Category Archives: Cultural Assets

Old building, new approach as The Mount embraces sustainable growth

Andi van Koeverden is in her office in the oldest section of the former Mount St. Joseph convent, describing the work that has gone into creating the Mount Community Centre in a massive, 120-year old building that sat vacant for four years.

While the story is intriguing, I find it hard not to be distracted by the unusual stand that supports her computer screen.

It’s a used paint can. The screen’s circular base fits perfectly in the lid of the can and sits at just the right viewing height to reduce strain on her neck.

When I ask about it she laughs and says by way of explanation: “I don’t usually do interviews in this office.”

Maybe she should. The recycled can, paint drips and all, is an effective visual reminder of her observation that “sustainability has so many facets.”

That’s something she’s come to appreciate during her two years as strategic advancement director at the Mount project.

“At the end of the day this building is not in the landfill,” she says. “That is nothing short of a miracle.”

Portions of the rambling, 130,000-square-foot complex on Monaghan Rd. are protected under the Ontario Heritage Act so it would not likely have been torn down and replaced.

However, van Koeverden notes, it could have simply fallen apart over time.

When the developer that purchased the complex from the Sisters of St. Joseph in 2009 abandoned its condominium restoration plan, the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network stepped in.

The non-profit group’s vision of affordable housing and a “food hub” eventually morphed into a grander plan run by a volunteer board, the Mount Community Centre. The complex is now on its way to becoming housing, offices for non-profit agencies, an arts and culture centre and a food centre with community gardens and a commercial-grade kitchen and food processing capability.

The first 43 apartments opened three weeks ago in the most modern wing, renamed Woodland Apartments. The wing had contained 130 tiny residence rooms, not much more than cubicles, that were used by Sisters of St. Joseph nuns.

Volunteer crews tore out 1.5 linear kilometres of cinderblock walls in the process, van Koeverden says, and all if it was repurposed as fill.

Volunteers also took apart, repainted and reassembled large wooden wardrobes that had been the Sisters’ closet space. They are now part of the new apartments.

“When the Sisters came through for their tours, three of then when I told them that story, their eyes filled with tears that we weren’t dumping their wardrobes in the dumpster.”

Along with the old and preserved there is new and high-tech.

A large room on the ground floor is dedicated to storage of e-bikes, complete with recharging stations. Three massive old boilers have been replaced with super-efficient Viessmann boilers that she describes as “literally, the size of a beer fridge” and which can heat half the entire building space.

Peterborough Utilities staff did an assessment of the original building and the renovation plan “and we are eligible for rebates and incentives right down to every bathroom fan in the apartment units, motors for the big air handler units on the roof, even installing low-flow toilets,” van Koeverden says.

“Even something like 50 bucks for every toilet is a huge incentive.”

She takes special pride in the food hub and plans for up to 100 garden plots in 5,000 square feet of space. Tenants will have first call but there will likely be many left for the general public.

“We envision training programs, people learning to grow fresh produce in their own garden plots and then on Tuesday and Thursday nights learn how to make soup, or can it … or what have you.”

The plan has echoes of the community garden plots the Sisters offered on the property 50 years ago.

“We are trying to carry on that legacy as well of service to society,” van Koeverden says, “so, trying to sustain that legacy.”

One more facet of sustainability, one that goes well beyond bricks and mortar.

This is one of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner. By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Friday, October 28, 2016.


2015 Report Card

The 2015 Report Card is now available; it is Sustainable Peterborough’s 4th Report Card! It highlights just a sampling of our numerous collective accomplishments. For a full listing of all the sustainable successes reported by our partner organizations, please visit our Sustainable Activities Database.

If you would like a few paper copies of the Report Card, please contact us.

No trees were harmed in the printing of our Report Card. The 2015 Report Card was printed on FSC certified 100% recycled paper, using vegetable inks!


Doors Open Peterborough

Doors Open LogoMay 07, 2016

Doors Open Peterborough: Our Past, Our Future . . . Our Legacy

Celebrating heritage and sustainability

Peterborough’s stories, traditions and activities express our heritage daily. The people of Peterborough are proud of the creative ways in which they are preserving their past by re-imagining and adapting heritage buildings for current and future use. Their actions encourage the sustainable growth of the local economy and responsible stewardship of the city’s environmental and cultural resources.

