New book club discusses a more sustainable Ottawa

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A group of Ottawa residents have created a new monthly book club to discuss how to build a more affordable and sustainable Ottawa. 

The Ottawa Urbanism Book Club, a part of Strong Towns Ottawa, provides an opportunity to connect with neighbours and build community, while at the same time discussing Ottawa topics like how to prevent suburban sprawl, design an effective public transit system, and making walking and biking easier and safer for Ottawa residents.

Two meetings have already been held, featuring around 30 participants each and lots of discussion about creating a sustainable Ottawa.

Book club members discussing Jeff Speck's Walkable City: How downtowns can save America, one step at a time.

When creating the club, it was important to us that the club was as inclusive and accepting as possible. All are welcome to attend meetings, including those who have not read the chosen book for that month. Everyone has a unique perspective on how to build a more sustainable Ottawa. It’s also a valuable opportunity to learn more about urbanism and to share new ideas. At the beginning of meetings, a summary of the book is presented to ensure everyone has an opportunity to learn more. 

The December book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, is perhaps the most famous and well known book on urbanism. The book includes valuable insights and analysis on how to design more sustainable and affordable cities. Even in 1961, the year the book was published, Jacobs recognized the harm that sprawl causes to our communities and nature, writing: “Each day several thousand more acres of our countryside are eaten by the bulldozers, cover by pavement, dotted with suburbanites who have killed the thing they thought they came to find.”

Future books on the reading schedule include:

The parking discussion is especially relevant to Ecology Ottawa’s mandate, with private vehicle storage taking up so much space once preserved for nature, not to mention inducing of car use, which exacts enormous carbon tolls on our ecosystem. 

The Ottawa Urbanism Book Club Club meets next on December 4th from 6:15 to 7:45pm in Room 101 at Jack Purcell Community Centre. The book discussed will be The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. RSVP is not necessary but appreciated. Please email [email protected] or join us on Discord.


Derrick Simpson is the organizer of the Ottawa Urbanism Book Club. He is also a volunteer with the Centretown Community Association and Strong Towns Ottawa. Derrick has lived in Ottawa his whole life and is passionate about making Ottawa more sustainable and affordable. 

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