Green Communities Canada has received $740,000 over 36 months from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to depave 36 sites across the province.
Depave Paradise engages local volunteers to tear up unwanted pavement and replace it with gardens planted with native species. In addition to creating green space, depaving helps restore the urban water cycle and reduce runoff pollution.
“This Grow Grant funding allows us to build on the proven success of this program,” says GCC Director of Water Programs Sharyn Inward. “Community depaving events are a great opportunity to educate Ontarians about treating rain as a resource and managing it where it falls. They also reduce heat island effect and give new life to neglected areas.”
Teachers who attended a Depave Paradise presentation at the Ontario EcoSchools Superconference left inspired to turn paved school yards into pollinator and vegetable gardens, settings for green classrooms, and other green spaces.
“It was great to present to a group of 45 motivated green teachers,” said Rose Bergeron, GCC Program Manager. “I quickly realized they were beyond theory and ready for action.”
Rose shared information on turning unused pavement into enjoyable, productive green spaces that provide shade and reduce stormwater runoff.
Join Green Communities Canada for an exciting webinar series on Indigenous and non-Indigenous partnerships working together for a better environment. Eight speakers from four projects across Ontario will explore the challenges and successes of their partnerships in a four-part webinar series beginning 7 February.
- 7 February: Sacred Water Circle (Speakers- Dorothy Taylor and Cathy Mitchell
- 21 February: Antler River Guardians from the 4 Directions (Speakers- Mary Alikakos and Tara Tchir)
- 7 March 7: Credit Valley Indigenous Experience Plan (Speakers- Susan Robertson and Caroline King)
- 21 March: Climate Adaptation Planning within the Chippewas of Georgina island First Nation Reserve (Speakers- Kerry-Ann Charles and Jackie Richard)
More information, and register here.
Water knowledge and practice for Indigenous youth
Youth for Water bridges traditional Indigenous knowledge and culture with science and environmental issues. Youth aged 18-25 learn about water issues and get hands-on experience in delivering community water protection projects.
Youth for Water is a shared project with the Sacred Water Circle.
During the pilot year Youth for Water completed three community projects in Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, and Whitefish River First Nation.
Youth for Water hosted a week-long conference in November 2017 with 20 Indigenous youth from all over Ontario. Participants learned how to design and carry out water projects in their home communities.
Youth for Water participants have attended many speaking engagements to promote water and environmental protection. They have shared their stories and information about the program to encourage other youth to become more involved in their communities.
Presentations included a Council of Canadians event featuring Maude Barlow, the Unitarian Fellowship, Trent Community Movements Conference, and the Elders and Youth Gathering in Ottawa.
“It’s great to see so many youth are interested in being water leaders,” says Alix Taylor, Green Communities Canada, Programs Manager.
Well Aware: Safe drinking water for private wells
In the wake of the Walkerton tragedy in Spring 2001, Green Communities developed Well Aware to address the knowledge gap about well stewardship practices among Ontario households, a third of whom rely on individual private wells for their drinking water.
The Ontario government provided over $3M funding over the next decade for a program that included:
- information materials – the Well Aware booklet (including a First Nations version), factsheets, prompts, website, newsletter
- guided self assessments – voluntary, confidential site visits by trained Water Guide designed to coach well owner in pollution prevention and well maintenance and upgrade issues
- community forums – presentations by expert panelists with opportunities for well owners to get their questions answered
- information provider workshops – workshops with frontline “information providers” to well owners (e.g., realtors, well drillers, municipal staff), to ensure common messaging and accurate information
- outreach – tables, small group presentations, etc.
Well Aware operated as a partnership with Ontario well drillers and technicians, with technical support from professional hydrogeologists. Additional local partners include municipalities, public health, conservation authorities, and others.
As of 2012, Well Aware had racked up some impressive results:
- well owners we have worked with directly: almost 4000
- % who upgrade their wells: 70%
- booklets and kits distributed: over 220,000
- number of community forums: 84, attracting a total audience of 3,000
- number of information provider workshops: 75, for a total of 1900 participants
- website traffic: 30,000 since 2006
In 2009, Well Aware was recognized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and CH2M Hill, citing our work with seven municipalities.
In 2011, the Ontario Minister of the Environment recognized the contribution of Well Aware to the Province in connection with the Minister’s annual Award for Environmental Excellence.
In the absence of program funding, Well Aware outreach activities are on hold. However, the Well Aware booklet is still available for free download.
Collective impact project tackles complex flooding issue
Green Communities Canada is bringing together stakeholders to create a collective action plan to address urban flood risk in Ontario. We are currently conducting interviews to identify priorities issues and actions. If you’re interested in getting involved, contact Clara Blakelock.
See our website for more information, including a paper outlining the urban flooding issue, impacts, contributing factors, and responses to date. Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for supporting this initiative.