Newmarket — Claire Malcolmson and Tim Crooks, of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, were recognized Nov. 6 by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority as Watershed Heroes for the work they have done to encourage and assist Lake Simcoe municipalities and residents to bring their official plans into conformity with the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
Malcolmson, a frequent contributor to Lake Simcoe Living Magazine and website, and Crooks focused their initial efforts on Oro-Medonte, urging the municipal government to go beyond the minimum requirements of the LSPP when it implements its official plan. Malcolmson and Crooks received an education award. Crooks could not attend the award ceremony at Madsen's Gardens Banquet Hall, and his award was accepted by his wife, Rosaleen Crooks.
Jim Masin, an occasional contributor to Lake Simcoe Living, was given an volunteer recognition award for supporting the ongoing restoration work at Scanlon Creek. Masin also leads a monthly night walk at the park, teaching people to experience nature by finding their way along the pathways in the dark.
These were among 22 individuals, businesses and groups on the Lake Simcoe Watershed who were honoured for working to better the environment.
The most prestigious award of the night, the George R. Richardson Conservation Award of Honour for lifetime achievement, was given posthumously to John Tran, of Bradford West Gwillimbury. His career as a professional engineer spanned more than 30 years, working in both the public and private sector. He died of cancer in March 2014.
The LSRCA said Tran was an environmental leader, innovator and mentor working to protect and improve the ecological health of Lake Simcoe and the Great Lakes. He was one of the original founders of stormwater management policy in Ontario. He was actively involved in the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy and subsequent projects aimed at restoring natural features and functions impacted by human activities. He also chaired a number of conferences, many in collaboration with LSRCA and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The last of the conferences, in 2009, was entitled New Directions for Stormwater Management, promoting the concept of four-season control, an issue identified by LSRCA.
Tran helped organize a number of annual watershed management/stormwater conferences and training courses from 2000-2009, focusing on Lake Simcoe to promote watershed and sub-watershed planning, He ensured that the proceeds went towards Landowner Environmental Assistance Program (LEAP) projects in the watershed.
In 2012, Tran assisted in the first-of-its kind project in Ontario, an Engineered Wetland in Aurora, by designing and providing a Watergate Precast Stormwater Treatment Chamber (the biggest precast structure of its kind). He donated a significant amount of his time to supervise its construction and installation.
His daughters Marisa and Danielle Tran accepted his award.
The other 2014 LSRCA conservation awards and winners are:
• Conservation Award of Merit
Brock Sportsmen (affiliated with Ducks Unlimited Canada) of Brock. Formed eight years ago, the group now has 17 members who place, manage and maintain waterfowl nesting boxes throughout the Beaver River Wetlands. The Brock Sportsmen hosts an annual dinner in Sunderland with all funds raised – $35,000 in 2013 – supporting wildlife conservation projects throughout the Brock region and beyond. The group also provides curricula-linked funding to local Grade 4 students to participate in Ducks Unlimited Project Webfoot.
• Ernie Crossland Young Conservationist Award
Johnathan Purkis of Innisfil, now a Grade 9 student, was a member the Green Team at Killarney Beach Elementary School for four years. By Grade 8, Johnathan was the Green Team leader, spent countless hours researching, planning and promoting eco-projects for the school, spoke at assemblies and continually encouraged teaching and school staff and students to support eco-friendly initiatives. He also encouraged teachers to implement "green lessons" as part of the curriculum.
• Pioneering Green Communities Award (two recipients):
1. Melissa Hunter, of Barrie, a teacher at St. Peter’s Catholic High School, is the faculty head of the environmental club. She has involved her students in tree planting events as part of the LSRCA Creeks Project. A great community partner, Hunter was instrumental in sourcing the funding to develop the LSRCA Watershed Science Days program, which involved more than 200 science students participating in watershed education programming at Sunnidale Park.
2. York Region Geocachers Club of Newmarket/Aurora (YRGC) provides geocachers with activities and events that improve the credibility of the geocaching sport, including workshops on responsible land use and working with local governments to promote geocaching as a family-oriented outdoor activity. In 2013-2014, the YRGC hosted clean-up events at Sheppard’s Bush and Thornton Bales Conservation Areas known as CITO – Cache In Trash Out – and encourages geocachers to continually practice CITO while on the trails and parks.
