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Friday, May 03, 2013

A Community Currency For Ottawa

By Kaia Nightingale & Cathy Woodgold

A volunteer group is designing a community currency for Ottawa. The goal is to encourage local trade, build economic resilience and strengthen the community.

OttawaCommunity Currency Network (OCCN) partners with diverse, social enterprises, local businesses, charities, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as environmental groups, throughout the Ottawa region.

OCCN’s long-term vision is to create a high capacity system capable of handling a population the size of Ottawa. History shows that community currency is a great asset in strengthening communities, supporting local businesses and increasing income, especially for those with time and energy to spare.

At a meeting in February (2013), OCCN members, Tim Inkpen and Cathy Woodgold spoke for a better economic system.

Tim pointed out the challenges of our current economic system, and the way the workplace puts stress on people rather than being a place where people can support their mental health while getting things done. He called on us to take control of our own economic system and to do things in a way that makes sense.

Cathy described Multiswap, a system wherein people arrange trades involving multiple individuals.

Ottawa’s community currency will be called Bytown Bucks – BB’s for short. Down the line there may be notes issued, but for now it will be a digital exchange based on open source software and social networking. In time, payments could be made using cell phone apps, as currently available in the UK, making it quick and convenient. Bytown Bucks will work alongside Canadian currency.

Complimentary currencies have been successfully used many times, especially during economic recession and collapse, when they provide a way to continue to exchange goods and services.

Community currency can be used by people who want to swap, trade or exchange anything, from old CDs to unused electronics to skills such as carpentry or sewing. Businesses can use community currency to deepen their participation with the local economy and community. Businesses with unsold capacity – empty seats or surplus stock – can find new markets with community currency. Overall benefits to the community include an increase in local trade and local employment and increased overall sustainability.

Community currencies provide a backup currency in the event of economic trouble. This has successfully allowed people in many countries to continue trading, while providing increased local stability.

To become a member of the Ottawa Community Currency Network, or for a list of volunteer opportunities, please go to: or or or email:

NOTE: This article is originally published on page 8 of the “Peace and Environment News,” Volume 28, Issue 2, April-June 2012, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

NOTE: The website for the “Peace & Environment Resouce Centre” http://www/


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