Sandy Hill Community Health Centre (SHCHC) along with Ottawa Community Housing staff and community residents created benches and planters at three locations within the Strathcona Heights community housing neighbourhood in Ottawa, Ontario. Forty-four volunteers participated in the event. Residents had requested these benches, and they will be part of a future gathering garden space to help address local food security concerns.  

The Project

Strathcona Heights residents drove the goals of this project, through one-on-one meetings with the SHCHC or at the tenants’ circle meetings. They identified needs for a local clean-up, accessible seating, new greenery, and food plants to support the community health and well-being.  

This installation consisted of benches and planters installed in three locations: two benches at 300-310 Wiggins Private; one structural bench at Lori Heath Park; and two benches near 721 Chapel Crescent. These activities accompanied a neighbourhood clean-up event and lunch involving volunteers from within the Strathcona Heights community.  

These new benches and planters provide greenery and accessible seating for ageing Strathcona Heights residents, and for parents and caregivers accessing the playground at Lori Heath Park. Community belonging and relationships have been strengthened through the activities of cleaning up the neighbourhood and building the benches and installing plants in the planters. In 2024, SHCHC will be adding raised garden beds near 721 Chapel Crescent, which the community will be using to grow fruits and vegetables. Strathcona Heights residents are responsible for ongoing watering and maintenance of the planters and garden spaces moving forward.  

According to Fatima Zahra Mounfaloti, Community Development Worker with Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, Hearing from the community what they needed, where they needed it and how they needed it and the process of involving other community partners and volunteering teams in this neighborhood-led initiative was a wonderful experience of sharing knowledge and expertise. 

This project was supported by Green Communities Canada’s Living Cities Canada Fund. 

To find plants that are adapted to grow in your region, or plant nurseries that sell native plants, visit the Network of Nature website.