• Water Conservation Award:
The Town of East Gwillimbury was honoured for its work on The Colony Trail Pond, Holland Landing. Originally constructed in the 1980s, the pond underwent an innovative retrofit, with a "sorbtive" media chamber – a fairly new technology not widely used in the LSRCA watershed – which helps capture soluble phosphorus prior to entering the receiving waters. With the retrofit, the estimated phosphorus reduction is 25 kg/year. Total project cost is about $563,000 with funding from East Gwillimbury and the Ministry of the Environment, while LSRCA staff provided project review, water quality monitoring and pre-and post-construction inspection.
• Soil Conservation Awards (six recipients):
1. Brett Davis moved to the Holland Marsh several years ago and when an open-field area of his property became available this past year, he added forest cover to the land. In creating a sense of community, he worked with his neighbor thus allowing LSRCA access to the property, to plant 900 white spruce, 800 white pine, 40 sugar maple and 10 silver maple tree seedlings — adding 5.86 hectares of new forest to the Lake Simcoe Watershed.
2. RDR Marine Systems of Oro-Medonte worked with LSRCA staff to have 1800 white cedar and 200 white pine seedlings planted on their property this past spring. Through the planting, RDR Marine Systems added 5.81 hectares of forest cover to a Simcoe County significant forest.
3. Elizabeth and Ron Plashkes of Uxbridge added 1.6 hectares of forest to Durham Region. The Plashkes are committed to their property, mowing between the many rows of trees to help decrease competition from grasses, thus increasing their trees’ survival rates.
4. Robert Meinschenk owns property that is part of the Oak Ridges Moraine and located within the York Region Greenland Area. In the spring, more than 10,000 tree seedlings were planted on his property, connecting the former open area with the forested area, adding 5.7 hectares of forest to York Region.
5. York Energy Centre, of King, in partnership with the Township of King and Doug Van Luyk. Since its construction in 2011, LSRCA has worked with the YEC to naturalize the fields and planted 9,480 trees around the Centre. King Township mowed the fields and neighbour Doug Van Luyk helped develop a multi-year project to prepare the fields, ensuring the trees have the best chance of survival. Plantings on the site added 4.66 hectares of forest to York Region.
6. During the last year, Sam Visser, who operates a strawberry farm in Innisfil, completed the first Irrigation Water Management project under the LSRCA Landowner Environmental Assistance Program (LEAP). He switched to an efficient low-pressure boom cart for his property, reducing water use by 20-30%. This technology decreases soil erosion, while helping conserve and protect surface and ground water quality/quantity.
• Education Awards (four awards presented):
1. Claire Malcolmson and Tim Crooks
2. Twin Lakes Secondary School of Orillia earned a Silver award in the Ontario EcoSchools program, a difficult accomplishment for a secondary school. During the year, the school’s Green Team coordinated a self-run school composting program, responsible for all aspects including collection, onsite composting and use of the final product on site. The students organized a bottled water campaign, raising funds to purchase three bottle filling stations promoting local tap water, the issue of bottled water and the importance of reuse.
3. Nantyr Shores Secondary School of Innisfil has an ECOS (Environmentally Conscious Organization of Students) team that piloted and implemented a successful Green Bin program at the school, part of Simcoe County’s green bin collection program. While the Simcoe District Board does not normally allow secondary schools to participate in the program because organic collection is not part of the custodial staff contract, ECOS approached the Board and with the support of Simcoe County implemented a successful organics program. And, this fall, following six years of fundraising and campaigning, solar panels were installed at the school.
4. Lester B. Pearson Public School of Aurora, also a certified Ontario EcoSchool, had an eco-team of about 62 students from grades 2 to 8. The students organized a number of conservation programs, sold fillable water bottles to family and friends, raising $650 and received an Ontario Ministry of Education $1,000 grant, which allowed them to purchase a water refilling station, keeping up to 25,000 disposable water bottles per year out of landfill.
• Volunteer Recognition Awards (two recipients):
1. Jim Masin
2. Jeff Inkpen also was recognized for his passionate support of the environment and the time and efforts supporting Scanlon Creek Conservation Area.
• The Media Recognition Award:
This year's winner is Roger’s TV Georgina Life, a weekly lifestyle show aired on Rogers Television in Georgina. The show has been a strong supporter of LSRCA, giving the organization a voice to reach out to viewers through television to promote issues that are of value to our community. The show, its on-air and production staff, embody the spirit of community and collaboration.
In the photos:
1. Oro-Medonte Councillor and LSRCA board member Dwight Evans, Claire Malcolmson, Rosaleen Crooks and Aurora Mayor Geoff Dawe, vice-chair of the board.
2. The Watershed Hero winners for 2014.
Photos courtesy of LSRCA