Media Releases

Conservation Halton hands out annual Awards of Excellence to local environmental champions

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MEDIA RELEASE
For immediate release
Thursday, June 20, 2013

BURLINGTON – Conservation Halton (CH) held its 31st annual Conservation Awards of Excellence ceremony on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at its Administration Office in Burlington. The awards are presented to people and organizations that make outstanding contributions to conservation in the Halton watershed, which includes Halton, Peel, Hamilton and Puslinch.

Every person, group, or school, in the various awards categories (except for the Parks Volunteer Award and Ralph Sherwood Honour Roll) are nominated from the community. The 2013 award recipients are as follows:

  • Citizen Awards
    Doreen Carver, Burlington
    Lisa Seiler, Halton Environmental Network, Oakville
    Junyan Zhang, Oakville
  • Citizen (Youth) Award
    Julia Mogus, Oakville
  • Community Award
    Trout Unlimited, Bronte Creek Renewal Project
  • Corporate Award
    Holcim Canada Inc. (Dufferin) Acton and Milton Quarry
  • Education (Individual) Award
    Shelley DaSilva, Margaret Drive Childcare Centre, Oakville
  • Education (Group or School) Award
    Silver Creek Public School, Georgetown
  • Media / Blogger Award
    Michael Howie, North Oakville Today
  • Parks Volunteer Award (nominated by Conservation Halton staff)
    Len Savage, Burlington
  • Stewardship Awards
    Andy Stark and Julie Winfield, Oakville
    Main Street Realignment – Town of Milton, McCormick Rankin, Ecoplans Limited, Geomorphic Solutions
  • Ralph Sherwood Honour Roll (presented to a current or former Conservation Halton Board, or Foundation Board, member)
    Lisa Penny, Oakville

“The Conservation Halton Awards of Excellence recognize the outstanding commitment people and organizations make every day in the community to benefit the natural environment in our watershed,” said Conservation Halton Chair John Vice, “Congratulations to everyone who received, or were nominated for an award, you are making a tremendous difference.”

The award recipients received certificates of appreciation from Conservation Halton. More details about the Conservation Halton award winners and their accomplishments can be found below.

More than 130 guests and dignitaries attended the awards ceremony. In addition to the award recipients, Watershed Stewards in the Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship Program were recognized, as well as local schools and childcare centres that participated in the Stream of Dreams education program.

A graduation ceremony was held for the 23 people who participated in the New Canadian Stewardship Course. The course was for New Canadians looking to learn more about the environmental sector and consisted of a series of workshops on topics such as stormwater management, ecology, forestry, planning, and recreation management. The course participants came from fifteen different countries. The New Canadian Stewardship Course is part of the Natural Connections Program, a partnership between Conservation Halton and FutureWatch EDEP, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, for more information go to www.nchalton.ca.

2013 Conservation Halton Awards of Excellence Recipients

Citizen Award - Doreen Carver
For many years, Doreen has diligently picked up garbage along rural roads, specifically along Walkers Line between No. 1 Sideroad and No. 4 Sideroad and along No. 2 Sideroad between Walkers Line and Appleby Line. Doreen retired 18 years ago from the Halton District Board of Education. It is after she retired that she took it upon herself to contribute to the beauty of the area by doing regular cleanups along the road. She is an inspiration for us all, demonstrating that it is never too early or too late to try and help cherish and protect our environment.

Citizen Award - Lisa Seiler
Lisa Seiler started as a committed volunteer to environmental initiatives, before forming the Halton Environmental Network (HEN) five years ago in response to the demand in Halton. This Network has improved the collaborative ability of environmental groups within the Halton area. Lisa coordinates workshops and professional development activities for HEN members. She leads the creation of the Halton Enviroguide, which gives residents a comprehensive listing of stores, community organizations and events, and connects them with others working towards environmental sustainability. Lisa also provides staff support to many Conservation Halton outreach initiatives including the Halton Children’s Water Festival and Halton Forest Festival. Lisa truly lives and breathes her message of environmental responsibility and is an example for all of us.

