March 15, 2016
Corina Ottnad changed careers to pursue her passions for both the environment and horticulture therapy.
Corina Ottnad changed careers to pursue her passions for both the environment and horticulture therapy.
After a 25-year career in floristry and event planning, Corina Ottnad was ready for a change of pace. With a passion for horticulture and environmentalism, Ottnad knew she wanted to be a part of the green profession, but she wasn’t sure which route to take. Then, in 2012, Ottnad came across a news article about a green roof by-law being debated by Toronto city council.

“It actually originated from a discarded newspaper on the streetcar that I read about a new green roof by-law,” she explained. “I had a very good career and a truly great time doing what I loved, but I felt like it was time for me to evolve, and I decided that (the green roof movement) could be a great way to transform and begin a new career.”

As Ottnad learned about the environmental and energy efficiency benefits of green roofs, she quickly became a strong proponent, eventually attaining her Green Roof Professional accreditation under the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities banner. In the years since, Ottnad has been involved in numerous green roof projects throughout Toronto, including a 6,000 sq.ft. installation atop the AccessPoint Community Health Centre in Toronto.

“It is a community centre that is funded by the United Way and the Bank of Montreal that serves as a resource centre for newcomers to Canada,” says Ottnad. “We built a 6,000 sq.ft. agricultural green roof, and the main reason was to help the newcomers to supplement their diets with crops that they were used to having from home, so that they could meld those with foods that were available at the local grocery stores.” Over the last three seasons, the project has been very popular and has also fostered a sense of community for participants, says Ottnad.

Currently, Ottnad is working towards her diploma in the landscape technology program at Humber College. The recipient of the 2015 Horst Dickert Memorial Scholarship, Ottnad plans on pursuing a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Guelph after graduating from Humber this spring.

“My goal would be to design green roofs on hospitals for horticultural therapy, which is where my passion lies,” says Ottnad. “I believe all horticulture is therapeutic and presented in the right setting and in the right way, it can actually do wonders for people in their recovery from illness.”