday Oct 3rd at EcoHouse. UpRoot Hamilton is a platform to showcase local food and drink in a beautiful heritage setting while celebrating 20 years of community outreach, education and making the Hamilton region a more environmentally-friendly place to work, live and play. (more…)

Green Venture officially began operating in 1995, making 2015 our 20th anniversary. Although we’ll be marking this special occasion with an amazing event called UpRoot Hamilton (which you can read more about), we’ve also taken the time to think about our past 20 years, and the amazing journey we’ve been on as we try to make Hamilton and area the most environmentally friendly place to live, one day, and one action, at a time. (more…)

Hi! My name’s Areeba and I’ve just completed a seven week placement at Green Venture. I have learned many different things during the past seven weeks through my position as a green gardener where I assist with the maintenance of the many gardens and facilities present on the property. (more…)

Green eggs and ham may not be on the menu, but Hamilton’s first social food market will still be turning green this Fall.

UpRoot Hamilton, a fundraiser celebrating Green Venture’s 20th Anniversary will feature local chefs, local ingredients and the impact that eating local can have on the environment. Attendees to the October 3 event will be able to sample locally sourced and inspired food dishes that come from equally unique vendors, many of whom do not yet have an actual storefront location in the city. (more…)

On June 20th Green Venture set out to Veevers Park with a mission of ‘planting and beautification’. Several times a year, with the help of staff and volunteers, we head to our adopted park to do some tidying. These projects can include litter collection, planting, weeding, graffiti removal, painting, and anything else that the area might need. We adopted Veevers Park in 2013 to connect and contribute to the local area and community surrounding our office, Ecohouse. (more…)

This week, we updated the green roof demo at EcoHouse with some Sedums! A green roof or living roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. Green roofs are a beautiful and cost-efficient way to conserve energy, manage storm water, and insulate a building. (more…)

Every now and again things happen unexpectedly that can provide surprise opportunities for environmentalism in daily life.

This lesson was quickly learned by Green Venture’s Garden Coordinator Julia Shulist when preparing to launch the Riverdale Community Garden Project. Peeking out of a large mound of soil were tiny turtle eggs! Being the environmentally conscious and animal loving type of person she is, all work was stopped until Julia could figure out what to do with these little guys. Through contacting the Ministry of Natural Resources we were pointed to a volunteer based, non-profit animal rescue in our area that focuses on native Ontario Wildlife that had recently added Snapping Turtles to their list of animals eligible to be assisted! (more…)

This year the Hamilton Conservation Authority held an e-waste recycling day that yielded 850lbs of electronics that could then be recycled sustainably. Think about all the waste that this one event diverted from the landfill!

What is E-Waste?

In simple terms e-waste is short for electronic waste and includes everything that has ever run on batteries or a plug – including the batteries and plugs themselves! E-waste is a fairly new environmental issue compared to some since the technologies are new themselves. One thing is for certain, every year we produce more and more e-waste as many aspects of our lives are digitized. (more…)

If you haven’t heard of the new Tesla battery, you may be living under a rock. Tesla’s new battery is the talk of the town and it’s everywhere in the media. Why? It aims to take homes and businesses off the grid. (more…)

The 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. A familiar phrase and usually exhibited by any environmentally friendly program or event. We often talk about recycling more and consuming less, but today we wanted to focus on reusing. (more…)

After a great weekend cleaning up Hamilton’s alleyways with the Beautiful Alleys Clean Up Project, we were feeling a bit inspired to brighten your day!

Alleyways are a defining feature of older urban neighbourhoods. Such extensive networks of passageways and open spaces offer easy access to homes and businesses with minimal car interference. Rather than developing alleys for the benefit of the community, they have become forgotten, underused and abused public spaces.

Does Your Alleyway Need a Makeover? Do you have an alleyway in your neighbourhood that could use a little help? 

Meet the GALA Alleyway Project

map of alleyways in GALA neighbourhood

Beautifying community spaces by adding green space and removing unnecessary asphalt and concrete not only renews the space, but has been proven to improve our community’s water quality, build neighbourhoods, increase bicycle and pedestrian connections and increase natural habitats for birds and butterflies. Through our GALA Alleyway Project, Green Venture is working to transform these spaces to include native species gardens, solar lighting, local art, natural playgrounds and games, and so much more.

We want to hear from you! Do you know problem areas and heavily travelled alleyways that could benefit from a little beautification? Let us know here by filling out our short survey. Contact deirdre.connell@greenventure.ca for more info.

Listen here to our recent interview on CFMU 93.3 about the project

Need some inspiration? Here are some Laneways we Love! 


Montreal’s Ruelle Vertes/Green Alleys


San Francisco’s Living Alley Project

Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia

Graffiti Alley

Toronto’s Graffiti Alley, aka Rush Lane

Detroit Green Alleys

Five Points Alley, Cincinnati

IMG_0240Many schools are taking steps to become more sustainable in the classroom, so it wasn’t surprising when an educational assistant from Sacred Heart School came to Green Venture to ask about purchasing a vermicomposter. The part that surprised me was that she was contacting me on behalf of her Eco Team; it was her students who decided to get a composter.  They wanted to reduce the amount of waste they create, and they led the fundraising project so their school could achieve this goal.  Of course I had to meet with their Eco Team to see learn more about what they were up to.

The students were eager to tell me all about their hard work, achievements and future plans. The team is made up of 25 students between grades 2 and 8. Their latest project was raising funds for a vermicomposter. The idea to get a composter came from seeing all the waste from the breakfast program. The school started with recycling, but wanted to decrease their waste even further. Thus began their quest for a composter. The students came up with an action plan, which started in October. The first part of the plan was how to come up with the money for a composter. They decided to sell bracelets.  They made bracelets in their spare time at school and even on the weekends. Once they had enough bracelets they starting selling them, within 3 weeks they had raised enough money. Even they were surprised how fast they could raise the money at 25 cents to a dollar per bracelet.

Green Venture was delighted to hear the students gave so much of their time and efforts to raise money for the vermicomposter, and we gave them a discount to help with the costs. Green Venture also offers a Totally Transit Kids program where Green Venture partners with the HSR to educate students on the importance of sustainable transportation and gives them a free chartered bus ride to EcoHouse. The students came to pick up their worms in February and learned how to care for them by going on a tour of Green Venture.

They are also currently working on a battery drive, and have collected 2,183 batteries, with a target of 3,000 batteries. The best part of this drive is that once the target is reached they will celebrate by having a wear green day. They have also reclaimed areas from weeds and planted new plants. They have visions of more shade for their playground and a bigger teaching garden. They have created a garden space which is limited now but the Eco team has visions of creating container gardens.IMG_0246

The school has a recycling program, but what makes their program unique is that garbage gets monitored by the Eco Team upon collection. If the class makes it a week with proper recycling they get one letter of a word, and once all the letters in the word Recycle, are collected they get a pizza party. The Eco Team says this has helped with students making sure waste gets put in the right place.

Another great sustainable practice that the students promote is turning the lights off every day from 2 to 3. Each class is to turn off their lights during this time to help save energy and resources.IMG_0244

The EcoTeam charts how the students get to school, promoting sustainable transportation. Daily Eco tips and trivia are included in the morning announcements. The team has even put on an environmental themed play about how you can live more sustainably.

Future ideas for the team are bottled water versus tap water taste test, walk to school day, and raising money to get t- shirts for the Eco team.

As someone who has a passion for teaching and the environment, it so exciting to see schools promoting student led environmental initiatives in their schools.

For more information about Green Venture, vermicomposters and school tours, visit our website at www.greenventure.ca

Contact Virginia at education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x 154

Kale Chips - made by Children from  Riverdale Neighborhood cooking classes

Kale Chips – made by children from Riverdale garden project

Empowering Riverdale’s Food Security was Green Venture’s latest project to integrate education, health, recreation and the environment.
Funded by the Community Foundation, this project included a series of nine cooking classes delivered over six weeks that paired local food, agriculture and gardening themed recipes and activities.
Green Venture staff initially experienced frustration locating a suitable space for holding these classes. This challenge ended up leading Green Venture to a fantastic opportunity: a first-time collaboration with the City of Hamilton’s Riverdale Community Centre afterschool program.
The after school program and cooking classes were open to children ages five to twelve living in the Riverdale Community. Thirty children, representing the neighbourhood’s rich cultural diversity (including newcomers), registered for the hands on program.
Through handling, preparing and tasting fresh whole foods, the children explored and learned about the food system and how their choices can make positive or negative impacts. They explored how and where their favorite fruits and vegetables grow (local vs. imports), identifying processed or un/less processed foods, food packaging and waste reduction, vegetarian “superfoods” (i.e.: Meatless Mondays), and the power of food celebrations.
These children learned that making simple delicious fun recipes at home with their families really could strengthen food security in their community while improving the health of their environment and their growing bodies. At the end of the six weeks, each child participated in a mock farmers’ market where they picked out all the fresh ingredients needed to make one of their favourite recipes, cheese and veggie quesadillas. The children were all challenged to apply what they learned by taking the ingredients home and preparing a meal with their families.
It was inspiring to see children build confidence, work as a team and even demonstrate leadership through food. Equally as impressive was seeing them make proactive choices about the types of recipes they wanted to make and eat.
We asked the participants to tell us about what they learned from the program. Here is what a few of them had to say.
The best ingredients Green Venture used was:
“orange pepper” – Shyanne, 6
“tortilla bread” – Nora, 10
“tomatoes” – Shenika, 11
“peanut butter” – Justin, 9 (we used natural PB; no additives)

I learned this about food and the environment:
“you should eat healthy and fresh” – Nora, 10
“[not to eat] processed foods” – Shenika, 11
“unprocessed food isn’t always healthier [for the environment]” in reference to local vs. imported fresh foods – Ronald, 10

The recipe I will try to make at home:
“Kale chips” – Nora, 10
“Fresh Fruit Salsa” – Rami, 11
“Peanut butter-banana spirals” – Shyanne, 6
“Lemonade” – Hailina, 10 (freshly squeezed)
Green Venture would like to thank the Conserver Society, our sponsoring partner, for helping to bring this project to life. And we would also like to recognize the dedication of two high school volunteers from the Riverdale Community that demonstrated a special level of care and dedication to every cooking class.
Written by Sapphire Singh & Virginia Stonehouse

With the increase in severe weather and storms, it’s important to have a plan for what you will do to prepare for and respond to climate related emergencies. If individuals and families take the time to plan and prepare for potential emergencies in their communities, it helps responding agencies address the crisis much more effectively.

Before the Emergency: Know the Risks

Across Canada, we face a number of natural hazards, which can vary from region to region. Knowing what to do is an important part of being prepared. Find out about risks in your region and how to prepare for different situations here.

During the Emergency: Have a Plan

By definition, emergencies happen when we don’t expect them, and often when families are not together. Suddenly, you need to think about your kids at school or elderly parents across town. If phones don’t work, or some neighbourhoods aren’t accessible, what will you do?

Having a family emergency plan will save time and make real situations less stressful.

It will take you about 20 minutes to make a family emergency plan online. You can then print it out. Before starting, consider the following:

  • Safe exits from the home and neighbourhood
  • A meeting place near your home for your family
  • A designated person to pick up children from school or daycare should you be unavailable
  • Out of town contact person(s)
  • Special health needs
  • Location of fire extinguisher, water valve, electrical box, gas valve and floor drain

You can create your own plan online right now here

The Government of Canada has guides for creating Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs which can be found here.

Have pets or a service animal? There’s a guide for that too!

Have a Kit

In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

You may have some of the items already, such as food, water and a battery operated or wind-up flashlight. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark? Make sure your kit is easy to carry and everyone in the household knows where it is. Keep it in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front-hall closet. If you have many people in your household, your emergency kit could get heavy.

It’s a good idea to separate some of these supplies in backpacks. That way, your kit will be more portable and each person can personalize his or her own grab-and-go emergency kit.

Creating a 72-hr Emergency Preparedness Kit

For a basic kit you will need:

  • Food that won’t spoil
  • Cash
  • Manual can opener
  • Water – at least 2 litres per person per day
  • Extra keys to your car and house
  • Wind-up or battery powered flashlight (and
    extra batteries)
  • Wind-up or battery powered radio (and
    extra batteries)
  • A copy of your emergency plan and contact

Check your kit once a year and re-stock as needed.

Recommended additional items:

  • Basic tools
  • Whistle
  • Duct tape
  • Toiletries, toilet paper, hand sanitizer
  • Utensils
  • Garbage bags
  • Blankets and extra clothing
  • Bleach or water purification tablets
  • Candles and matches (do not burn unattended)
  • Two more litres of water per person per day
    for cooking and cleaning
  • Small fuel operated camp stove and fuel
    (follow manufacturer’s instructions)

Car and Pet Emergency Kits

Car Kit:

  • Food and Water
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes
  • First aid kit
  • Warning light or flares
  • Shovel and scraper
  • Contact numbers
  • Sand, salt or cat litter
  • Antifreeze
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Road maps
  • Whistle
  • Flashlight and batteries
Pet Kit:

  • Food and bowls
  • Can opener
  • Water
  • Blanket
  • Toys
  • Current pet photos
  • Litter pan, bags and scoop
  • Medications and medical records
  • Leashes, harness or carrier
  • Information on feeding schedules and
  • List of boarding facilities and
    pet-friendly hotels

In the event of a threatening, imminent or actual emergency situation, the City of Hamilton will provide information and updates to the public through radio, TV and newspaper, find a list here 

The holiday season is usually a big time for energy use, but it doesn’t have t0 be that way. Here are some tips to save energy this year.

Christmas Lights

LED Christmas lights are very efficient using only about 1/10th the energy of incandescent lights. If you only put up a couple of strands, it’s not very likely that you are going to see a big difference on your electric bill but if your home could compete with Clark Griswold, you may want to think about switching to the LED option.

While LED Christmas lights are more costly up front, they may actually end up saving you money in the long run through lower energy costs and longer lifespan. Another bonus, if one of your LED bulbs burns out, the whole string won’t turn off.

If you decorate your home with bulbs that can be used indoors or outdoors, condense your working incandescent lights to the interior. 90% of the electricity going to an incandescent bulb comes out as heat instead of light so you can lower your thermostat a bit.

Around the Home

Bulb selection is only one factor in holiday lighting. You can also reduce your electricity use by ensuring that lighting is not left on when no one is there to enjoy it and that it doesn’t remain on all night. One way to accomplish this is by putting your lights on a programmable timer.

If there’s a fire burning in the fireplace, lower the thermostat to conserve energy (and save on your heating bill). You definitely can lower the temperature if you’re throwing a party — the body heat will more than make up for it. As a matter of fact, try to keep your thermostat at 20 degrees Celsius throughout the winter; you will see a huge difference in your energy bill.

Cook smart – When cooking on the stove top, you should always use the right-sized pan and ring for each job and keep the lids on your pans as much as possible to reduce heat loss. And when using the oven, keep the door shut as much as you can. Other ways to save energy in the kitchen include defrosting food overnight rather than microwaving it and ensuring warm foods cool down before placing them in the fridge.


Buy Gifts that Don’t Use Electricity or Batteries – 40% off all batteries are purchased during the holiday season. That’s a lot of money spent on batteries and a lot of energy used! If you are buying gifts that need batteries, invest in rechargeable batteries and a charger, recent advancements have made rechargeable batteries better than ever.

Buy locally – Buying food and goods locally is the best way to reduce energy use.


Plan your shopping trips carefully – Make one trip to the mall instead of three, which will save gas. Walking to stores or carpooling with friends is even better. Another way to reduce fuel consumption is to buy locally; shopping in your home town supports the local merchants and strengthens the community, and it cuts fuel use if you walk to town.


The AquaFarm

Green Venture recently purchased an Aqua Farm. This is an aquarium-sized version of aquaponics. Fish are kept in large tanks and plants are kept in beds above the water with some rocks, gravel, or clay and their roots hang below into the water in the tank. The water is cycled through the system collecting waste from the fish, is then pumped into the plant beds where it is filtered naturally by the plants and it can then be returned to the fish tanks. We wanted to test out this cool new idea on a small scale. We bought ours at a local  aquarium supply store. We are currently keeping the aquafarm in the reception area at the EcoHouse. It’s doing well so far and the plants are growing pretty fast. Using the aquafarm ensures healthy plants, healthy fish and a clean tank.

How Does The AquaFarm Work?


Grow stones are placed in the planters above the tank. We transplanted a spider plant for starters, then planted lemon grass seeds and basil seeds.

The fish produce ammonia-rich waste which is pumped up to the grow bed. Beneficial bacteria convert waste into nitrates which are toxic to the fish but make great food for the plants. The plants use nitrates as nutrients they need in order to grow, while simultaneously cleaning the water for your fish.

Aquaponics was developed by the Aztecs in c.1000 A.D. They built floating islands for food plants while fish proliferate around the islands while leaving waste on the lake bottom where it was collected to fertilize the plants.  fish are kept in large tanks and plants are kept in beds above the water with some rocks, gravel, or clay and their roots hang below into the water in the tank. The water is cycled through the system collecting waste from the fish, and is then pumped into the plant beds where it is filtered naturally by the plants and it can then be returned to the fish tanks.


Bert And Ron

We called our first two fish in the aqua farm after the Veevers brothers who donated the property to the City of Hamilton in 1986.  Please welcome “Bert” and “Ron”.

Writen by Nicole Burgin  Co-op Student at  Green Venture.

written by Nicole Burgin
Co-op Student at
Green Venture.

On September 27th and October 4th, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Elementary School and Green Venture, a local not-for-profit, teamed up to host Hamilton’s second and largest Depave Paradise.

On September 27th, a crew of over 30 staff, students, parents, volunteers and members of the community removed over 1400 square feet of asphalt from the schoolyard to increase the school’s green, play space.On October 4th, over 50 volunteers came back to fill the space with a native species rain garden.

This was Green Venture’s biggest Depave Paradise project after Depaving St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School in 2012 and it will add to the over 10,000 square feet depaved across Canada through the Depave Paradise program. To learn more, please visit www.depaveparadise.ca/.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For pictures from the Depave Day on September 27th, click here. For pictures from the Planting Day on October 4th, click here.
Removing asphalt and concrete renews and beautifies community spaces. Demonstration projects like St. Margaret Mary help to build sense of community and motivate participants to consider other depaving projects. Beyond the community building, the benefits of depaving are numerous. They include:
  • Increasing green, community space by adding in a natural playgrounds, community vegetable gardens, trees, rain gardens, or other permeable surfaces
  • Decreasing the heat island effect to help cool things down
  • Decreasing the runoff of stormwater to lower its impacts on our sewers and help improve our community’s water quality

We would like to give CN EcoConnexions: From the Ground Up and Shell Fuelling Change a huge thank you for their generous support of this project.

Start Climate Change awareness at the home! That is what the Green Cottage in Hamilton has done, this house has many ecofriendly features, which helps eliminate its lasting effects on the climate. The house, located in the north end of Hamilton by the harbour, was originally built in 1885 with many similar houses surrounding it, but since then it has had some major renovations, and although the house does not look much different than the ones surrounding it the Green Cottage is unlike any home in Hamilton.

The Green Cottage

The Green Cottage

Starting on the outside the house is trimmed with salvaged wood, reclaimed wood helps eliminate the process of manufacturing and saves a few trees from being cut down in the process. The house is also insulated on the outside, this is called Exsulation, which provides more thermal heating for the house, eliminating most of the use of furnaces. The roof is also adorned with many solar panels and solar water heaters. Up to 30% of new greenhouse gases around the globe are contributed by non-renewable energy, and using solar energy as an alternative helps to decrease that number and the impacts of climate change.

On the inside the house is NOT equipped with a clothing dryer, air conditioner, stove, refrigerator or microwave! With the house lacking these amenities they are not sucking out energy for appliances that are not essential for everyday needs. The Green Cottage has significantly reduced its energy use, and has set a very high standard for energy conservation.

The house is also surround by a vigorous and beautiful garden. The garden creates green space in a mostly asphalt ridden area, and the plants not only look great but they are absorbing carbon dioxide and eliminating that from out atmosphere. The Green Cottage has gone above and beyond to eliminate their negative effects on climate change and the environment in general. This house is not only proof that you can take an old home and make environmental improvements, but it also demonstrates the many changes you can make a home level.

Written by: Brittney Massey

Canning and preserving has been around for centuries, and for good reason to. Canning is a simple and effective method for preserving your food and making it last for up to YEARS longer. Some preserved items have even been able to last for up to 30 years after it has been pick, such as canned freeze dried lentils, which were still edible 30 years later. So why not extend the life of your food with these simple canning and preserving tips.


The most common technique for canning is called water bathing, this is best used for high-acid foods such as fruits, pickled produce, or salsa. Canning works by applying heat to food in a closed glass jar to prolong the life of the food and put the natural spoilage at bay, while also removing all of the air to create a seal.

You will need:Preserves

  • A large deep pot with the lid (the pot has to be large enough to be able to fully immerse the jars with one or two inches of water covering on top)
  • A Rack that fits into your pot (you need a rack so that your cans do not directly touch the bottom of the pot and so water can circulate around the jars, you can make your own rack with aluminum foil but twisting the foil to create 8 long tubes, use three of the tubes to form a circle then the other 5 to create a grate like pattern in the center of the circle)
  • Glass jars (sterilized), lids and bands (preferably new ones)
  • Ladle and funnel
  • Jar lifter (if you do not have one wrap rubber bands around the clamps of a tong)
  • Towels and pot holders
  • And the prepared product that you will be canning. Be aware that when you are preparing your ingredients before canning the freshest, tastiest product will preserve the best, do not use any products that are near their spoiling point.

Step 1: Check your jars, lids and seals for any cracks or dents, if the jars cannot fully seal they will not preserve.

Step 2: Keep your jars and seals warm, you can do this in one of two ways. You can keep your jars and seals warm in the dishwasher by using them shortly after they have run through the dishwasher cycle. The second option is to keep your jars and seals in a waJars and Potrm sauce pot while the water in the pot is at a simmer, leave them in until you are ready to use them. Your lids can stay at room temperature.

Step 3: Be aware of and use the suggested head space, and time frame for preserving your product on the recipe you prepared it from.

Step 4: Using your funnel fill the warm jars with your item that is going to be canned, again leaving the recommended amount of head space at the top of the can. Make sure there are no air bubbles throughout your food, you can do this by running a plastic ladle around the inside of your jars. With a damp towel wipe down the opening of the jar to free it of any mess. Place the seal on top and firmly screw the lid onto the jar, make sure the lid is tight but not so tight that it cannot be opened in the future.

Step 5: Place your rack at the bottom of your large deep pot and fill it half way up with water. Cover the pot with your lid then bring and maintain your water at a full boil.

Step 6: Gently lower your jars into the pot of hot water, make sure your rack is secure and your jars are not touching the bottom of the pot, or each other. You want the boiling water to be able to flow freely around the jars. Add more hot water if you do not have enough in the pot. Your jars all need to be immersed into the water with two inches of water over top.

Step 7: Begin timing your jars as the instructions for your recipe requires. Continuously check during the duration to ensure that your water is maintaining a boil.

Step 8: Once the time is up turn down the water fully and let the jars sit in the pot for 5 minutes before carefully taking each jar out of the water. If you have a jar lifter use them to take the jars out one at a time. If not you can use your homemade jar lifter with tongs wrapped in elastic bands. Set the jars on a thick towel or wooden cutting board to cool down.

canning 2

Step 9: Give your jars 12-24 hours to cool down and fully seal up. During this time you will hear the lids making popping noises as they pull down the seals. Be careful not to push down the seals yourself as you let them cool, let them be pulled down and sealed naturally by the jars.

Step 10: After you have left the jars to cool for a sufficient amount of time you can now test the seals by pushing on the top of the jars. They should not be able to make that signature clicking noise, and if a jar has not pulled the seal down yet then the jar did not seal properly. For any jars that do not have their seal pulled down put them in your fridge and eat within a few days, the food is still good and edible, but it will not be preserved.

Step 11: Rinse off the jar, and make sure to label it with the type of food and date of canning before storing it.

Step 12: Enjoy your preserves many different times throughout your future!



Although canning may be the most popular it is not the only preserving technique. You can also dry your fruits and vegetables. Many different fruits and vegetables can be dried out, some that are best are fruits with high sugar and low moisture content, root vegetables, peppers, peas or shelled beans. drying

Step 1: Prepare food as needed, either mash into a pulp, finely chop, or string.

  • Peaches and like fruits work well when being turned into a leather. This is done by mashing the peaches up into a pulp (it is best to use extremely ripe peaches). Then take the pulp and spread it out onto a clean surface (preferably one where the peaches can stay for a period of time and can be peeled off of, such as a cooking sheet with wax paper), the pulp should be spread out to 1/4 inch thick.
  • Other fruits and vegetables cans be finely chopped or cubed then spread across a cheesecloth over a hard surface, with an additional cheesecloth on top, (stir occasionally).
  • Other items can be tied up and strung out along a piece of string, such as peppers or peas. Simply tie up one end of the item along a string with a decent amount of space in-between each item.

Step 2: After preparation leave items out to dry in a warm, sun filled area, some items can take up to a few days to dry (the chopped items typically take longer than the other two methods).

Stepeppersp 3: Once the items are dry it is very important to keep them dry, if the newly dried fruits and vegetables become even slightly damp once again they will rapidly spoil. It is best to store the dried produce in an air tight container to ensure it will stay dry. When storing remember to label the items with names and dates on them.

The process of drying is as simple as prepping and leaving out to dry! The fruits and vegetables will preserve for a long period of time, if stored properly. Also when an item is dried it retains a lot more of its nutritional value in comparison to if the item is canned, allowing you to enjoy fruits and vegetables off season.

Go out and pick up some fresh local produce today from a Farmers Market, local farm or your very own backyard and preserve it while it has reached its peak during the growing season. Preserving can be completed in multiple ways to help ensure that you can enjoy your produce at any time during the year.


Written By: Brittney Massey

Doing chores in your garden during the fall is a very important process to a modern day gardener. Not a lot of people are aware of how important it is. Doing certain tasks will benefit your gardens future. These simple chores with help promote growth, keep your garden more organized and will make it a lot easier when spring hits.

A good task to do when working on your garden in the fall is to divide all of your overgrown plants. It is always important to do your research before dividing plants to ensure that it is okay to divide. Examples of some plants that are good to divide are daylilies, blue fescue and ornamental grasses. This cleans up the garden and also saves you money because you are able to put the new plants in other gardens. The best way to do this is to loosen up the soil around the plant with a shovel, getting the whole plant out of the soil with the roots and all. Try to avoid harming the root system when doing this. Once your plant is removed from the garden, you can take two pitch (garden) forks back to back in the center of the plant. Make sure they are as far into the soil and plant as they can be. You then pull them apart by keeping the pitch forks in the soil and keeping one handle in your left hand and the other in your right, then by pulling both handles apart, keeping the fork ends in the plants center. You now have two plants and are able to place them in the gardens.

Another important chore to do in the fall is to cut back your perennials. It is good to do this before winter hits because the foliage begins to die anyway and will look cleaner. This will be able to help promote growth for the spring. When cutting back your perennials, be sure to discard diseased leaves or leaves that seem to have a “rotting” appearance. When discarding the leaves, it ensures that they are not near any other plants. This avoids the potential of diseasing other plants. Cut back the perennials as low as you can with hand shears. Be sure the shears are clean and sharp.

A typical chore to do at the end of the season is to keep up with your raking. Raking the fallen leaves in and around your garden is important to do before the winter comes. The leaves can suffocate your lawn when snow begins to fall. When the leaves don’t exist, it helps the water get through and into the root system. Some people use their leaves as mulch. This can be done by shredding the leaves and placing them evenly throughout your garden.Davis Creek

If you want to have beautiful flowers in the spring, another chore to do is to plant spring flowering bulbs. By doing this, the bulbs will have time to grow and start to come out of the ground and flower in the spring. A few types of these bulbs would be Tulips, Daffodils and crocus. Be sure to find out how deep you need to plant these bulbs. Different types of bulbs, need to be certain depths to come out at the right time.

An option for you to do in the fall is to help protect your young trees and shrubs from the harsh winter. You have the option of wrapping the young trees and shrubs in burlap wrap. You can get these supplies at your local garden centers. Just be sure to take them off as soon as spring hits. You don’t want to keep them on for too long, because they may start to decrease growth.

Written By: Stacey Almas (Ecohouse Summer Green Gardener)

One of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases are car emissions so it doesn’t take Einstein to realize that eliminating car emissions would have a significant affect on climate change. A few commercial buildings within Hamilton have begun to include secure bike parking on their premises to help promote alternative, and in this case active, transportation. Within five years of the Smart Commute Hamilton program starting up, over 24,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions have been prevented from entering into the atmosphere.

The secure bike parking allows Hamiltonians to bike rather than drive and have a safe place they can store their bikes while at work or play. Here are just some of the locations you can find secure bike parking in Hamilton:

One of the many secure bike parking facilities in Hamilton

One of the many secure bike parking facilities in Hamilton

  • St. Joes Hospital
  • Hamilton General
  • Mohawk College
  • The Convention Centre
  • York Parkdale
  • Horizon Utility Office
  • Jackson Square AND OVER 50 MORE!

Secure bike parking gives you piece of mind after locking up your bike, offering superior protection on your bike over the conventional rack. How you ask? Secure bike parking is located within limited access facilities and can only be reached by secure bike members who have been granted access. The bikes are then hung vertically and with one U-lock you are able to lock up both tires and your bike frame. The facilities are monitored by security dramatically decreasing your risk of theft or damage to your bike.

With the development of secure bike parking, commuters are encouraged to ditch their cars and grab their bikes. Biking is a healthy and environmentally-friendly alternative to driving your car. Now you can do your part and bike to work, a friends, or the store, reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions you contribute to the atmosphere, and have peace of mind.

Written By: Brittney Massey

hsrGreen Venture has been offering bus education programs for several years through the Totally Transit program.  This program introduces people to the HSR, and provides them with the information needed to take the bus.  This is the second year that Green Venture has expanded this program to cater to older adults.

Taking the bus is one of the most convenient and affordable ways to get around our city.  The HSR carries millions of passengers per year and operates comprehensive bus routes throughout Hamilton.  These workshops will discuss HSR bus services and focus on the neighbourhood around the workshop location.

Lets ride the bus oct 24 _121024 vs 007

Through a series of free workshops offered at ten locations across Hamilton, older adults will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to confidently navigate public transit.  Topics such as local bus routes, bus fare and passes, seniors’ discounts, and trip planning will be covered.

After a 45 minute presentation on taking the bus, an optional 15 minute presentation will be offered on how to use Google maps to plan your trip, for those who use the internet.  All workshop participants will have the opportunity to fill out a form requesting bus trip planning to two destinations.  Green Venture will mail participants step by step instructions explaining how to take the bus to their destinations.

Participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a guided bus trip, where they will travel in small groups of 2-4 on the bus with a trained bus travel guide.  Free bus tickets will be provided, and the travel guide will orient them on how to use the bus while they ride to a fun location for an outing, before travelling back to their starting point on the bus together.

Workshops will be offered at:

Wednesday September 10, 10:30 to 12:00pm- Concession Street Library, 565 Concession St, Hamilton

Tuesday September 23, 2:00 to 3:30pm -Westdale Library 955 King St W, Hamilton,

Monday September 29, 2:00 to 3:30pm Turner Park Library 352 Rymal Rd E, Hamilton

Wednesday October 1, 2:00 to 3:30pm Red Hill Library 695 Queenston Road Hamilton

Monday October 20, 10 to 11:30am – North End Community Health Centre, 438 Hughson Street North, Hamilton

Thursday October 23, 10 to 11:30am – Sackville Hill Senior Center, 780 Upper Wentworth Street, Hamilton

Wednesday October 29, 10 to 11:30am – Dundas Library, 18 Ogilvie St, Dundas


Registration is required to attend a workshop.

To sign up for a guided bus trip, please call 905-540-8787 ext. 151




Media contact-

Michael Albanese

Green Venture

905-540-8787 ext 151



Along the pH Scale (which ranges from 1-14) acidic soil is when your soil is ranked below a 7 and a rating of 7 is the ideal pH level for your plants to succeed in. Certain plants will thrive in an acidic garden because when a garden is acidic that means that the phosphorus in the soil (a macro-nutrient all plants need to survive), is able to dissolve into the water in the soil and therefore be soaked up directly by the plants roots.

You can do a simple at home test to see if your soil is acidic or alkaline.

  1. Take two containers and fill them half way with soil from your garden.
  2. Put in half a cup of vinegar into the first container, if the soil begins to react and bubble or fizz then it is alkaline.
  3. In the second container put in half a cup of water into your soil and mix it up to make a muddy paste. Then add in half a cup of baking soda into the mix, if it reacts with bubbling or fizzing then this means that your soil is acidic.

(You only need to complete step 3 if there is no reaction with step 2).

You can also purchase a simple at home soil testing kit at your local hardware store if you want more precise results.

There are three major causes for your soil to become more acidic. The first reason is due to the breakdown of the organic material within your soil, certain materials leach more acid into the soils, such as pine trees or peat. The second reason could be a result of heavy rainfalls or over watering. This could cause certain nutrients such as calcium, potassium or magnesium to be washed out of the soil, and they are responsible for bringing the acidic levels down in soil. The last reason, which is very easy to avoid, is the use of high-nitrogen synthetic fertilizers in your garden.

Although acidic soils can be beneficial, if your gardens acid level is too high there will be negative effects to your garden. Some symptoms of the acid levels being too high in your garden are a higher level of weeds growing, discolored leaves, lack of fruits or vegetables being produced and an overall lower production of crops within your garden. This is a result of shallow roots which are caused by highly acidic soils. A solution to correct acidic soils it to add wood ash or lime evenly throughout your gardens soil.

There are certain plants that prefer acidic soils such as any type of fern or hydrangeas (whose flowers change colour depending on the acid level in the soil). Some vegetables and fruit that also prefer acidic soils are radishes, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, blueberries and cranberries. As well there are some fruits and vegetables that are able to adapt to acidic soils such as beans, cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, apples, grapes, raspberries and strawberries.

Test out your soil and adapt how to plant and garden to your soils needs.

Written By: Stacey Almas

Trees Please!