Citizen Award - Junyan Zhang
Junyan Zhang arrived in Canada less than two years ago. Since then she has been involved in a number of environmental projects and volunteer work within and outside of Halton. Junyan has committed a tremendous amount of time, courage, and enthusiasm in her efforts to improve the natural environment. Junyan, together with several other newcomers from the Oakville area, have formed the first Newcomers Environmental Club in June 2012, which was an initiative launched by Conservation Halton and FutureWatch, as part of our recent Trillium grant. The club has organized a series of naturalization events with visits to Conservation Halton parks, information sessions, and workshops. Junyan is also an active member of the Natural Connections program (a joint Conservation Halton and FutureWatch initiative), and has worked hard on engaging new Canadians to become better informed about local environmental issues, to give them an opportunity to share their experiences and skills, and to showcase the value, benefits and significance of leading environmentally friendly lifestyles.

Citizen Award (Youth) - Julia Mogus
Julia has been an active environmentalist and conservationist since an early age, starting when she was in grade 5 with the Green Team at Pope John Paul II Elementary School. In the summer of her graduation, Julia began volunteering at Bronte Creek Provincial Park and has volunteered over 300 hours in the Nature Centre as an educator, teaching youth about our ecosystems, biodiversity and conservation. She is also an active Earth Day Canada EcoMentor and participated in Conservation Halton’s 2012 and 2013 Trees for Watershed Health Earth Day Tree Plantings.

She has spearheaded ’The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’ of Lake Ontario from 2011 to 2013 coordinating cleanups of Lake Ontario shorelines at Appleby College, Waters Edge and Coronation Park, as well as an upcoming clean up of Sixteen Mile Creek at Lions Valley. She has collected hundreds of pounds of waste to keep our waterways clean. Julia co-founded an organization called Books With No Bounds sending books to First Nation Youth in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, diverting over 12,000 lbs of books from ending up in our landfills, through her school and community book drives. Julia has accumulated close to 2,000 volunteer hours with Books With No Bounds, the shoreline cleanups and the tree plantings. Her efforts were recognized by the Ontario Lt. Governor in February 2013, when she was awarded the Diamond Jubilee medal by the Honourable David Onley).

Community Award - Trout Unlimited Bronte Creek Renewal Project
Erosion, reduction of streamside vegetation and alteration of the stream bed had caused Bronte Creek to become unhealthy with high water temperatures, poor water quality and diminished aquatic habitat. Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC), working in partnership with the City of Burlington and Conservation Halton, restored the hydrological function to the creek in this area and improved water quality by adding riffles and pools. Bank stabilization and streamside vegetation planting was also incorporated into this project. Community volunteers assisted with much of the project.

Successes of the project include increased native aquatic and terrestrial species, biodiversity, decreased stream widths, enhanced in-stream and riparian habitat and improved water quality within the park. In 2012, juvenile Brook Trout were captured in the park and are the first documented trout in this section of Bronte Creek in quite some time. Trout Unlimited Canada is continuing to work in the Bronte Creek watershed to engage, educate and assist private landowners with stream rehabilitation.

Corporate Award - Holcim Canada (Dufferin) Acton and Milton Quarry
Dufferin Aggregates, a division of Holcim Canada Inc., operates two quarries located within the Halton watershed in Acton and Milton. They are committed to protecting, preserving and enhancing our surroundings by being leaders in environmental stewardship. As part of their overall commitment, Holcim Ltd, the parent company, established a Biodiversity Management System (BMS) in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Holcim Canada partnered with Bird Studies Canada to monitor biodiversity and help develop the Biodiversity Action Plan. The 2012 monitoring program identified 124 different bird species at the Milton quarry and 91 different bird species at the Acton quarry.

In 2012, the company supported a Bank Swallow project led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Canada specifically for the aggregate industry and 166 Bank Swallows were observed at the Acton site. Best Management Plans are being developed to properly manage Bank Swallows and their habitat. The Milton Quarry currently has a Species at Risk Stewardship Agreement with MNR for the Butternut Tree and the Jefferson Salamander (JESA) on their quarry sites. As a result of this agreement, employees receive annual training to help educate and create awareness of these species, information is collected on the property’s wetland habitats, they are monitoring the number of salamanders present and butternut trees are being planted. Holcim Canada Inc. employees supported the “Nassagaweya Rural Road Clean Up”. Holcim Canada is supporting Earth Rangers Canada through a multi-year partnership to support a migratory songbird project.

