When Energy Ottawa set out to expand the capacity of its generating station at Chaudière Falls, officials knew the project had to be about more than just producing additional power.
“We wanted to give back to the community and make the falls accessible to all,” says Greg Clarke, Energy Ottawa’s Chief Electricity Generation Officer. “We put a lot of time and thought into this project and we hope it can be a legacy for generations to enjoy.”
Those efforts are now being recognized by the Ontario Waterpower Association, which recently honoured Energy Ottawa’s environmental sustainability efforts and corporate citizenship with its 2018 Stewardship Award.
The expansion project provided opportunities for Energy Ottawa to collaborate with key stakeholders. The goals for the Chaudière Falls Generating Station including the protection of local wildlife while producing sustainable energy, facilitating publicly accessible space and creating a place of recognition and celebration of Canada’s First Nations and Ottawa’s industrialist past.
The facility helps to preserve the American eel and improve fish survival rates through bypass channels, temporary screens over water intake pipes and a reduced velocity of water flow.
As a result of Energy Ottawa’s work, the survival rate of the American eels – which are an endangered species – increased to 99 percent. The organization also partnered with the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and the Ottawa Riverkeeper to implant large eels with tags to track their movement and to help future projects.
“We’re the first hydro plant in Canada to take these measures,” says Clarke. “We have an overall commitment to taking care of wildlife. We’re leading the pack.”
Chaudière Falls is open to the public for the first time in more than 100 years. The public can walk across the top of the powerhouse or on the new pedestrian bridge above the intake for beautiful views of the river and Parliament Hill.
This park pays tribute to the traditional importance of the site by First Nations peoples and Ottawa’s industrial history by incorporating a blend of design elements of each, including traditional First Nations plantings, a gathering circle and benches composed of old logs from the dam. The design of the park was based on extensive consultation with the Algonquins of Ontario.
Wayfinding points and interpretive panels are in place to educate visitors to the park on First Nations history, hydroelectric technology and environmental topics such as the American eel. Members of the public can download the Chaudière Falls app using the free WiFi access in the park and embark on self-guided tours.