There’s been a lot of concern and interest in climate change in the City of Hamilton lately with the development of  a Community Climate Change Action Plan. Increasing the amount of green space and the number of trees in a dense city area helps to mitigate climate change. Trees absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and use this in the process of photosynthesis to grow big and tall! Trees absorbing carbon dioxide is beneficial and planting trees is a very practical approach to combating climate change.

HIEA in the process of planting all of their new trees.

HIEA in the process of planting all of their new trees.

The Andrew Warburton Memorial Park, which is now the home of 32 new trees.

The Andrew Warburton Memorial Park, which is now the home of 32 new trees.

Around the north east end, the Hamilton Industrial Environmental Association (HIEA) has been committed to planting over 120 trees including Maple, Serviceberry, Kentucky Coffeetree, Katsura and more in various locations including:

  • St. Christopher’s Park
  • RT Steele Park
  • Andrew Warburton Memorial Park
  • Lake Avenue Park

HIEA is dedicated to improving our local environment. The actions of HIEA will help to lessen the effects of climate change as the trees continue to absorb the carbon dioxide, which they then convert and store in the form of wood. Planting younger trees is also beneficial as they begin to absorb the carbon dioxide at an exponential rate while they begin to grow. Planting trees is a great way to mitigate climate change as they absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and having less greenhouse gases in the atmosphere slows down climate change. This is why it is important not only to plant new trees but to also protect the trees we already have.

Written by: Brittney Massey

This is the third post in the RAIN Home Visit Series. This post will pick up where the last post left off. Once eaves and downspouts are effectively draining water off your roof it is time to consider what is happening to the water once it exits your downspouts.

That question of when it rains – where does the water go? is still relevant. If during the walk around your property you notice any downspouts empty into an underground pipe chances are it is connected directly into the municipal storm sewer. Connected downspouts increase the risk of structural damage because they drain water directly next to your foundation. Most of these systems are decades old and likely cracked and leaking. This is no longer a recommended engineering practice, yet many downspouts remain connected.

For the City of Hamilton’s stance on downspout disconnection see the following link:


For instructions and advice on how to disconnect downspouts see the following link from the City of Bremerton, Washington:

Once all downspouts are disconnected it is time to look at your property more closely. The path water travels along the ground will have everything to do with the way your property is graded and landscaped. During that walk around your property take note of all slopes and low spots on your property. If your property is sloping towards your house, this must be corrected to ensure water always runs away from the foundation. Take note also of the hard surfaces (patios, walkways) and soft surfaces (garden beds, lawns). Downspouts should empty onto soft surfaces a minimum of 8-10 feet and downhill from the foundation. 

The City of Hamilton has issued a Homeowners Guide to Lot Grading & Drainage document which provides the basics of proper lot grading.  This document does, however, lists the street as an acceptable outlet for rainwater. The next post in this series titled ‘From Rainwater to Stormwater’ will explain why sending rainwater to the street is no longer recommended best practice. The RAIN Home Visit program is all about keeping water on your property and allowing it to soak into the ground naturally where it will pose no threat to the foundation.

The safest starting point is directing water a minimum of 8-10 feet and downhill from the foundation. When directing downspouts always keep distance and direction in mind, both are just as important as the other.

In post number five of this series we will discuss more specifically where and how to keep water on your property so that it can soak into the ground before it goes from rainwater to stormwater.  

Green Venture is located in the Davis Creek Community, defined as the area from the Red Hill Valley to Centennial Parkway and from the escarpment to King Street East. We work closely with the Davis Creek Community Planning Team and are always looking for ways that we can give back to community. Recently Green Venture learned about the City of Hamilton’s Adopt-A-Park Program and decided to look into adopting a park of our own.

With the Adopt-A-Park Program a group adopts a City of Hamilton park. The park remains the property of the City but the community group helps maintain it through regular litter cleanups, removing graffiti, weeding and generally keeping an eye on the park.

Veevers Park, named after the Veevers family

Veevers Park, named after the Veevers family


Just up the street from Green Venture is Veevers Park, located at 688 Greenhill Avenue. A nice park with a playground, small splash pad and large open area. Veevers Park was actually donated to the City of Hamilton by the Veevers brothers, Bertram and Ronald, the same men who donated Green Venture’s EcoHouse to the City. The location, name and history of the park was a great fit for Green Venture, so we decided to adopt it!

Becoming involved in the Adopt-A-Park Program was incredibly easy and before we knew it we were hosting our first park volunteer event as part of the annual Davis Creek Community Cleanup event this past spring. Early in June we hosted our next event, a park beautification day where volunteers and staff worked together to pick-up litter, clean graffiti, pull invasive weeds and put wood chips around the park trees.

Mulching trees in Veevers Park

Mulching trees in Veevers Park

Another park beautification project Green Venture recently completed was painting a new mural in the park. This mural, found under the picnic shelter, is a way to brighten up the park while highlighting some of Davis Creek’s historical routes.

Completed Veevers Park mural, painted by Jotthi Bansal

Completed Veevers Park mural, painted by Jotthi Bansal

We are looking forward to more events and projects in Veevers Park over the next few years, including our next cleanup on October 4th, 2014.

If you are in the area, make sure to visit!

To find out more about the Adopt-A-Park Program, visit the City of Hamilton website.

Green Venture is a non-profit organization and, like many non-profits, we rely on the help of community volunteers for many of our projects. Whether it’s weeding a garden, guiding a tour, promoting Green Venture at an event or taking part in a clean-up, our volunteers help in all kinds of ways.

Having fun after a volunteer cleanup event

Having fun after a volunteer cleanup event

Many of our volunteers get involved with Green Venture for various  reasons. Everyone is different but most volunteers have a few things in common and many volunteer because they want to help the environment, get experience, learn skills, meet new people and have fun. Some people also volunteer to add to a resume or earn volunteer hours for high school.

Green Venture has several ways you can get involved, including maintaining the grounds at our EcoHouse, joining us at special events or helping lead a tour (for more details on these opportunities, visit our website). These are not the only ways people volunteer with Green Venture though, we also have interns, co-op students and all of our board members are volunteers.

Making paper during an EcoHouse open house

Making paper during an EcoHouse open house

Getting involved is easy:

  • Sign up for our Green Post (online Volunteer Mailing List) to receive regular updates on volunteer opportunities
  • Email volunteer (@) greenventure.ca to receive a Volunteer Application and information about current opportunities to volunteer
  • Visit Green Venture’s EcoHouse or speak with us at an event to learn more about volunteering
  • If you have skills or experience you would like to share as a volunteer let us know!

We hope you will come out and volunteer with us soon!

Having a garden on your property is beneficial in many ways, but sometimes we’re challenged when there’s a tree blocking the sun, a fence or even when the direction of the sun just doesn’t quite reach the area where you want to plant. Gardening in the shade can be tough. Choosing the proper plants that suit the lighting requirements is very important. Another thing to consider when planting in the shade, is to choose plants that are able to withstand lots of moisture. Since the sun isn’t quite hitting the garden, the moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly.

At Green Venture, we recommend perennial plants that are native to the region. That way there will be less pests, and they will attract our much needed pollinators. When choosing these plants, it is important that you do your research to find out if these plants can withstand shade and moisture.

Perennial Native Plants that can withstand shade and moisture:

Foam FlowerFoam Flower

Ostrich FernOstrich Fern

Soloman's SealSolomon’s Seal

Wooly Blue Violet Wooly Blue Violet

Wild GingerWild Ginger Tall Bell FlowerTall Bell Flower
Wild GeraniumWild Geranium Fridge SedgeFringed Sedge



A great tip for a shaded garden is to go with a woodland garden theme. Native shade tolerant plants make an excellent woodland garden. Luckily, there are still lots of plants to choose from, with a variety of different colours, shapes, and sizes. Even though a garden may be dark, it doesn’t mean you can’t brighten it up with some plants!

Don’t give up, and remember that you can plant in all sorts of light, you just have to remember the golden rule: Always remember to choose the proper plants for the proper place.

Now get planting!

Written by: Stacey Almas

Green Venture has decided to do the green thing and trade in our two company vehicles for a Community CarShare membership. Community CarShare is a local non-profit co-operative organization. They were the first car sharing organization within Ontario starting in 1998 and have been a part of the Hamilton community since 2009.

How does it work?

The Community CarShare program is really simple. First, you sign up for a membership plan that is based on your needs. Once you are signed up and have received a safe driving orientation you are able to book any of the 53 CarShare vehicles (with 13 in Hamilton), and you are able to book up to 30 minutes in advance. The car is then charged on a pay-per-use basis. You are able to pick the type of car you need and then head to the closest available location to pick up your car, it’s as simple as that. You don’t even have to pay for gas, maintenance, or insurance, they are all included in your membership fee.

We used our Community CarShare membership to book the Toyota Tacoma to help us get everything for our booth from the EcoHouse to the Open Streets festival in Hamilton.

We used our Community CarShare membership to book the Toyota Tacoma to help us get everything for our booth from the EcoHouse to the Open Streets festival in Hamilton.


Our helper with the CarShare!

There are many benefits for anyone to change from using a personal vehicle to joining the Community CarShare. Some of the benefits are,

  • Financial: For a newer vehicle you will be cutting out those hefty monthly payments, or for an older car the growing maintenance costs. You do not pay for gas, which is constantly increasing, or insurance, as this is included in the membership fee. Additionally you are not paying for a place to park your car, and if you have an extra par
    king space you can potentially rent it out and make a profit! At Green Venture we did the math and we will be saving over $5000.00 dollars a year by switching to CarShare!
  • Social: You are contributing to a local co-operative organization within your community. You are also avoiding the stress of managing and maintaining a vehicle and lastly Community CarShare has made picking up and booking a car convenient and hassle free.
  • Environmental: By ditching your ride and joining CarShare you are diminishing the amount of cars on the road. This helps reduce CO2 emissions, while also reducing the amount of traffic and consequently the amount of idling on the streets, bettering our air quality within the city. Lastly if you do not have your own vehicle for transportation traveling becomes more of a conscious decision. This allows people to become more aware of their transportation choices and consider more environmentally friendly decisions such as CarShare, biking or walking.

The Toyota Prius PHV plugged-in and recharging its batteries.

Green Venture is taking the environmental benefits one step further by introducing an electric vehicle into the Community CarShare organization. At Green Venture’s office building, called the EcoHouse, we have an Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station, which was donated by EATON. The EV charging station is a place for plug-in cars to recharge and collect electric energy for their vehicles. The EV charging station will soon be the new location for the Toyota Prius Hybrid Plug-in (or Prius PHV), for Community CarShare. This hybrid utilises rechargeable batteries while in all-electric running mode, that only take two to three hours to charge and the vehicle can maintain high speeds and last a long distance. When using the Prius PHV compared to other gas guzzling cars of the same size you will be reducing your fuel consumption by 1650 litres and even better lowering your CO2 emissions by nearly 4000 kg per year! By Green Venture using not only CarShare but an electric vehicle we will be significantly reducing our carbon footprint and continuing our goal to live more sustainably.

Written by: Brittney Massey

At Green Venture we are very excited to say that we are in the process of installing a greywater system for our EcoHouse! A greywater system recycles wastewater from showers, baths, sinks, laundry machines or rainwater on-site. The system then reuses that same wastewater for either irrigation or toilet water. With greywater not only will you be diminishing the amount of water you take from the waterways, you will also be saving on your water bill, helping you while you help the environment. On average, a greywater system saves a residential home between 30-40% on their annual water bill.

Here at Green Venture we obtain our greywater from rainwater runoff from a portion of our roof. We then recycle that water through our greywater system and the same water is used for flushing our dual flush toilet. Before the greywater reaches the toilet bowl it is purified through a BARC tank, which eliminates any floating or sinking substances. After the filter gets rid of unwanted substances, the greywater is stored for future cn toweruse. The system will also automatically flush down the greywater if that water is stagnant for too long, or there is too much greywater to store. By using the rainwater runoff from just a section of the roof, Green Venture will be conserving over 20,000L of water per year. That means less fresh water being extracted from local waterways, saving on water bills and doing our part to live more sustainably.

The greywater system allows us to conserve a significant amount of water as the toilet is responsible for using up to 30% of a household’s water usage. On average a family of four who uses a dual-flush toilet will use around 28,000L of water per year for flushing alone. That amount of water could fill over 50,000 conventional sized water bottles. If you stack all of the water bottles on top of one another they would be over two and a half times taller than the CN tower building.

The greywater system can be installed on both a residential and commercial scale.

Although we are only collecting greywater from our rain runoff most locations incorporate wastewater from sinks, showers/baths and laundry machines. If you were to incorporate the wastewater from your sink and if while brushing your teeth you left the sink on for two minutes then you would have accumulated 32L of wastewater. Our dual flush toilet only uses 4L per flush, therefore, those 32L of wasted water from brushing your teeth could sustain up to 8 flushes of the toilet.

The greywater system is an innovative solution to recycling our water. Even the Mars Desert Research Station uses greywater, and experiments with having the greywater
system used for future potential trips to Mars. Not only is the greywater system helping us protect our environment, but it’s allowing us to bring and sustain water in place where we never could before.

Written by: Brittney Massey

Main water related concerns:
• Multiple downspouts connected directly to aging storm sewer laterals
• Back and side yard area graded towards the house
• Moisture and effervescence in basement
• Downspouts emptying too close to the house
• Rain barrels often overflowing
• Worn asphalt driveway is graded towards the house

This house was chosen as a case study because it shows many of the issues that are address through the RAIN Home Visit program. I enjoyed my visit at this house, mostly because the homeowner was very friendly and welcomed my suggestions with an open mind. But on top of that – this home was a classic example of how mismanaging water outside can and will lead to issues inside.

This home is built in a neighbourhood where downspouts connect directly into the municipal sewer system. Connected downspouts are concerning from an environmental as well as a safety perspective. The bottom line is that I do not trust what I cannot see and there is no guarantee that those 80 year old sewer laterals are working properly. Over time they get clogged and cracked by things like leaves, soil, animal burrows, and tree roots. Most homeowner assume these underground pipes are doing their job, but moist basements tell a different story.

48 Kenmore_7

This homeowner recently had the eaves and downspouts replaced. However, the grading of the eaves and position of the downspouts was not changed and they were connected right back into the municipal system. When replacing eaves and downspouts, take a look at the roof area and consider an ideal drainage method. Downspouts should be positioned 8-10 feet and downhill from the foundation onto a permeable area. Where possible, avoid placing downspouts on driveways and patios. During the tour of the basement I saw exactly what I was expecting to see – moisture. The area where the walls met the floor was damp, and the walls were covered in a white mineral deposit known as efflorescence.

48 Kenmore_11

If you have efflorescence in your basement don’t worry, it is not toxic, but, it is a definite sign that there is moisture in the soil surrounding your foundation. Excess moisture in the soil applies pressure against your foundation, which is one of the causes of pressure cracks. Water is always looking to flow where there is less pressure – and over time can force itself through your foundation. Efflorescence is not a toxic concern, but it is a sign that action is needed to keep your foundation safe and dry.

The ground surface in the back and side yard being graded towards the foundation was another concern. The lowest point in the backyard was where the lawn met the foundation – an immediate sign that the area needs regarding. I noticed that about 6 inches away from the house the vegetation had changed sharply from lawn to a low growing yellow flowered ground cover. Sharp changes in vegetation means that the moisture pattern in this area is not what it should be (in this case the area next to the foundation was too wet for lawn to grow).

48 Kenmore_4

Main lessons learnt:

• Disconnect downspouts from sewer laterals and direct them onto a permeable surface 8-10 feet and downhill from the foundation.

• Make sure the land surface is always graded away from the house to ensure water is flowing away from the foundation.

• Where possible, try to maintain an 8-10 foot ‘dry perimeter’ around your house where no water is soaking into the ground. Water can be safely absorbed into the ground beyond this 8-10 foot perimeter.

• Fully empty all rain barrels after each rain so the barrel has full capacity for the next rain event.

Laundry detergents can contain toxic chemicals which can be harmful for both the environment and human health. Even claimed ‘natural green detergent’ is not always the most environmentally friendly. A safe and ecofriendly alternative to detergents is ozone washing. At Green Venture we use an ozone Laundry system to help keep our laundry as green as possible.

airtrona in solarium

The AirTrona Ozone Laundry System used at Green Venture

How Ozone Laundry Works:

The laundry system dissolves ozone into water. From the strong water pressure the end result is 100% dissolved ozonated water, which replaces any detergents, bleach or other chemicals you may use to wash your clothing. The ozone is so strong that it disinfects dirty clothes, eliminating the need for soap. Afterwards the ozonated water is drained out into the waste water system and any leftover ozone is naturally converted back into oxygen.

Although an uncontrolled level of ozone can have health and safety implications, our AirTrona ozone laundry system uses a front load washer and a venturi injection system to add ozone carefully to water. The front load washer has an air tight seal, which is required. A lack of seal, such as on a top load washing machine, can cause the ozone gas to leak. The ozone laundry system can only be installed for front load washers. The venturi injection system is very efficient during the process of diluting ozone into water. Eliminating nearly all of the ozone that is left in gaseous form, to leave a minuscule residual amount to be released through the washer’s vent at the rear of the machine. The AirTrona ozone laundry also comes with an ozone monitor to guarantee your laundry room has a controlled level of ozone and to ensure your safety. The monitor also will shut off automatically if external air ozone levels reach too high for safety standards.


Front loader washer at EcoHouse- only use ozone systems with front loaders!

Benefits of Ozone Laundry

The outcome of ozone laundry systems are beneficial for both yourself and the environment. Firstly the system requires no detergents, bleaches or soaps, keeping harmful chemicals out of the wastewater systems, while saving you from having to purchase these products. Also by eliminating the steps it takes for the soap to go through the system and break down it allows the wash to be completed in fewer cycles, saving you time and the machine energy. In addition to the shorter cycles the ozone laundry system is able to clean your garments in cold water, getting rid of the need for how water. Heating up the water is one of the most energy consuming tasks for laundry machines, and by solely using cold water you are conserving a lot of energy.

Once the ozone system has completed the wash cycle, you are still able to save on time and energy during the time it takes to dry your clothes. The Ozone laundry lowers water retention within your clothing, and when less water is within your textiles it takes a significantly shorter time to dry them. The dryer is a huge energy drainer and the less amount of time and energy you can waste on that appliance the better. Even if you hang dry your items they will still take less time, and you will be conserving the most amount of energy with this option.

Using the ozone system gives your clothing that same ‘‘fresh air’’ scent as if you hung them out to dry on the clothing line. Not only does your clothing now smell great, but it is noticeably softer, without the use of harmful fabric softeners. You get all the benefits of detergents without the use of toxic chemicals. This results in your clothing lasting up to 5 times longer than ever before.

ozone shirts

The shirt on the right shows obvious splotching from laundry residue, which the shirt on the left (which was washed in the GV ozone laundry system) does not have any. You can’t tell from the picture, but the ozone-washed shirt is noticeably softer too, as a result of eliminating the laundry soap (and the need for fabric softener).

Costs of the system

The AirTrona Ozone Laundry System retails for around $400. The length it will take to make back that up-front cost will vary depending on how you conduct your laundry to begin with. If you are an individual who pays top dollar for detergents, fabric softeners and bleaches, that cost will be out-right eliminated with the use of the ozone, saving you money there. You will also be saving money on your energy bills by using cold water for your laundry rather than hot water. This will be a significant saving if you previously used hot water. However, if you have always used cold water then the saving benefits will not apply to your utility bills. Therefore if you are an individual who uses a lot of costly soaps and hot water for your laundry you will be making your return back from the machine significantly faster than others. However, in laundry detergent alone to pay back the machine will take you approximately two years, then you will eventually be ahead. The unit is warranted for those two years, and the machine has a life span of five years.

For more information on the ozone laundry system in use at Green Venture, visit http://www.airtrona.com/, or come by and a look at the unit yourself at EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton).

It’s surprising to know how many plants out there are actually edible. It’s not just the plants in your vegetable garden that are edible. You can also eat a selection of ornamental plants, and even weeds! That’s right, you can eat some of those weeds in your backyard that are starting to drive you crazy! What better use for them than in a salad?

Here are a few ornamental plants and weeds that you may find in your very own yard:

Plant Edible part of plant Edible Use



  • All parts of the plant are edible raw including: unopened buds, seeds, leaves and roots
  • Roots can be roasted as a coffee substitute
  • Leaves can be added to a salad
  • Leaves can also be boiled down to make tea



  • Young leaves can be eaten raw
  • Seeds are also edible
  • Leaves are best finely chopped in a salad
  • Seeds can be dried into flour



  • Young leaves can be eaten raw
  • Old leaves should be boiled down with baking soda
  • Roots are edible
  • White pith of flower is also edible when raw
  • Young raw leaves can be made into a salad
  • Roots can be cooked into soup, made into a stir fry, mashed and fried as patties, or used as a ground for a coffee substitute



  • Plant should be cooked and eaten, not consumed raw
  • Seeds are also edible
  • Leaves can be cooked and eaten as a side dish
  • Seeds can be eaten whole, or pounded into meal



  • Plants should be consumed when cooked
  • Flowers can be eaten raw
  • Seeds are edible raw
  • Can be put into a salad
  • Flowers and leaves can be made into tea
False Solomon's Seal

False Solomon’s Seal


  • Young shoots and green parts of plants are edible, eaten when cooked
  • Berries are edible
  • Cooked greens can be eaten as side dish or in a salad
  • Berries may be eaten raw
Brittle Prickly-Pear Cactus

Brittle Prickly-Pear Cactus


  • Berries are edible
  • Flesh of plant can be eaten raw, after removing spines and inner seeds
  • Flesh and seeds can be dried for storage
  • Flesh and seeds can be used as a side dish



  • Sprouts are edible
  • Seeds can be eaten raw
  • Shells are edible
  • Kernels are edible
  • Seeds can be dried and eaten on their own
  • Shells can be roasted to make a coffee substitute

Always ensure that you wash the plants well before eating them, do your research, and be careful that you don’t have any allergies. It’s important to be sure that you use the proper part of the plant, since the entire plant isn’t always edible. Also be sure you know whether you can eat the plant raw, or will have to cook it.

So get out there, be adventurous, and make use of those plants!

Bon appétit!


Written by: Stacey Almas

Meet Russ.

Russ Ohrt from Backyard Harvest

Russ Ohrt from Backyard Harvest

If you head down to the Locke Street Farmers Market you can meet Russ Ohrt from Backyard Harvest, an urban agriculturalist and someone who has made the conscious decision to live more sustainably. Backyard Harvest, a completely urban farm, grows vegetables and fruits in the back and front yards of the west end and central neighbourhoods of lower Hamilton. Russ grows various produce throughout backyards in Hamilton, he then sells this local food to anybody and everybody to enjoy. Eating locally is a lifestyle choice that is beneficial to both you and the environment. Some of the personal and environmental benefits to eating locally are:

  • Products are able to be picked at their peak because they do not have to travel far and are full of flavour
  • There are more nutrients in local food since they have a shorter distance to travel there is less time for the nutrient value to decrease
  • If you purchase food from local growers they are able to give you more information on the growing and harvesting process.
  • When the food has less distance to travel that is less greenhouse gas emissions being dispersed into the atmosphere from transportation.
  • When purchasing locally grown products you are also encouraging and helping maintain local farmland and green space.
  • Food grown locally within the Hamilton area is much more likely to have been grown in a more safe and sustainable manner, including not using harmful chemicals or pesticides in the growing process.

If you choose to eat locally not only will your food be more nutritious, fresher, and more flavourful, it will also help mitigate climate change. According to David Suzuki, the average Canadian meal travels roughly 1200kms from the farm to your plate, while expelling emissions the entire time. If you head down to see Russ you are eliminating all of that travel time between getting the food from the farm to your mouth.

Urban agricultural practices in Hamilton do not allow the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which ensures that your food will be chemical free. Not allowing these practices also significantly reduce greenhouse gases, since they produce so much emissions from the manufacturing and transportation of these products. Head down to any of Hamilton’s many farmers markets to buy local food or grow within your own backyard and join Russ in making sustainable lifestyle choices to help reduce your the impact of climate change.

Written By: Brittney Massey

This is the second post in the RAIN Home Visit series. It will answer that ‘where do I start’ question. Even though each property has its own unique drainage situation, there are still general guidelines that all homeowners should follow.

As mentioned in the first post – the most important questions for homeowners to answer is: when it rains – where does the water go?

Answering this question starts on the roof with the eaves troughs and downspouts. Before worrying about where and how to direct the water on the ground, you first have to make sure water is draining off the roof properly. During a heavy rain, take an umbrella outside and walk around the perimeter of the house, taking note of places where water is spilling over the eaves. Spillage and leaks may be from
i) old eaves that have moved, cracked, or pulled away from the roof,
ii) clogging caused by leaves, debris, and/or ice,
iii) not enough downspouts to properly drain the water.

Make note also of any water that is spilling out of the downspouts, which is the pipe that will take water from the eaves to the ground.

If either the eaves or downspouts are not working properly, water can spill out and pool beside the foundation. Allowing water to soak into the ground too close to the foundation is one of the main causes of moist/wet basements. On your walk around the house, make note also of any water ponding or pooling on the ground. In best practice, no ponding is acceptable, but a general rule of thumb is the closer this ponding is to the foundation, the more damage it can do. It is best to try and keep the area within 8-10 feet of the foundation as dry as possible.

Once the eaves and downspouts are working properly you have taken the first steps in protecting your property against water damage. From here, the next steps focus on what to do with the water once it makes its way through the downspouts.

The next post in the series will focus on i) ‘connected downspouts’, and why they are now widely considered malpractice in the industry, as well as ii) the importance of lot grading for adequate drainage, and iii) where and how to direct your downspouts on the ground.

Do you live in an apartment or house with no backyard and still want to compost? The solution to your composting needs are worms, Red Wiggler Worms! These worms are the most common species of worm used for indoor composting. What’s so great about indoor composting? Indoor composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce and create nutrient-filled compost for your plants and garden when you have a limited amount of outdoor space. VermicompostingUsing Red Wiggler worms to compost is odour-free and a fast way to break down kitchen scraps with very little maintenance. Red wigglers can consume large amounts of organic material, digest it, extract its food value and expel the residue as worm castings, which are very rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Under ideal conditions each worm can consume its own body weight in one day. Pick of some of these worms from Green Venture in two litre quantities that include worms, bedding and some worm castings to start your indoor composter off right. Pick up a worm chalet or you can even make your own composter by drilling holes for aeration into two Rubbermaid containers with a lid (find out how here). Indoor worm composters use little space, produce high nutrient compost and reduce your garbage output, so why not start your own today!

Written By: Christine van Beest

On May 26th, we celebrated Bike to Work Day at Gore Park to kick off the beginning of Bike Month in June. That morning we saw residents learn more about cycling and active travel, and the unveiling of the new Hamilton bike share program called Sobi Hamilton. Sobi Hamilton will start early this summer (it’s coming soon!) and making 750 bikes available at 105 stations throughout Hamilton. At any time you can reserve and rent the bike for a period of time and a small fee. Check out Sobi Hamilton here.

Biking is a great form of active travel, helping you get to where you are going, and in a healthy and lively way. Physically inactive lifestyles are very harmful to our health and contribute to a lot of the most common diseases in Canada such as stroke, diabetes, heart diseases and more. Including active travel into your routine is a great way to get in your daily dose of exercise while reducing your environmental impact too. Many Canadian individuals depend on their car for transportation, but the pollution created by cars increases our greenhouse gas emissions which affects our climate and our air quality. Active travel doesn’t just apply to biking it works for any physical active mode of transportation, such as rollerblading, walking, running, or skateboarding. Next time you plan to go to the grocery store, work, or anywhere try to walk, ride or roll as active alternatives to driving your car.

Here are our top ten reasons to ditch the drive and ride a bike:

  1. Save money on gas
  2. Don’t have to worry about finding parking
  3. Get to be active and healthy
  4. You won’t have to sit in traffic
  5. You get a better view of the city
  6. Bicycles take a lot less materials and energy to make then cars
  7. Bikes have a lot less maintenance
  8. Bikes don’t burn gasoline, keeping our air clean
  9. Storing a bike is easy
  10.  IT’S FUN!

Missed Bike to Work Day? Don’t miss us at Open Streets Hamilton! Open Streets Hamilton re-purposes streets for fun, active, and creative activities by temporarily transforming streets into a shared space for everyone to experience. Sunday, July 13 2014 on James Street North from 10AM – 5PM will mark the 8th car-free Sunday in Hamilton since June 2010.

Written By:

Brittney Massey

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Would you like a garden that is low maintenance and stress free? A xeriscape garden is just for you!

Xeriscaping is landscaping and gardening that reduces the need for extra watering or irrigation as an alternative to various types of traditional gardening. In the past, helping plants survive drought meant turning on the sprinkler but now there’s a more water efficient way of gardening that saves on water and on time called xeriscaping.

Drought tolerant species make gardening easier and help reduce the amount of water you are using. By having a xeriscape garden, you conserve water, save money, and have more time to enjoy in your garden! Not only do these gardens benefit you, but they also give your property a beautiful garden. There are many interesting drought tolerant species that can be placed in xeriscape gardens, which can make your garden unique and different. Some plants that can be used in xeriscaping include succulent plants, trees and shrubs, perennials, drought tolerant annuals and ornamental grasses.

At Green Venture, we recommend planting native species. There are several benefits of xericape gardening but choosing native plants will also help attract our much needed pollinators! (Birds, butterflies and bees)

Here are a few examples of native drought tolerant perennial species:

You can have a lot of fun with designing and making your very own xeriscape garden. You can do this by choosing a variety of different colours, shapes and sizes. A great way to make your garden unique is by adding ornamental grasses. They add texture, and depth to your garden and will also give your garden some winter interest.

Xeriscape gardens are unique, help you save time and money and most important help reduce the amount of wasted water.  I hope to see more of these gardens around!


Written By:

Stacey Almas (Summer Ecohouse Green Gardener) 

This is the first post in a series focused on the RAIN Home Visit Program in the City of Hamilton. This post will explain the service itself and how it can help keep properties safe from water damage.

If you’re a home owner chances are your property has experienced outside water issues in one capacity or another. To help residents deal with such issues Green Venture is delivering the RAIN Home Visit Program starting summer 2014. Customers receive one-on-one advice from a trained and certified RAIN Home Guide to help home owners:

  • identify specific water issues unique to their property, and
  • identify best practices for how to deal with such issues

Water related problems often stem from the ways rain water is being managed. The first and most important question for home owners to answer is: When it rains – where does the water go?

Answering this question is the best place to start protecting your property against water damage. If the house is covered with working eaves and downspouts chances are the roof is being protected from water damage. However, once the rain makes its way through the eaves and out the downspouts, this water still has the potential to do damage – especially to foundation walls, patios and paved area, driveways, and lawns. The RAIN Home Visit’s are intended to help you understand what is happening to the water on your property to take it from a potential liability, to a valued resource.

A property with no prior history of water damage does not mean it will be free of future problems. As time passes and the ground is continuously being wetted and dried, frozen and thawed, walked and driven on new problems can arise. RAIN Home Guides are trained to take a proactive approach to water issues and identify potential problem areas of the future. Protecting your investment starts from the outside, before it gets inside. 

For more information on this service visit Green Ventures RAIN webpage at: http://water.greenventure.ca/rain-home-guide-service

Michael Albanese | michael.albanese@greenventure.ca 
905 540 8787 x.151



As promised, here is our post about ways you can reduce water waste inside your home. Stay tuned for a post as we get closer to the summer about reducing water use outside.

According to Environment Canada’s “Wise Water Use” article, the average Canadian uses 329 litres of fresh water every day.[1] We are in second place for the country to use the most water per person. In Sweden they use only 200 litres per person, and in France only 150 litres per person per day.

With just a few changes, it is estimated that most people and businesses can reduce their water consumption by 40%. This puts less stress on the environment, water processing and transportation facilities, the infrastructure, the cleaning facilities, and on our wallets as the taxpayers who pay for those things.

Water-Saving Tips and Tricks

This image, from Environment Canada, shows where water is used in the home. In this article, we will showcase some of the ways that you can reduce your water use in all areas of your household.



We’ll be repeating this tip a lot, but fixing leaks is a huge way to save water. A leak of only one drop per second wastes about 10 000 litres of water per year! Not only will the noise annoy you, the water-bill will too.

A lot of our water use in the kitchen is through washing dishes. If you are buying a new dishwasher, please consider getting an energy- and water-efficient appliance. If you are washing your dishes by hand, a very basic way of saving water is to fill the sink. Most taps use about 16 litres of water every minute, so when you leave the tap running for 10 minutes as you scrub it wastes a lot!

If you have children, you can teach them about saving water as well. Some kids will run the tap to get their drink of water cold, encourage them to keep a juice container or refillable water bottle in the fridge, rather than running the tap. If they take a reusable water bottle to school every day, you can keep one in the fridge as well so they have water when they get home.



We’ll repeat our mantra about leaks for the bathroom, as that drippy tap can be a huge problem. Sometimes our toilet tanks also leak water. You can test for a water leak by putting a few drops of food colouring in your toilet tank. Wait a little while, and see if any of that colour has appeared in the toilet bowl. Most leaky toilets are a fairly quick fix, and well worth the effort.

If you have an old toilet in your home, it can use up to 20 litres per flush (compared to as low as 3 litres with some low-flow toilets). If installing a new toilet isn’t an option, you can put in a device like a toilet dam or toilet tank bank, which either displace or hold water every time you flush, reducing the water used.

A great way to reduce water use in your house is to install tap aerators. These little devices can be attached to taps, and mix air in with the water. They reduce flow while leaving the water pressure the same, so you shouldn’t notice a difference.

There has been some debate between the water use for baths and showers. Most baths use about 200 litres to fill, while showers can use about 20 litres per minute. You can do the math to figure out what is better to fit your needs, but we always want to emphasize conservation. You can install an aerating showerhead to conserve water. Shorter showers are also good, as a 5 minute shower uses 100 litres!

Getting children to brush their teeth can be a challenge, and doing that without wasting water can be even more difficult. If your kids leave the tap running while they brush their teeth, you can explain to them that in 2 minutes it uses over 30 litres! 2 minutes of running the tap wastes enough water to fill 16 pop bottles!



We posted a recent piece about how to reduce water and energy use in the laundry. We actually have a few more tips to add to that.

1)      Use cold water – we said it before, and we’ll say it again: 90% of the energy of washing your clothes just goes to heating the water. Try using a cold water detergent and switching to cold water.