Education Award (Individual) - Shelley DaSilva, Margaret Drive Childcare Centre
Shelley DaSilva has designed and created an outdoor classroom for the students/children at Margaret Drive Child Care Center. She incorporates and collects recycled pieces (many personal) into a really imaginative and interesting outdoor garden for the children. They have a butterfly garden, tent/tipi for quiet or alone time, a small trampoline to jump around on, and lots of tactile learning opportunities as well as numerous other stations.

The 50 plus students that attend and are cared for at Margaret Drive get to experience and learn from a beautiful outdoor space surrounded by nature. Staff had the opportunity to meet Shelley through the Stream of Dreams program, which she organized for the center. During their time there, staff saw Shelley’s passion for creating a natural, safe and inviting space for the students (and visitors!). She sets a great example and her interest in letting the students experience the outdoors was inspiring.

Education Award (School) - Silver Creek Public School, Georgetown
Silver Creek Public School is located in Halton Hills and has 700 staff and students plus their family members and the community involved in its initiatives. They continuously work together to address environmental issues in the school community and raise awareness of local and global sustainability issues. Silver Creek began the year with raising awareness around water issues, both locally and globally, and worked towards a month long EcoChallenge in April which coincided with the implementation of the new Recycling Guidelines in Halton. Every school assembly throughout the year has an environmental message with an associated action which leads up to the EcoChallenge month.

In the fall, building on the Stream of Dreams project from the previous year, Silver Creek focused on water conservation, access to water and the necessity of water for humanity. A penny drive after the assembly raised 77,500 pennies to bring wells for water to people living in Kenya. In 2011/12 Silver Creek Public School was a Gold EcoSchool. Participating in the Energy Drill program (school version of a Demand Response Program to reduce electricity use in periods of high demand), they reduced their daily energy use by 20 per cent during a recent practice Drill. Waste diversion, fundraising for and awareness of water issues and community connections are all outcomes of the hard work of the Silver Creek students and staff.

Media/Blogger Award - Michael Howie
Both in his day job as editor of Oakville Today, a newspaper that reaches the ever expanding population north of the Queen Elizabeth Way, and in his personal life as a blogger, Michael Howie is always looking to shine a light on our need to live with our environment. His commitment to solution-oriented conservation efforts (especially with regards to wildlife protection) has been as humbling as it is inspiring.

Michael’s editorials and news stories have covered environmental issues including but not limited to: living with the wildlife all around us, the impact of expanding residential development on the greenspace, forests, ravines and valleys of Halton, and why conservation should matter to all of us. Michael makes a point of researching and staying current on the latest developments in conservation in our region and shares this through his newspaper and his blog. He has raised awareness of the role that media plays in sensationalizing human-coyote interactions, and grasped the integral ecosystem services that coyotes offer to our landscapes and, essentially, demanded better from our media outlets.

Parks Volunteer Award - Len Savage
Len Savage opens the main gates at Mount Nemo Conservation Area at 8:30 a.m. every day of the year, seven days a week. He has not missed one day since he has taken on this responsibility three years ago. This saves Conservation staff driving from Hilton Falls to Mount Nemo and back every morning (a 32 kilometre round trip), saving time, fuel and reduces carbon emissions. Len also hikes either the north trail or the south trail every day with his dog and contacts the maintenance staff at Hilton Falls regarding any park problems he comes across while hiking. Staff find this a great help to have some one like Len looking out for one of our parks interests and informing us of things like trees being down on the trails, illegal fire pits, graffiti on signs and rocks, and any other issues.

Stewardship Award - Andy Stark and Julie Winfield, Oakville
Andy Stark and Julie Winfield installed the first engineered permeable driveway in Oakville in 2009 and coined the phrase "Unpaving Our Way into the Future". Permeable driveways create a natural filter for ground water rather than allowing toxic runoff to enter the storm drain system. They also don’t build up heat and allow for trees and other plants to benefit from rainwater. When the family decided to make a decision for their environment by installing an eco-friendly driveway they were initially met by opposition from the town of Oakville, but were pleasantly surprised to be accepted by their neighbours and finally by the town as well. Andy has formed a Permeable Driveway Club and has invited other people in Ontario to join his network to create a movement and share their experiences. Andy and Julie are always looking for ways to protect our environment and improve the way we live. He is a founding member of Ecopartners, and is a promoter of edible gardens and electric mobility.