Doors Open is a free day of fun for people of all ages. Join us on May 7 to visit an exciting mix of sites that celebrate and explore the role of heritage in building sustainable communities.

Check out the Doors Open Peterborough website and stay tuned for more details!

Sustainable Peterborough Partnership Recognition Awards

In order to recognize the numerous sustainable achievements of our partners, Sustainable
Peterborough launched of the Sustainable Peterborough Partnership
Recognition Awards in 2015!

There were eleven winners, one in each of Sustainable Peterborough’s theme areas, and
three honourable mentions. Awards were presented during the Sustainable Peterborough
Partnership Recognition Awards and Climate Change Action Plan Launch Event on March 1,
2016 at Market Hall.

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for your continued commitment to sustainability:

Agriculture and Local Food

Elmhirst’s Resort – winner

Elmhirst’s Resort is committed to sustainability and displays a strong “living off of the land”
mentality. They strongly believe in providing customers with the freshest food and produce
harvested directly from 240 acres of their land. They provide customers with a seasonal menu
that features hydroponic garden herbs and preserved heirloom tomatoes in the winter, locally
bred and raised cattle and duck, and 100% local grape wines, among other items. Elmhirst’s
strive to involve local farmers and producers from the surrounding community in their food
production processes as much as possible.

By the Bushel Community Food Co-operative – honourable mention

By the Bushel Community Food Co-operative is an innovative co-operative. Small-scale food
producers and processors, dedicated staff and a community of consumers work together
toward rebuilding our relationship to the land, healthy, sustainable, ecologically-responsible
food and community. In 2015, their 13 growers were operating within 100 kms.

Climate Change

For Our Grandchildren (4RG) – winner

For Our Grandchildren (4RG) actively encourages younger generations to become more
engaged participants in a greener community and climate change issues. In November 2015,
4RG collaborated with other local organizations to host a community meeting supporting the
Global Climate March and the COP21 conference being held at the same time in Paris. The
meeting encouraged community members to consider decisive actions to reduce the
production of carbon emissions that are contributing to climate change. Citizens who attended
the event were encouraged to take part in a post card writing campaign to be delivered to six
political leaders at all levels of government.

Cultural Assets

Lang Pioneer Village – winner

Lang Pioneer Village serves to protect and promote the rural history of Peterborough County.
The museum has become a regional leader in the preservation and interpretation of our
cultural assets. In 2015, Lang partnered with Hiawatha and Curve Lake First Nations to
establish the Aabnaabin First Nations site at the museum. Lang also completed a shoreline
naturalization project in partnership with the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority, Tree
Canada and Siemens Canada. They planted 272 trees and shrubs. Species included
shellbark hickory, hazelnut, chestnut, elderberry and chokecherry which were used by early
settlers for food, furniture, shelter, and dyes. Collectively, these projects provide great
opportunities for future programs.

Economic Development & Employment

Transition Town Peterborough – winner

The focus of Transition Town Peterborough is on reducing our dependence on fossil fuels
while increasing local resilience and self-sufficiency with economic localization. In an effort to
build the local economy, they introduced the local currency called Kawartha Loons. In
collaboration with other community organizations, Transition Town Peterborough runs several
successful annual events that bring together the community, food growers and producers, local
artisans, entertainers and health practitioners in order to build and support the local economy.
In 2015, Transition Town Peterborough, in collaboration with Farms at Work, successfully
spearheaded the initiative to declare September as Local Food Month in an effort to bring
awareness to local food providers and strengthen the local economy.


Township of Douro-Dummer – winner

The Township of Douro-Dummer has consistently been a leader in municipal energy
management. It was the first municipality to implement an energy management plan and
strategy. They have retrofitted their facilities for energy efficiency and, in 2015, completed the
conversion to LED streetlights. Their energy efficiency improvements have resulted in cost
savings and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The Township of Douro-Dummer continues
to lead by example.