2)      Only run full loads (but don’t overload it). Some laundry machines will use up to 125 litres of water per load. If you are running laundry, make sure you are filling the machine up to optimize your water use. Just make sure that you follow the instructions on your machine. Most of them have a level that you should not load clothes above, otherwise it may not get your clothes clean or leave a residue.

3)      Mix powdered laundry soap with warm water and let it dissolve before adding it to your machine

4)      Make sure you are using the correct amount of soap. Most laundry detergents are concentrated, which means you could probably use less than you do. Check the instructions to make sure your soap use matches your load size.

We hope these facts, tips, and tricks were helpful, and that you’re feeling inspired to make water conservation a household priority!


[1] http://www.ec.gc.ca/eau-water/default.asp?lang=En&n=F25C70EC-1


Written By: Victoria Bick

Hamilton’s four major environmental groups have teamed up to reach out to the community.  If you’d like to get involved with environmental initiatives in Hamilton, you won’t want to miss this.

Executive Directors from Green Venture (Kathryn Enders), Environment Hamilton (Lynda Lukasic), Bay Area Restoration Council (Chris McLaughlin), and Hamilton Naturalists’ Club (Jen Baker) will be holding a forum on June 9, 7pm to introduce programs happening in Hamilton over the summer.  Volunteer opportunities will be highlighted, and there will be time for networking after the presentation.

The forum is being held at the Hamilton Public Library, Central Branch, in the Hamilton Room.  The forum is free of charge, and is open to Hamiltonians of all ages.  For more information, or to pre-register, please call 905-540-8787 ext. 117, or email director@greenventure.ca.

Funding for this collaborative initiative has generously been provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.


Just a little while ago we had the exciting opportunity to teach a group of adults about reducing water waste at home. Some of our tips included things like fixing leaks promptly, reducing time in the shower, and using tools like a toilet dam to reduce the water waste. We’ll be posting an article about all of that sometime soon, but the things we are the most eager to share are the ways you can reduce water and energy waste while doing laundry.


We all love our laundry machines. That wonderful electricity-powered invention from the 20th century saves us from the arduous task of hand-washing our clothes. Like many things though, our washing machines can create a lot of waste if not used correctly. If you’re buying new appliances, make sure you are getting energy-efficient ones. Whether you have energy-efficient appliances or not, you can still use these tips, and tricks to help you reduce waste and keep the environment as clean as your clothes.


Tip #1: Use Cold Water!

If you’re looking for a way to be more environmentally-friendly in your laundry room, the biggest thing you can do is switch to using cold water. Almost 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes to heating the water. While some people worry that washing in cold water will not remove the dirt from their clothes, most of us do not soil our clothes to a level that requires hot water to wash. Cold water laundry detergents have been formulated to get your clothes just as clean with cold water.


Tip #2: Ditch the Dryer

While dryers are convenient in their ability to have a load done in an hour, they hog a lot of energy and actually break down the fibers in your clothing. You can see how much damage it does every time you empty your lint filter, as that lint used to be a part of your clothing! There are many options for drying your clothing that is better for the environment, your energy bill, and your clothing. Indoor or outdoor clothing racks come in a variety of sizes and styles. The best indoor ones are collapsible, and sturdy enough to support the weight of wet clothes. While they may take up space in your living room, back yard, or balcony, they make up for by using free sun and air, rather than electricity.


Tip #3: Think Outside the Box

There are a lot of DIY options for laundry. One that we showcase at EcoHouse is the Laundry Pod, which is a small, hand-cranked laundry machine. It uses only 5 litres of water (compared to up to 125 litres for some washing machines!) and uses your arm-power for energy. While it probably isn’t the best choice for large families, it is a very handy tool for small loads or delicate pieces. Instead of running your washing machine with only a few t-shirts or pants in it, you can give this guy a try.


Another thing you can do is make your own powdered laundry soap. The recipe we have here costs about $0.09 per load, while other laundry detergents go for up to $0.59 per load. With ours we know exactly what goes into it, and we can customize the scent. Give it a try!


Home-Made Powder Laundry Detergent


½ to 1 cup of shredded bar soap

1 cup Borax

1 cup washing soda

A few drops essential oils


Use a very fine grater to shave the bar of soap into small flakes. Mix well with Borax and washing soda until you achieve an even, fine mixture. Add essential oils and mix well. Store in a labeled, air-tight container. This recipe makes approximately 32 ounces of detergent; use one tablespoon (most loads) to two tablespoons (large or heavily soiled loads). Before adding the soap to your cold-water loads, mix the detergent in a container with some hot water until it dissolves.



Bar Soap is the most crucial ingredient, as soap gives the detergent its cleaning power. Several recommended brands to use include Kirk’s Castile and Dr. Bonners. Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a naturally occurring mineral that acts as a whitener and deodorizer. Washing soda should not be confused with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), as washing soda is sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. It is available in the laundry section of the grocery store or in pure form from pool supply stores as sodium carbonate. It helps to remove dirt and odors, cuts grease, and removes stains, disinfects, and softens water. You can also add some of your favorite oil essence to give a nice fragrance to your detergent. Recommended amounts are one to two drops per load. Tea tree oil has the added benefit of acting as a disinfectant, so it’s great for washing cloth diapers, hand towels or linens from a sick family member. Eucalyptus is great for preventing dust mites. Lavender smells wonderful, and is very relaxing.


The next time you go to run a load in one of our favourite labour-saving devices, try one of these things to green your cleaning machine!


Written By Victoria Bick



Hey Teachers!

We’re sure you’re counting down until the end of the school year, and trying to get through the last of your lessons. Did you know that Green Venture offers a myriad of school programs for all age groups at the EcoHouse? EcoHouse is southern Ontario’s only retrofitted environmental demonstration home and provides students with a unique opportunity to see environmentally friendly technology and behaviours. We’ve developed specialized tours, activities, and games for each grade on topics including wise water use, energy conservation, and waste reduction. And of course these hands-on tours are all based on the curriculum! We provide tours for elementary and secondary schools, and can customize them according to your time, group size, and any special interests or needs.


All the information about our educational programs can be found online on our website at http://ecohouse.greenventure.ca/education-programs.


Some of our most popular programs include:


Green Adventure: A Quest for Less!

This 2-hour program for Grade 1 students is very popular, as it focuses on energy use around the house. Students find it easy to relate what they learn at EcoHouse to their own homes. The chance to learn about how we make, use, and recycle paper always captures their attention. While most students already have a good grasp of the Recycling part of the three R’s, they are introduced to the Reuse and Reduce part when we run some newspapers through a blender and students get to make their own paper!


Soil: It’s More Than Just Dirt!

Grade 3 students can either get an introduction to soil, plants, and food topics with this program, or astound themselves with their own knowledge if it is used as a wrap-up to the topic. This vibrant program involves a lot of action, with games like Moving Black-Eyed Susan and The Great Food Sort-Out. No program about soil, food, and compost would be complete without a chance to peek into the worm bins and meet some of our no-legged friends.


WATT a Waste!

One of the first things students notice when standing outside of the EcoHouse are the solar panels on the front lawn. This large visual display of renewable energy can be applied to the Science and Technology curriculums of Grades 4, 5, and 6 students. While the tour of the house will be different for each grade based on the curriculum topics, each grade will do the Bean Energy activity. This activity illustrates to students in a very hands-on way both the limitations and potentials of renewable and non-renewable energy sources.


These are just a few of our educational program offerings. Please check out our website for information about programs for grades not listed here at http://ecohouse.greenventure.ca/education-programs.

We are also excited to be able to offer unique partnerships with other organizations. The Museum of Steam and Technology was built in 1859 as Hamilton’s first municipal waterworks, and is only about 10 minutes from EcoHouse. The museum now demonstrates simple machines, force, energy and design, the hydrological cycle, and animates life in a 19th century workplace. It fits in very well with EcoHouse programming, from the topics of energy to the original time periods of the sites! This joint program includes a chartered HSR bus to provide transportation between the two sites. While on the bus, students also have the chance to learn about sustainable transportation and bus ridership.


EcoHouse also partners with Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) for Totally Transit. This program aims to equip young bus riders with the tools they need to ride transit effectively and safely. In this program, students make the connections between our transportation choices, energy use, air quality, climate change and healthy communities.  Best of all the students put their knowledge to the test on a privately chartered city bus. Green Venture and the HSR chartered bus come right to the school doors to deliver Totally Transit on-site or the bus can be your transportation to and from an EcoHouse tour.  Ask for more information, limited spots are available.


Many of our programs are also available as outreach programs to your school. If you’re interested in what we offer, but can’t get your kids to us, we will come to you! Check out our website for more information, or call us at 905-540-8787 x154. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Each month, the Hamilton Climate Change Map picks one action to be the Action of the Month. This month they are highlighting the local, grassroots group, Yes We Cannon.

In Hamilton, Yes We Cannon has been engaging and empowering the community over a common goal – improving cyclist and pedestrian safety in the lower city by creating a bi-directional bike lane on Cannon Street. Yes We Cannon is a citizen’s group focused on creating a safe transportation route for cyclists along Cannon Street in Hamilton, Ontario. Officially launched in May 2013, Yes We Cannon and has been a great success. More than 2,300 residents signed a Yes We Cannon petition calling for segregated, bidirectional bike lanes on the fast-moving, four-lane artery and on September 5th, city councilors approved a pilot project which would place bike lanes on Cannon Street between Sherman Avenue and Bay Street. Grassroots efforts were the main push behind the pilot project creating the longest stretch of protected two-way bike lanes in the City and providing a safe cycling route from east to west across the lower city.

Biking on Cannon St.

Biking on Cannon St.

The Yes We Cannon campaign only launched in May of 2013 but gained widespread support throughout the City of Hamilton through various outreach and engagement initiatives, including riding with students on Bike to Work Day in May and a Bike Parade in June, which resulted in the motion to create the bike lane.

The Yes We Cannon campaign has been a great success and over the past month members took time to celebrate all of their hard work and, of course, separated bike lanes on Cannon! This great success for active transportation in the City of Hamilton was paired with others including support for a bike share system as well as a Pedestrian Mobility Plan.

For more information about Yes We Cannon, please visit their website or Facebook Page.

Bikes on the Bus

Taking the bus is one of the most convenient and affordable ways to get around our city. The HSR carries millions of passengers each year and operates comprehensive bus routes throughout Hamilton.

Green Venture has been offering HSR bus education programs since 2007 through the Totally Transit programs for kids and older adults. Green Venture has reached over 5,000 students through this program and [insert number] older adults.

The Totally Transit Kids program introduces Grade 5 students to the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) transit system and provides hands-on bus experience.  The program stimulates a discussion on the positive environmental (air quality, climate change, energy conservation) and social (human health, accessibility) impacts associated with choosing active and sustainable transportation.  Students learn how to ride the HSR responsibly and understand why it is important to choose sustainable transportation.

There are three lesson options that teachers may choose from:

Option 1:

Green Venture offers Totally Transit Kids in combination with an EcoHouse Sustainability Tour.  A chartered HSR bus is used as transportation to and from EcoHouse.

Option 2:

Green Venture offers Totally Transit Kids as part of a full day of programming in conjunction with the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology.  A chartered HSR bus is used as transportation between the two venues.

Option 3:

Green Venture offers Totally Transit Kids by bringing a chartered HSR bus to their school or other community venue.

Book your Totally Transit Kids program by contacting Virginia Stonehouse, Education Coordinator at Green Venture at 905 540-8787×154 or email education@greenventure.ca.

Learn more about Green Venture school programs by visiting our website http://ecohouse.greenventure.ca/education-programs

Hamilton’s 5th Annual Climate Change Action Month is here October 1-31, 2013. There will be lots going on this month to get involved with and to highlight the activities in the community that are addressing climate change. We hope you can get involved!

How can you get involved in Climate Change Action Month?

Take the Challenge

Take Green Venture’s Community Carbon Challenge from September 30th to October 11th for your chance to win a $200 gift card to Mountain Equipment Coop and other great prizes. The Community Carbon Challenge is a fun and interactive way to explore ways you can reduce your carbon footprint over the span of two weeks. For the next two weeks they’ll challenge you with different ways you can live more sustainably in everyday life and reduce your carbon emissions. You can explore different ways to reduce your carbon footprint (and save some cash) during the challenge and even after. For more information about the challenge, visit www.climatechangehamilton.ca/community-carbon-challenge.

To participate in the Community Carbon Challenge, you just have to follow these 3 easy steps:

1. Register for the Community Carbon Challenge here

2. Follow Green Venture on Facebook or Twitter (@Green_Venture) for daily challenges from Monday, September 30th to Friday, October 11th. No challenges will be posted over the weekend but that doesn’t mean it’s time for you to quit, it’s time for you to get creative! Additional points will be given to any participant who submits an action that reduces their carbon emissions over the weekend (October 5th and October 6th).

3. Take a picture of you completing the challenges each day and send it to us on Facebook or Twitter

It’s that easy! You can keep sending us pictures of completed challenges until October 18th. Green Venture will announce the 3 winners on Facebook and Twitter, and contact winners by Friday, October 18th.

Tell Us about What Action You’re Taking

Are you already taking action on climate change at home? At work? At school?

Take a picture of it and help us put it on the Hamilton Climate Change Map to show and share what you and others are doing in Hamilton. This map will be used in the Annual Climate Change Report on the progress of addressing climate change and meeting emissions targets in Hamilton to the City’s Board of Health on October 21st

For more information on Climate Change Action Month, the Community Carbon Challenge, Climate Change Map or various events happening throughout the City during Climate Change Action Month please contact Deirdre Connell at 905-540-8787 ext 113 or by email at deirdre.connell@greenventure.ca.

Build an Outdoor Education Centre at EcoHouse.

Our environment is precious. Let’s work to preserve it through hands-on learning in a natural setting. Green Venture is looking for voting help for an Aviva Community Fund grant. This on-line competition requires the public to vote for projects. Voting takes place between Sept 30 and Oct 14, 2013. Your support for this project will help fund class tours of EcoHouse for students in Hamilton and surrounding region, and will also provide an interpretive centre on the grounds suitable for outdoor education programs.

To vote (requires an easy and free registration), go here: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf16853

Create an Outdoor Education Space

If successful, the open-air Outdoor Education Centre will be located in the SW corner of the 2-acre Glen Manor estate, part of a lush oasis in the heart of the East Hamilton neighbourhood resting in the shadow of the Niagara Escarpment. The Outdoor Education Centre will be integrated into the existing fruit garden plantings in that section of the EcoHouse grounds, where staff discuss the virtues of poly culture in food production and the role of various fruit plantings historically in the old Saltfleet Township and the Niagara fruit belt.

Our Outdoor Education Centre will accommodate up to 24 students at a time, and will be used by all groups visiting EcoHouse as part of the two-hour indoor and outdoor programs on sustainable living. A raised platform with railings, will be complemented by a loft ceiling and a roof built with sustainable materials. Two rain barrels will collect rainwater for nearby fruit plantings. Green Venture staff and volunteers will conduct education sessions from a small raised dais. Recycling options and a small teaching storage case will round out the outdoor programming offerings.

Urban wildlife visits Green Venture's EcoHouse

Urban wildlife visits Green Venture’s EcoHouse


 Bring Students to EcoHouse

If successful, at least 15 classes (600 students) will receive, at no charge, an educational program at Green Venture with hands-on activities and curriculum links to Grades 5-6 and 7-8, including transportation to and from the site.

The Outdoor Education Centre will continue to be of benefit to the community, with over 2000 students visiting annually per year. The structure will also be available to groups wishing to utilize the EcoHouse grounds for public functions. Signage will be erected to thank Aviva for their generous contribution.

 Key components:

1. No-charge education programs for at least 15 classes (600 students)

2. Transportation provided for at least 15 classes

3. Teaching platform, steps, and loft ceiling

4. Environmentally-sustainable metal roof and eavestrough

5. Four round six-seater picnic tables

6. Teaching supplies chest

7. Segregated upright bin for recycling collection

8. Two rain barrels for rainwater collection and plantings



Green Venture gets Gold

Green Venture announces their new Executive Director, Kathryn Gold.

At only 30 years old, Kathryn is the youngest Executive Director the organization has ever had.

Kathryn has worked for Green Venture for six years as a Program Coordinator, and has a history of exceeding everyone’s expectations.  You may remember Kathryn for bringing the idea of “Pet Waste Composting” to Hamilton a few years back.  The three workshops (held at EcoHouse) were filled to capacity, and 100 people were on a waiting list hoping to get in.

Earlier this year, Kathryn was chosen to represent Green Communities Canada at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation Council Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, where she highlighted their joint “Depave Paradise” program.  Last year, Green Venture helped to depave 95 square meters of pavement at St. Augustine’s elementary school in Dundas.

Kathryn obtained a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo in 2008, and has a background in Water Conservation and Demand Management.  She also has an Honours Degree in Geography from Brock University.

“I am thrilled to lead Green Venture into the future”, says Gold, as she explains that building partnerships with other environmental groups will be at the forefront of her focus for the organization.

The Board of Directors expresses their confidence that Kathryn will settle into the role well.  “Kathryn has a great rapport with current staff, and we are certain that she will guide the organization with purpose and stay true to our Mission and Vision,” Velma Grover states.

With Kathryn’s fresh outlook on environmental issues, and experience with the media, everyone expects Green Venture to have a strengthened presence in the community.  “It’s really about connecting with Hamiltonians, and providing the environmental knowledge and services that they are seeking.  Connecting with others is what we are all about,” says Kathryn.

When asked if she thinks she can live up to the previous Executive Director’s legacy, Kathryn insists that it will be tough, but she is willing to put in the effort and hard work.

There are various means of preventing the pesky weed we all love to hate from creeping back into our yards. In order to prevent poison ivy from coming back, a few measures need to be taken. First you can use boiling water or a salt and vinegar solution (destroys roots) to water the plant before pulling it out. Second pulling out the poison ivy will prevent farther growth also use cardboard, plastic newspaper, mulch etc to cover the area where you pulled out the poison ivy from. This will prevent regrowth as well.   Humans are the only known creatures to be allergic to poison ivy. If it’s not growing in an area where people walk, let it be.   A brick or a material border won’t stop poison ivy from re-entering. Poison ivy can climb up and over the border


Image     Tahmid Uddin – Co-op Student

Interesting article here about the insurance industry and its relationship with hybrid cars.


The article is informative in general, although the list of “best hybrids” is particularly interesting. Funny that the writers of the article chose to “promote” the Chevrolet Volt in fourth spot when the linked article from which the rankings are taken clearly shows three Toyota Priuses (should that be Priusi ?)  sharing the spot overall and the Volt in 7th.Either that or the list is a “living” document that constantly updates- not sure why there is a discrepancy.

Either way though, the article makes the good point that the insurance industry in the US is looking favourably at hybrids.

Do you have trouble determining which insects you see in your garden? Not sure which are helpful and which are harmful? Green Venture summer student Aaron, who studies etymology at university, has compiled a list of 5 helpful and 5 harmful bugs which are common in the garden. Take a look at this list of 5 helpful insects, find out why they are good, and look for them in your garden!

What: Bees, Flies, Moths and Butterflies – Pollinators

Why they are good for the garden: Pollination is a needed service for any garden. The pollinators such as bees, hover flies and butterflies allow plants to reproduce, fruit, and genetically grow. As these pollinators land on the flowers surface, the pollen on the stamen (male parts) gets transferred onto the insect (or collected, in the case of bees) and as the pollinator flies to the next flower some of that pollen is transferred to the pistol (female parts). This pollinates (or fertilizes) the plant, allowing for the growth of the seeds and fruit.

What: Assassin Bugs

Why they are good for the garden: Assassin Bugs are a great predator for natural control of insect pests in gardens. With their needle-like mouth parts they paralyze, inject liquefying enzymes into, and then suck up the internals of their prey. They feed upon any herbivorous insect pests you can think of, from aphids, to potato beetles, to caterpillars. They can be quite large (as big as 4 centimetres in length) but they are harmless to humans, if left alone. Assassin bugs can be found on the underside of leaves, stalking prey and keeping camouflaged.

What: Lady Bird Beetles

Why they are good for the garden: Lady Bird beetles are one of the best known natural controls for aphids, and have been used for centuries on crops for this purpose. Both their larval forms and adult forms are predatory, and can eat up to 400 aphids as larvae and up to 5,000 aphids in a one year lifespan. A single Lady Bird beetle can also lay up to 1,000 eggs. Unfortunately, due to their popularity, many species were brought over to increase their control abilities. One of the most well known and most common lady bird beetles in North America, the Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis), is now an invasive species and out-competes native Lady Bird beetles for resources, thus endangering them (see pictures below for the difference between the two species).

What: Parasitic Wasps

Why they are good for the garden: Parasitic wasps have gotten a lot of recent attention in Integrated Pest Management, especially in greenhouses, for the control of many herbivorous insect pests. Parasitic wasps have even become available for purchase to every day gardeners. If purchased, they are shipped on strips of card board that have eggs or pupae glued to them and can be hung in the garden. The wasps will then hatch, fly to the pest which will be their host, and use their ovipositor (egg laying structure) to inject eggs into the host. The larvae hatch and eat the pest from the inside out, causing the adult wasps to emerge from the dead host, fly away and parasitize more of the pest, thus controlling the population. These parasitic wasps are very host specific, so the ones on the market will not target anything other than the pest needing control. The wasp can parasitize a variety of species from tiny aphids to large caterpillars.

What: Ants

Why they are good for the garden: Ants are one of the best beneficial insects to have in a garden. Mound building varieties of ants act as great natural tillers; with their complex tunnel excavation, they bring up soils from lower horizons and help mix in nutrients from the surface. They also can help in plant growth, as they take seeds they find at the surface and place them in certain chambers of their nest to grow. Some species harvest fungi, which helps in providing valuable nitrogen for the soil, which is an essential nutrient for plants. They are also fairly territorial, and will ward off large unwanted pests such as caterpillars. That being said, some ant species will tend to aphids, farming them for their sweet excretions, and causing their population numbers to explode at a faster rate. If this is the case, be sure to handle an aphid problem quickly, but leave the ants be!


Stay tuned for the next blog about which insects can be harmful in your garden!


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Written by Aaron F. and edited by Rebecca J.


Building rain gardens is a truly wonderful way to minimize the amount of storm water runoff that ends up in to the sewers, and consequently in the Hamilton Harbour.  Strategically placing them in down-sloped areas or underneath downspouts is ideal for limiting the amount of runoff from your property.  However, another factor to consider is how this garden will look, and what type of wildlife you would like to attract.

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Flag Iris


In general, birds are attracted to plants that bear fruits and seeds.  Some examples of native rain garden plants that are best suited to birds are High Bush Cranberry, Cardinal Flower, Chokeberry, and fruit-bearing shrubs and trees.


Butterflies and bees are attracted to plants with nectars, pollens, and saps to extract.  These insects act as pollinators, moving pollens and nectars so that other plants may flourish.  Some examples of native rain garden species suited to attracting bees and butterflies are Cardinal flower, Sneezeweed, Turtlehead, Bee Balm, Joe Pye Weed, and various types of Milkweed.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on Cardinal Flower

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on Cardinal Flower


It should be noted that rain gardens will not attract mosquitoes, since they require at least 6 days of standing water to breed, and a properly functioning rain garden will drain in less than 24 hours.  In fact, rain gardens attract other insects, such as dragonflies, which prey on mosquitoes.




Here are some native species that will provide colour and diversity to beneficial native insects and birds:


Fox Sedge (Carex  vulpinoides) and other native sedges

Dark-green Bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens)

Soft stem Bulrush (Scirpus validus)

Red Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Blue flag iris (Iris virginicus)

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilatica)

Golden Alexanders (Zizea aurea)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Virginia Mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)


This plant list was provided by St. Williams Nursery.  You can visit their website here: http://www.stwilliamsnursery.com/



Green Venture is currently involved in the Shell Fuelling Change competition.   Our project will build rain gardens with residents in a neighbourhood that has a history of flooding during intense rainfall.

Every vote counts!

Please help us out in this competition by voting for our program here:



Posted by Edward



Green Venture is seeking a dynamic individual to lead it’s team of dedicated staff and volunteers. If you are looking for a flexible career in an excellent working environment, and you have a strong desire to facilitate positive change in your community, then click here or more information.


Green Venture is a well-established community organization that is focused on supporting Hamilton residents in their efforts to live more sustainably at home, work, and school. As the Executive Director, you will provide strategic leadership and direction for the development, implementation and management of activities that support community action and move the organization forward.

In this role you will collaborate with various organizations and a wide range of stakeholders to build and maintain strong linkages/partnerships that support Green Venture with its ongoing community initiatives.

You are dynamic and adaptable to a changing environment, and possess excellent communication skills. You demonstrate a collaborative spirit and subscribe to a philosophy of “partnership is better”. You are responsible for creating an enjoyable and productive working environment for a team of dedicated staff and volunteers. You report to a committed Board of Directors composed of various skills and expertise that represent the community Green Venture serves.

Green Venture offers meaningful employment with a flexible schedule and a supportive work environment; all while contributing to the improvement of the community. Salary range is between $50,000 and $60,000 and is commensurate with experience.

Please send cover letter and resume attention “Human Resources – Executive Director” to  hr@greenventure.ca by 5pm on Friday August 2, 2013. The anticipated start date of this position is Monday August 26, 2013.

We thank all applicants for their interest but wish to advise that only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Green Venture is an equal opportunity employer that is committed to inclusive, barrier-free recruitment and selection processes.  If contacted for an employment opportunity, please advise us if you require accommodation.

Job Description – Executive Director

PEM Form – Executive Director

This summer, Green Venture has been working with Canadian Tire Stores to deliver Tire Pressure Clinics to the community.  These clinics were made possible from the Shell -Fuelling Change grant awarded to us last year, in addition to support from Clean Air Hamilton.  During these events, we teach motorists how to check their tire pressure.  If required, we also fill up people’s tires, and provide them with EcoDriver information and a giveaway item.  These events are a great way to engage the community and teach them sustainable driving techniques.  After attending these clinics, people learn how to save money on gas, while reducing their use of fossil fuels.

Why Attend a Tire Pressure Clinic?

  • The average person is emitting 10% more CO2 when driving their car due to under-inflated tires
  • 26% of smog forming pollutants and greenhouse gases come from road vehicles
  • 33% of vehicles have at least one tire under inflated
  • 70% of people don’t measure tire pressures each month
  • Just one tire under-inflated by 8 psi can increase fuel consumption by 4% (that’s 80 litres more fuel per year), and reduce the life of the tire by 15 000km
  • Canadians waste 533 million litres of  fuel each year  which equates to over 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (CO2)
  • Under-inflation is the leading cause of tire failure

tire pressure cdn tire 2 130620 MG

Stats From Our Last Tire Pressure on Saturday, June 22, 2013:

  • # of people helped/spoken to: 27
  • Average PSI (Pounds per square inch) of air given per car: 5
  • Total PSI added to people’s vehicles throughout the day: 120

So our one tire pressure clinic…

  • Saved 3.28 L of fuel in just one day
  • Saved a collective 1,200 L of fuel in a year
  • Saved 7.5 kg of CO2 from being emitted in one day
  • Saved 2,670 kg of CO2 from being emitted in a year

These events teach us how to live a little more sustainably while driving, and we would love for you to participate!  Our next Tire Pressure Clinic is this Saturday, July 6, 2013.  The location is 777 Upper James St, Hamilton, ON.


Posted by Edward

We have had quite the rainy summer in southern Ontario this year! Have you noticed issues with flooding or soil erosion in your garden? If so, constructing a rain garden may be an excellent way to minimize this problem.

If you live in a particularly hilly area, rain gardens can be an ideal way to minimize flooding issues because they are able to hold more water than a regular garden, and  help to prevent soil from washing away.  Rain gardens can also be used in conjunction with rain barrels to capture substantial runoff from your property.

Rain Gardens at Ecohouse

Rain Gardens at EcoHouse

It’s easy to construct your own rain garden! For details on construction, visit http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/la/la_005.cfm.  Remember, in order to capture the maximum amount of water, try to strategically place your rain garden in depressed areas where water naturally pools or where downspout water will collect.

Once you have constructed your rain garden, it is important to plant native species in it.  Native plants are accustomed to local conditions, and have deeper roots to increase the permeability of your soil.

Foxglove Beardtongue

Foxglove Beardtongue

As your plants mature, their roots continue to spread, increasing the amount of water your garden will be able to hold.  Remember that most water will be stored in the centre of the garden, similar to a large bowl.  Cardinal Flower, Foxglove Beardtongue, Joe Pye Weed and Service Berry are a few examples of plants we have in the middle of our own rain gardens at Green Venture because they favour a wetter environment. For a list of native shrubs and plants, visit http://water.greenventure.ca/rain-gardens.


Green Venture is currently involved in the Shell- Fuelling Change competition.   Our aim is to build community awareness and support for lot-level storm water management measures, like rain gardens.

Currently, just over 800 more votes gets us in the top 4! Please help us out in this competition by voting for our program here:




Posted by Edward


Green Venture is continuously embarking on new projects and keeping ongoing projects current.  One of the latest ones that we have just completed is no different.

From November 2012 to March 2013, we had taken air quality project that we have done a number of times (thanks to the support of Dr. Denis Corr, Rotek Environmental, and Ontario Ministry of Environment) and we re-focused it to include a youth element.

Thanks to support from the Ontario Government’s Healthy Communities Fund and Clean Air Hamilton, we partnered with the grade 5’s in Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School on Belmont Ave on an Air Health Project that we have called “Fresh Air for Kids”.

Our main focus was to create a toolkit that would allow the students to make informed decisions about air quality using tools like Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) and educating them on the importance of improving Hamilton’s air by using active transportation, like walking or cycling.

Our tool kit is impressive (if we do say so, ourselves 🙂

And we wanted to showcase the work that we did during this inspiring project.

First, to provide a great overview of the project, check out this 4 minute video, created by local videographer, Michael Canton.Click here for the video.

We created buttons and fridge magnets to be used as prompts to check air quality.  Buttons and Magnets

For a general overview, we created a newsletter for the class and the school.  Click HNOJ newsletter 2013 FINAL JL

For the full report, including results of the air sampling, click Fresh Air Kids Report 24 April 2013 V2

Special thanks to:

Special thanks to our funders:
Ontario Government / Healthy Community Fund
Clean Air Hamilton

Levitt Safety
Corr Research
Ontario Ministry of Environment

Big thanks to staff and Grade 5 students at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School.
Principal Akers
Ms. Mattachini

We also appreciate the assistance of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment,  the McMaster Centre for Spatial Analysis, Paul Kroes, John Lindsay, Martin Kruk, Justin Buonocore, Brian Thorburn, Bill Branch, Mark Smithson, Carl Slater, Bill Bardswick, Geoffrey Knapper, John Beals, Joe Lesko, Pat DeLuca and Matthew Adams for various assistance and advice in connection with instrument and vehicle preparation, transport, operation, data evaluation and student education.


Stephanie Holko – Outstanding Board Member – Green Communities Canada 2013 award


Clare Wagner – Outstanding Staff Person – Green Communities Canada 2013 award

Green Venture’s Stephanie Holko  received the 2013 Outstanding Board Member, and Clare Wagner the 2013 Outstanding Staff Person award in recognition of their hard work in the service of the environment and the City of Hamilton.

“We’re very impressed with the accomplishments of Clare and Stephanie,” said Clifford Maynes, of Green Communities Canada, a national organization which conferred the award at its recent Annual General Meeting. “We want to take this opportunity to congratulate them and their community supporters for everything that’s been achieved to date, and to wish them the best for the years to come.”

Maynes noted that it is far from easy to maintain and grow an organization like Green Venture, with its excellent programs and partnerships (see www.greenventure.ca to learn more).

“It takes determination, entrepreneurship, and constant innovation,” he said.

“Environmental sustainability is an urgent goal, but we’re not going to get there overnight. We need people like Clare and Stephanie that will keep working away — through good times and difficult times.”

Green Communities Canada is a national association of more than two dozen community organizations that help people go green – at home, at work, on the road, and throughout their communities. See: www.greencommunitiescanada.org

For more information, contact Clifford Maynes, Executive Director at cmaynes@greencommunitiescanada.org or 705-745-7479 x 118.

It has been a long process of planning and execution, but the overhaul of the EcoHouse Community Garden is complete! With a fresh layout and over 250 square metres of garden area renovated, the new community garden will certainly be a vibrant and busy place this summer – plot holders, volunteers, community members, and staff alike can visit the garden to learn more about organic gardening while growing their own food at the same time.

Some of the main changes to the EcoHouse Community Garden:

  • There are now wide, stabilized, mulched pathways throughout the garden to create safe access for school and camp tours, as well as other visitors walking through.
  • The garden has moved to a ‘plot system,’ meaning that community members may pay a small fee to rent a plot for the summer and collect their harvest as the season progresses.
  • All of the garden plots consist of raised beds, making it easier for gardeners with a limited range of motion to participate in our garden.
  • A community message board was installed to provide up-to-date seasonal information and to enhance garden member and volunteer communication.
  • Educational signage was added to the garden space, highlighting sustainable gardening techniques, plants, insects and conservation tips.

We would like to thank Walmart-Evergreen for providing us with the funds to complete this project. We would also like to thank Allegra printing for working with us to complete the educational signage for the garden.

Interested in getting involved as a volunteer? Want a garden plot of your own? Contact us via email at contact@greenventure.ca, by phone at 905-540-8787, or come visit EcoHouse to see this wonderful new space!

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walmart evergreen logos together

Written by Rebecca J.


Climate Change Champion Activity Update

June is Bike Month so we thought we’d use this month’s Climate Change Champions update to highlight a bicycle-friendly organization in Hamilton. THAAT Delivery, a signatory of Hamilton’s Climate Change Action Charter since its inception, brings Hamilton human-powered, local, and sustainable delivery services. THAAT Delivery, newly located at 237 James St. N. (entrance on Severn St.), offers convenient, efficient, and CO2-free delivery with a 500lb cargo capacity of all kinds of goods throughout the lower city from Stoney Creek to Dundas. You may be asking “How is it CO2-free”? Well, it’s all delivered by bike! At the time of this interview, THAAT Delivery had offset 893.54 pounds of CO2e by cycling 1528 km for 1126 deliveries, and these numbers just keep growing!

During the average week, THAAT is on the road delivering regular customer’s products like magazines and subscriptions, light-weight deliveries, coffeecology coffee, community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm deliveries, and bread and egg deliveries. Not only are many of these products local and sustainable, but they are being delivered to doorsteps across the city with no associated carbon emissions because they’re delivered by bike. Starting in June, THAAT will be out on the road making even more deliveries! THAAT Delivery has partnered with vendors from the Locke Street Market to launch The Local Basket. This website is an online platform where residents can access menus of local growers to buy local and sustainable produce, coffee, and much more and have it delivered to their doorstep by bike. The Local Basket is a great way for people to access local food without driving to a farmer’s market and negating the impact of buying local.

That’s not all you can expect from THAAT this summer. THAAT will also be unveiling a new Vélo Stage which made a special appearance at Bike to Work/School Day this year at Gore Park. The Stage is a partnership between THAAT Delivery and Reuben and Heidi Vanderkwaak, also known as the Pedal Powered Family and the folks behind Kidical Mass, to raise awareness and advocate for cargo cycling by showing all of the great possibilities bikes can bring us. You might have seen the Velo Stage this past Sunday at Open Streets Hamilton on James Street North.

THAAT also received the Community in Motion Active Transportation Award for Bicycle-Friendly Business/Organization at Bike to Work Day this year. This award recognizes businesses and organizations that demonstrate significant impact on promoting cycling and a cycle-friendly environment through infrastructure, promotional programs or other similar initiatives. THAAT Delivery is an active member of the community and has made a huge effort to actively support and promote the use of healthy and sustainable forms of transportation not only through the way the business operates but other ventures as well.

We hope THAAT Delivery keeps up the great work and can’t wait to see what comes next!

– Deirdre

We at Green Venture are happy to share the following press release from the City of Hamilton announcing the City has achieved Milestone 5 – Monitoring Progress and Reporting Results. Milestone 5 is the final milestone of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Partners for Climate Protection program, a network of Canadian municipalities that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking action on climate change. The City has continued to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as tackle the causes and consequences of climate change in Hamilton.


Hamilton Achieves Climate Change Milestone

HAMILTON, ON – April 22, 2013 –  The City of Hamilton achieved Milestone 5 from the Partners for Climate Protection program for taking steps to reduce greenhouse gases and improve energy efficiency as recognized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The Partners for Climate Protection program is a results-oriented network of Canadian municipal governments that have committed to reducing greenhouse gases and acting on climate change. This recognition places Hamilton amongst the top 6% of 239 Canadian municipal members of the program.

Since 2005, the City of Hamilton has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 16% by, retrofitting municipal buildings, replacing street lighting with energy efficient LED lighting, capturing methane from landfills and water treatment and converting to energy at the Glanbrook landfill and the Woodward Wastewater treatment plant, introducing hybrid and electric vehicles into the city’s vehicle fleet, reducing paper consumption, and encouraging active transportation and commuting by employees.

In 2011, Hamilton was the first municipality in Ontario to introduce a community Climate Change Action Charter. The charter is a voluntary agreement that outlines the need for local action and commitment on climate change from individuals, organizations and businesses of all types and sizes throughout Hamilton. Under the charter, the City reports annually on its progress addressing climate change.

For more information visit www.hamilton.ca/climatechange

Saturday March 23rd, 2013 marked the 7th annual Earth Hour. Earth Hour is the single largest mass participation event in the world. Based on the hope that we can mobilize people to take action on climate change, Earth Hour now inspires millions of people in over 7000 cities and towns in over 150 countries to switch lights off for an hour and is a great first step towards reducing our environmental impact. This year, Hamilton residents turned out the lights and were able to reduce energy consumption by 4% and Horizon Utilities reported energy usage was down 21 MW during Earth Hour – enough power to run 913 homes for an entire day.

While some Hamilton residents participated in Earth Hour by turning lights out at home or local restaurants, Dundas in Transition and the Ecological Churches of West Hamilton (Ecowham) took celebrations a step further by holding the Earth Hour Resilience and Sustainability Night. During Earth Hour and throughout the night, over 70 local residents celebrated by examining ways to become a more resilient and sustainable community through movies, presentations, and great treats from sponsors Café Domestique and Picone Fine Foods. Those who came to this terrific event at St Paul’s United Church were even given a sneak peek at The Revolution Movie. This movie tries to uncover the secret to saving ecosystems we depend on for survival. From coral reefs to deforestation to tar sands, he reveals that all of our actions are interconnected and that environmental degradation, species loss, ocean acidification, pollution, and food/water scarcity are reducing the Earth’s ability to house humans. This great evening night ended after lights went out to celebrate Earth Hour at 8:00 PM and flashlights came on!

Although turning the lights out for an hour isn’t the solution to all of our environmental issues, we hope that you go beyond the hour and start making small and simple changes that reduce your energy consumption today and every day.

To find out more about the Climate Change Champions program and ways you can reduce your environmental impacts, visit the Climate Change Hamilton website.

For more information about Dundas in Transition and Ecowham, check out their websites at http://www.dundasintransition.ca/and http://ecowham.blogspot.ca/.

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– Deirdre

Often called the AQHI, the Air Quality Health Index is a rating system that helps us better understand the quality of the air we are breathing each day and how it affects our health. The index ranks each day’s air quality and assigns it a certain colour or number. Every citizen can access these rating online (website: airhealth.ca) or by calling 905-543-1136.

For example, on days when air quality is poor (generally on some of the hottest summer days) the rating will be a 10 (or red) and officials suggest that anyone at risk (such as people with heart or breathing problems) should avoid being active outside while the general population should keep outside activity to a minimum.

Air Quality Health Index

Air Quality Health Index

As we write this, Hamilton’s AQHI is a 3 (or blue) meaning it is a great day for everyone to enjoy outdoor activity.

Learn more about AQHI and how to check readings at airhealth.ca. Hamilton specific reading can be found along with our weather. 

You can also learn more about air quality and how it affects your health from CleanAir Hamilton.

Sometimes it can be hard to visualize air pollution (except for on a few very smoggy days). Even harder is making the connections between our actions and air pollution.

We found a great activity that uses food colouring to represent pollutants and water to represent the air. Different pollutants (drops of colouring) are released depending on our morning routines. For example, a drop for driving a car to work and even a drop for using hot water in the shower (because of the pollutants created to heat the water).

It got us thinking about how all our little actions can make a big impact and that air can be polluted even when we can’t see that pollution.

Imagine if each pollutant was a bright colour and our air was a brown, soupy mess! There is a great write up on this activity so you can do it in the classroom or with kids at home.

Learn lots more about how your actions impact air quality at CleanAir Hamilton’s website.

The Cowan Foundation Supports Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton’s Growing in the Greenhouse with Oliver’s Garden Project

Media Release

HAMILTON ONTARIO – On April 8th The Boys and Girls Club, Oliver’s Garden Project and Green Venture will be hosting a breakfast celebrating a new partnership funded by The Cowan Foundation.

The event will launch a pilot that will introduce approximately 100 children from the Boys and Girls Club’s Let’s Get Moving after school programs to having fun while gardening and cooking. Kids will get to explore, cook, and grow in the Parkview Secondary school greenhouse and kitchen once a week during the five week pilot programs.

Oliver’s Garden Project was created by Oliver and his younger sister Piper. While travelling to the grocery store one day Oliver asked his mom why some kids were rummaging through peoples recycling. He then had an idea and with the help of mom Stacey, dad Calum and sister Piper they created “Oliver’s Garden Project”. Growing produce in their backyard in Hamilton Ontario, they sold their veggies in front of their house or at local farmers markets where 100% of vegetable sales were directed to local youth charities.

The Cowan Foundation has stepped up to support the after school program through a $20,000 donation that will help to ensure children can learn about the importance of sustainable living and realize a cleaner, healthier community.

“Through the Cowan Foundation, we look to support programs which assist in improving the overall health and wellness of our communities as well as those programs which encourage excellence in children, explained Dave Wilkins, Cowan Foundation representative and Group Manager Employee Benefits Cowan Insurance Group/Wentworth Financial Services .  Oliver’s Garden was a perfect example of a project that encompassed these ideals.  It is a true pleasure to be able to support Oliver, Piper and their family on this wonderful project.”

“We just want the next generation to be more aware of their offspring and their actions,” explains Stacey Allen-Cillis, Oliver and Piper’s mom. “Growing your own produce and sharing it teaches so much!” She is excited for this program to directly affect so many kids with real, hands-on food and garden experience.

Media are welcome to join us to learn more about Oliver’s Garden Project and our exciting plans to empower even more young people to grow, eat, and share with their community.

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More about everyone involved:

Oliver’s Garden Project is an initiative working to empower kids to grow, eat, and share with their community. www.oliversgardenproject.com

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton works to provide a safe, supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life. www.kboysandgirlsclub.com

The Cowan Foundation (www.cowanfoundation.ca) was started in 1995 in honour of Frank Cowan, the founder of Cowan Insurance Group and Frank Cowan Company. The Foundation is sustained by the ongoing success of the Princeton Holdings group of companies including Cowan Insurance Group, Frank Cowan Company, The Guarantee Company of North America and Millennium CreditRisk Management. Together they provide insurance and risk management products and services for individuals, businesses, organizations and public entities as well as assist employers with their group benefits, retirement and health and disability management plans.  The goal of The Cowan Foundation is to make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians and the broader well-being of our communities. www.cowanfoundation.ca

Fugitive Dust is the term for the dust that gets into our air or water as a side effect of everyday actions or sources such as cars, construction vehicles, agriculture, and outdoor storage piles.

These dusts, called ‘particulate matter’ are a pollutant and have a serious negative effect on our air quality.

Industrial sites are often a main source of these fugitive dusts as many heavy vehicles move around sites and track particles onto the road.  Other traffic then moves the dirt around and into our air and water. This dirt is called ‘drag-out’ and it can get especially bad on sites with open storage piles and dirt roads. While things like vehicle exhaust and tire wear also create nasty dusts, the impact of drag-out is very easy to prevent.

Drag out of dust can contribute to air pollution

Drag out of dust can contribute to air pollution

There are many steps industrial sites, such as construction zones, need to take to decrease the impact of dust on our air quality such as covering supplies and washing vehicles before they leave a site.  It isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the law. Municipal By-Laws forbid the tracking of mud, soil or building materials on to public roads and The City can fine violators for costs to clean up the mess.

The best thing to do is to snap a photo (if you can) and then report the violation. Environment Hamilton has a great program called Dust Busters all about drag out and how you can help. Visit their website to find all the details on reporting a problem:

You can also find more about this topic, and lots of other information about air quality in Hamilton, from the CleanAir Hamilton website.

openstreetsham logoAs a proud partner of Open Streets Hamilton, Green Venture is encouraging residents (yes you!) to get involved and help make Open Streets Hamilton a continued success.

This event is only going to be possible with help from you, so get involved today!

A volunteer planning meeting is scheduled for this Thursday April 4th. Contact events@openstreetshamilton.ca to become part of this dynamic team of volunteers (even if you are unable to make the meeting this Thursday, there are many ways that you can help).


Pete Wobschall
Executive Director
Green Venture


Open Streets Wants You…

…to join our 2013 team!

Sunday June 23, 2013open streets hamilton sc – 10am to 5pm

We hope you’re coming to Open Streets Hamilton: James Street North!   Apply now and tell us how you’d like to help us open the street!

WHO – Open Streets Hamilton Community Organization is a volunteer-run, registered non-profit organization.  We are a community-based partnership dedicated to promoting active, healthy and inclusive lifestyles by temporarily transforming streets into a shared space for everyone to experience.  Our motto is “Make the Streets Your Playground”.  Sunday, June 23rd, 2013, will mark our 7th car-free Sunday in Hamilton since June 2010!

Open Streets Hamilton is part of a network of events taking place all over the world to re-purpose streets for fun, active, and creative activities!  Click here to see more about events like this across North America!  Open Streets Hamilton is looking for volunteers to help in the following areas:

  • Media & Sponsorship (assist in recruiting paid and in-kind sponsors, arrange media coverage for event day, write press releases, ensure sponsor recognition on event day)
  • Street & Logistics (create street design for programming and amenities, arrange equipment for event day, set up/tear down of equipment, coordinate drop off/pick up on event day)
  • Communications & Outreach (assist with outreach to businesses and residents along the event route, attend promotional events, answer emails/social media requests)
  • Programming & Activities (help to solicit programming for the event, assist with set up/tear down of programming for event day, work with street layout team for placement/amenities)
  • Volunteers & Fundraising (recruit new volunteers, learn & develop volunteer training program, coordinate volunteers for event day and promotional events, assure fundraising tools are available)
  • Reporting & Evaluation (create event report template, set up evaluation for event results, carry out evaluation, prepare reports for future events)
  • Administration & Finances (attend committee meetings, take minutes, assist with bookkeeping tasks, answer general inquiries, direct requests to appropriate volunteers)
We will be hosting our next event on James Street North, in Hamilton, Ontario (final route details TBA).  Our volunteer planning team is open to all volunteers and meets at YWCA Hamilton (75 MacNab Street).  Please note YWCA Hamilton is an accessible building, has outdoor bike racks, and is only a short distance from both the MacNab Street bus terminal and Hamilton GO Station.  (Paid parking is available at City Hall.)Our next event is on Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 (10am* to 5pm – *road closure starts at 9am, set up is between 9am and 10am).
Planning team meetings take place starting April 4th on the first and third Thursday of every month from 5:45pm to 7:45pm.  All volunteers will receive minutes from planning team meetings and are welcome (and encouraged) to attend and assist with the planning process!
Click here to submit your application to join our June 23rd, 2013 event!  A team of returning volunteers will review your application and confirm your registration upon approval.  See above for more information about the kind of help Open Streets Hamilton is looking for.
Thank you for your time and consideration!  We hope you will be able to join us on June 23rd!  If you have more questions please contact Sunil at sunil@openstreetshamilton.ca or call 905-481-0809.Looking forward to seeing you on the street!The OSH Event Planning Team

Doors Open Hamilton 2013 is Green Venture’s annual opportunity to celebrate the heritage of the EcoHouse site. The site is open for the May 4-5 2013 weekend (10-4 on Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday), providing our neighbours an opportunity to get to know us better, and to learn what is new.

Because Doors Open Hamilton is about architecturally interesting buildings and their community connections, this event is one in which the heritage of Glen Manor, the traditional name for the site, comes to the foreground.

Glen Manor may have been named by the Veevers family, or may have already been called that going back into the late 19th century. The name is first referenced in 1930 in a shot of the entire farm from the Niagara Escarpment, although the name “Glendale”, for the surrounding roads and lands, appears to have existed back to before 1900.

Green Venture takes great pride in maintaining the heritage building, and indeed is determined to showcase EcoHouse as an example of adaptive reuse: the repurposing of existing facilities and “invested energy” rather than destroying said facilities and expending more energy and materials in creating something new. In 2012, Green Venture received a Benjamin Moore paint grant to enable us to repaint the front façade in more appropriate heritage palette colours.

new paint job EcoHouse 2012

new paint colours for EcoHouse 2012

Please help us get a better historical picture of the families who lived not only at our site, but also in the surrounding neighbourhoods. Green Venture welcomes any historical information or pictures of the Davis Creek neighbourhood (roughly from the Red Hill Valley to Centennial Parkway, and from King Street to the escarpment) to better help us present a good narrative of the land and its people.

In 2011, Green Venture was very glad to receive from a Veevers descendant a series of photos of the farm in 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, as well as invaluable information, helping us to get a better idea of the dimensions of the Glen Manor farm and what sort of crops they were producing. The complex, and occasionally painful, story of how the farm was eventually subsumed into the modern City of Hamilton provides an illuminating example of the nature of technological change and the effects of urban sprawl

Glen Manor farm sketch

sketch of Glen Manor farm in 1940s

Glendale Dairy barn

old Glendale Dairy barn, c1940

Davis Creek 1953

Davis Creek in 1953

Green Venture has aspirations to one day return the front façade of the building to its pre 1970 look, removing the front dormers and recreating the clean lines of a mid 19th century pre-Confederation stone farmhouse. Such a project is, of course, well beyond our current means, and would have to be taken in partnership with the City of Hamilton, owners of the heritage property. Doors Open Hamilton however, is a good annual opportunity to keep the dream alive and to remember the rich story of the Green Venture education centre.

During Doors Open Hamilton 2013, Green Venture will be conducting a Garlic Mustard Pull on Sat M<ay 4, between 1-3 pm. This volunteer event is part of our commitments to maintain the site and a heritage and horticultural centre. Help us eliminate this aggressive invasive species on the site. If time and manpower permits, we will expand the effort into the neighbouring Veevers Park.

Green Venture will also be hosting a vermicomposting workshop on Sat May 4, from 1030 am – noon. Learn about worm composting from an expert, David Pitt of Vermisprout, and make your own starter kit to take home. Get a jump-start on producing superior organic compost and liquid fertilizer for your gardens. There is a $30 charge for this workshop to cover materials, a great value for an item that regularly costs double that to buy. Pre-registration is required. Please give Green Venture a call at 905-540-8787, ext 115 to register, or email contact @greenventure.ca

An exciting initiative is taking place at Holy Name of Jesus School and St. Lawrence School thanks to dedicated staff, students, funders and community partners.

Since December of 2012, Green Venture has partnered with the schools to implement air quality monitoring projects.  With access to a Ministry of Environment vehicle that collects air samples, the goal is to get a snapshot of air quality in the neighourhoods around both schools.

Over the years, Green Venture has outreached to various neighbourhoods with similar projects and this is the first time we have partnered with schools.

“This is a great connection, we want the students to be informed of what the air quality is like in their community and stress to them that they can play a role in improving the air.” states Juby Lee, coordinator of the Mobile Air Monitor project for Green Venture.  “For example, for those that can, we suggest that students walk / bike / car pool to school, these simple measures postively impact our air quality.””The project is simple, Green Venture has access to a Mobile Air Quality Monitor vehicle that takes air samples of various pollutants: Sulphur Oxides, Carbon Dioxides, Oxides of Nitrogen, Particulate Matters 2.5 and 10 (the numbers refer to the size of matter).  

The neat aspect about a mobile monitor is that takes snapshots of air quality.  Its mobility allows us to go to “hot spots” as well as green spaces to do a comparison of their levels. We can go where the stationary monitors cannot.”

In partnership with Ministry of Environment, samples have been taken from December to February.  The students will start an Anti-Idling Campaign to raise awareness around issues with idling and have the students active on improving air quality. 

An addition, Green Venture would like to thank Levitt Safety, a corporation that rents / sells workplace safety equipment.  They sponsored a Particulate Matter monitoring device for 2.5 weeks that we used to collect samples at both schools.  With this portable, desktop air quality monitor, he students were able to do some of their own monitoring.  

Special thanks to Green Communities Canada and Healthy Communities Fund.  One of the exciting aspects of this project is that is a pilot, Green Venture is hoping to create similar projects across Ontario and the rest of Canada.    Thanks to Minister of Environment for access to their mobile air quality vehicles, these monitors are unique and there are only two in all of Canada and they are housed in Hamilton.   Thanks to Clean Air Hamilton for their support.

This is a project of Green Venture and we thank both schools for all their support.  In March /and April, presentations will be made at both schools as well as North End Neighbours Association and Crown Point meetings.

For more information, please visit www.greenventure.ca

Where does all the snow go when it melts?  Now that we’ve had some snowfall this season, a lot of folks have asked us this question.  Some of the snow will soak into the ground, however the majority will travel along hard surfaces and end up in the storm sewers.

It’s important to remember to clear the storm drains near your home.  This will prevent flooding in the neighbourhood.  Also remember to eliminate polluting substances; pet waste, cigarette butts, litter, motor oil, and salt will all end up in our waterways.

Depending on the neighbourhood you live in, you may be connected to a combined sewer system or a separated sewer system.  A combined sewer system (typical in neighbourhoods built pre-1970) means that stormwater and sewage travel through the same pipe.  When we have heavy rainfall or large snow melts, the system is overwhelmed and we often have sewage overflows into Hamilton Harbour.

If you live in an area with a separated sewer system (typical in neighbourhoods built after 1970) there are different challenges.  Stormwater travels through the pipes and is released into Hamilton Harbour without treatment.  That means that anything ending up in the sewer is transported directly to our waterways.  Think twice before using salt on your driveway or applying pesticides to your lawn, as these will be washed into the sewer the next time it rains.

When it comes to rain, the best motto is “Slow it Down, Soak it Up, Keep it Clean”.

For more information, check out:




Hamilton: Green Venture is looking for homeowners in frequently flooded neighbourhoods to participate in a new pilot program called “Flood My Rain Barrel”.  In an effort to encourage residents to manage stormwater on their property, Green Venture will disconnect downspouts and install 500-liter rain barrels for 23 homeowner participants at a fraction of the normal cost.

Climate change is resulting in more extreme weather events, and there have been an increasing number of storm events in Hamilton.  In the summer of 2009 there were two 100-year storms, and in the summer of 2012 there was a 1000-year storm.  Since 2004, there have been 19 weather events that have caused flooding to Hamilton homes.

Connected downspouts contribute to the overloading of the sewer system, which can cause both flooding and untreated sewage overflows into the harbour.  Each disconnected downspout will divert approx 23,000 litres of stormwater from the storm sewer per year.

Installations will begin in the spring, and requests will be processed on a first come first served basis.  Participants will be asked to pay $50, $125, or $200 for the service (based on household income).  The rain barrels alone retail for $290+hst.

Homeowners must currently have a connected downspout and be willing to place interpretive signage in their front yard or garden for a 3-year period.  Participants will also be asked to sign up for email notifications, complete a follow up survey, and allow pictures of the project to be put up on Green Venture’s website.

To sign up for this program please call 905-540-8787 ext. 116, or email elley.newman@greenventure.ca.  More details available at: water.greenventure.ca

Green Venture is a community-based not-for-profit organization committed to helping residents live more sustainably at home, at work, and in their daily lives. Funding for this project is generously provided by ArcelorMittal Dofasco and the Hamilton Port Authority.


Cable-14-HamLife-GV--logo-2This page provides details to Green Venture’s segment on Cable14’s Hamilton Life.

July/August 2013

Cable 14’s Hamilton will be taking a break for the summer. Please stay tuned for the upcomming fall segments!

June 2013

Special thanks toAndrew from  New Hope Community Bikes

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

Special thanks to the Museum of Steam and Technology.


Special thanks to New Hope Community Bikes, Nordic Stride (905 906 2405), and Hamilton Community Garden Network.

I Ride The HSR, connecting older adults with public transit.

Green Venture has been offering bus education programs for several years through the Totally Transit program.  This program introducespeople to the HSR, and provides them with the information needed to take the bus.  Green

hsrVenture is expanding this program to cater to older adults. Through a series of free workshops offered at four locations in Hamilton, older adults will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to confidently navigate public transit.  Topics such as local bus routes, bus fare and passes, seniors’ discounts, and trip planning will be covered.

After a 45 minute presentation on taking the bus, an optional 15 minute presentation will be offered on how to use Google maps to plan your

trip, for those who use the internet.  All workshop participants will have the opportunity to
fill out a form requesting bus trip planning to two destinations.  Green Venture will mail participants step by step instructions explaining how to take the bus to their destinations.

Participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a guided bus trip, where they will travel in small groups of 2-4 on the bus with a trained bus travel guide.  Free bus tickets will be provided, and the travel guide will orient them on how to use the bus while they ride to a fun location for
an outing, before travelling back to their starting point on the bus together.

Taking the bus is one of the most convenient and affordable ways to get around our city.  The HSR carries millions of passengers each year and operates comprehensive bus routes throughout Hamilton.  These workshops will discuss HSR bus services and focus on the neighbourhood around the workshop location.

Workshops will be offered at:

Tues Feb 19, 10:30am-12pm at Westdale Library (955 King St W)

Mon Feb 25, 10:30am-12pm at Turner Park Library (352 Rymal Rd E)

Thurs Feb 28. 10:30am-12pm at New Village Retirement Home (490 Hwy 8)

Mon March 4, 9:30-11am at Sackville Hill Seniors’ Recreation Centre (780 Upper Wentworth St)

Registration is not required to attend a workshop.
To sign up for a guided bus trip, please call 905-540-8787 ext 154.

Grades 5, 6, 7  – Totally Transit Program

Get on board Green Venture’s bus education program and prepare your students to ride city transit safely and effectively.  Totally Transit equips young bus riders with the tools they need to ride transit and make the connections between our transportation choices, energy use, air quality, climate change and healthy communities.  Best of all the students put their knowledge to the test on a privately chartered Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) city bus.

Green Venture and the HSR chartered bus come right to the school doors to deliver Totally Transit on-site or the bus can be your transportation to and from an EcoHouse tour.

To book a school tour and free bus trip, please call 905-540-8787 ext 154 or email education@greenventure.ca

Coach Jim at a Glance

In 2005, after several decades in marketing and later voluntary sector administration, Jim Mackey was looking for an outdoor activity to compliment his interests in cross country skiing, kayaking, cycling and running…that might inspire a new career direction.  Nearly 30 years of coaching team sports had left him with the firm conviction that lifelong sustainable activity was key to a person’s health and wellness.

By chance he was shown a set of Nordic Walking poles.  After listening to a few details about their construction, they immediately seemed to be the answer to his search.

“I realized that Nordic Walking would be a way for me to cross country ski all year round”, says Mackey.

But he needed to convince himself that this sport was something that he would love to do for the rest of his life.  So he bought himself a pair poles, took a walk leader’s class and spent the next couple of years Nordic Walking and Hiking on roads and trails; in parks and in snow and not only became convinced that this was the best sport he had ever come across (“because I can do it every day”) but was also so inspiring that he took an international level certification course  so that he could instruct others.

Now in 2013 Nordic Stride is offering year round Nordic Walking programs up to 15 times per week. Mackey instructs and/or leads every group perhaps proving clearly that this is something that you really can do every day (4 times a day on some days!).


History and Benefits of Nordic Walking

There are a variety of stories that explain the roots of Nordic Walking. To bring them together, it isn’t hard to imagine that in Scandinavia Nordic skiing has been extremely popular for a long time. At times weather or trail conditions would have made it more practical to “ski without skis,” this is essentially what Nordic Walking is.

So combining the utility of a pole with the need to get somewhere, Nordic Walking evolved as a lifestyle activity in northern Europe and then the rest of Europe where walking culture is far more ingrained than it is here.

Nordic Walking has grown in popularity as a fitness program.  The first well known example was a runner (and entrepreneur!) who decided to use some cut down ski poles to keep himself moving while rehabbing from a running injury.  Which if nothing else demonstrated the fact that poles have a variety of uses…that compliment Nordic Walking’s many benefits that thousands more people in North America have finally begun to discover.

Today, Nordic Walking is emerging as a very popular sport/activity worldwide. It is still far more popular in communities where walkability exists in the local urban infrastructure or is encouraged in recreation areas.

In the 8 years that I have been Nordic Walking and Nordic Hiking it has become far more common to see someone out on the trails or sidewalks in this region, walking with poles.

Some of those people will be from amongst the several hundred folks who I have personally gotten started in the sport. They may also be members of Nordic Stride an active group of people from all backgrounds who join in one or more of my groups each week.

The benefits of Nordic Walking are many. To highlight what people who have taken up the sport tell me they are getting from it, here is a list of the most frequently mentioned benefits:

  • Environmental Impact Minimal
  • minimal equipment
  • human powered transportation (viable commuter alternative)
  • encourages gentle use of natural places
  • as it becomes more popular will challenge carbon emitting modes for access to routes


  • Outdoors all year round (in almost  any weather)
  • Group activity
  • Engages most muscles in the body (vs regular walking)
  • Easy to learn BUT always a new challenge. It’s completely up to the individual
  • Inexpensive
  • Low Impact (poles absorb some stress on lower joints)
  • Pumps cardio and calorie burn up versus regular walking
  • Provides a “purposeful” walk
  • Can be worked into one’s lifestyle (walk at lunch time instead of staying at your desk)
  • Is a viable means of staying fit in the broadest sense.  It is more frequently being associated with an individual’s ability to avoid health problems associated with sedentary lifestyles. This is becoming very much top of mind especially with older adults.
  • Nordic Walkers become very aware of ways to improve and maintain good posture and walking technique even when not using the poles.
  • Is both a way to get around and a workout. You control the effort based on terrain, level of plant and push with poles, time on trail etc
  • It is a very good way for the individual (in consultation with their health care provider) to maximize their wellness, flexibility and strength going into or after rehab for many challenging health concerns.
  • My experience working with Nordic Walkers and Nordic Hikers each day is that this is a sport that they can see themselves doing throughout their lives. That they can flex to their schedule and use the skills of in many ways.
  • Nordic Walkers walk at the waterfront all year round…they hike the Bruce Trail…they use their poles with snowshoes in winter…they apply the skills, strength and flexibility that they get to other sports…in some cases they tell me that this is the only way that they can get out and walk a bit.  It is a very broad based activity for anyone.

I am happy to provide more details regarding my scheduled outings, group opportunities, demonstrations, or to direct you to some of the studies done regarding the benefits of this safe, gentle activity that you can challenge yourself with as much as you like.

Jim Mackey
Certified Nordic Walking Instructor
NCCP Coach
Nordic Stride
Dundas ON
905 906-2405

Hamilton Seedy Saturday

Sunday, February 24th, 11am-4pm at St. Peter’s HARRRP, 705 Main St E (at St. Clair).

HCGN_SeedySunday_Poster-1301Brought to you by the Hamilton Community Garden Network (HCGN) and Green Venture with support from the Canadian Organic Growers, Hamilton Chapter and The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.

Seed swap and garden celebration where all are welcome to get seeds and garden supplies through exchanges and vendors; learn about local community gardens and organizations; attend workshops and demonstrations; enjoy lunch and refreshments from Hamilton food trucks and restaurants; and win great prizes.

Entrance by donation to support the HCGN. On street parking. For more details and information on accessibility contact info@hcgn.ca, 905-540-8787 ext.158, or visit here.

Free transit workshops and guided bus trips for older adults

Hamilton – Green Venture, a non-profit environmental outreach organization based out of Hamilton, has partnered with Metrolinx to help older adults access public transit.

Through a series of free workshops offered at four locations in Hamilton, older adults will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to confidently navigate public transit.  Topics such as local bus routes, bus fare and passes, seniors’ discounts, and trip planning will be covered.

After a 45 minute presentation on taking the bus, an optional 15 minute presentation will be offered on how to use Google maps to plan your trip, for those who use the internet.  All workshop participants will have the opportunity to fill out a form requesting bus trip planning to two destinations.  Green Venture will mail participants step by step instructions explaining how to take the bus to their destinations.

Participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a guided bus trip, where they will travel in small groups of 2-4 on the bus with a trained bus travel guide.  Free bus tickets will be provided, and the travel guide will orient them on how to use the bus while they ride to a fun location for an outing, before travelling back to their starting point on the bus together.

Green Venture has been offering bus education programs for several years through the Totally Transit program.  This program introduces people to the HSR, and provides them with the information needed to take the bus.  Green Venture is expanding this program to cater to older adults.

Taking the bus is one of the most convenient and affordable ways to get around our city.  The HSR carries millions of passengers per year and operates comprehensive bus routes throughout Hamilton.  These workshops will discuss HSR bus services and focus on the neighbourhood around the workshop location.

Workshops will be offered at:
Tues Feb 19, 10:30am-12pm at Westdale Library (955 King St W)
Mon Feb 25, 10:30am-12pm at Turner Park Library (352 Rymal Rd E)
Thurs Feb 28. 10:30am-12pm at New Village Retirement Home (490 Hwy 8)
Mon March 4, 9:30-11am at Sackville Hill Seniors’ Recreation Centre (780 Upper Wentworth St)
Registration is not required to attend a workshop.

 To sign up for a guided bus trip, please call 905-540-8787 ext 154.


Virginia Stonehouse, Education Coordinator
Green Venture
905-540-8787 ext 154

Press Release from the City of Hamilton

HAMILTON, ON – January, 10, 2013 – The City of Hamilton has initiated an air monitoring pilot project at Sam Manson Park located in east Hamilton. This one-year air monitoring project will take place from January 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014. Data collected from this air monitoring system will be used to support education and policy development in the City of Hamilton.

What is being measured?
his Airpointer measures the five air pollutants that have been most strongly linked to negative health effects:

·       Ground-level ozone – O3
·       Fine particulate matter – PM2.5
·       Sulphur dioxide – SO2
·       Nitrogen dioxide – NO2
·       Carbon monoxide – CO

How can I learn more?
To learn more about the City of Hamilton’s air monitoring pilot at Sam Manson Park visit: www.hamilton.ca/airmonitor

Also, Public Health Services is hosting an information session about the air monitoring project. Representatives from Public Health Services, Rotek Environmental Inc., and the Hamilton Air Monitoring Network will be available to provide information and answer questions about the air monitoring project.

Event: Air Monitoring Pilot Information Session

When: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 @ 6:30 pm.

Where: Fortino’s Supermarket Community Room

75  Centennial Parkway North (next to Eastgate Mall)

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For more information please contact:

Matt Lawson, Manager
Health Hazards Program
Hamilton Public Health Services
905-546-2424 Ext. 5823


Today, Green Venture sent the letter below to the Prime Minister and all MPs outlining the economic benefits of a home retrofit program and encouraging such a program be funded in the 2013 budget.

Pete Wobschall
Executive Director
Green Venture

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, PC, MP
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Supporting Home Energy Retrofits Provides Cost Effective Job Creation and Many Benefits

Dear Prime Minister,

As the federal government plans for future initiatives to cost effectively create new jobs and opportunities for residents and businesses in Canada we ask that you review the five part Home Energy Action Plan put forward by the Save Energy First national industry coalition. Part one of the plan calls for a three-year renewal of the federal ecoENERGY home retrofit incentive program.  A three year program renewal would have the following benefits:

Cost-Neutral Job Creation for Budget 2013:  Home retrofit programs are proven cost-neutral job creation measures, generating $2 in tax revenue for every $1 invested in homeowner grants. See saveenergyfirst.ca/action-plan. The jobs and businesses that would be created are in all communities and ridings in the renovation, manufacturing, sales and support services sectors.

Successful, Innovative, and Popular Program: The federal ecoENERGY home retrofit incentive program  has been an outstanding success in terms of the number of homes it has reached, the jobs created, the economic stimulus achieved, the energy saved and the greenhouse gases reduced.

