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Conservation Halton releases 2014 Public Accountability Report

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Conservation Halton released its 2014 Public Accountability Report which provides an overview of the organization’s programs and services. The report shows growth in community involvement with the number of volunteers increasing over previous years, and the Conservation Halton Foundation raising more than $500,000.

The Public Accountability Report tracks a number of key statistics, revenues and expenses over a three-year period (2011 to 2013).

Conservation Halton had 2,110 people volunteer from the community in 2013, roughly a 30 per cent increase from the 1,633 people who volunteered in 2012. The main reason for the increase was the 600 people from local businesses and community groups who worked with the forestry team to plant trees and shrubs throughout the watershed. Community members also donated their time at the annual Earth Day Tree Planting in the spring, Halton Children’s Water Festival and Halton Water Festival, as well as assisting with ecology, the conservation areas and stewardship.

The Conservation Halton Foundation continued to see steady growth in its fundraising for stewardship and education programs about our natural environment. In 2013, the Foundation raised $505,345, up 18 per cent over the 2012 total of $428,968, and the fourth straight year that fundraising revenue has increased. The Foundation has supported the construction of the Deer Clan Longhouse at Crawford Lake (opened in September 2014), both the Halton Children’s Water Festival and Halton Forest Festlval, restoration work at Glenorchy Conservation Area in Oakville and many other Conservation Halton initiatives.

Conservation Halton’s park visitation declined by approximately 40,000 people from 2012 total after reaching an unprecedented level of more than 800,000 visitors. Park attendance in 2013 was 769,297. Conservation Halton’s parks received significant damage during the ice storm on the weekend of December 21-22, 2013 with hundreds of trees damaged and each of the parks losing power for varying lengths of time. All parks were closed December 22 as the trails were not safe because of downed trees and hanging branches. Glen Eden reopened on December 26, 2013, and the other four main conservation areas reopened by January 11. Hilton Falls reopened in February and Robert Edmondson did not open until spring.

The number of people, from schools and community groups, who participated in education programs offered by Conservation Halton was steady with 66,021 students in 2013, down slightly from 68,787 in 2012.

Growth and development in the Conservation Halton watershed kept the Watershed Planning and Services Division busy. The number of permit reviews, planning applications, general and solicitor inquiries, building and pool clearances as well as environmental assessments and reports were 1,320 in 2013, as compared to 1,483 in 2012 and 1,254 in 2011.

“The 2014 Public Accountability Report has a number of positives. It’s very rewarding to see the number of people volunteering their time to make a contribution to the environmental health of the watershed by planting trees, or just helping out at our parks and with our programs,” said Ken Phillips, Chief Administrative Officer. “We believe the services Conservation Halton provides to the community – flood protection, environmental planning, outdoor education, recreation, and the protection of the natural environment – are delivered in a cost-effective and innovative way, which is reflected in the Accountability Report.”

The Public Accountability Report shows how Conservation Halton spends the funds it receives to benefit residents, what conservation activities have been carried out, and how they compare to services offered over the previous three years. The report includes facts and information on how Conservation Halton has been protecting the natural environment – forests, water and land – within its watershed. Also included are the organization’s budget statistics showing the sources of revenue and expenditures.

The municipal funding received by Conservation Halton is used primarily to fund programs and operations for environmental planning, flood protection and conservation programs. Tax dollars (municipal or provincial) are not used to support recreation programs at CH’s Conservation Areas, which includes Glen Eden. Revenue from annual pass sales and other park user fees fund the operations and capital infrastructure needs of all Conservation Areas. The Accountability Report can be viewed on Conservation Halton’s website by clicking here or call 905-336-1158 to receive a copy.