Ottawa’s darkest hour ever could be coming.

But don’t drag out the emergency supplies yet. Held on March 27, Earth Hour — which encourages city residents and businesses to shut off all non-essential electric lights between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. — has grown in popularity among Ottawans every year.

In its first year in Ottawa in 2008, the event resulted in a four per cent decrease in energy consumption as compared to the same time period the week before. Last year, that decrease was six per cent.

“Ottawa has been the first city in Canada to switch off its lights in answer to WWF Toronto’s call to pledge support for the planet,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien during the launch of the third annual awareness campaign outside city hall yesterday.

“Earth Hour is an excellent opportunity for our city to reflect on ... what we can do as individuals to make sure the planet is well served by its citizens,” said O’Brien, who proclaimed March 27 as Earth Hour Day.

Despite the name of the event, “this event is about more than just one hour,” said president and CEO of Hydro Ottawa Rosemarie Leclair.

“Earth Hour is very much about raising consciousness and awareness. It’s about making a difference through very simple actions and about creating a more sustainable future.

“It’s our hope that this will be our city’s darkest hour ever.”

“For Earth Hour, I will be reducing the power in my house but I practise Earth Hour every day of the year, by using our blue and black boxes and now our green bin,” said Grade 7 student Kyra Lambert.

The Green party is hosting a candlelight vigil on Parliament Hill to commemorate Earth Hour.

When the lights go off at Parliament Hill on March 27, participants will join in the global Earth Hour movement to call for immediate action on climate change issues.

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