Keeps Life Affordable for Families:  The federal ecoENERGY home retrofit incentive program assists Canadian families make smart energy retrofit investments in their homes, save energy, lower their energy bills, and protect the environment. Families can use these annual energy bill savings to better manage monthly debt payments and protect family budgets in the face of extreme weather and rising energy prices.

Has Broad Support from Industry and Environmental Sectors: The federal ecoENERGY home retrofit incentive program and energy conservation programs in general, have the unique attribute of being broadly accepted by business and industry of all sizes as well as the environmental sector.

Please ask the Minister of Finance, Hon Jim Flaherty to renew the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program for three years in Budget 2013 as part of an integrated plan to cost effectively create jobs and provide stable, long-term policy support for the home energy retrofit industry and the many economic and environmental benefits this support would bring.

Best Regards,…

Green Venture is looking for an outgoing, dynamic individual with experience in greenhouse gas (inventorying, mitigation, adaptation) and sustainability issues to join our team. Green Venture offers a meaningful opportunity for employment with a flexible schedule and a supportive environment. Our work environment will allow you to develop a wide range of skills and expertise while helping to improve the health of our community.


The Climate Change-Sustainability Coordinator contributes to a dynamic team of dedicated individuals that support people in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint where they live, work, and play. This position offers you an opportunity for a rewarding and meaningful career by contributing to an organization that addresses a variety of environmental issues and challenges. You are outgoing and dynamic, and coordinate the everyday management of climate change-, and sustainability-related programming and services. Responsibilities include the coordination of related team of staff and Board members, and supervising interns, coops, and volunteers as required.

Salary Range: $30,000-$40,000 per annum (calculated based on experience). This is a 6-month position that may develop into a permanent position based on available funding and is scheduled to begin January 2, 2013.

Please see job description attached here.

Please send your cover letters and resumes by Monday December 3rd at 5pm to director@greenventure.ca with the subject line: Climate Change-Sustainability Coordinator. Please include in your cover letter how working for Green Venture fits with your career/personal goals.

No postal mail or phone calls please. We appreciate your interest in joining our team and will review all resumes we receive. At Green Venture, we value diversity in our workforce and encourage all qualified candidates to apply. We appreciate all responses and advise that only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.


Hamilton Community Combats Climate Change

HAMILTON, ON – October 16, 2012 – Hamilton achieves its 2012 emission targets and is on its way to meeting its 2020 targets. The City’s annual climate change report was presented to the Board of Health yesterday as part of October’s Climate Change Action Month.

The 2011 Climate Change report shows that community greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 were an estimated 19,975,603 tonnes, a reduction of 14.5% from 2006 emissions levels (estimated at 23,351,712 tonnes), and the City has reduced its emissions by 16% (113,778 tonnes) in 2011 compared to the 2005 emissions of 135,038 tonnes. 

In 2008, the City adopted community emission targets of a 10% reduction of 2006 greenhouse gas levels by 2012, followed by a further 20% reduction of 2006 greenhouse gases levels by 2020. These results are due to improved energy efficiency and conservation actions in the community and the shifting of energy from coal as part of the Province’s actions towards the phasing out of coal in Ontario’s energy mixture sources by 2014. 

In 2011, Hamilton became the first community in Ontario with a Climate Change Action Charter. The Charter has won the support from City Council and 40 local business, academic, government, faith and environmental groups including McMaster University, Mohawk College, the Hamilton-Wentworth Public School Board, the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Green Venture, Environment Hamilton, Union Gas, Sustainable Hamilton, Eco Churches of West Hamilton, REfficient, Greening Marketting Inc., North End Neighbours, Hamilton 350, as well as Clean Air Hamilton.

The Community Climate Change Action Charter is a voluntary statement that acknowledges the reality of climate change and asks commitment to measure and set targets for the reduction of emissions at the personal, organizational and community level.  The Charter is available online at: http://climatechangehamilton.ca/

On October 29, the Climate Change Action Charter and community actions will be celebrated at Liuna Station (360 James Street North) from 8am – 11am as part of Climate Change Action month in Hamilton.  Organizations who have endorsed the Charter will sign and share their experiences as part of the breakfast launch.

October is Hamilton’s fourth official Climate Change Action Month, residents and businesses are encouraged to get educated and active in addressing climate change and continue to reduce local emissions.

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For further information, please contact: 

Brian Montgomery
Air Quality and Climate Change Coordinator
Health Protection Division
City of Hamilton Public Health Services
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 1275
Email: climatechange@hamilton.ca

My Green Adventures is Green Venture’s open house event, taking place on Saturday October 13th from 10AM until 3PM, at our demonstration home, EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton).  In the weeks leading up to My Green Adventures, we will feature blog posts highlighting some of the exciting activities taking place on October 13th.


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Green Venture will have some company this Saturday, October 13th.  Dirty South and Southern Smoke food trucks will be set up outside our front gates for the afternoon to provide their unique brand of travelling gourmet southern bbq to our visitors and volunteers!

My Green Adventures will be a day full of fun family activities.  We’re thrilled to have Scientists in Schools coming to show kids some really neat science experiments that they can try hands-on!  All of our partners will have kids activities on hand.  On your tour of EcoHouse, you and your family will get to see our newest educational displays and have a chance to try them out yourselves.

This Saturday, come spend some time at EcoHouse!

Green Venture is partnering with the Hamilton Council on Aging, New Horizons of Canada, the City of Hamilton and Metrolinx to deliver workshops aimed at encouraging older adults to include taking the bus as one of their transportation options.

Nine free workshops will be offered at different locations in the City of Hamilton from October 25 through November 29. All workshops will be accompanied by a bus trip to a surprise destination and include a complimentary lunch!
The goal of the project is to support social participation and inclusion by providing information and practical
experience on using the bus system to navigate around the city.


  • Thursday October 25 11:30am-3:00pm Dundas Public Library, 18 Ogilvie Street
  • Wednesday October 31 11:00am-2:30pm CityHousing Hamilton, 226 Rebecca Street, 11th Floor
  • Wednesday November 7 12:15pm-3:30pm Bennetto Recreation Centre, 450 Hughson Street North
  • Thursday November 8 10:30am-2:00pm Meadowlands Retirement Home, 1248 Mohawk Road West
  • Wednesday November 14 10:30am-2:00pm New Village Retirement Home, 490 Highway 8
  • Tuesday November 20 11:30am-3:00pm Ryerson Community Centre, 251 Duke Street
  • Tuesday November 27 10:30am-2:00pm YWCA Seniors Centre, 52 Ottawa Street North
  • Thursday November 29 10:30am-2:00pm Sackville Hill Seniors Centre, 780 Upper Wentworth Street
  • Thursday November 29 10:30am-2:00pm YWCA Seniors Centre, 75 MacNab Street South

√ Easy and Convenient
√ Accessible
√ Affordable
√ Socially Responsible
√ A Healthy Choice
√ Safe

My Green Adventures is Green Venture’s open house event, taking place on Saturday October 13th from 10AM until 3PM, at our demonstration home, EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton).  In the weeks leading up to My Green Adventures, we will feature blog posts highlighting some of the exciting activities taking place on October 13th.


On Thursday September 20, Green Venture hosted a Rain Garden Workshop.  North American Rain Garden Guru, Rusty Schmidt, was flown in from Minnesota to lead 10 professionals in a hands on workshop aimed to illustrate the process of building and maintaining rain gardens.   There was a large classroom component, but participants were able to dig in and build their very own rain garden before the day was over.

This is the third rain garden constructed at EcoHouse in the past five years.  This particular garden is located on the east side of the property, and brings us one step closer to managing 100% of our stormwater runoff.

Funding for this workshop was generously provided by Green Communities Canada, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and the RBC Blue Water Project.

Strategically placed, rain gardens significantly improve water quality by absorbing and filtering runoff.  Traditionally, rain lands on hard surfaces (roofs, roads, parking lots), picks up numerous pollutants and transports them directly to Hamilton Harbour.  This rain garden will capture the runoff and allow it to infiltrate slowly into the ground.

Join us at EcoHouse on October 13 for our official Rain Garden Launch.  See our new brand new rain garden in person, as well as the other two rain gardens on our property (planted 1 year ago, and 4 years ago).  That same day is My Green Adventures, which is a day when EcoHouse is open to the public for tours.

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My Green Adventures is Green Venture’s open house event, taking place on Saturday October 13th from 10AM until 3PM, at our demonstration home, EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton).  In the weeks leading up to My Green Adventures, we will feature blog posts highlighting some of the exciting activities taking place on October 13th.


Come early on October 13th and help Green Venture and the local community to clean up the area around Davis Creek.  Roadside litter is a significant issue in our neighbourhood.  Some litter makes its way down to the side of Davis Creek as it winds its way towards the Red Hill Creek.  Green Venture, along with some great partners from Lowe’s, the Clean City Liaison Committee and the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) are organizing a community clean up for the morning of October 13th.

This project will achieve two major goals.  Firstly, the litter that is collected during the clean up will be audited by Green Venture staff to try and understand the most likely sources.  Then, Green Venture will propose strategies to prevent litter from accumulating at all.  Secondly, BARC will be conducting water quality sampling to assess the health of the creek.

No registration is required, just show up at 9AM willing to work for a couple of hours.  Volunteers taking part in the clean up will receive a voucher for lunch from one of the food trucks attending My Green Adventures (stay tuned for more on our food trucks!).

This project is generously funded by the Keep America Beautiful foundation through the Clean City Liaison Committee, and by Lowe’s.

For more information contact Matthew at matthew.sweet@greenventure.ca or at (905) 540-8787 x151.

For Hamilton’s inner-city residents, especially those living in apartments or houses with limited space, gardening can be a difficult task. Green Venture, in cooperation with the Hamilton Community Garden Network, Volunteer Hamilton, and the City of Hamilton sponsored by a Keep America Beautiful/UPS grant, has offered a series of workshops throughout July and August 2012 to teach Hamiltonians about Small Space Gardening (SSG).

Small Space Gardening is making the best use of balcony or window space to grow vegetables in a cost-effective manner. SSG workshops were held at Volunteer Hamilton, 257 King Street East, Hamilton, and were led by Green Venture’s Kim Dunlop and summer student, Robert Smith. At the workshops, attendees got the hands-on experience of building their own containers to take home.  They also got to see the different models in action on the  Volunteer Hamilton rooftop garden.

Self-Watering Containers

Self-watering totes on Volunteer Hamilton rooftop garden

Self-watering totes on Volunteer Hamilton rooftop garden

The first SSG workshop focused on self-watering containers and how to build them. Self-watering containers are an inexpensive way to grow a lot of plants with minimal care. These containers have an area at the base that can be filled with water.  Over time, a ‘wick’ (something absorbant) pulls the water  into the soil to keep the plants watered. Larger containers can be made out of plastic totes or buckets and smaller ones can be made from 2L pop bottles or kitty litter pails. The practical part of the workshop focused on building self-watering containers out of pop bottles cut in half, stacked and filled with soil and herbs. In larger con

tainers, plants such as tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, and melons can be grown – just to name a few. The only challenge is giving them enough space because they grow so fast! Some important points to remember when gardening in containers:

  • Use a soil specifically made for plants in pots – regular garden soil is too heavy and does not have adequate drainage for containers
  • Use light coloured containers – dark containers will heat up in the sun very quickly leaving you with very dry plants
  • Ensure there is good drainage in your container.  Options include a few holes in a container’s base for water to escape or material with lots of space in between (like rocks or broken up styrofoam) in the bottom few inches of larger pots.
  • Avoid overwatering. The beauty of self-watering container is plants only take up the water they need.  In general, if the soil is dry more then 1cm below the surface it is time to water.

Planting in self-watering containers

Vertical Gardening

Gutters on Volunteer Hamilton rooftop garden

Gutters on Volunteer Hamilton rooftop garden

As our plants grew taller, the second SSG workshop focused on vertical gardening to give plants a way to grow up, instead of out. Vertical gardening is very simple and can be done with PVC piping, a wood-trellis, the rails along a balcony or other household items that plants can climb. Tying plants to bamboo stakes or a wood-trellis is a traditional way of helping plants grow up instead of out so that space is preserved around the ground for other plants. For those in apartments or with decks, plants such as tomatoes or melons can be tied up along the posts of the balcony and this will also aid in their growth by giving them space to grow.

Gutters can be used to grow small plants such as salad greens (see photos). We do recommend that you buy additional gutters to attach to a deck and do not use your home gutter system. Some tips to keep in mind for vertical gardening are:

  • Don’t tie plants tightly or they won’t grow well.  Loosen ties if they start to dig into the stem.
  • Place gutter gardens in places where they will not be flooded so plants will not be washed away

Growing Vegetables for the Fall

In August, the final workshop focused on preparing for fall gardening and what to grow to see the best results. August is a good time to start planting sprouts, carrots, beets and plants from the broccoli family so that they will be ready to eat before winter. Some of these plants, such as chinese cabbage or carrots, will not be hurt by light frost – they actually get sweeter with a bit of frost bite. Heavier frosts will hurt these plants so care should be taken to protect them using pop bottles or meshing to cover them over night.

The workshop continued onto the rooftop garden at Volunteer Hamilton which had been growing for a month and the plants were doing very well. All of the self-watering containers were full with vegetables that were ripening. The melons we had planted had grown up the balcony and were almost sitting on the hand rail. The workshop concluded with planting fall vegetable seeds in small containers with some green onions that had already started growing. In the coming weeks, we shall see how well they do.

Windowbox with herbs on Volunteer Hamilton rooftop garden

Windowbox with herbs on Volunteer Hamilton rooftop garden

Brochures from workshops

SSG – Grow Container Vegetables in Fall

SSG – How to build a Self-Watering Container Brochure

SSG – How to Vertical Garden

Thank you to the John & Pat McCutcheon Foundation for their generous contribution to our upcoming Depave Paradise project. Their support will be combined with support from Green Communities Canada to establish a demonstration site at a local school where asphalt paving is torn up and removed this Fall 2012.

The community will be engaged to assist in depaving the space, and once complete, a native species garden will be planted in the formerly paved space. Native species act as filters and sponges for polluted stormwater runoff and help restore the natural hydrological cycle. In addition, this will provide additional greenspace for students to enjoy.

This project will engage and empower volunteers and the community; participants will learn new skills, build connections with their neighbours, and see the potential for new green spaces in the urban environment. If you are interested in becoming involved with this project, please email Clare Wagner at clare.wagner@greenventure.ca.

Thank you John & Pat McCutcheon!  We couldn’t do it without you.

Kathryn, Chaylene, and Clare learn how to depave a schoolyard during Green Communities Canada training in Kingston.

Hi all,

In terms of electricity costs, I was wondering what the “Global Adjustment” (GA) is and how much the Feed-in-tariff (FIT) program is responsible for in overall GA costs. So, I wrote the good folks at the Ministry of Energy and received the response below (eventually ;-). I found the response helpful.


Response from the Ministry of Energy:

All consumers in Ontario pay the blended (or commodity) cost of electricity. This is comprised of two components, the market price for electricity and the Global Adjustment. The Global Adjustment pays contracted and regulated generators the difference between their rates and the market rate for electricity. The Global Adjustment also covers the cost of conservation programs.

The Global Adjustment was introduced in 2005 to ensure that new generators had sufficient revenue certainty to warrant investment in Ontario’s electricity system.  Since that time Global Adjustment has been successful in delivering stable prices as well as ensuring that capacity is in place to deliver a reliable supply of energy.

Global Adjustment costs for most consumers have increased significantly in recent years; however this increase has been accompanied by a decrease in the market price for electricity. The net effect is that the increase in the blended electricity price has been limited.  Electricity bills are increasing in nearly every province, even those that rely predominantly on coal and hydroelectricity.

The Global Adjustment reflects the non-market costs associated with contracted and regulated generation such as nuclear, natural gas, and renewables, as well as the cost of conservation programs.

In 2011, non-hydro renewables accounted for about 10 per cent of global adjustment, and the Feed-in-Tariff program made up about 1 per cent of a typical consumers bill.

I hope this information is helpful. Should you have any further questions of a general nature, please call the ministry’s information line at 1-888-668-4636, TTY 1-800-387-5559.

YMCA offers an opportunity for inexperienced high school students to become a part of the working environment for 6 weeks, either part-time or full-time, depending on if they were having summer school or not. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with Green Venture, who has an amazing staff, and is always friendly and welcoming when you walk through the doors. I have really enjoyed working here because there is always something new to do.  I have experienced the typical necessary gardening tasks such as watering and weeding, worked with power tools if anything had to be built or removed, prepared for school tours and even learned how to work with children (which is great because I already have two little siblings and many other small children I always see at home).

Recently I have participated in the project, “Fuelling Change” which involves informing people about how to save money by inflating their tires to amount that their car recommends, as opposed to what it says on the tires themselves. It was really interesting how much Shell Canada, who sponsored the project, and Green Venture cared about the environment and the community because we were able to show customers where the tire pressure recommendation chart was in their vehicle, and also how to properly check their tire pressure with a manual gauge (which was given out for free!). It was a very fun experience, since I did not previously know any of the information about tire pressure and how it can help the environment when less fuel is burned such as by having proper tire inflation, it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide (2.3kg for every litre) being released into the environment and also if we drive 100km/h on the highway instead of 120km/h, we can save about 13% of our money on gas (the reason I did not know the information is because I do not know how to drive and I always use public transportation to get to places I need to go to).

Tire pressure clinic August 2012

Green Venture students do a tire pressure clinic in August 2012

All of the people who came were very friendly and even wanted to practice how to properly check their tire pressure so they could be prepared for when they needed to do it themselves. After we were done checking their pressure, we were able to give the participants a pamphlet which had tips on how to drive efficiently and even a tire tread checker to check the condition of the tires. Although I really enjoyed being in the event, it did start to rain heavily so we had to put away most of our supplies and less people came. Despite the weather, it was a great experience, and I really want to do more tire pressure clinics during my time here at Green Venture. In the meantime I will be voting for Green Venture for the fueling change on www.fuellingchange.com where I will register and receive 50 votes just for signing up! So, please vote for Green Venture as well to help make our world a greener environment.

– Vanessa Villanueva-Hernandez

Hello. We are international students from Japan. We have stayed in Hamilton about one month to work at Green Venture as volunteers. We had never experienced gardening before we came here, so we learned a lot of things. For example, we did weeding, seeding and digging.

At first, we thought weeding was very easy for us, but when we actually tried it, it was tiring. Moreover, the day when the sun was shining brightly, it made us more tired.

Now we will talk about seeding. Before we tried seeding, we plowed the hillside. It was a hard work for us because the soil was so solid. But when it was completed, we were glad to make new land by ourselves. We are also glad to create more nature, because we must preserve this beautiful natural scenery.

We like this work because we can commune with nature. We live near Tokyo and it is a very busy city, so to spend time at natural environment like this place has put us at ease.

We are also happy to meet people who work at Green Venture. We can’t speak and understand English well and can’t do anything without support. But thanks to everyone, we can work pleasantly. We deeply appreciated this surrounding.  We will go back home on August 24, so we will work here only 6 more times. We are sad, but we will do our best for the next 6 days.

-Hanako & Manami

Hamilton Harbour is integral to our community’s identity… and health.  Despite the Harbour’s murky past, its future looks bright as more action is underway to improve this fragile ecosystem and enhance the health of our community.

ArcelorMittal has generously provided $17,500 to Green Venture that will bring Hamilton one step closer to realizing a healthy harbour.  This funding will allow Green Venture to create presentations, provide citizens with tools to reduce runoff on their property, and enable downspout disconnections and rain barrel installations throughout the city.

“We want to support Hamiltonians in their efforts to improve Harbour water quality and help reduce flooding events,” says Water Program Coordinator, Kathryn Gold. “It may seem like an overwhelming issue to some, but working together is making a difference.”

Presentations will include information on managing rain: slowing it down, soaking it up, and keeping it clean.  Citizens will learn how to use rain gardens, permeable pavement, rain barrels, and other measures to manage rain on their properties.

This project will also help address the effects of climate change.  The most damaging aspect of climate change locally is runoff from extreme rainfall events.  These events are happening more often and can lead to flooding.  In recent years, this has caused damage to property, endangered life, and has cost taxpayers millions of dollars.  “When it comes to controlling runoff, it’s all about the small actions of many,” states Green Venture’s Executive Director, Pete Wobschall.  “ArcelorMittal has enabled us to support citizens and continue to make small changes that will lead to a healthier community.”

To kickstart the project, Green Venture will disconnect a number of downspouts across Hamilton.  Each will divert about 20,000 litres of rain per year, reducing the amount of polluted water entering the harbour from sewers.  Downspouts will be disconnected from the sewer system, and directed into rain barrels that will store it for use later.  Overflow from the rain barrels will be directed to areas of the property where it can soak into the ground.

If you are interested in being considered for a downspout disconnection and rain barrel installation, or you would like to book a presentation for your group, staff, or class, contact Green Venture.

City of Hamilton staff member Angela Storey (Manager of Business and Support Services in the Operations & Waste Management Division) confirms that “there is nothing in the solid waste or yard maintenance by-laws that would prevent composting of pet waste” in accordance with the bylaws listed below.

Municipal Law Enforcement has advised that what goes in the back yard composter is not regulated, just that they require that its use meets the standards listed below. The Yard Maintenance By-Law (10-118) includes information about waste that accumulates on private property:

4(5) Every owner or occupant of property shall ensure that all waste which accumulates on their property is:

(a) when not placed out for collection, in containers:

(i) made of rigid, watertight construction;

(ii) provided with a tight-fitting cover, which may be removed only when the container is empty or is being actively loaded;

(iii) maintained in good condition without holes or spillage; and

(iv) closed, or emptied, rinsed and cleaned when not in use, to prevent the escape of offensive odour or waste; and

(v) kept in a rear yard located against a building, structure, fence or retaining wall and arranged in an orderly manner.

A copy of by-law 10-118 can be found on the city of Hamilton website under 2010 by-laws (http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/CorporateServices/Clerks/By-Laws/By-laws+Passed+in+2010.htm ).

The Solid Waste Management By-law (09-067) does not address pet composting on private property, however, it does define the following:

(u) “Household Pet Waste” means animal excrement generated by a domesticated animal that is not living on a farm;

(00) “Unacceptable Organic Waste” means:

(xii) Household Pet Waste;

(nn) “Unacceptable Garbage” means:

(vii) human and animal excrement, except for Household Pet Waste and diapers;

A copy of by-law 09-067 can be found on the city of Hamilton website under 2009 by-laws (http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/CorporateServices/Clerks/By-Laws/By-laws+Passed+in+2009.htm).

This means that pet waste is not accepted in your Green bin. You may dispose of pet waste by flushing it down the toilet, or double bagging it and placing it in the trash.  More information here: http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/57961F92-C75F-4870-8F47-1E6965F080A8/0/P2ResidentialPollutionPreventionPetWaste.pdf

Pet excrement contributes approximately 12,000-30,000 pounds of waste to Hamilton landfills every year. Composting the waste from one medium sized dog eliminates about 122 pounds of this each year.  Imagine the difference we could make if every pet owner used one of these….

Using a pet waste composter is a great way to manage your pet’s waste and save room in our landfills. Compost Away!

Schools across Hamilton ended the academic year in style (yellow style to be specific) by walking to school on Wednesday June 20th in celebration of the third Walk to School and Wear Yellow Day of 2012.  Once again several schools registered to compete for bragging rights and money for sports equipment.

Out of many great entries, the judges unanimously selected St Lawrence Catholic Elementary School as the winner based on their awesome group photo seen below.


We greatly appreciate the efforts of all of the participating schools, coming so late in the school year during very busy times.  Other cool entries included a massive smiley face, a playground sized sun, and many more.

As we close the 2011/2012 season of Wear Yellow Day, it is only appropriate to recognize all of this year’s winners and thank them once again for participating and making Wear Yellow Day such a success.

  • October 2011 – Winner, Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Elementary School
  • February 2012 – Winner, Immaculate Conception Catholic Elementary School;
    Special Prizes, St Marguerite D’Youville and Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Elementary Schools
  • June 2012 – Winner, St Lawrence Catholic Elementary School

Thanks again to every school that participated this year.  Enjoy your summer break and make sure you do some walking!

Press release from the City of Hamilton below regarding the 2011 Clean Air Hamilton progress report. You can find the report here.

Hamilton’s Air Quality has also been in the news quite a bit lately. Here’s a list of links:

Hamilton Spectator:
July 12, 2012 – No more cash for air quality study
July 11, 2012 – Red Hill pollution predictions blown away
July 10, 2012 – Hamilton needs more air quality monitoring
July 9, 2012 –Mobile air testing program up in smoke

CBC Hamilton:
July 12, 2012 – Hamilton worst neighbourhoods
July 12, 2012 – Hamilton air quality

Mountain News:
July 11, 2012 – Heavy industry & highways put residents at health risk

AM 900 CHML:
July 11, 2012 – Clean Air Hamilton tables good news report




Hamilton’s Air Quality Improving, Still Impacts Health

HAMILTON, ON July 11, 2012 Clean Air Hamilton reports that Hamilton’s air quality is improving but there is still room for further action. The multi-stakeholder group presented its annual report on Hamilton’s air quality to City Councilors at the Board of Health meeting today.  

“We have two very clear messages for Hamilton residents,” explains Dr. Brian McCarry who has chaired Clean Air Hamilton since its inception in 1998. “We have seen significant improvements in local air quality in Hamilton over the past decade, but there is still more work to be done to reduce the impacts of transportation emissions, fugitive dusts and industrial emissions.  Urban design and land use planning decisions made by cities and personal lifestyle choices made by citizens have significant, long-term implications on a city’s air quality and public health.  Air quality is not just a nuisance; it is a public health issue.”

The 2011 Clean Air Hamilton Progress Report shows that since the mid-1990s there have been steady, significant reductions in many air pollutant emissions in Hamilton.  The annual percentage decreases as measured at the downtown air monitoring site (MOE Station 29000) are a 3.3% (per year) reduction in total suspended particulate (TSP) levels, 1.9% in inhalable particulate matter (PM10), 3.2%  in respirable particulate matter (PM2.5), 2.7% in nitrogen dioxide (NO2), 2.8% in sulphur dioxide (SO2), 6.5% in total reduced sulphur odours, 6.0% in benzene and 5.3% in PAH (measured as benzo[a]pyrene). Unfortunately, transboundary ground level ozone (O3) levels have been steadily increasing.

Long-term decreases in air pollutants in Hamilton can be attributed to a combination of improved emissions performance of vehicles and the concerted actions of local individuals, organizations, industries, the City of Hamilton and other levels of government to reduce air emissions.

Poor air quality causes a range of health effects impacts, including eye, nose and throat irritation, breathing difficulties, coughing, wheezing, and the exasperation of existing conditions like asthma.  Some segments of the population, particularly young children and the elderly, are much more susceptible to poor air quality. 

An Air Quality Health report prepared for Clean Air Hamilton by SENES Consulting Inc. estimated that five key air pollutants – nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, sulphur dioxide, fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide – contribute to approximately 186 premature deaths and over 700 respiratory or cardiovascular-related hospital admissions in Hamilton each year. Respiratory illnesses account for 43 percent and cardiovascular illnesses account for 36 percent of the deleterious health outcomes arising from air pollution in Hamilton. 

An Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) pilot program was introduced to Hamilton in 2011 and provides the public with useful information about air quality conditions and strategies citizens can use to reduce their exposures to pollutants. Clean Air Hamilton is pleased to have the AQHI in Hamilton, thanks to the collaborative efforts of partners including Hamilton Public Health Services, Ministry of the Environment, Environment Canada and Health Canada. Information on the AQHI is available at www.airhealth.ca

A number of recent sustainable transportation initiatives have been developed in Hamilton that help reduce air emissions and improve individual health by encouraging healthy lifestyles.  These initiatives range from car sharing, carpooling, driver education and transit education to increased active transportation initiatives such as policies that encourage cycling, walking and the development of ‘walkable’ communities.

Mobile monitoring studies undertaken by Clean Air Hamilton have for the first time allowed a detailed examination of air pollutant levels in a number of neighbourhoods in Hamilton.  This study showed that there are differences in air quality between neighbourhoods and that emissions from transportation sources (cars, light duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks) result in very high local levels of pollutants near major roads and highways, particularly areas downwind of major intersections.

Where possible, transportation and land use planning programs in Hamilton should co-ordinate their efforts and consider both the short-term and long-term health impacts of transportation-related emissions. These factors need to be considered in transportation planning, urban design and encouragement to adopt active modes of transportation.

Emissions from mobile sources (personal and commercial vehicles), road dust re-entrainment and fugitive dusts are the major local sources of airborne pollutants in all areas of Hamilton.  The impacts of industrial emissions are manifest primarily in areas proximate to and downwind of local industries.  Reductions in all of these sources must be realized if we are to continue to make meaningful improvements to local air quality and public health.

Clean Air Hamilton is a community-based action committee composed of representatives from government, academic institutions, industry, environmental organizations and residential associations.  For more information visit: www.cleanair.hamilton.ca

Media contacts:

Dr. Brian McCarry                                          Brian Montgomery
Chair,                                                            Air Quality & Climate Change Coordinator,
Clean Air Hamilton                                         City of Hamilton

mccarry@mcmaster.ca                                  cleanair@hamilton.ca
Ph:  905-525-9140 ext. 24400                         Ph: 905-546-2424 ext. 1275

Brian Montgomery
Air & Climate Change Coordinator
Hamilton Public Health Services
City of Hamilton
T: 905-546-2424 extn. 1275
E: cleanair@hamilton.ca


Over the course of the next four months Green Venture will be participating in the Shell Fuelling Change project that could see us be the beneficiaries of a $25,000 grant. In the past you have supported Green Venture and now we’re looking for your help! Money will be granted on a vote driven basis and we could use your simple click of a button.

The Project

Did you know that the average person is emitting 10% more CO2 when driving their car due to underinflated tires? That means a bigger dent in your wallet and a bigger impact on our environment. Green Venture has been running Tire Pressure clinics at local store parking lots where we can teach people how to use a tire pressure gauge and how to inflate their tires to the optimum level all in fewer than 10 minutes. The fact of the matter is that we are not going to stop driving our cars any time soon, so for the time being it is essential that we’re doing all that we can to make our driving as eco-friendly as possible to ensure a clean commute.

Here’s where we need your help: Green Venture is hoping to ramp up the number of free public events titled ‘Where the Rubber Hits the Road’ so we can teach the public these vital car cares skills as well as safe fuel efficient driving behaviours. By following these simple steps you can support Green Venture’s push for change.

  1. Log onto http://fuellingchange.com/
  2. Click the login/register button
  3. Enter an e-mail address and password
  4. You’ll receive an e-mail from Fueling Change with instructions. Just for signing up you will receive 50 votes!
  5. Type ‘Green Venture’ into Fueling Change website search box
  6. Assign your votes and make sure to check out the other exciting projects as well!

One of our wonderful Green Venture community gardeners is going to be blogging for us this summer.  Here is her first blog:

In March a new growing season began with previous and new volunteers. Welcome to all!!  Our volunteers enrich our organization by bringing skills not affordable and not available. Volunteering is a very special activity which gives and receives.  Volunteers may be looking to connect on a deeper level with the people in their community by donating their time to an organization and sometimes finding new purpose and direction in their lives.

Green Gardening Tip: Starting Seeds


Seedlings growing at EcoHouse

At the end of March, volunteers started seedlings in the EcoHouse solarium (room with lots of windows and a glass roof). Starting seedlings’ means the seeds are planted inside in small pots to germinate.  Some vegetables are started inside and then planted outdoors when the weather becomes warmer. There are three main reasons for this:

  • Plants like the heat but need a long time to grow fruits, like peppers and tomatoes. By starting those inside they are ready to fruit in the summer when it is nice and hot.
  • Seeds can be hard to start (like parsley) so growing them in a controlled space helps to get them started.
  • Plants like cooler temperatures but not freezing (like cabbage and Brussels sprouts). Starting them early inside allows us to get bigger plants outside when temperatures are still cool.

Solarium at EcoHouse full of seedlings


Many seeds can be planted right into the ground like beans, cucumbers, carrots and beets. At the beginning of April peas were planted in the Community Garden.

Veggie Talk: Peas, the Eco-friendly vegetable

Research shows that peas provide the soil with important benefits.  They help to get nitrogen in the soil so we don’t need to use synthetic fertilizers.  After the harvest, you can leave the roots in the soil to help increase nitrogen levels.  Because of these benefits added to the soil from the pea plant, it’s advised to rotate their location with other crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or Brussels sprouts. This also decreases pest problems.

Pea growing in the garden

Pea growing in the garden

Tips for Planting & Growing Peas

  • They are cool weather loving plants so they need to be planted in the spring to avoid the heat of the summer. They don’t produce in heat
  • They love water
  • They are a care-free crop
  • They love to climb so give them something to grow up

Around the Garden: May 5th EcoHouse Community Garden Opening

At this time we welcomed our community to visit the community garden to increase their knowledge about growing vegetables organically and to hopefully ignite a spark of interest in joining or starting a garden in their backyard.

Thank you to all volunteers who participated on this day, by starting the preparation phase of gardening by weeding, preparing the soil, outlining beds and numbering them.

Garden opening in May

Volunteers cleared out all the weeds for this plot!

Here at Green Venture, we’re gearing up for the 2012 edition of the Transportation and Healthy Living Fair.  This will be our second year of organizing the Fair, which is part of the city’s celebration of Clean Air Commute Week.  This year’s edition will be our best one yet, with so many cool things to see, do and try.  Get active, get healthy and get around all at the same time; learn how in Gore Park on Thursday June 21st from 11AM until 2PM.

Free Admission
Healthy Food Truck
Electric Vehicle On Display
Active Demonstrations
Free Giveaways
Prizes to be Won




Get all you need to know about walking, cycling and transit and try commuting without your car!  We will have:

  • demonstrations from local bike shops,
  • bike route information,
  • HSR route planning and bike rack demonstrations,
  • calculating the cost of your commute with Smart Commute for a chance to win a sports watch
  • And much more.

We’re looking forward to trying out some healthy lunch items from The Portobello Burger, a fully vegetarian food truck!  Sean and Jennifer are dedicated to creating awesome and healthy dishes for mobile service.

Check out fun ways to stay fit like Zumba.  Participate in a brief class and get a feel for dancing workouts.

For those dedicated drivers out there, come get a first hand look at a Chevrolet Volt, a fully electric vehicle.  Hamilton Car Share will also be on hand; trade in your second vehicle and use Car Share instead!  Driving age with Car Share is 21 now!

There will be lots of giveaways and prizes to be won as well.  Spend your lunch break at Gore Park on Thursday June 21st!

Bike to Work Day 2012 was an unequivocal success.  150 people took time out of their morning to visit us in Gore Park for a snack and prizes.  400 people registered online through Smart Commute and have a chance to win some more great prizes (and if you rode but didn’t register, hurry up cause registration is open until Friday!).  Overall Hamilton had its biggest Bike to Work Day yet and it couldn’t have happened without the support and participation from businesses and organizations in the downtown core and beyond.

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Councillors Jason Farr and Brian McHattie offered some words on the progress of cycling infrastructure in the city and in their wards particularly.  We are lucky to have two city councillors in the heart of Hamilton who understand the importance of cycling and are committed to improving our cycling network.

Bike for Mike have been a great partner with a wonderful vision for getting a bike in the hands of every child in Hamilton.  We hope that our cross-promotional efforts result in greater awareness of Bike for Mike and Bike to Work Day.

Evans Sweeny Bordin LLP were the first downtown office to step up and commit to participating in Bike to Work Day.  Michael Bordin did a masterful job motivating his firm and we were thrilled to meet him and his colleagues in Gore Park on Monday.

Evans Philp LLP were a great addition to Bike to Work Day.  Eric Nanayakkara went above and beyond by distributing Bike to Work Day information to his co-workers and to other downtown organizations.  Thanks to the “Lawyers on Wheels” for coming down and being so enthusiastic!

Kitestring Creative came aboard and became a wonderful social media presence for Bike to Work Day, especially during the Gore Park reception.  Josh Gordon has worked with us in the past and we were delighted to have him and his colleagues participate on Monday.

James Beltrame from First Canadian Title stepped up to rally his co-workers for Bike to Work Day.  Many thanks to him for his efforts on Monday.

Homegrown Hamilton provided delicious muffins and coffee for all of us to re-fuel.  Thanks as well to the YWCA for coming out on Monday morning to promote their upcoming Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, another unbelievable event that is coming up on June 24th (during Open Streets Hamilton).  We love spreading the word about great things happening in Hamilton.

We were fortunate to receive prize donations from some fantastic partners: Hamilton Conservation Authority, Phoenix Fitness, Runner’s Den, London Tap House, YWCA and Smart Commute Hamilton.  Special thanks to Andrew from New Hope Bike Coop for bringing his mobile bike repair stand to Gore Park!  Also a big shout out to Jackie Vandinther who was the face of the Hamilton Bike to Work Day poster and was an awesome spokesperson and booster of the day.

Finally, a big thanks to the City of Hamilton, Smart Commute Hamilton and all of their partners for being leaders and ambassadors of active transportation in this city.  This year was the most successful Bike to Work Day in history and it wouldn’t happen without your ongoing work and dedication.

Make every day Bike to Work Day, and we hope to see you all at the Transportation and Healthy Living Fair coming up on June 21st!

EcoHouse needs a bike rack; a unique, made-in-Hamilton, eye-catching bike rack.

This might be a bike rack. If it looks like a bike, talks like a bike…
Photo courtesy of Impact Capital, Spokane, WA.

Any volunteers with welding skills looking for an artistic challenge should take note.  And if you happen to love cycling as well, you’d better check this opportunity out.

On any given sunny day at EcoHouse, several of our Green Venture staff ride their bicycles to work.  We love cycling to work.  It gets our blood pumping before starting out the work day, we get lots of Vitamin D courtesy of our big orange friend in the sky, and most of us have great paniers (bike bags, not the poofy part of old dresses) that carry all of our stuff, including a change of clothes when needed!

There’s only one small problem….

Right now at EcoHouse, we haven’t got a great place to store all of our bicycles!  A few of us get a bit of extra exercise by climbing the steps from the driveway to the deck and leave our bikes up there.  Some of us have had enough exercise already and just leave our bikes by the community garden.  The brave among us put our bikes in the garage for extra safe keeping!

We need something a bit more official, a bit more dedicated to keeping our bikes secure while we toil away at our desks.  Easier said than done, however.  Bike racks and rings cost a pretty penny.  So we thought we would appeal to you, the good people of Hamilton, to see if we could find another way to get something to EcoHouse to lock our bikes to.

In choosing this approach, we want to give the welders out there an opportunity to show their skills and create something really unique.  There are tons of examples to draw inspiration from around the world.  Our friends at bicycleparkingonline.org have a few thoughts that any would-be designer should keep in mind:

Principles of good rack design

  • Simple design and obvious function
  • Two points of contact for stability
  • Compatible with standard locking devices
  • Located for easy access
  • Secured with tamper-proof bolts
  • Compact and attractive

With that, we leave it to you to give us your ideas.  In the meantime, we’ll try to keep our bikes from being overrun by plants from the garden…

Media Conference on Climate Change in Hamilton

Thursday, May 3 at 9:30 am

Council Chambers – 2nd floor – Hamilton City Hall

71 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario

Representatives of the following agencies and groups will participate and provide information on the noteworthy effects of climate change already evident in the Hamilton area.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority

The McMaster Centre for Climate Change

Environment Hamilton

Green Venture

The City of Hamilton

The Council of Canadians – Hamilton Chapter

The Hamilton 350 Committee

Further information:

Don McLean, coordinator, Hamilton 350 Committee

(905) 664-8796

Recycle your old gas powered lawnmowers and get a discount on a new, more efficient model with Green Venture and RONA.

Green Venture in partnership with Hamilton-area RONA Stores, with support from Clean Air Hamilton, Hamilton’s FASTBIN.ca, and Green Circle Recycling, is hosting another ‘Clean Air is a Yard Away’ lawnmower recycling event.  On these days gas-powered, walk-behind lawnmowers emptied of fluids can be exchanged for a $50 instant rebate on a new, eco-friendly model and a chance to win a cordless weed trimmer.

Recycling old gas powered lawnmowers at RONA

Each year in Canada, around 80,000 tonnes of harmful emissions are released by gas-powered lawn equipment. By properly recycling old, polluting gas powered lawnmowers for a $50 instant rebate (limit of one per person) on selected new, eco-friendly models at a ‘Clean Air is a Yard Away’ event, consumers can save money and decrease air pollution in their community.  In 2011, Green Venture and RONA helped recycle enough highly polluting lawnmowers to save over 1 Tonne of greenhouse gas and smog forming emissions.

Green Venture lawnmower recycling booths will be open:

  • Friday, April 27 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at RONA Parkdale (633 Parkdale Ave North Hamilton, L8H 5Z1, 905 547-3444);
  • Saturday, April 28 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at RONA Waterdown (52 Dundas Street East, Waterdown, ON, L0R 2H2, 905-689-8700);
  • Sunday, April 29 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at RONA Hamilton Rymal (1245 Rymal Rd E, Hamilton, ON L8W 3M8, 905-383-3355)

For more information on ‘Clean Air is a Yard Away’ events, please contact 905-540-8787 ext 113 or email matthew.sweet@greenventure.ca.

Last night 28 pet owners came out to EcoHouse to learn about composting their pet’s waste. With a combined number of 30 dogs, this group will keep 3 650 pounds of dog waste out of landfills and waterways every single year! What a great step for our community, and for our environment.

Thanks again to everyone who came out.  We had a blast!

Remember to install your composter at least two metres away from any food gardens or food composters, and, keep it out of direct sunlight if possible. Add pet waste every day, water once a week, and septic starter once a month for best results. You can also add leaves or shredded paper periodically.

Every time it rains, runoff contaminated with dog waste finds it way into Hamilton Harbour. Using a pet waste composter protects water quality. For more information on stormwater and pet waste, go to www.slowrain.ca.

If you’re interested getting on our waiting list for future Pet Waste Composting Workshops, send an email to water@greenventure.ca

Artwork created by Hamilton high school students for the 2nd Annual Fighting Climate Change Poster Contest will be exhibited at a public reception at the Central Library, 55 York Blvd., on Friday, April 13th from 7 pm – 9 pm. The public are invited to see what Hamilton high school students have to say about tackling climate change.

 Each year Green Venture and Clean Air Hamilton ask local high school students to create posters that inspire others to take action on climate change.  This year, more than forty artists used a variety of materials and techniques to share their messages.  The emerging theme?  These students care about our environment and they want to see change happen.  According to Ancaster High student Josephin Lorenz “It didn’t take a long time to choose my motive after I got the theme.  I would show all the easy and good things, which can help to rescue the earth.  But you can’t do this alone; we all have to work together.”

If every person is inspired to do just one or two actions communicated in these posters it can collectively make a big difference to fight climate change. Visitors to the reception will have a chance to pledge to try out an action depicted by their favourite poster. The evening events will also include recognition of top works, refreshments and introductions by representatives of the McMaster Centre for Climate Change, and Clean Air Hamilton.  The reception is one of many Central Library activities planned for April 13.  The posters will be on display in the lobby of Central Library for the remainder of April. 

Every year Canadians brave the winter weather to go about our daily lives.  Coats and mitts, snow tires, shovels and salt; we all have our weapons of choice for battling against the cold and ice but sometimes we forget to keep the planet in mind.  To help make things a little easier on the planet, here is some info about the salts we use and tips for more eco-friendly alternatives.

For starters, we’re not talking about the same kind of salt as on your dinner table; we’re talking about road salts, table salt’s beefier cousin.  Road salts help to melt the ice and snow, and create traction so your shoes or wheels don’t slide out from under you.

It’s just salt, right?  Well, the environment isn’t used to the huge amount that we use.  Many living things cannot survive in salty environments (which is why salt is such a useful preservative in food).  Every year, an estimated five million tonnes of salt are used on roads and sidewalks in Canada.  This messes with nature, harms animals and plants, and contaminates fresh water.

On top of all this, salt isn’t great for our pets.  Dogs and cats will lick salt and other deicers off of their paws.  Check out this video from EcoTraction explaining the toxins and their impacts on our pets: http://www.ecotraction.com/ourstory.html.

There are many products on the shelves that will claim they are safe for your pets, but don’t be fooled.  Just because they are safe for your pets’ paws, does NOT mean they are safe for your pets to eat.  Read the label carefully, and make sure you understand the ingredients.

Sand and kitty litter are great alternatives.  If you go with sand, make sure you use brick sand, which is grittier than the playground sand (it is available at local building supply stores).  As for kitty litter, stay clear of the clumping stuff or you will have a big mess on your hands.

For more info, check out our website: http://water.greenventure.ca/road-salts-alternatives

Have you ever been on a Jane’s Walk?

Named in honour of Jane Jacobs, an urban planning guru and activist, a Jane’s walk is a free community walking tour that connects people to their environment and also to their neighbours.  Thousands of people have taken part in Jane’s Walks across North America.

On Saturday May 5th, Green Venture will be hosting our first ever Jane’s Walk.  This particular walk will focus on stormwater related concerns in east Hamilton.  The purpose of the walk is to have an open dialogue with Hamiltonians about stormwater issues, but also to suggest easy solutions that homeowners may be able to implement around their homes.

In recent years, Hamilton has experienced serious problems associated with stormwater and runoff.  The walk will include discussions around the two types of sewer systems in Hamilton (combined and separate), combined sewer overflows into Lake Ontario, permeable pavements, rain barrels, salt use on roads and driveways, etc.  There will be a focus on natural discussion, and so additional ideas, questions, and conversations will be encouraged.

The walk will leave from EcoHouse on Saturday May 5th, at 11 am.  Walk proceeds rain or shine.  Please wear walking shoes, dress for the weather, and bring a bottle of water.  All are welcome to attend.

To sign up for this walk, please email water@greenventure.ca or call 905-540-8787 ext. 114.

Please note that the neighbourhood walk is accessible with sidewalks.  EcoHouse is not wheelchair accessible, and has several steps to enter the house.  We will be walking approximately 3.5km at a leisurely pace, and we expect the walk to be about 90 minutes in length (including several stops along the way).

EcoHouse is located at 22 Veevers Drive in Hamilton (nearest Quigley Rd and Greenhill Ave).

For more information about Jane’s Walks, please visit: http://janeswalk.net/

Hope to see you there!

Here is an internal memo from one of our staff re garbage bag limits as of now:

As you may have heard a lot about waste pickup changes in Hamilton here’s the straight dope:

This is the waste calendar for EcoHouse (22 Veevers Dr.)  for April 2012 to March 2013:

Please note that from April 2012- March 2013 your home calendar and those of our clients are similar but specific to their addresses.

Please note that on one day per month your home and everyone else’s has a 3 container limit – the other pick up days are 1 container limit.

You still get 3 containers at New years, Victoria Day and Thanksgiving. Therefore in this garbage year you get 15 days when you can put out up to 3 containers of residual waste.

Starting in April 2013 there will be a bag ‘tag’ system coming into play where households will get a bunch of tags to put on their waste so they can put out more than 1 bag per week on any week – but this won’t start til April 2013.

Update: April 10, 2012

Found this great pdf document: “Investing in Katimavik” – provides data that demonstrates why the Katimavik program is so valuable to all Canadians! Pete.

Original Post:

Hi friends,

We at Green Venture were very disappointed when we received the announcement below from our Katimavik partners. Not only does this program provide a unique experience to help build and shape future leaders, but it greatly benefits community organizations such as Green Venture, Environment Hamilton, and many, many others across Canada with much needed labour assistance. We hope that the government will reconsider this decision and continue this valuable program for all Canadians.

Excerpt from letter below:

“There is still time to reverse the government’s decision. In the weeks and days to come, we hope we can count on Katimavik’s many supporters to speak with their elected officials about their experiences and articulate the value and benefits of a strong Katimavik for Canada. Now is the time for all our stakeholders and supporters to be proud and be heard.”

Pete Wobschall
Executive Director

Letter received from our friends at Katimavik:

Dear Katimavik partners, alumni, friends and supporters,

It is with extreme disappointment that we learned yesterday that the Government has decided to end its funding commitment to Katimavik.

As of just a few hours ago, we received a letter from the Department of Canadian Heritage that confirms that the current cohort in the field will be able to complete their Katimavik experience.  However, the July departures are officially cancelled. In the coming days, our Board of Directors and management staff will be convened to plan the next steps.

Rest assured that the youth currently volunteering with our community partners will continue to serve until the end of June and that this decision will not affect their experience or the quantity or quality of the work they are doing for our partners.

Please know that yesterday’s announcement came as a surprise, since we are entering the third year of a funding agreement whose terms end March 31st, 2013. The decision is even more surprising considering that the recently made public Canadian Heritage summative evaluation of our programs makes very clear how Katimavik’s programs are not only relevant, important and valuable, but also how the organization attains its targets and the programs tie in with government-wide priorities and the department’s strategic objectives.

For the past 35 years, Katimavik has helped shape a civically responsible Canada by harnessing the power of our young volunteers to help those in need in communities across Canada. In that time, over 30 000 Canadian youth have made a difference in communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast. They participated in our program gaining valuable work, life and leadership skills all the while fostering community development and civic engagement. Their parents had peace of mind knowing that their sons and daughters were participating in a structured, time-tested program, while they navigated the transition from emerging adulthood to adulthood.

We appreciate the ongoing support of the thousands of Canadians and community organizations that have been touched by our programs. You too can share your experience at www.shareyourexperience.ca

There is still time to reverse the government’s decision. In the weeks and days to come, we hope we can count on Katimavik’s many supporters to speak with their elected officials about their experiences and articulate the value and benefits of a strong Katimavik for Canada. Now is the time for all our stakeholders and supporters to be proud and be heard.

You can also stay connected and get social with us on Facebook, Twitter et YouTube.

Thank you for your support and stay tuned for more information.

The Katimavik Senior Management Team

Hamilton, ON – March 20, 2012 – Spring is here and Oliver’s Garden Project is going strong.  Now is your chance to get involved!  Join us in helping youth and their families to make a difference in their community through organic vegetable gardening.

Oliver’s Garden Project started in 2011 when Oliver and Piper Allen-Cillis and their family decided to sell all of the produce from their backyard garden and donate the proceeds to a youth charity.  The family paired up with the Hamilton Community Garden Network (hcgn.ca) and with support through online votes the project won the Nature’s Path Gardens for Good contest award to get more families involved.

To grow the project, we are going to provide five families in the South Sherman area with all of the supplies and education they need to grow their own vegetable gardens.  Organic gardening workshops to support the families will also be open to the public.  In addition, we are working with students at Parkview Secondary School to grow seedlings for the families and nearby community gardens.

You can be involved by:

  • Becoming one of the 5 gardening families (contact us for an application)
  • Volunteering to help start and maintain the new gardens
  • Donating supplies or money to the project
  • Sharing land with families without yards
  • Participating in workshops

If you want to apply to become one of the five gardening families (applications due April  6, 2012)  or to get involved in other ways, please contact Stacey Allen-Cillis (s.allen.cillis@gmail.com) or Clare Wagner (info@hcgn.ca, 905-540-8787×158) or visit the project’s website www.oliversgardenproject.com.

Walking in a (Not So) Winter Wonderland

Over 4000 elementary school kids across Hamilton braved the unusually decent weather on February 8th to walk to school as part of the City of Hamilton’s Winter Walk to School Day.  Twenty-five schools registered to participate and enter the creative photo contest put on by the city’s Public Works and Public Health Departments, with support from Green Venture.  Out of the many excellent entries, Immaculate Conception Catholic Elementary School was named the winner and will receive $300 for sports equipment to continue encouraging active lifestyles amongst the student body.

Immaculate Conception’s Winning Entry 

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Participating schools receive a Tree of Active Transportation; a large poster board to which students can attach paper leaves with their name written down.  This year, schools were encouraged for the first time to create their own leaves to increase the creativity of their trees and of their photo entries.  Immaculate Conception created colourful leaves in the shapes of sneakers.  Other schools made snowflakes in honour of the season, and still others stayed true to the use of the colour yellow with their leaves.

School creativity did not end there.  Several schools sent in amazing group photos, some of which spelled out a message like “Walk” or “Eco”.  Other schools went outside the box and had competitions within their own walls.  Classrooms with the highest participation rates won awards like the “Golden Shoe”.

As organizers, we continue to be amazed and overwhelmed at the level of support and enthusiasm shown by all of the participating schools in the Wear Yellow Day events.  Not only that, but we continue to get new schools registering each time we run Wear Yellow Day.  The number of registered schools more than doubled for this year’s Winter event, and the number of entries submitted to Green Venture skyrocketed.

With the winter edition of Wear Yellow Day officially in the books, Green Venture and schools across Hamilton can start to look forward to June, when the next Wear Yellow Day will take place, coinciding with Smart Commute and Pollution Probe’s Clean Air Commute Week.  We fully expect to be amazed once again at the creativity and enthusiasm of staff and students in Hamilton.

For more information on Wear Yellow Day, click here.

– Matt Sweet (Proud Winter Walker)

Media Release

Green Venture Digs Into Doggy Doo-Doo (again)

Pet Waste Composting Workshops – April 11 & 28, 2012

For immediate distribution

Hamilton:  Winter’s waning means deep doggy-doo deposits are suddenly surfacing.  Every time it rains, runoff contaminated with pet waste finds its way into Hamilton Harbour.  Using a pet waste composter protects water quality in the harbour and other watersheds, and saves valuable space in landfills.

Back by popular demand, Green Venture is hosting two free pet waste composting workshops this April at EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton).  Participants will learn why to use, how to build, and how to maintain a pet waste composter.  Everyone will leave the workshop with a pet waste composter in hand.

Workshops are scheduled for Wednesday April 11, 6:30-8:00 pm and Saturday April 28, 10:00-11:30 am.  For more information, or to register for a workshop, please call 905-540-8787 ext. 114, or email water@greenventure.ca.  Spaces are limited and will fill up quickly.  Participants must register in advance.

Green Venture is a community-based non-profit organization committed to helping residents live more sustainably at home, at work, and in their daily lives. Funding for these workshops is generously provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the RBC Blue Water Project.


Kathryn Gold
Water Program Coordinator
905-540-8787 ext. 114

Green Venture is proud to announce that we have won the Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee 2011 HMHC “Energy Conservation in Heritage” Recognition Award for our work installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on EcoHouse (aka Glen Manor – The Veevers Estate).

Green Venture's EcoHouse!

Green Venture's EcoHouse (Glen Manor - The Veevers Estate). This is the original 150-year-old dwelling.

Established in 2007, the HMHC Heritage Recognition Awards were created to highlight the achievements of local heritage property owners, who exemplify heritage conservation; demonstrating outstanding contributions to the conservation, restoration, and preservation of Hamilton’s built  heritage.

We are very please to be recognized for our work at EcoHouse! Find out more about the history of EcoHouse (Glen Manor – The Veevers Estate. Schedule an EcoHouse Group Tour or come and visit us on the 10th Anniversary of Hamilton Doors Open on May 5th and 6th.

BTW – if you are interested in getting your own solar PV system for your residence, use this link to find out how you can make income for generating clean, green electricity!

If you are interested in joining our staff at the celebration, then use the RSVP information below – see you there!

Green Venture's EcoHouse microFIT solar PV system on the 1950's addition.

Thursday February 23, 2012
Doors Open: 6:30 pm Awards Start: 7:00 pm
Reception to follow
Ancaster Old Town Hall
310 Wilson St. E, Ancaster, Ontario

Please RSVP for the event by contacting Alissa Denham-Robinson – HMHC Chair

Scan of HMHC 2011 Award Certificate to EcoHouse

Award letter from HMHC to Green Venture.

Invite letter from HMHC to Green Venture.

Below is a press release from the City of Hamilton announcing the recognition Hamilton received at the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference. Although we have much more to do, it’s great to see Hamilton get recognized for action on sustainability issues. We should celebrate this achievement together and help it stoke the fire on climate change action in our community.



City of Hamilton Receives National Recognition for Climate Change Action

HAMILTON, ON February 9, 2012 Earlier this week the City of Hamilton received an award of recognition for its efforts in combating climate change. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) recognized Hamilton along with other municipalities across Canada for achieving “Milestones 3 & 4” under the Partners for Climate Protection Program (PCP) at the launch of FCM’s Sustainable Communities Conference in Ottawa.

“It’s an honour for Hamilton to be recognized with fellow municipalities for taking action on climate change” explains Brian Montgomery, Air Quality and Climate Change Co-ordinator at the City. “Actions on climate change are increasingly local, and our community has stepped things up through our community Climate Change Action Charter, our Corporation’s Action Plan, and actions throughout our community.”

Milestones 3 & 4 include setting an emissions reductions target and developing a local action plan. Hamilton has also been recognized by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the top cities in Canada addressing climate change. Community greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 were estimated at 12,891,371 tonnes; a reduction of 26% from 2006 emissions levels (estimated at 17,382,000 tonnes). These changes occurred due to a number of factors such as reduced energy demand due to a cooler summer, improved energy efficiency and conservation actions in the community, and the shifting of energy from coal as part of the Province’s actions towards the phasing out of coal in Ontario’s energy mixture sources by 2014.

On October 2011, Hamilton became the first community in Ontario to launch a community Climate Change Action Charter. Since its inception, 28 organizations (along with the City) have endorsed the Charter including Mohawk College, McMaster University, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Hamilton District Labour Council, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Hamilton Area Steelworkers, Union Gas, North End Neighbours, St. James’s Anglican Church, First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, Hamilton CarShare, Environment Hamilton, and Green Venture. For more information and to join the Charter, please visit: www.climatechangehamilton.ca

The Charter and other actions to combat climate change and improve air quality and health will be featured at the upcoming Upwind Downwind Conference: Unlikely Partners on February 27th, 2012. As part of the Conference, a free public talk featuring author Jay Walljasper will take place in the afternoon of Sunday, February 26 at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. For more information about the Conference head to: www.cleanair.hamilton.ca


Media contacts:

Debbie Spence                                                                       Brian Montgomery
Communications                                                                  Air Quality & Climate Change Coordinator
Planning and Economic Development                        Planning and Economic Development
City of Hamilton                                                                   City of Hamilton
Ph:  905-546-2424 ext. 5541                                         Ph: 905-546-2424 ext. 1275

About the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program:

PCP is a network of Canadian municipal governments that have committed to reducing greenhouse gases and acting on climate change. A five milestone framework is used to guide municipalities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The five milestones are: Creating a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, Setting an emissions reductions target; Developing an action plan; Implementing the local action plan or a set of activities; and monitoring progress and reporting results. For more information on the PCP program visit: www.fcm.ca/home/programs/partners-for-climate-protection.htm

Brian Montgomery
Air & Climate Change Coordinator
Planning & Economic Development
City of Hamilton
T: 905-546-2424 extn. 1275
E: Brian.Montgomery@hamilton.ca

Below is a press release from the coordinator of the Save ecoENERGY group that Green Venture supports. Green Venture expects to be dramatically affected by the termination of the ecoENERGY program; this will also have serious repercussions on our staff and on our efforts to reduce GHGs locally.

The energy auditing industry is an industry we will need for many years looking forward. Unfortunately, there is no plan to transition the thousands that do this work across Canada (including here in Niagara/Hamilton) into the next generation of energy conservation initiatives. Despite the numerous and well-documented economic and environmental benefits of the ecoENERGY program, our Federal government has chosen to focus on supporting new energy, rather than on energy conservation, which provides the cheapest method of addressing our energy challenges.

Pete Wobschall
Executive Director
Green Venture

Feds terminate popular ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program early

Harper Government invests less than half of $400 million promised in Budget 2011 – industry braces for job losses

VANCOUVER, BC — (January 30, 2012) — Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver closed the popular ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program to any new registrants on Sunday, January 29. The sudden closing of the program comes two months before its official end date on March 31, 2012. The government has limited participation to 250,000 registered homeowners.

Industry estimates show that by capping registration the federal government will invest at most $192 million in total ecoENERGY home retrofit grants. This investment is less than half of the $400 million the federal government committed in Budget 2011.

“With the Harper government focused on creating jobs and securing Canada’s energy future, we are surprised that Minister Oliver closed such a successful program early,” says Jeff Murdock, vice-president of Building Insight Technologies, a Vancouver-based energy audit company and Save ecoENERGY Coalition supporter. “We are shocked that the federal government is cutting back its investment in job-creating and energy saving retrofits at a time of global economic, environmental and energy uncertainty.”

Home retrofit incentive programs save energy, help families, and are proven low-tax job creation measures, generating $2 in tax revenue for every $1 invested in homeowner grants. These programs are extremely popular with Canadians. For example, according to the Ontario Real Estate Association, 92 per cent of Ontario homeowners think government should create more incentives for homeowners to make environmentally friendly and energy efficient renovations to their homes.


Contact: Jeff Murdock, vice-president, Building Insight Technologies Inc.
jmurdock@buildinginsight.com | 604-785-9109 | www.HomePerformance.com


  • In June 2011, the Harper government renewed the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program with a $400 million investment in Budget 2011: The Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan — A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth.
  • Only 50-80% of the 250,000 homeowners who registered online for a CID number will go on to purchase a pre-retrofit evaluation. Projection calculations assume 80%.
  • Historically, only 80% of homeowners who purchase a pre-retrofit evaluation go on to get a post-retrofit evaluation and qualify for an ecoENERGY grant (NRCan figures).
  • Average ecoENERGY grant amount $1,200 (industry tracking).
  • 192 million = 250,000 x 0.8 x 0.8 x $1,200
  • The Save ecoENERGY Coalition formed in March, 2011. See saveecoenergy.ca

Pdf of press release: Feds terminate popular ecoENERGY retrofit program 30 JAN 2012.

Green Venture and Clean Air Hamilton are pleased to launch our second annual Fighting Climate Change poster contest for Hamilton high school students.  The contest encourages youth to come up with creative ways to fight climate change, to encourage and inspire their peers to take action, and to use art to express their concern for environmental issues.

Students are asked to make a poster demonstrating an action that people can take to combat climate change and conserve energy.  Students will have the chance to have their artwork displayed in several public venues, win some great art prizes, and inspire their peers to take action on climate change.

There will be an opening reception at Central Library on April 13th, where contest participants and their friends and family can come to see the posters, have snacks, and socialize.  All entries will be displayed at the reception, which will be open to the public as a stop on the James St. N Art Crawl.

Top entries will then stay on display in the lobby at Central Library in April, will be displayed at EcoHouse in May during Doors Open Hamilton, and will be on display at Homegrown Hamilton for the month of June, and as part of the June Art Crawl.

Students have the opportunity to win prizes that encourage further artistic creation:

1st prize: 1 day workshop of your choice at the Print Studio, 1 year membership at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, $50 gift certificate at Mixed Media

2nd prize: 1 day workshop of your choice at the Print Studio

3rd prize: $50 gift certificate at Mixed Media

Entries are due at 4pm on Feb 22nd.  For contest regulations and details on submitting your poster, visit our website at www.greenventure.ca/poster-contest.  Posters will be judged by members of Hamilton’s artistic, environmental, and educational communities, who will consider creativity, message clarity, composition, and how well the poster portrays a tangible action and encourages people to take action.  Results will be announced on March 7, 2012.

Every time fossil fuels (like oil and natural gas) are used as an energy source, green house gases are released.  Every small action you take to reduce your energy consumption also helps reduce the amount of GHGs entering our atmosphere, helping your community and our planet!  This is your chance to inspire other youth to fight climate change.  All actions help, and every way that we can reduce our use of green house gases will help reduce the impacts of climate change.

Help our environment, inspire others to take action, get your work seen, and win some great prizes!

Art Contest Poster

Green Venture would like to thank the Conserver Society of Hamilton and District for sponsoring the Healthy Harbour! program.  Funding in the amount of $5000 has been generously provided by an RBC Blue Water Project Community Action Grant.

Green Venture is excited about this opportunity to help protect our local rivers and reduce non-point pollution entering Hamilton Harbour.  In recent years, Hamilton has experienced serious problems relating to stormwater and runoff including environmental and water quality degradation, threat to human health and safety, and millions of dollars in property damage.

This program will provide tangible results in eliminating toxins from our environment.  Together with residents in the community, we will construct forty pet waste composters and one rain garden.

The program goals are:

(1) Reduce non point source pollution entering Hamilton Harbour

(2) Educate residents about the effects of stormwater runoff

(3) Motivate behavioural change

Pet waste workshops will improve local water quality by eliminating an expected 4380 pounds of pet waste from landfills and waterways each year.

Rain garden allow stormwater runoff to filter naturally through the ground as nature intended, replenishing groundwater aquifers.

Stay tuned for more details about upcoming Healthy Harbour! workshops.  Contact Kathryn Gold at water@greenventure.ca or 905-540-8787 ext. 114 for more information.

Green Venture is a community-based non-profit organization committed to helping residents live more sustainably at home, at work, and in their daily lives.

In late 2010 to 2011, Mobile Monitoring, air quality project, took samples from 11 different areas in Hamilton.  While this City has stationary air quality monitors, for example, Hamilton Air Monitoring Network (hamnair.ca), one of the unique aspects of this project is its mobility-data can be collected anywhere in the City.  Rotek Environmental, Inc gathered samples and analyzed the information, using a specialized vehicle with an air quality station mounted on it.  The results were used to determine total health impacts, ie its effects on mortality.  With this information, concerned residents are able to find out the air quality in their neighbourhood and can identify certain predominant pollutants and potentially their sources.  Ideally, with this information, residents can work towards decreasing contaminants in their environment.

Five contaminants that were measured:
• Carbon Monoxide (CO)
• Oxides of Nitrogen (NO, NO2, NOX)
• Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
• PM10 (Inhalable Particulates, is “coarse” an example is dust stirred up by traffic
• PM2.5 (Respirable Particulates, is “fine” and found in smoke or haze and can only be viewed through a microscope)

Originally, 11 locations were monitored: Beach Blvd / Eastport Drive, Delta, Dundas, Jones Road / Arvin Avenue, Lawrence Avenue to Burlington Street, Limeridge Mall, McAnulty Blvd, near Mountain, North West End, Red Hill neighbourhoods, Wentworth North.  After neighbourhood interest, two locations had previously collected data analyzed: Kirkendall and Strathcona Neighbourhoods.

One of the interesting results from the study was that, on average the City has an increased mortality of 11.5%.  In other words, for every 100 deaths in Hamilton (from non-traumatic causes), there is, on average, an additional 11 deaths due to air pollution.
“Non-traumatic” means not caused by car accidents, etc.  Throughout the 11 areas studied, the increased mortality rates ranged from 6.8% to 18.4%.

Next Steps:
In 2012, Green Venture, in partnership with Rotek Environmental, Inc., Ministry of Environment and Clean Air Hamilton will be submitting a funding application to study other neighbourhoods in Hamilton.  There has been great interest from area residents in this project and the continuation of funding would allow Mobile Monitoring to gather and analyze more data in different areas of the City.

Thank you to Conserver Society of Hamilton and District, Ministry of Environment and Rotek Environmental, Inc., and Public Health for their partnership and dedication to this project.

Special thanks to Mobile Monitoring funders, ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Clean Air Hamilton.

Links: The complete report: Hamilton Neighbourhoods: Mobile Air Quality Monitoring to Determine Local Impacts
The map of the boundaries of each area

The push-button starter is a fun little quirk of the Prius that I have come to love. It makes turning on the car more akin to turning on a computer (a particularly apt analogy, considering the “gas gauge consumption game” one constantly plays with the accelerator) than starting a license-requiring powerful and potentially dangerous machine. With the keyless remote that my Prius came with, you don’t even have to put a key in the ignition. Just open the door, turn on the computer, er.. starter, and away you go…at a silent electric-only glide for the first 20 km/hr.

I have come to learn that while the hybrid car is indeed a fabulous fuel-efficient vehicle, it does have a few quirks, and even (gasp) an occasional drawback.

The fuel efficiency numbers are not quite all they are proclaimed to be, largely because of that wretched quintessential Canadian topic of conversation: winter. Cold tends to reduce the efficiency because the hybrid engine runs during the first five-ten minutes of start-up, bringing the car up to a reasonable warmth level. The length of that warm-up varies by the outside temperature.

When one is used to watching the consumption level like a hawk during driving, always striving to never exceed 5.0 L/100km, it’s very disconcerting to watch the gauge rises to 10, 15, 20 L/100 km during this warm-up and stay there, EVEN when you release the accelerator and coast in neutral or come to a stop. Because of our lengthy education through Green Venture about the evils of idling one’s vehicle, this oddity of the hybrid doing its darnedest to idle makes the veins on my head twitch when it occurs.