Healthy Communities

Camp Kawartha – winner

Camp Kawartha has been involved in numerous innovative stewardship initiatives over the
past decade. Reaching over 11,000 participants per year, the camp teaches children, youth
and adults about sustainable living, habitat protection and environmental responsibility. New in
2015, the Camp offered 5 one-week environment camps and two weeks of kindercamp at the
Environment Centre. This resulted in an additional 250 campers learning about nature,sustainability and stewardship. Thanks to a grant from the Gainey Foundation and a crowd source funding campaign, new nature playscapes structures were designed and constructed at the Camp Kawartha Environment Centre in 2015.

Seeds for Justice, a Kawartha World Issues Centre Youth Program – honourable

Seeds for Justice is a youth-led program that brings youth together around common interests
and projects, with a focus on empowerment to affect individual lives and local communities
while building a culture of volunteerism and global citizenship. In 2015 over 300 youth had an
opportunity to build confidence, knowledge, skills and experience.

Land Use Planning

Otonabee Region Conservation Authority – winner

In 2015, the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority (ORCA) updated the Watershed
Planning and Regulation Policy Manual. The updated manual resulted in a document that is
easy to understand and to use. It consolidates all of ORCA’s watershed planning and
regulatory policies. This document also provides municipalities, applicants and their agents,
private landowners, special interest groups and ORCA staff with a clear understanding of
ORCA’s role, mandate, responsibilities and requirements regarding permit and planning
applications. At the same time, it offers an updated, comprehensive and complete set of
watershed planning and regulatory policies that can be incorporated into Official Plans and
Zoning By-laws.

Natural Assets

Kawartha Land Trust – winner

Kawartha Land Trust is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, wetlands and shorelines of
the Kawarthas. Boyd Island, a 1,170 acre island, is the largest undeveloped and unprotected
island in Southern Ontario. It is home to unspoiled wetlands, old-growth forests, wildlife and a
wide variety of plant species. It has rich historic, natural and cultural value to the region, as
well as to the indigenous community which can trace back use of the island some 10,000
years. To ensure the island’s protection, Kawartha Land Trust urged the community to achieve
a fundraising goal of $1,000,000 in 2015. Nearly 600 pledges were received to accomplish the
goal of preventing private development on the island. Now preserved and protected, the island
will remain a great natural asset for many generations to come.


Peterborough County/City Paramedics – winner

In 2015 Peterborough County/City Paramedics have demonstrated leadership in sustainable
transportation initiatives by implementing the ECO-run system in vehicles to reduce idling time.
The ECO-run system enabled them to reduce excessive idling time by 26%, thereby saving
1,918 litres of fuel, 8,717 pounds of CO2 and amounting to a cost savings of nearly $2,500.


The Food Forest – winner

The Food Forest Café’s produces less than 1 bag of garbage per week! Since the restaurant
is plant-based, they are able to compost 100% of leftover food and scraps. In 2015 they
expanded their composting program by donating nearly 90 gallons of kitchen scraps per week
to local farmers and gardeners, including St. Peter’s Secondary School for their garden.
Furthermore, the Food Forest is able to compost all paper products, since they exclusively use
unbleached biodegradable paper products and napkins. In renovating their new downtown
location in 2015, they re-used and re-purposed pre-existing materials. They continue to
encourage customers to bring their own takeout containers or charge a small fee for
biodegradable containers.

Holy Cross Secondary School – honourable mention

In 2015 Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School earned a Platinum level certification from
Ontario EcoSchools. In partnership with Calvary Church, the school maintains a community
garden that has helped the school reduce their amount of green waste, as cafeteria and
garden green waste is being repurposed and used in the form of compost.


GreenUP – winner

In 2015, GreenUP ran the Depave Paradise project with support from Green Communities
Canada, RBC Blue Water Project, Sammy and Sons Ltd, the City of Peterborough, other local
organizations and volunteers. In the parking lot of Wireless Solutions over 250m2 of asphalt
were removed and a large rain garden with 730 native plants and trees was planted. The
project aids in storm water management and water quality improvement by allowing 178,000
liters of water per year to be diverted from the grey stormwater infrastructure by soaking into
the ground and naturally removing 23kg of contaminants annually. Depave Paradise is helping
to reduce risks of flooding while creating habitat, green space and building community.

Seniors’ Summit

The 2014 Seniors’ Summit will be kickstarting Seniors’ Month and will be taking place on May 29th, 12:30 – 7:00 in Trent University’s Wenjack Theatre.  For more details please visit this link: