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Research Permits for the City of Ottawa

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The City of Ottawa Owns a Lot of Natural Areas

If you’re looking to do field work around Ottawa, you might be surprised how much natural land is owned by the City. You can see for yourself using the geottawa browser.

A screenshot of the GeoOttawa map browser, showing public lands around Ottawa

The City website includes descriptions of some of the larger conservation areas.

How to Get a Permit

I couldn’t find a link on the City website, but was directed to one of the City biologists by a colleague in another agency. As she explained, formal approvals come from the Real Estate team, with direction from the biologists when the permit involves natural areas. The current requirements are:

  • An administrative fee (fee may change each year)
  • A security deposit required, depending on the nature of the work.
  • Certificate of insurance, naming the City as additional insured.
  • Who your signing authority will be on the agreement and their position.
  • The anticipated start and end date of your study.
  • An overview of the project, including equipment to be used.
  • A map showing the study’s intended sampling location(s) (may be just property parcels, as listed in geottawa

Your first point of contact for this should be leasing-location@ottawa.ca. Expect the process to take at least two months, so start early.

Permits Aren’t Always Necessary

Projects that involve work that doesn’t differ from regular recreational use of the properties may not require a permit. If you can record your data from public trails without any special equipment or specimen collection, you might be able to proceed without a permit. That’s up to the City of course, so check with them.


I don’t work for the City, and this summary is based on my personal experience in 2023. It may change in future (or be inaccurate now), and may differ based on the details of your project.