Once the car gets up to speed, it generally performs well as per normal. However, I have noticed that I am no longer getting the fabulous 4.0-5.0 fuel numbers I was getting in July (presumably when the car was nice and toasty warm all the time), but instead my numbers are hovering around 6.0 L/100 km on average.

Prius dashboard

The starter button and my fuel consumption after 20 min. Note the downward trend in the graph.

It’s terrifically tempting to do an extra drive across the lower City of Hamilton  (a nice flat uninterrupted run in many spots, particularly Cannon Street).  This would get me a few miles of “zero” consumption: running the car at speed, and only “feathering” the accelerator enough to keep the electric motor turning the wheels without actually drawing any gas. The unfortunate reality is that there is always a stop light, braking for another  vehicle, or other reason for minor slowdowns and the subsequent need to push on the accelerator again and get back up to “cruising” speed.

One other interesting feature about the Prius is that you can reset the average consumption meter when you fill up, or leave it. This allows you to keep an ongoing record of average fuel consumption or a trip-specific one (between fill-ups). Sometimes, after a particularly inefficient trip (driving at high speeds for a long time, driving up the escarpment back and forth, short trips of 5 minutes or less where the car never gets a chance to fully warm up), it’s very tempting to just “push the button” and wipe the slate clean.

All in all, the hybrid experience has been a good one so far. I am hopeful the car holds up well to the abuse it is likely to get in my household.  Keep you posted…

December 22, 2011
Hamilton, ON
The Hamilton Port Authority (HPA) is throwing its support behind two projects that share the aim of protecting water quality in Hamilton Harbour.  Through its Environmental Trust Fund, the HPA will provide financial support to projects being undertaken by the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) and Green Venture, two well-established local environmental groups.

Implemented in 2010, the Environmental Trust Fund allocates funding to support projects that benefit the Hamilton Harbour ecosystem. Up to two projects a year are chosen for funding, which covers half of the project cost, typically up to a maximum of $10,000 per project.

“We recognize that a healthy Hamilton Harbour benefits both port users and the community,” explains HPA president Bruce Wood. “As the owner of more than 600 acres of waterfront land, we’re committed to environmental respect and sustainability.”

For 2011, funding will support the production of the 2012 Toward Safe Harbours Report Card by the Bay Area Restoration Council. Produced every five years, the report card updates the overall health of the harbour and indicates areas that need improvement in the push toward harbour and watershed restoration.

“It’s great to have the HPA’s support, particularly for 2012 with our third Report Card on progress toward delisting the harbour as an Area of Concern,” said Scott Koblyk, BARC president. “The Port Authority’s contribution will allow us to ensure it receives wide distribution and can be an interesting, engaging and dynamic part of our hamiltonharbour.ca website.”

The Environmental Trust Fund will also support Green Venture’s Healthy Harbour! Residential Best Practices Project. By encouraging lower city residents to disconnect downspouts and install rain barrels, the project aims to divert stormwater from the sewer system and reduce sewer overflow from being released into the harbour during storms. Data and experience gathered through the project will be used to build long-term strategies to deal with stormwater overflows.

“Stormwater is a major source of pollution in Hamilton Harbour,” said Pete Wobschall, executive director of Green Venture. “Funding will provide citizens with the tools, knowledge, and support necessary to reduce stormwater flows into the harbour. Green Venture applauds the HPA for their generous support of initiatives that improve the quality of life in our community.”

The two 2011 projects selected for funding were chosen by a committee of the HPA board, following a community stakeholder meeting held to gather input on potential projects. In 2010, the Environmental Trust fund provided money to support a McMaster University project to monitor and manage colonial nesting birds in the harbour, as well as a the planting of 12 Ivory Silk Lilac trees on the Navy League lawn on Pier 8.

The Port of Hamilton is the largest Canadian port on the Great Lakes in terms of both size and cargo handled. The Hamilton Port Authority’s strategic vision is to be the Great Lakes port of choice.


Media Contacts:

Hamilton Port Authority
Marilyn Baxter, Environmental Manager
(905) 525-4330 ext. 240

Bay Area Restoration Council
Chris McLaughlin, Executive Director
(905) 527-7111

Green Venture
Pete Wobschall, Executive Director
905-540-8787 ext. 117

Thanks to Dave Carson at Dundas in Transition for the info below on some great upcoming workshops in Hamilton. See you there!


What’s Up with the Weather?

Wednesday October 26th at 7pm; The McMaster Centre for Climate Change presents Dr David Phillips – senior climatologist at Environment Canada on “What’s Up with the Weather?” at the McMaster Innovation Park. Here’s how the flyer for this presentation introduces the talk.

“Hail, snow dumps, icy rains, weather bombs, super hurricanes, – if you think we’ve been cursed and getting clobbered a lot harder and lot more often recently you are not imagining it. People all over are asking: what’s happening to the weather? It’s almost as if extreme weather has become the norm – an epidemic of ferocious killer, catastophic weather everywhere. Is the global climate going through unprecedented change? Is our weather becoming more extreme? And, if so, are people responsible or some other natural forces?” See climate.mcmaster.ca

Climate Reality Project

Friday November 4th at 7pm; Grant Linney, a presenter with the Climate Reality project will present “Climate reality – It’s better to change laws than light bulbs” at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Here’s how the Climate reality project is introduced:

Climate Change is not your fault for the car you drive, the lights you turn on or the food you eat. The climate crisis is our problem. Real solutions, systemic solutions, innovative solutions, can only come when we address this together. That’s what the Climate reality Project will do. Without doubt. Without delay. And with your help. The Climate Reality project is bringing the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and engaging the public about how to solve it. We help citizens around the world discover the truth and take meaningful steps to bring about change. See http://climaterealityproject.org/

Perverse Cities: Hidden subsidies, wonky policy and urban sprawl

Monday November 7th at 7:30pm; The Annual Spirit of Redhill Valley lecture has Dr. Pamela Blais who will present “Perverse Cities, Hidden subsidies, wonky policy and urban sprawl” at The First Unitarian Church, 170 Dundurn St. Dr Blais 2010 book – Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy and Urban Sprawl – has won critical praise including being short-listed for the Donner Prize. She suggests that urban planning has focused on curbing sprawl by treating its symptoms and failing to recognize the market distortions and flawed policy that drive sprawl. As a result of crude public policies, a wide range of urban goods and services are subject to inaccurate price signals, including housing, non-residential properties, transportation and utilities. Mis-pricing creates hidden, perverse subsidies and incentives that promote sprawl while discouraging more efficient and sustainable urban forms. More information is available at perversecities.ca.

As providers of solar PV installations under the Ontario microFIT and FIT program, Green Venture is very pleased to invite you to find out how to start, or participate in, a community solar PV coop. See info below from our good friends and partners at Environment Hamilton (thanks Juby!).


Environment Hamilton has partnered with OSEA (Ontario Sustainable Energy Association) to deliver a workshop on Wed. Nov. 9th entitled “OSEA’s Community Power Roadmap to Success”.

This event is all about connecting local businesses, community members, and  organizations and providing them with the basic tools to create community-based solar-power projects.

This is  great opportunity to learn more about how to tap into creating solar power projects within Hamilton.

Wed. Nov. 9th. 6:30-9:30pm
Central Branch – Hamilton Public Library, 55 York Blvd.

More Information:
Ontario Sustainable Energy Association

Contact Juby at jlee(at)environmenthamilton.org

More Information:
The exciting increase in solar power opportunities speaks to the environmental and financial benefits of this green energy. We have local examples of Hamiltonians connecting to this power source. One of the challenges of solar is the financial upfront costs as well as location requirements pose a challenge to make putting up solar panels feasible.

The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) is holding a hands-on workshop that will give participants tools to create our own community-based solar power projects. And ideally, connecting businesses, community members and local organizations, so that individuals can come together and share the challenges and successes of solar energy production. We are seeing examples emerging here in Hamilton, such as Melrose United Church putting up solar panels this month. OSEA’s workshop aims to have its participants identify opportunities to have community solar powered projects and give them the tools to achieve those goals.


Hamilton First in Ontario with Climate Charter

HAMILTON, ON October 12, 2011 – Hamilton introduces the first community Climate Change Charter in Ontario.  Clean Air Hamilton, Green Venture, Environment Hamilton and other community groups have team up to introduce and endorse Hamilton’s Climate Change Action Charter in the community. 

“There is an increasing number of cities and regions from around the world that are developing their own actions to deal with climate change” states Brian McCarry, Chair of Clean Air Hamilton. “Climate change is increasingly being tackled at a local level. We are pleased to partner with organizations and individuals in the community of Hamilton to support and introduce this Charter”.

The Charter has won support from a number of business, academic and environmental groups including McMaster University, Mohawk College, the Hamilton Conservation Authority, Union Gas, The First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, McKibbon Wakefield Inc., Green Venture, Environment Hamilton, Dundas in Transition, Sustainable Hamilton, Eco Churches of West Hamilton, Corr Research, Greening Marketing Inc., Hamilton 350, CHASE Canada, as well as Clean Air Hamilton. The Community Climate Change Action Charter is a voluntary statement that acknowledges the reality of climate change and asks commitment to measure and set targets for the reduction of emissions at the personal, organizational and community level.  The Charter is available online at: http://climatechangehamilton.ca

On October 17, the Charter will be introduced at Liuna Station (360 James Street North) from 8am – 11am at Liuna Station as part of Climate Change Action month in Hamilton.  Organizations who have endorsed the Charter will sign and share their experiences as part of the breakfast launch.  October is Hamilton’s third official Climate Change Action Month, so residents and businesses are encouraged to get educated and active in addressing climate change.

Hamilton has been recognized by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the top cities in Canada addressing climate change. Community greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 were estimated at 12,891,371 tonnes, a reduction of 26% from 2006 emissions levels (estimated at 17,382,000 tonnes). These changes occurred due to the downturn in the economy, reduced energy demand due to a cooler summer, improved energy efficiency and conservation actions in the community, and the shifting of energy from coal as part of the Province’s actions towards the phasing out of coal in Ontario’s energy mixture sources by 2014.

Clean Air Hamilton is a community-based action committee composed of representatives from government, academic institutions, industry, environmental organizations and residential associations.  For more information visit: www.cleanair.hamilton.ca

Media contacts:

Dr. Brian McCarry                                                                  Brian Montgomery
Chair                                                                                       Air Quality & Climate Change Coordinator
Clean Air Hamilton                                                                  City of Hamilton

Ph:  905-525-9140 ext. 24504                                                Ph: 905-546-2424 ext. 1275

Just in case you missed it, below is a copy of the letter sent by the City of Hamilton to the Premier requesting for a moratorium on industrial wind turbine development.

Hamilton City Council Motion “Request for Moratorium on Industrial Wind Turbine Development”.

Update: October 13, 2011

Does the request above contradict council’s previous motion to support the Green Economy? You decide…

Here is the motion (from this document)

Development of the Green Economy

WHEREAS the recent recession has taken a significant toll on local manufacturing jobs in the City of Hamilton,

AND WHEREAS the United Nations Environment Program has recently issued a set of significant documents defining the Green Economy and outlining policy concepts to build the Green Economy

AND WHEREAS the City of Hamilton has endorsed sustainable development, clean technology, and poverty reduction as preferable patterns of development much in line with the UNEP statements.

THEREFORE be it resolved:

(a) That the City of Hamilton hereby declares its continuing support for the development of the Green Economy as a set of effective economic development strategies that achieve complimentary environmental and energy benefits while creating jobs.;

(b) That the City of Hamilton hereby calls upon all provincial political parties, their leaders, and local MPP candidates to respect the importance of the Green Economy to Ontario’s economy, to Ontario’s energy future, and to the environment.


This motion started with a presentation from a presentation by Bill Thompson from Blue Green Hamilton. Here is the City of Hamilton record of Bill’s presentation (from here):

Bill Thompson, Blue Green Canada, respecting Green Economy resolution (Item 6.2)

Mr. Thompson prefaced his presentation by commenting that Blue Green Canada has developed a sound relationship with the Energy and Environment Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, the Hamilton and General Issues Committee 19 Report 11-025 Council – August 11, 2011

District Labour Council, Environment Hamilton and continues to develop relationships with as many people and organizations of goodwill as possible. 1900 leaflets were distributed at the recent Festival of Friends, as well as a petition being generated during the Festival. Hamilton has been a strong leader in developing green economy and green practices.

Mr. Thompson provided a copy of his written comments to the Clerk for the public record and is available for viewing on the City’s website.

(iii) Correspondence from respecting the Green Economy On a motion, the following correspondence was received:

(aa) Correspondence from Lynda Lukasik, Environment Hamilton, respecting the Blue Green motion regarding support for the Green Economy in Ontario (Item 9.1.1)

(bb) Correspondence from Patrick J. Dillon, Building Manager, Building & Construction Trades council of Ontario, supporting the Development of the Green Economy Resolution (Item 9.1.2)

A record of City of Hamilton council passing the motion can be found here.

Do you have an area on your property that floods routinely?  The answer to your problems may be your very own rain garden. Rain gardens provide a natural pathway for rain to easily return to the ground, eliminating that little lake in your yard. Creating a rain garden involves digging out the area, adding gravel underneath the soil to improve drainage, and planting water-tolerant species in the new bed.  Plant roots help to make the soil more permeable, allowing water to travel along the roots down into the ground.

Rain gardens are great for the environment.   In urban areas, rain travels along hard surfaces, transporting pollutants (like bacteria, chemicals, fuels, and heavy metals) to nearby water bodies.  Rain gardens minimize the amount of stormwater that needs to be managed, and they also allow the water to be filtered naturally on its way down to the aquifer.

For more information on this subject check out www.slowrain.ca.

On Saturday September 17th, 2011 Green Venture hosted a rain garden workshop. Using only native plants, participants helped to create one of these beautiful gardens at EcoHouse.  It is important to use native plants, as these are adapted to local climate and soil conditions.  Ontario boasts a variety of water tolerant native-species like Canada Anemone and Sedges.

The new EcoHouse rain garden is 420 square feet in area, and captures stormwater runoff from a drainage area of about 2000 square feet on the property. With approximately 30 inches of precipitation per year, this means our rain garden is diverting slightly more than 5000 cubic feet of precipitation EVERY YEAR.

Come and see it! It’s highly visible, being located right beside the street corner of Ambrose Avenue and Veevers Drive, and it works in conjunction with the also-recently-installed permeable paver driveway.

Thanks to everyone who came out last weekend, particularly the volunteers from Katimavik and the Girl Guides– we couldn’t have done it without you!

For more information about how to build a rain garden, contact water@greenventure.ca .

Participants learning about native trees used in rain garden

Part 1- Buying the car

So I have finally got the car of my dreams. Well, that would be the car of my recent dreams (let’s say the last 2.5 years): a Toyota Prius and its snazzy hybrid synergy engine.

2008 Toyota Prius
2008 Toyota Prius

Prior to 2009 I hadn’t really considered buying a hybrid car, presuming it was way out of my price range. Truth be told it still ended up a bit on the high-end of pricey. I ended up paying a shade under $18 000 for a 2008 Toyota Prius recently, which is about $5000-$8000 more than I wanted to spend. My pay rate doesn’t justify an (over)expenditure  of this size, but the car did have one big thing going for it other than fuel mileage: organizational cred.

I work in the environmental sector, so it was a bit of a high to live the hybrid dream, enjoying the (qualified) praise of co-workers.  There are enough ways in my life that I don’t successfully walk the talk, so it was a pleasure to be able to do this one thing. I had fantasies of wafting down the streets of Hamilton on the wings of environmental angels: no noise from the electric motor, minimal gasoline fumes, and lots of somewhat hazily calculated carbon emission tonne savings piling up.

The other, more down-to-earth advantage that the Prius had going for it was projected overall life-span expenditure. I created an (overly) elaborate spreadsheet to number crunch what I figured I would pay for/on this car over the expected lifespan of ownership.I own a car typically for about eight years, driving it slowly into the ground. It doesn’t matter how pretty the car is at the start of its odessey with me. The end result is always the same: a well-driven, usually heavily-mended, occasionally accident-affected, growling and sputtering  junkyard-ready metal mongrel.

For my analysis I calculated the initial cost of the Prius and its competition and costs of regular maintenance . In the case of the Prius I arbitrarily set that figure at double the rate of a conventional car, based on the apocryphal story I had heard that it takes a minimum of two hybrid specialist techs to look at any hybrid in the garage, vs only one non-hybrid specialist tech for a regular car.

I calculated my average number of km I drive in a year, which I set at 30 000 -35 000 km. year. This is, I am told, higher than the norm, and it’s certainly higher than what my insurance company seems to think I should drive, but I wanted to be as “realistic” as possible. Don’t forget: my wife and I are, by nature, “drivers”. That is to say we have not yet evolved out of our dinosaur-age penchant for Sunday drives and last-night hamburger runs. Erring on the side of more km per year seemed fair.

The big item in this increasingly complex labyrinth of a spreadsheet was the fuel cost over  8 years. Given my stated driving estimates, how much gas would I consume over eight years of ownership? And here is where the Prius finally began to shine.

For the record, my runner-up car was a 2008 Ford Fusion. This was a bigger car, and considerably more luxurious than the Prius and I really really enjoyed driving it.The interior was all leather… completely unsuitable, of course, for transporting a 4 year old. But I did have momentary dreams of sealing the child car seat in a blanket-shrouded, plastic covered bubble, turning on the high-end sound system, and cruising merrily down the QEW in style.  But only for moment.

It’s very odd that I went into the Ford Fusion test drive looking for a reason to NOT like it, so that I could justify to myself the purchase of the Prius. Ironically at the other end of the Ford Fusion test drive, I really wanted a reason to not buy the PRIUS. Yes, the experience was that good that it turned my preconception on its ear.

But here’s the rub: I looked up the fuel consumption costs for both the 2008 Prius and the 2008 Fusion from Natural Resources Canada’s Fuel Consumption website.


This is a wonderful site with lots of good info on every car available in Canada going back several decades.  The rated fuel consumption for that fabulously luxurious Ford Fusion was 12.0 L/100 km . The 2008 Toyota Prius’s rated fuel consumption was 4.0 L / 100 km.

That’s a pretty shocking difference, but it was made even worse when I calculated the cost of the fuel to drive both vehicles at my stated 30 000 – 35 000 km per year for eight years.

I tried a couple of different gas price variables (with the spreadsheet now bordering on a complexity suitable to determining the nine billion names of God), but ultimately decided that the average price over the next 8 years is likely to settle somewhere around $1.40. Sure, it’s cheaper now, but the price has spiked as high as that recently, and the long-term trend is for gas to go up and up and up. So, I felt comfortable pegging it at $1.40 /L average and taking my chances.

Gas  costs were ultimately the difference-maker:

For me to own the Ford Fusion, I projected over 8 years, it would cost me $60 000 (including purchase price, maintenance, and gas).

For me to own the Toyota Prius, I projected over 8 years, it would cost me $48 000 (including the same).

That’s a $12 000 difference over 8 years, even accounting for the fact the Prius was $2000 more than the Fusion in the initial purchase price.

That number loomed so large it became the reason I was able to convince myself to forgo the luxury of the Fusion and “settle” for the bland efficiency of the Prius. So what if it’s only got a cloth interior? It’s got a push button keyless starter! More on that later…


Due to the success of this spring’s Transportation and Healthy Living Fair, we’re excited to announce that Smart Commute Hamilton will be hosting a fall fair this September!

This fall’s Transportation and Healthy Living Fair falls (no pun intended :]) on Sept 22nd, which happens to be World Car Free Day, right in the middle of Smart Commute Week (Sept 19-25).  It will feature a variety of exciting exhibitors all who share the common interest of supporting sustainable transportation and healthy active lifestyles.

Details are in the works but for now we can tell you the…

Date: Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Time: 11:30am-1:30pm

Where: Gore Park (at the intersection of James and King St.), Hamilton

Who: Join Smart Commute Hamilton and Green Venture as we celebrate healthy living and sustainable commuting. Featured exhibitors include Hamilton CarShare, Alchemy CrossFit, Earth Day Hamilton, Environment Hamilton, Open Streets Hamilton, Tourism Hamilton, Hamilton 350 Committee and Pedal the Planet, Young Driver’s of Canada, the Hamilton Cycling Committee, Acclamation’s Bar and Grill and more guests are being added each day!

If you would like to be an exhibitor or would just like more information about the event please contact 905-540-8787 or air@greenventure.ca.

The fair is free and there will be lots of fun, food and prizes to be won!

Meet you at the Fair!

Bustling Street View of the Fair in June

GV Summer Students try Zumba Fitness!

As fields become roads and forests become buildings, storm water from heavy rainfall has nowhere to go but into the sewers. When the quantity of water in our sewers reaches capacity, the water (which may be contaminated with garbage, oil, and chemicals) is sent to Lake Ontario untreated.

Many people are bothered by the sight of water sloshing off dirty road surfaces into sewers and contaminating our water supply. While we can’t exactly eliminate roadways, there are ways to replace impermeable surfaces on your property with permeable ones. Permeable surfaces help soak up water before it enters storm sewers. The water filters through the ground and is cleaned naturally by the earth before being dumped into Lake Ontario.

Come to EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton) on Saturday, August 13th from 10:00am to 12:00pm to learn about the conveniences and benefits of using permeable pavement. This FREE workshop will provide you with the information you need to create your own permeable driveways and walkways at home. Need hands-on experience? You’ll be helping to install a small section of permeable pavement on the property. Be sure to pay attention—there is a lot of information to absorb!

For more information or to register, please contact Kathryn 905-540-8787 ext. 114 or email water@greenventure.ca

Want to learn more information about how you can help control storm water? Visit www.slowrain.ca

-Evan Gravely

On Sunday July 10, over 20 Hamilton residents came to EcoHouse to learn how to better dispose of their pet’s waste.  Participants worked hard to make and decorate their new doggy septic systems.  We can’t wait to see the pictures when they are installed back at home!

Home installation is easy.  Just dig a hole, add some rocks, and insert your composter.  It should be almost completely flush with the ground, or sit just a few inches up.

Each composter diverts approximately 122 pounds of waste per year (from landfills and waterways).  The collective impact of this workshop is a diversion of 2 440 pounds of waste per year!  Pet waste will now decompose and return to the soil, where it belongs.  Kudos to all who participated.  You are making an amazing step for our environment.

Follow this link to read about the pet waste workshop in the Hamilton Spectator:

Contact Kathryn at Green Venture if you are interested in attending a future workshop.
water@greenventure.ca or 905-540-8787 ext. 114

There are 36 000 licensed dogs in the City of Hamilton (estimates say there could be up to 90 000 including non-licensed dogs).  Since the average dog produces 1/3 of a pound of waste per day, we are dealing with 12 000 – 30 000 pounds of dog waste every single day just in Hamilton.  You can imagine how much space that would take up in landfills.

Pet waste is an increasing concern in urban areas.  Most residents aren’t quite sure what to do with it, so it ends up in the trash.  Municipalities generally suggest you either flush it down the toilet or double bag it and put it in the garbage.  Some municipalities (not all) do accept this in the green bin.  But why not go even further, and compost your pet’s waste at home?

Building a pet waste composter has many benefits, including:

  • Saving space in landfills
  • Keeping runoff clean
  • Providing you with natural garden fertiliser (not meant for food gardens)

Green Venture is hosting a hands-on pet waste composter workshop.  There are only 2 spaces left!  Email water@greenventure.ca for more information.

If you can’t make it to the workshop, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to make your own pet waste composter.  All you need is an old garbage can.  City Farmer has a great video showing you exactly how to do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sud1JgBSc1Y

If you run into trouble, give Green Venture a call or visit us at EcoHouse.

For more information on the effects of stormwater runoff on our environment, visit slowrain.ca.

This summer BARC, in conjunction with partners Green Venture, City of Hamilton Parks Department, Ontario Trillium Foundation, McMaster University’s URBAN project and all levels of government, will operate a water information kiosk at Bayfront Park.

Kiosk at Bayfront Park will serve as an interim Waterfront Centre - a partnership with Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC), Green Venture, and others.

A first step toward a full-fledged walk-in centre to communicate with the public about water-related matters in our Harbour and its watershed, the kiosk will offer information on beaches, waterfowl, fish consumption, water quality, trails,

recreation and what the public can do to help.  Situated near the boat launch and at the entrance to the Waterfront Trail, many citizens will be exposed to key messages about our environment.

Please join us for a brief opening ceremony at the kiosk TODAY!  If unsure of its location, please call the BARC office at 905-527-7111.

June 21st marks the first day of summer and the beginning of a season of barbeques, garden parties and late evenings spent on the patio with friends. Green Venture has received a few questions lately about how we can be environmentally friendly when hosting a get-together. Here is the GV Guide to Eco-friendly Summer Parties!


Print your invitations on recycled paper or eliminate paper waste completely by sending your invitations electronically by e-mail or using a website such as Smilebox. Attach Hamilton biking and transit maps to invitations, or encourage your guests to arrange carpools to cut back on carbon emissions.

Host/Hostess Gifts

Reduce unnecessary waste by asking guests to make a charitable donation or forego the gifts altogether. Alternatively, creating a gift registry ensures you only receive things you truly need. Re-gifting items you don’t have a use for is also a very environmentally-friendly practice!


Forget one-use paper streamers and balloons! Head outdoors and let the beauty of nature be the centrepiece of your party. Invest in flowering native perennials for your garden or find a pretty bunch of cut flowers at a market. Try hanging energy-efficient LED Christmas lights to provide light for celebrations that go on long into the night.


Stock up for your next event at a local farmers’ market. Buying local and in-season produce reduces the number of kilometres driven (and the associated pollution) to get the food from the farm to your table. Meat production is very water and energy intensive, so reducing or eliminating meat at your gathering will help preserve valuable resources. For delicious vegetarian recipes that even my carnivorous teenage brother enjoys, visit allrecipes.com‘s veg section. If you’re still hungry, check out foodgawker.

Dishes and Utensils

When it comes to serving your guests, my recommendation is to use your regular dishes and utensils. They are reusable (no waste) and can be cleaned efficiently in a (fully-loaded) dishwasher. However, I understand that for large parties and in other circumstances, using your own dishes is not possible. First, consider asking your guests to bring their own plates and cutlery. If you can fit it into your budget, using rented plates and cutlery is as environmentally-friendly as providing your own dishes and many companies will even do the washing.

If you must use disposable dishes, avoid Styrofoam. Although it is accepted in containers recycling, any plates or cups that accidentally end up in the trash will never break down. There have also been concerns about the effects of Styrofoam on human health. Paper dishes require a lot of water to produce, but a benefit is that they are accepted in green bins in Hamilton. Look for the highest recycled content and chlorine-free processing when purchasing.

Compostable and biodegradable dishes are also available. “Compostable” means that the product is consumed completely by microorganisms to produce water, CO2 and organic compounds. “Biodegradable” means that the product breaks down, but continues to exist in very small pieces of its original form. Choose compostable products over biodegradable ones when possible. Compostable dishes are commonly made out of potato and corn based-products. However, compostable items ARE NOT accepted in Hamilton’s green bin and are not recommended for your backyard composter unless they bear the following logo:

This logo indicates that the material will degrade in industrial composting systems, such as Hamilton’s. Unfortunately, all compostable dishes on the market right now will not degrade quickly enough to meet this standard. To maintain the quality of the city’s compost, compostable dishes must be excluded. The city is currently looking into alternative composting methods to break down these items faster. It is important to remember though, that compostable and biodegradable products will break down in landfills too, so they are definitely a better choice than Styrofoam.


Make it easy for your guests to put their waste in the right place. Have a green bin, containers recycling, paper recycling and a garbage can in each room/space where guests will be. This is called precycling. You may also want to put out a separate container for beer bottles or other containers that you will be returning for refund.

Keep these tips in mind when planning your next party to keep your guests and our planet happy!

-Lindsay Toth


Community members raved about June’s My Green Adventures, held June 6th and 7th. This month, we celebrated clean air in Hamilton. In the past, Hamilton was notorious for its smoggy skyline and poor air quality. However, Clean Air Hamilton’s release of the Air Quality Progress Report 2010 brought good news, reporting a decrease in nearly all pollutants in city air (yay!).

Green Venture wants to help Hamiltonians continue this positive trend! Visitors to EcoHouse during My Green Adventures learned how retiring your old gas lawnmower and using a program like CarShare Hamilton can reduce emissions of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases. Kids flew homemade kites and made seed rockets with red clay and seeds from air-purifying native plants.

Thank you to everyone who participated in My Green Adventures this month! Don’t miss July’s My Green Adventures: All About Energy. As usual, it is the second weekend of the month: July 7th and 8th from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Stay green, friends.

Thanks to ArcelorMittal for their generous funding of My Green Adventures!

-Lindsay Toth

Every day, many tonnes of waste from homes and businesses in the City of Hamilton are dumped into landfills. To divert some of this waste, it is important that we practice the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Most people know to reduce waste by buying only what they need and to recycle by separating certain materials from the trash, but many people don’t know ways to offer up their unwanted belongings for reuse.

For instance, trying to find someone in need of your ancient dial television can be a time-consuming process with disappointing results; also, moving bulky items (think of that tacky and oversized couch in your living room) can be a very difficult task.

Luckily, Hamilton has a number of services and opportunities that can help you get your unwanted items into the right hands so that they can be happily reused by somebody else. While you’re at it, you might even make some extra cash!

Name of Business

Extra Information

Website/Contact Information

Kijiji & Craigslist: free online services like the local classified ads in newspapers.

Registered members can buy and sell virtually anything that is not considered illegal by the website’s standards.Etiquette is for the buyer to pick up the item(s) being sold so you don’t have to worry about moving heavy items!



Hamilton Reuses: like Kijiji, an online service to exchange goods within the City of Hamilton.

Although it is not as popular as Kijiji, the website has other resources like the Recyclopedia which has information on places to recycle almost anything (including hazardous materials).On the site’s forums, users can offer their junk up for sale (or to give away) and browse offers posted by other people.


The Reuse Centre: accepts almost any items from the household or workplace including building supplies.

Takes unwanted junk off your hands to be resold in their store.Items cannot be damaged, soiled, incomplete, or hazardous. Call them if you are unsure of how to properly dispose of these items.

Resells items dropped off at the centre for cheap.


Address:  3335 North Service Road, Unit #2A, Burlington, ON.

Phone Number: 905-319-0477


Freecycle: an online network of groups that reuse each other’s goods.

Members form local recycling “communities” that offer up and exchange goods with one another.Unlike Kijiji, everything listed must be completely FREE.

Find a group near you on their website.



Donation Centres: places that accept gently-used household wares to be resold. Revenue usually goes towards charity work.

Value Village has a number of drop-off locations for unwanted household items that can be found here.Pickups can be arranged for bulky items.


The Goodwill Donation Centre accepts clothing, household wares and linens, furniture and small appliances for resale.Proceeds from the sale of these goods help support work in helping people find employment opportunities.  

Address: 1050 Upper Gage Avenue, Hamilton, ON

Phone Number: 905-526-8488

-Evan Gravely

Are you an active commuter or someone interested in including more physical activity in your life and transportation?  Find out how others do it and share your stories too…

On June 16th join Green Venture as we support Smart Commute Hamilton’s Transportation & Healthy Living Fair!

During Clean Air Commute Week (June 13-19), the Transportation & Healthy Living Fair will bring together individuals and organizations to explore what is happening in our community to support healthy lifestyles and active, sustainable commutes.

Event Details

When: Thursday, June 16th, 2011 from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Where: The Fair is right in Gore Park, downtown Hamilton at the intersection of King and James Streets

Who: Featured groups such as Smart Commute Hamilton, CarShare, Environment Hamilton, GoodLife Fitness, the Hamilton Community Garden Network, Green Venture, cycling services and the Hamilton Street Railway will be part of the celebration.

We will also be joined by Hamiltonians that want to tell their sustainable commuting stories.  Additional surprise guests are still being added.  Find out from others just how easy getting active can be.

What: The event will be the third annual of its kind for Smart Commute Hamilton. This year’s Transportation & Healthy Living Fair is happening in conjunction with the Downtown Hamilton BIA’s ‘Gore Park Summer Promenade’ event series. This makes for an exciting double bill of activity and attractions that will bring more life to the downtown.

Want to Find Out More?

Everyone is welcome at the Fair, it’s free and there’s fun and prizes.

Bring or buy a picnic lunch for the park and visit us.  For more information visit Smart Commute Hamilton.

Want to Exhibit?

Exhibitor space is filling fast so if you want to reach a target audience of 500+ individuals and businesses, please contact (905)540-8787, email air@greenventure.ca, or visit our Exhibitors webpage.

Sustaining home energy auditing activities makes sense; this is why the US and the UK have both made significant commitments to their own National programs to sustain home energy audit/retrofit/financing programs.

At the same time that our counterparts in the developing world are taking home energy reductions seriously, the Canadian Government took a step backward by not having a long-term solution in place before cancelling the ecoENERGY  Retrofit – Houses program on March 31, 2011.

The Federal budget tabled before the recent May election included a one-year extension of the ecoENERGY program. However this is not the long-term solution we need to drive an industry that provides many benefits:

Homes in France must post the energy rating with the listings.

  • reduction in home heating and cooling costs,
  • thousands of jobs,
  • $10 of stimulus for every $1 invested,
  • significant tax revenue from retrofits, and
  • measurable benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.

Energy audit clients of Green Venture, a founding member of Green Communities Canada, on average reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 21% and reduce their household greenhouse gas emissions by over 3 tonnes (3,000 kilograms) per year. Considering the large number of families that participated in this program, these benefits really add up.

Green Venture is a member of the Save ecoENERGY Coalition who feel it is essential to create a long-term solution to sustain the residential energy audit industry without the need for ongoing federal home retrofit grants.

The coalition represents over 1,600 manufacturers, wholesalers, suppliers, home renovation contractors and energy audit businesses across Canada.

A letter from the Save ecoENERGY Colalition sent recently to the Prime Minister and other leaders outlines the benefits of the ecoENERGY program and a three-step plan to sustain it by implementing it over the next four years:

Close up: Home energy rating on listings in France.

Close up: Home energy rating on a house listing in France.

