FOPI Dispatch #3 (August 1, 2020)

July is nearing its end and our last summer month, August, is finally here! We have been seeing the attendance on the island steadily increasing due to the warm weather, with the number of individuals peaking in July. The majority of our summer staff will be here until the end of August; therefore, all programs will continue running until August 30, 2020. In this update we will cover new policies, events, and how all our programs are running despite the pandemic.

To begin, it was brought to our attention that many of those that visit Petrie Island have been confused about the barbecue policy installed by the By-law versus that of the Friends of Petrie Island. In order to clear the confusion, By-law and FOPI have agreed that FOPI may grant a permit to allow gas barbecues and not charcoal. However, FOPI will require a picnic table rental in the Al Tweddle Picnic Area to obtain a barbeque permit. The rental is only valid within our picnic area and nowhere else throughout the park. If you would like a barbecue in the Stuemer Park area, you must contact the City of Ottawa for a permit. This policy has been in effect since July 10, 2020.

Our new Family and Friends Naturalist program has been going swimmingly! Thus far, we had several inquiries about the program and many tours. The themes remain turtles, insects, and amphibians. However, we may add another theme, such as fossils and dinosaurs, as a “summer special” based on the interest of the public. In terms of social distancing, since it is families and close groups there has not been a problem. Many take precautions in distancing, such as the use of masks. However, we do want to emphasize that parents urge their kids to social distance for their own safety and that of the staff.

Rentals have been occurring at a steady pace. There have been less inquiries about rentals since last year; however, as the count for individuals in a public or enclosed space increases, we can increase our ability to rent picnic areas. Based on the statement released by the Government of Ontario, public gatherings have increased to 50 individuals in an indoor setting; while, public gatherings have increased to 100 individuals in an outdoor setting. Of course, both will still require social distancing. Presently, we have changed our rental fees to include both the new rental fees made this year and the original from last year. Now, the tent rental will revert to last year’s fee which is $100.00 for a half-day (less than 5 hours) and $125.00 for a full day (more than 5 hours). The Area 2 and 3 rentals will remain $10.00 per picnic table.

Our display area has been in progress throughout the summer. As of right now, we have finished the layout of our display area, grouping all our boards into specific topics and regions. These regions include mammals, general information, history, children’s programming, and amphibians and reptiles. We also have live animals on display which are rotated every 2-3 days. The animals reside in filtered tanks or in regulated environments in which the bedding can be easily replaced. It should also be known that the shelter that houses the animals and other displays can only hold three individuals or a singular family at a time to maintain social distancing. Other boards that will be up soon are themed salamanders and snakes, biodiversity, and a history board that encompasses the history of Petrie Island and the history of FOPI in time for our 25 anniversary. We also have flower boards up on our information board next to the Wildflower Garden which shows the different plant species that can be found on Petrie Island. It includes medicinal and ecological purposes for each.

In other news, our Ecology Ottawa tour on July 18, 2020 went great! We did a basic tour of Petrie Island that included our Interpretation Centre, the Turtle Trail, and the Bill Holland trail. We included a bit about our Turtle Study, the history of Petrie Island, and facts about various plants and wildlife. The response has been positive, and it was a wonderful experience. We would like to thank all of those who tuned in to Facebook Live and watched the tour!

The pilot for the FOPI Guided Meditation on July 25, 2020, ran by our fellow staff member Bree, went very well! We have had many inquiries about registering for the session, even on the day it was first announced. Though the day of the event was on the warmer side, there was still a great turn-out and it had a very positive feedback. The Guided Meditation theme for that day was focused on surrendering yourself to nature. The class was entirely non-denominational, meaning no religious aspects were covered. If you are interested in this program, please contact

FOPI is holding its annual Art Showcase from July 31, 2020 to August 3, 2020. The event will occur during this time period from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM at our Event Tent in the Al Tweddle Picnic Area. We will have artists displaying various art mediums and some will be selling their artwork.  The event will be socially distanced, meaning only 10 individuals at a time, including the artists. We will have a staff member onsite to ensure this rule is being followed for the safety of the artists and the visitors. Moreover, we have a new way to donate and to help support the Friends of Petrie Island debuting at the showcase: A Turtle Sponsorship! It will be $2.00 per turtle egg (from the eggs that have been protected by the Friends of Petrie Island this year) and all the sponsorship proceeds will help the Friends of Petrie Island continue their conservation and educational efforts. If you would like to know more information, please visit us at our Interpretation Centre in the Al Tweddle Picnic area or send an E-mail to

To close, we would like to thank our devoted fellow FOPI staff member Kyra for all her time and dedication spent working with the Friends of Petrie Island and on our Tree Inventory. It was a pleasure to have her work with us throughout the summer, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors!

As a reminder, social distancing between different groups must still be implemented for your own protection. It is always highly recommended to bring a mask and hand sanitizer with you when visiting public areas.  

Thank you for reading! You can stay up to date by following the Friends of Petrie Island on Facebook and Instagram and joining our Facebook group where participation is encouraged.  If you have not purchased your 2020 membership, please stop by the office at our Interpretation Centre in the Al Tweddle Picnic Area.

FOPI Staff