Stewardship Award - Main Street Realignment - Town of Milton, McCormick Rankin Corporation, Ecoplans Limited and Geomorphic Solutions
In 2010, the Town of Milton retained McCormick Rankin Corporation and Ecoplans Limited for the reconstruction and realignment of Main Street between Tremaine Road and Scott Boulevard to the south of the existing location of the road. Geomorphic Solutions was retained to complete the natural channel design associated with the culvert works.

The realignment of Main Street involved the crossing of a six metre deep valley at an undesirable angle (almost parallel to the alignment of the valley) which would have a significant impact on the valley through the removal of vegetation and impact to wildlife habitat and movement within the valley. Through the planning and design process, it was decided to minimize the footprint of the road crossing through the valley and to create an ecopassage for wildlife movement.

The Town of Milton, McCormick Rankin Corporation, Ecoplans Limited and Geomorphic Solutions exhibited leadership and innovation in to minimizing the impacts of realigned Main Street on the valley feature through the 2.5 year process. They achieved this through modifying the original design in the following ways, optimizing the road design, reducing the road footprint and creating an ecopassage for wildlife. Conservation Halton staff have observed deer tracks in the ecopassage confirming that it is being used by local wildlife populations!

Ralph Sherwood Honour Roll Award - Lisa Penny
Lisa Penny was on the Board of Directors of Conservation Halton Foundation from 2003 until 2012, a period of nearly ten years. During her tenure, she served as Chair of the Foundation Board. Lisa was instrumental in supporting the Foundation in fundraising activities including its Conservation Gala and through private and foundation donations. In her time on the Foundation Board Lisa helped the Foundation achieve important milestone projects including the renewal of the Mountsberg Discovery Centre, the expansion of the Mountsberg Maple Syrup pavilion, the additions at the Raptor Centre and the construction of the Mountsberg Shrike facility.

Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship (HHWSP) Program Award Recipients
The HHWSP Stewardship Program award recipients are members of a group of more than 320 landowners voluntarily protecting over 12,900 acres of land and over 160 kilometres of stream. It is important to remember that by simply enjoying these natural heritage features as they are, and conserving them for future generations, Watershed Stewards are making a significant contribution to the health of the environment, which leads to a healthy society.

Each year Watershed Stewardship Technicians assist landowners who are looking for advice and recommendations regarding activities they can undertake to restore woodlands, wetlands, meadows, and streams. At this year’s award the following landowners were recognized as Watershed Stewards:

  • City of Burlington, Bronte Creek Restoration Lowville Park
  • Bill and Lena Grierson of the Sixteen Mile Creek Watershed
  • Joanne and Allan Tunnicliffe of the Grindstone Creek Watershed
  • Jay and Kim Krug of the Bronte and Grindstone Creek Watersheds
  • Nicole and Steve Roy of the Bronte Creek Watershed

Stream of Dreams 2013
The mission of the Stream of Dreams Program is to educate communities about their watersheds, rivers and streams, while dazzling them with the charm of community art. Since its launch in 2006, Conservation Halton staff has delivered the program to more than 15,200 participants at 37 schools, as well as many community events, installing these magnificent murals across the watershed.

The Stream of Dreams program has countless hours of work put into each project by school, teachers and parent volunteers, as well as the CH staff who deliver the program. The following schools participated over the past year:

  • Ecole Forest Trail, Oakville
  • Guy Brown P.S., Waterdown
  • New Central P.S., Oakville
  • Munn’s Public School, Oakville
  • St. Patrick Elementary School, Burlington
  • St. Vincent Elementary School, Oakville

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Conservation Halton is the community based environmental agency that protects, restores and manages the natural resources in its watershed. The organization has staff that includes ecologists, land use planners, engineers, foresters and educators along with a network of volunteers who are guided by a Board of Directors comprised of municipally elected and appointed citizens. Conservation Halton is recognized for its stewardship of creeks, forests and Niagara Escarpment lands through science based programs and services.

Media Contacts
Hassaan Basit
Director, Communications Services
Telephone: 905-336-1158, Extension 270
E-mail: hbasit@hrca.on.ca
Website: www.conservationhalton.ca

Norm Miller
Communications Advisor
Telephone: 905-336-1158, Extension 233
E-mail: nmiller@hrca.on.ca
Website: www.conservationhalton.ca