Step 1: Four-year renewal of federal ecoENERGY Home Retrofit program

Step 2: Transition to new EnerGuide rating system (ERS)

Step 3: ERS labeling of new and existing homes at time-of-sale

Green Venture agrees with other coalition members that this plan builds on three well-supported strategies and can realise the goal to enable the marketplace to sustain ecoENERGY activity, without the need for ongoing federal grants, within four years.

The Federal govenment’s proposed one-year extension of the ecoENERGY progam does not allow enough time to complete work on steps 2 and 3, above. Therefore, the Save ecoENERGY Colalition strongly recommends the renewal of ecoENERGY for a four-year interim period.

As the coalition’s letter stated: “This will provide the time and predictable conditions necessary to complete the three-step plan, thereby enabling the marketplace to sustain ecoENERGY activity without the need for any further federal home retrofit grants.”

Please let your leaders know if you feel the three step plan is a practical and measured approach to sustain this important sector that provides so many benefits to Canadian families and the environment. Sample letters can be found at www.saveecoenergy.ca.

For more information on this topic, please visit www.saveecoenergy.ca.

Green Venture is supporting Smart Commute’s Bike to Work Day on Monday May 30th with our staff taking part in the events of the day and riding to work in various Group Rides.

Bike to Work Day is an excellent way to celebrate Hamilton as a “cycling and active community!” Individuals can choose to participate in many ways including Group Rides, as a Group Ride Leader, or if you prefer, riding solo on your own route.

Gore Park Celebration

Those riding downtown are joining in the Gore Park Bike to Work Day Celebration from 7:45 to 8:30am. While enjoying a snack you can meet other residents interested in cycling. Seasoned cycling commuters will be sharing tips on safe cycling and favourite routes throughout Hamilton. 

You can learn tips to help maintain your bike and make your cycling commute easy and fun! Engage in conversation with city cycling staff and learn about what the city is doing to promote cycling in Hamilton.

Find out what you can do to improve cycling in your neighbourhoods and throughout the city. Come give the HSR bus bike rack a try at an onsite demonstration.


If your interested in joining a Group Ride or logging your own solo ride, check out the Smart Commute website for information on how to get involved.

Group Ride Leaders

Consider helping others discover the joys of commuting by bike and become a Group Ride Leader. Group Ride Leaders are comfortable commuting by bike and interested in:

–  Promoting Hamilton as a “cycling and active community”
–  Helping others build their cycling confidence
–  Meeting other cyclists and sharing experiences
–  Learning more about what the city is doing to promote cycling

If this sounds like you, then sign up as a Group Ride Leader for Bike to Work Day on May 30th.  Leaders will be paired with Assistant Ride Leaders to guide groups from a designated gathering point to Gore Park for the Bike to Work Day Celebration. 

Group Rides

A list of Group Ride departure locations and corresponding times can be found on the Smart Commute website.

Please consider being a Group Ride Leader and sign up on Smart Commute’s website.

Over the April 9th and 10th and May 7th and 8th weekends, Green Venture welcomed over 500 members of the community while hosting our first two weekends in our new series of My Green Adventures events!


Partners over the course of the two weekends included, Face Painters from the Hamilton TiCats Cats Claws Fan Club, Environment Hamilton, the City of Hamilton’s Rapid Transit division, the Hamilton Naturalist’s Club and the Children’s International Learning Centre who all provided great activities for children, as well as guests from The Women’s Art Association of Hamilton.


Check out our event pictures and join us at EcoHouse for our next one on June 11th and 12th!


Our April Clean Air is a Yard Away events were a success as reported by John Kernaghan on Open File Hamilton (May 5, 2011 – Folks clear the air by giving up trusted mowers).

Be sure to come out to our next event on Saturday May 14th from 10am to 4pm at RONA Parkdale (633 Parkdale Ave North in Hamilton).

Clean Air is a Yard Away events with RONA stores offer a $50 instant rebate on a new, eco-friendly model when an older gas powered lawnmower is turned in.  Please take out the fuel and oil and recycle these at a City of Hamilton Community Recycling Centre – then bring us the old lawnmower.

We’re doing this because Canadian’s gas powered lawn equipment dump about 80,000 tonnes of harmful emissions into our air yearly it is important to get these dirty old machines out of commission.  

Only with the help of our partners at RONA Waterdown, RONA Parkdale, FASTBIN.ca and Green Circle Recycling in Waterdown can Green Venture offer this type of program.

Check out Green Venture’s Small Engine webpage for more info and facsheets on small engines and air quality.

Green Venture is very proud and pleased to be recognized with the Hamilton Environmentalist of the Year Award for 2010! The media release from the EOY organizers is below.

Hopefully we’ll see you at the dinner on June 8.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For immediate release

Hamilton’s Environmentalists of the Year Award Winners Announced

The Hamilton Environmentalists of the Year Awards Committee is pleased to announce this year’s award recipients.

The Dr. Victor Cecilioni Award for the Environmentalist of the Year for 2010 will be awarded to Green Venture for their efforts to improve the environment and quality of life of our community. Green Venture is a not-for-profit organization that has been providing environmental programs that promote and encourage environmentally sustainable habits and lifestyles in our community, for over 16 years. These efforts by Green Venture towards educating and motivating the public truly embody the spirit of the Dr. Victor Cecilioni Award for the Environmentalist of the Year.

Four Awards of Merit will also be awarded this year:

  • Bill Kennedy is being recognized for his long-term commitment to the local environment and his tireless work in promoting efforts to protect trees through his involvement with the Dundas Valley Tree Keepers.
  • The Trail Maintenance Team Group of the Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club is being recognized for their initiative, efforts and determination in replacing the Sherman Falls Bridge and improving access to the Bruce Trail around the location.
  • The founding members of  SERE (Social and Ecological Responsibility in Education) Committee of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board are being recognized for their efforts to raise environmental awareness, heighten knowledge and increase participation in the school board, the curriculum and individual schools.
  • Glenn Marshall is being recognized for his efforts towards assisting and helping business organizations in adopting more environmentally sustainable practices in addition to his local interests in reducing the cosmetic use of pesticides.

Awards dinner on June 8, 2011

The Awards will be presented at the 32nd Annual Environmentalists of the Year Awards Dinner on Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 at the Michelangelo Banquet Centre at 1555 Upper Ottawa Street in Hamilton. Refreshments will start at 5:30 PM and dinner will be served at 6:30 PM followed by a presentation by Dr. Joe Minor about the ecological significance of the Eramosa Karst. Anyone interested is invited to help celebrate Environment Week and over three decades of environmental activism in Hamilton by attending.

Tickets are available at $30 per person and must be purchased in advance by June 4th. Tables for eight or ten can be reserved. Tickets can be purchased at Royal Botanical Gardens’ Shop in Burlington (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily);  in the centre of the city by calling Environment Hamilton (905) 549-0900 or email at contactus@environmenthamilton.org and in the west end by calling (905) 648-3391.

Who sponsors the EOY Awards?

The Environmentalists of the Year Awards and Dinner have been held each year for over thirty years. An independent committee of judges determines the award recipients. The Awards program is co-sponsored by the Conserver Society of Hamilton and District, the United Nations Association in Canada-Hamilton Branch, the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, Environment Hamilton, Royal Botanical Gardens, Friends of Red Hill Valley, and the Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club with support from the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the Bay Area Restoration Council, and EcoNet.

For additional information on the Awards Dinner please call (905) 547-5116.


For media information, contact
John Struger (john.struger@sympatico.ca)

With the snow melted, it is hard not to notice the litter around Hamilton.  Not only is it unattractive but it can be dangerous for wildlife and pollute our natural resources.  Our friends around Hamilton have asked us how they can help.  The most important step is to set a good example by disposing of all of your waste properly and securing your recycling at the curb.  The next step is to help clean-up the litter in your neighbourhood.

The Laws: Illegal Dumping versus Littering

If you like legal jargon, you can read the full Litter, Yard Waste and Property Maintenance Bylaw.  For the rest of us:

  • Littering is small-scale, spontaneous, and often unintentional misplaced waste such as a piece of trash blown out of your hand or a dropped a cigarette.  If it is intentional, it is illegal and can land you a fine of up to $500.
  • Illegal dumping is intentional and generally large-scale dumping of personal waste onto public or private properties.  Fines can go up to $5000.  Anytime you witness trash being dumped on a public or private property report it by calling 905.546.CITY.   If it is from a car, note the make, model, and license plate number.

Litter Clean Up Tips

Want to clean up around your neighbourhood? It’s great to do your part and important to do it safely and to dispose of the litter in the right way.   Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Be cautious of water bodies, steep slopes, or busy street
  • Get permission if you want to clean up on private property
  • Have a first aid kit nearby, sunscreen, and bug repellent nearby
  • Wear bright clothing or safety vests, work gloves, and closed-toe shoes
  • Drink water to keep hydrated
  • Wash your hands after the clean-up
  • Separate out recyclables in a clear bag or blue bin
  • Report discarded bulk items to the litter hotline at 905.546.CITY (2489) or litter@hamilton.ca
  • Report graffiti to the City at 905.546.CITY
  • DO NOT pick up hazardous items such as discarded needles, sharp objects, animal carcasses, or heavy items.  Flag these items and call 905.546.CITY

Learn more by visiting the City of Hamilton anti-litter site or Clean City Liaison Committee site and checking out the resources below.

Clean Up Events/Resources

City of Hamilton’s Team Up to Clean Up

The event (previously called pitch-in week) runs for a week in April, but groups can register year-round to get supplies to host a clean-up events.  If you register online, you will get Clean & Green bag (which are a special orange colour making them exempt from the one curb side garbage container rule), recycling bags, graffiti wipes and work gloves (as supplies last).

City of Hamilton’s Adopt-a-Park

Register your group to Adopt-a-Park to help keep a park in your neighbourhood beautiful and clean year-round.

Bay Area Restoration Council

BARC (Bay Area Restoration Council) promotes many programs such as Adopt-a-Creek which focus on clean-up efforts around the Bay.

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Each year in mid-September, groups from throughout Canada host events to help clean up shorelines.  Visit the website to register for or host an event near you.

In Your Neighbourhood

Do you know of other clean up days in your area?  Are you planning an event?  Share information by leaving a reply.

Green Venture and CleanAir Hamilton partnered to host the Fighting Climate Change Poster contest for Hamilton high school students.

Students were asked to create posters to inspire their fellow students to fight climate change by taking either direct (turning off the lights) or indirect (standing up for a cause) action. Paul and I, with the help of all the GV staff, students, and friends, spread the word throughout Hamilton. Students were enticed with the promise of cash prizes and publicity for their work.

The Entries Rolled In

The entries were due on March 3rd and as of March 1st we still hadn’t seen any posters. Then came the rush! Over the course of those two days, almost 40 entries came in to EcoHouse ranging from paintings, to collages, to digital creations. The entries blew us away with their diversity and quality. Paul and I spent a fun afternoon hanging them at the Sky Dragon Community Centre (27 King William) on Monday, March 7 to get them ready for judging on 8th.


Gabe hard at work judging the posters

The judging session wasn’t easy for our local judges who included our own Sapphire Singh (of Green Venture, RevWear, and Hamilton Farmers’ Market) representing the Hamilton art community, Brian Montgomery (CleanAir Hamilton) representing the Hamilton environmental community, and outdoor educator Gabe Camozzi representing Hamilton’s education community. After almost two hours of consideration the top six works where chosen—all from different schools across Hamilton.

First: Turn Out the Lights by Shannon, Parkside High, Grade 10

Second: Chance by Annie, Westdale Seconday, Grade 11

Third: Local by Soomin, Highland Secondary, Grade 11

Honourable mention: Global Invaders by Lucas, McNab Secondary, Grade 12


Honourable mention: Fire and Ice by Hannah, Ancaster High School, Grade 12

Honourable mention: Natural Filter by Lauren, St. Mary Catholic Secondary, Grade 9

Celebrating All Entries

All the works were debuted at the March Art Crawl and will hang at the SkyDragon through until the next Art Crawl exhibit takes the stage (around April 8th). In addition, some of the top works will tour around and make appearances in publications. The top 6 have already made a stop at the RevWear show a few weekends back.

All the students clearly have a passion for the environment which they combined with artistic talent to share in many unique and outstanding ways. We are honoured to have the chance to share their works with you so please take some time to go by the SkyDragon and appreciate the amazing works of Hamilton High School students.




Yes, it’s true: wind power kills birds.

However upsetting this is, it is an issue that needs to be put into context. To use bird deaths to argue against clean, renewable wind power may be unnecessarily confusing the issue.

Renewable energy, including wind power, is something naturalists support.

Bird Death in Context

I realise that nearly everything we do has an effect on environmental, animal, and human health. It’s a matter of smart choices, balance, and of mitigating the detrimental effects of our actions. In terms of bird deaths, the experts say that wind power is the best option.

Consider the following information on bird deaths from Ontario Nature:

Human-caused Annual Bird Mortality in the United States

Cause Number of Deaths
Building window strikes 1 billion
Cats Hundreds of millions. A study in Wisconsin estimated that domestic rural cats kill about 39 million birds annually in that state alone.
Transmission lines 174 million
Pesticides 72 million
Cars 60 million
Communications towers Up to 50 million
Oil and waste water pits Up to 2 million, mostly in western states
Oils spills Hundreds of thousand depending on timing and severity of spills
Wind turbines 33,000 (will increase with the rapid increase in wind energy generation projects)


The data in the chart above is from 2002 and wind power has grown much since it was published. However, even with the increase in wind power, the number of related bird deaths can be considered very low when compared to other causes.

According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the US’s total installed wind power capacity has increased by just over 8 times since 2001. Very roughly estimating the wind turbine bird deaths from the chart of 33,000 by a factor or 8.2, results in around 270,000 bird deaths caused by wind turbines in 2009. Still a very small number compared to other causes of bird deaths. However, is there anything we can do to reduce/eliminate bird deaths, and invest in clean, renewable wind power?

Let’s Ask the Experts

What do the bird experts say? Let’s have a look at the Audubon Society’s Statement on Wind Power.

The Audubon Society has been working for birds and conservation for over a 100 years. Their mission is: “To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.”

Some in the anti-wind lobby argue that wind power is not environmental due in part to bird deaths they cause. From what I have read on the issue, it appears that birds are killed when they come into contact with a wind turbine blade.

Audubon Society’s Statement on Wind Power

“Every source of energy has some environmental consequences. Most of today’s rapidly growing demand for energy is now being met by natural gas and expanded coal-burning power plants, which are this country’s single greatest source of the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming.

If we don’t find ways to reduce these emissions, far more birds—and people—will be threatened by global warming than by wind turbines.

Our challenge is thus to help design and locate wind-power projects that minimize the negative impacts on birds.”

Collaborating to Solve Problems

What can we do to minimize bird deaths?

Recognizing that bird death is an important issue, the Audubon Society is working with industry to find solutions:

“On balance, Audubon strongly supports wind power as a clean alternative energy source that reduces the threat of global warming.

Location, however, is important. Many National Audubon Society Chapters and State Programs are actively involved in wind-power siting issues in their communities.

Each project has a unique set of circumstances and should be evaluated on its own merits.”

Let’s get on with investing in our renewable energy future. However, let’s follow the Audubon Society’s lead and work with the industry, community groups, and residents for a cleaner and healthier future for all. Now that’s a policy for the birds!

Update – April 10, 2012

I asked the Province (Ministry of Energy) to clarify the regulations regarding clotheslines in condominiums. Here’s the reply I received:

Dear Mr. Wobschall:

Thank you for your letter regarding the use of clotheslines in condominiums. I commend you on your interest in conserving energy.

The Ministry of Energy promotes the air drying of clothes over using a clothes dryer where appropriate. In 2008, the province changed the regulation pertaining to the use of clotheslines to dry laundry in Ontario. This change allowed people to use clotheslines in certain circumstances where they might not otherwise be allowed. This change applies to ground level clotheslines only; clotheslines on condominium balconies continue to be subject to the rules set by the building owner and agreed to by its occupant owners or tenants. As such, allowing the use of clotheslines on the balcony of your condominium unit is at the discretion of the Condominium Board.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Energy’s Electricity Regulations webpage at http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/archive/electricity-regulations/. This site includes a series of questions and answers which will provide further clarity on the government’s clothesline regulation.

Once again, thank you for your letter regarding the use of clotheslines in condominiums.

Update – April 2, 2012

Added condo-specific information from the Ministry of Energy’s website below. Pete W.

Update – March 10, 2011

I just received the following information from the City in response to a question I asked on this issue:

Hi Pete,

Without quoting from the Zoning By-law directly (as it’s pretty long) there are no zoning regulations for clotheslines. A clothesline is not considered a structure and can be located within any required yard. None of the Zoning By-laws speak specifically to clotheslines so this is our interpretation applied across the board.

Debbie Spence
Communications Officer
General Manager’s Office
Planning and Economic Development Department
City of Hamilton
71 Main Street West, 7th Floor
Hamilton, ON

Original Post…

We had a group from the Hamilton Naturalists Club visit EcoHouse for a tour recently and our tour guide (Clare) was asked about regulations pertaining to clothelines. This may be old news to some, but we do get this question more often than you might think. Thanks to some of our great staff (Clare, Laura, and Kirstin) for the info I used in this post.

Yes, You May

If you’re looking for the quick response: yes – you may use a clothesline at most residences; as long as it doesn’t pose a health threat, and it’s on your property; even if you currently live under a developer’s covenant, landowner rental agreement,  or municipal or condominium by-law preventing their use.

Provincial Clothesline Regulations

Provincial regulations enacted in 2008 to contribute to energy conservation efforts, superceeds most by-laws and provisions restricting their use. Here is my summary of the Province’s webpage overview on this subject (I am not a lawyer – best to read the regulations yourself):

Generally Speaking…

  • Clotheslines are considered: clotheslines, clothestrees, and anything else that has the purpose of “drying clothes” and “no other purpose” (I’m guessing that a 12 foot statue of your mother-in-law wouldn’t qualify as a “clothes dryer”.
  • Clotheslines can be used in back and side yards.
  • Clotheslines can be used if you access them by standing directly on the ground, or from a deck or other fixed structure.
  • Clotheslines can be used if they are on your property, or property you are renting as long as your agreement/lease allows you (and only you) to use the property.
  • Clotheslines can be used as long as they do not compromise safety.
  • Condos are a little different, but the act does permit use in “ground level exclusive right of use areas”, as long as they do not pose health risks.
  • Clotheslines on balconies are still subject to the rules of the building owner and agreed to by its occupant owners or tenants.

Please note: this is my summary only, please read for yourself the Province’s summary of the regulations here.

Text from Ontario Regulation 97/08:

Designation of clotheslines etc.
1.  The following are designated for the purposes of subsection 3 (1) of the Act:

1. Clotheslines.
2. Clothestrees.
3. Any goods and technologies that have a purpose that is the same as a clothesline or clothestree, and no other purpose.
4. Any equipment that is necessary for the proper installation and operation of anything that is designated under this section. O. Reg. 97/08, s. 1.

Prescribed circumstances
2.  A person is permitted to install and use any goods or technologies designated in section 1, if the following circumstances apply:

1. The designated goods or technologies and any necessary equipment are installed on property upon which is situated a house or building that is used solely for residential occupancy and which is the person’s place of residence.
2. The designated goods or technologies and any necessary equipment are installed in a manner so as to ensure that there are no impediments to safety, including, but not limited to, impediments to access to or egress from the house or building.
3. The designated goods or technologies and any necessary equipment are installed adjacent to the side or rear wall of the house or building so as to be useable by a person,

i. standing directly on the ground,
ii. standing on a deck or other fixed platform accessed directly from the ground floor of the house or building, if the deck or fixed platform is no higher than the floor level of the ground floor, or
iii. standing on a step-stool or similar device placed either directly on the ground or on a deck or other fixed platform accessed directly from the ground floor of the house or building, if the deck or fixed platform is no higher than the floor level of the ground floor.

4. The designated goods or technologies and any necessary equipment are installed in an area where the person has an exclusive right of use by virtue of their residency. O. Reg. 97/08, s. 2.3.  Omitted (provides for coming into force of provisions of this Regulation). O. Reg. 97/08, s. 3.

Clothes Dryer Energy Use

So, how much energy (and cash) can you save with a clothesline?

Clothes dryers are a handy item, particularly when its cold or raining for periods of time and you can’t use a clothesline. However, the efficiency of clothes dryers is not advancing as quickly as other appliances such as dishwashers or clothes washers – it still pays to reduce your clothes dryer use. The following table compares data from Natural Resources Canada.

Appliance                                       1990*                                 2008*

Dishwashers                                      1,026                                    343

Clothes Washers                              1,218                                     387

Clothes Dryers                                 1,103                                    916

*Average annual kilowatt hour use.

NRCan assumes you dry 8 loads per week, or 416 averages loads per year. Based on the 1990 consumption data, and at $0.11 per kilowatt hour*, the annual average cost to operate per year is around $121 per year. At the 2008 average, it would cost around $100 to operate per year. A very rough calculation based on using a clothesline from May to September (5 months of the year, a 42% reduction in use) would result in  a savings of around $50 for the 1990 average, and $42 for the 2008 average.

*Please note: determining the average price per kilowatt for electricity is difficult. We used $0.11 as this was the number provided to Green Venture as a rough estimate from our utility, before Smart Meters were introduced and recent electricity rate hikes, which now make it more difficult to calculate.  

Clothes Dryer Conservation Tips

When you must use a dryer, here are some tips on dryer conservation from Horizon Utilities.

Lots of great info from Natural Resources Canada on selecting new appliances, calculating the life costs of an appliance, and more.

FAQs from Ministry of Energy Website

Change to Clothesline Regulation

April 18, 2008 – Changes have been made to the regulation pertaining to the use of clotheslines to dry laundry in Ontario.

The province is putting an end to some restrictions that prevent people from using outdoor clotheslines. This includes agreements between home builders and buyers in some towns and cities in Ontario.

Questions and Answers About Ontario’s Clothesline Regulation

What does the new regulation say exactly?
The new regulation allows people to use clotheslines in certain circumstances where they might not otherwise be allowed – because of a developer’s covenant, landowner rental agreement, or municipal or condominium by-law. The regulation overrides any such prohibitions.

Where are clotheslines allowed?
Clotheslines are now expressly permitted:

  • On ground level (includes a deck) in a homeowner’s back or side yard;
  • On a ground level (includes a deck) in a renter’s back or side yard, if the rental arrangement gives exclusive use of the yard to the renter.

Where will clotheslines still not be permitted under this regulation?
This regulation will not override existing by-laws whose purpose is to maintain safety (such as prohibitions against its use in high rises) or any provincial statute or regulation.

Does the regulation mean that clotheslines are not allowed on balconies?
Clotheslines on balconies will continue to be subject to the rules set by a building owner and agreed to by its occupant owners or tenants. The government’s decision was to not overturn rules banning clotheslines in those situations. Those rules recognize the potential safety issues associated with clotheslines on upper floor balconies.

By specifying that the regulation applies to bans on clotheslines on the ground floor, the government was, however, able to apply the regulation to a wider set of building types. For example, the regulation does encompass ground floor clotheslines for buildings over three stories, without increasing the safety risk.

How does the regulation affect condominiums?
The new regulation establishes clotheslines in ground floor exclusive right-of-use areas as a permitted good or technology to promote energy conservation, as prescribed by the Energy Conservation Leadership Act, 2006 (ECLA). As a result, any condominium bylaw prohibiting clotheslines in these areas is now overridden.

  • In some condominium projects, a ground level area is part of the condominium unit (and is not a common element). In this case, a clothesline may be installed or used in the side or back yard, so long as it does not impair safety.
  • In the case of a ground level area of a condominium that is part of an exclusive use common element, the unit owner will need to speak with the Board before installing a clothesline. Common elements belong to the corporation as a whole, and the Board has a duty to manage and administer the common elements on behalf of the corporation and the unit owners. Board approval is always required before an owner makes any alteration to a common element.
  • Under the new regulation, a portable drying rack that does not result in any alteration to an exclusive use common element could be used (without need of Board approval) in the side or back yard of a ground level condominium unit, so long as it does not impair safety.

Does the regulation apply to trailers and tents?
The regulation applies to property where there is a house or other residential “building”. A mobile home in a complex where the homes, while “mobile”, move infrequently, are set on fixed semi-permanent supports, and are typically the occupant’s principal residence and primary mailing address, are included. Trailers and tents in areas such as parks and camp grounds are not a building, and not commonly someone’s primary house, and so are not included.

Parks and camp areas where people often go with trailers or tents, typically have rules meant to protect the natural features of the area, For example, there may be concerns over how a clothesline might be fastened to a tree, or might damage a small tree. These local rules may or may not make provision for clotheslines. In either case, the regulation does not apply to these scenarios as the regulation would only apply in respect of a property upon which is situated a house or other residential building being occupied as a residence.

Does the regulation affect municipal by-laws?
A review did not uncover any current Ontario municipal by-law that restricts the use of clotheslines. The two kinds of restrictions that do appear to often occur are the restrictive covenants imposed by developers. That said, the regulation would supersede any municipal by-law, existing or proposed, to specifically restrict clotheslines.

When reviewing the City of Hamilton’s Lawn Maintenance By-law No. 10-118 yesterday for another post on replacing lawns with native species, I came across some provisions relating to backyard composting. I was previously unaware of these and thought they would be worth posting before I forgot about them.

Here they are:

4(7) Every owner or occupant of a property shall:

(a) have not more than 2 compost heaps on their property; and

(b) ensure that each compost heap:

(i) has a maximum size of 1 m3;

(ii) is located a minimum of 1 m from any property line; and

(iii) is enclosed on all sides by concrete blocks, a lumber structure, a metal frame, or a commercial plastic compost container.

4(8) For the purposes of section 4, “yard” includes but is not limited to an exterior porch or similar erection.

Happy composting!


Green Venture’s Composting Webpage (Vermicomposting and Backyard Composting resources)

Step-by-step video on backyard composting.

We recently received the following question from Josh on our Facebook page:

“Hey Green Venture, Do you have any info on Hamilton’s Long Grass and Weeds by-law? I’m interested in planting native plants this year but wondering if the city will stop the plants from growing to their full height. Thanks in advance!”

The recent record-breaking warmfront has some folks thinking about spring, gardening, and how to make the best of our seasonal outdoor “play time”. As most of us know, maintaining lawns is time-consuming and has some real, avoidable environmental costs in terms of water, soil, and air quality. An overview of these issues can be found on our factsheet Healthy Lawns and Healthy People.

Green Venture is however, quick to point out that lawns make wonderful outdoor play areas for families and pets. So, the trick is limiting lawn areas to what you need – this will mitigate damage to the environment and provide a great space to play outdoors. Remember that nearly all grass varieties used for lawns are non-native, and therefore require much maintenance as they are not used to our local climatic conditions. If you do need a “lawn” area, then check out some healthier alternatives below that will still provide a great outdoor playing surface (groundcovers including clover, and eco lawn seed mixes).

If you find the only time you are spending on your lawn is cutting it, then you might want to think about alternatives to lawns that would allow you more time to spend with family and friends. Alternatives include food gardens, shrub gardens, edible gardens, groundcovers, trees, and even permeable (porous) hardscaping such as paver stone (interlock) patios, or gravel areas.

Josh is interested in replacing his lawn with native species – we say hurray!

Weed Law Battles

Josh’s question is not uncommon – the battle between weed laws and folks trying to reduce their carbon footprint by using alternatives has been going on for some time. One of the most interesting reads in this subject includes examples dating back to the 50s including some Canadian examples. You can find this article on the US EPA’s webpage entitled “A HISTORY OF WEED LAWS AND THE BATTLES OVER THEM” (1/3 down the webpage).

My favourite is Lorrie Otto’s story:

Lorrie Otto – The High Priestess of Natural Landscaping Movement

The modern suburban natural landscape movement’s roots are traced to the efforts of one woman, naturalist-teacher Lorrie Otto. When the Otto’s moved to their suburban Milwaukee home in the 1950s, the front yard was an acre and a half of lawn with a bed of tulips and 64 spruce trees. It looked like a swiss chalet surrounded by Christmas trees. Mrs. Otto wanted her children to learn first hand about the wonders of Nature so she planted some blue and white aster (Aster azureus), yellow goldenrod (Solidago canadenis), fragrant bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), and some ferns.

In the early 1960s, Bayside, Wisconsin, officials viewed her wild fern garden as “weeds” and cut it down. An enraged Lorrie Otto took up the fight and convinced village officials that a natural landscape was a public good and not a health hazard. She went on to become the director of the “Wild Ones – Natural Landscapers, Ltd.,” a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and share information with members and the community at the “plants level” and to promote bio-diversity and environmentally sound practices. By 1992, the Wild Ones boasted five chapters in Illinois and Wisconsin and more than 1200 members.

Mrs. Otto, now in her seventies, has received national awards for her environmental efforts. Her naturally landscaped yard is considered one of the best gardens in America. It contains 80 wildflower and grass species reflecting the diversity of a native Wisconsin prairie.

In a poetic turn of fortune, in the village that once sent a mower to level Mrs. Otto’s wildflowers, there are now sold-out bus tours of a dozen naturally landscaped homes including her now famous yard.

Hamilton Lawn Maintenance By-law 10-118

Although the “battle against weed laws” may seem out-of-date and somewhat ironic to folks today, it is still a very real issue to some. There are recent examples in Burlington and Hamilton that suggest people (and complaining neighbours) are coming around. In fact, Hamilton’s revised Lawn Maintenance By-Law No. 10-118 is a reflection of this changing trend.

Among the dated provisions from the repealed by-law were those that required all lawns to be “weed-free” (whatever that means), and required a buffer-zone of cut grass around naturalized areas.

Hamilton’s revised Lawn Maintenance By-law No. 10-118 states:

3(1)(a) Every owner or occupant of property shall keep vegetation in the yard of their property clean and cleared up.

3(1)(c) …”clear” or “clear up” means:

3(1)(c)(i) for property located inside the urban boundary that is equal to or less than 0.4 ha [43,056 sq ft] in area, to keep all plants cut to a height of equal to or less than 21 cm, except:

1. ornamental plants;
2. shrubs or trees,
3. cultivated fruits or vegetables; or
4. plants buffering or otherwise protecting a natural feature such as a watercourse.

[There are other requirements if your property is larger than 0.4 ha.]

My Interpretation of the By-law

I am no lawyer, but as far as I understand, Josh, you can go right ahead and replace all of your lawn with beneficial native species (if you think or know I’m wrong, please let me know!). I am basing this interpretation on the following (remember, I am no lawyer!)

“Ornamental” is open to interpretation. Hamilton’s by-law provides the following definition: “‘ornamental plant’ means a plant deliberately grown for beautification, screening, accent, specimen, colour or other aesthetic reasons but does not include any variety of turf grass.” If you are anything like me, you feel that native plants fit very easily into this definition. Heck, they’re beautiful! Not just their flowers, which last for a precious short time, but for their foliage and other attributes.

However, common sense should be used here– although it appears you could technically replace the lawn with some “ornamental” native species from your foundation to the sidewalk edge, I think it would be safer to plan your design and carefully select the species you decide to plant. I would consider creating a large “garden” area (or several smaller ones) with clearly defined edges, and a metre-or-so wide buffer area of ecolawn, clover, or other groundcover that grows below 21 cm in height between them and public sidewalks (as per by-law heights above). You could also make it look attractive with a border of paver stones, potato stones, or other permeable hardscape, instead of something that may require maintenance. This way, your natural areas will clearly be “ornamental gardens” (you might want to talk to you lawyer about this interpretation!)

There are also landscape designers that have experience in using native plants (and best methods of presenting them to keep neighbours from complaining). We have used Paul O’Hara from http://www.blueoak.ca at EcoHouse for many years.

Look Out! Noxious Weeds

You should also be careful when selecting native plants for your garden. Section 3(1)(c)(iii) of the Lawn Maintenance By-law states “to remove noxious weeds and, in the case of poison ivy, treat the poison ivy with an herbicide…”.

There is a Provincial Act called the Weed Control Act, which regulations list a number of noxious weeds (you can find a list of these noxious plants here). This provincial act provides a list of plants that present dangers to grazing animals and some species like poison ivy (a native species by the way), which pose some threat to humans. Many municipal property standards by-laws reference this act, including Hamiltons.

One plant that is listed in the act is Milkweed (a native species). As most of us are aware, milkweed is vitally important to monarch butterfly populations! Sure, it might kill a cow if it ate enough of it, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a cow grazing along King St in Westdale or Stoney Creek!

Years ago I contacted the by-law department to express my concern with urban lawn maintenance by-laws integrating the noxious weed act, which was developed to protect the agricultural sector. I was pleasantly surprised when the by-law representative stated that they would be happy to meet and begin the process of amending the by-law, and make provisions for certain plants to be used in urban settings. Unfortunately, I didn’t have funding at the time to pursue the issue and was too busy to follow it up – perhaps I can reopen this file sometime soon…

In Summary – Go For It!

I believe Josh, that you could, and should go for it! Although…be prepared to run into some troubles with complaining neighbours or by-law officers who have yet to be enlightened on the benefits of native species and the detrimental effects of traditional lawn care.

However, if you do go for it, and do run into trouble, I’m sure there are some lawyers, councilors, and community groups that would help you in your efforts to convince folks that your native garden (as beautiful and ornamental as it might be) actually contributes to a healthier community!

Bottom line – our society is moving in this direction, and frankly we need folks like you to be early adopters – if you don’t do it, who will!

All the best in your efforts. I have included some resources that may be helpful below. Please let me know if you have any other questions or comments.


We’re happy to announce that we have resurrected Green Venture’s Blog – It’s the next phase of leaving our Luddite tradition behind us!

  • You can already follow our activities on Facebook by clicking “Like” here: www.facebook.com/GreenVentureHamilton,
  • Join the conversation and get liked to breaking news by following us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Green_Venture, and
  • We will soon be posting videos on our YouTube account: www.youtube.com/GreenVentureHamilton.
  • We are also in the process of updating our website, which is full of useful reference information on a variety of sustainability-related issues and products, provides information on our staff and board, and has comprehensive list of our active and past programming: www.greenventure.ca.

So, we are now pleased to also be using our blog to respond to your inquires and comment on community issues relating to sustainability and the environment.

If you have question you would like us to respond to, please let us know: contact(at)greenventure.ca. We’ll do our best to respond to your questions in a timely matter (please give us some time to respond as we typically fill our days working on our projects and activities!)

Looking forward to hearing from you!