Disruptive Technology and the End of the Backbone of Our Economy: the Middle Class Family.

This past week, Waterloo Region Council continued our work on the new taxi by-law that will include Uber and other new types of vehicles for hire. Council members spoke excitedly about the potential of disruptive technology. Rideco, a local app based shuttle business, told us that part of what they do as a tech firm is research ways to make driverless cars a viable business.

Driverless cars. My baby boom friends are so excited about them. As they age, they won’t have to give up their  car. In ten years, if not sooner, everyone can have one. Will everyone want one?

When I was first married, my in-laws ran rental cottages in the Halliburton Highlands. Across the road from them lived a family on a half acre with ranch house and lawn rider grass. The dad was a trucker who ferried goods from Toronto to the stores and supermarkets of cottage country. His wife was a teller at the local bank. They lived a good middle class country life. Their daughter grew up to work in the bank. I don’t know what their son did, but he may also have been a truck driver. Once again, a good life. Their millennial grandchildren could also squeeze out that life for a few years if they are lucky. The present generation of school-age children? Not happening when they grow up.

With all the excitement about disruptive technology, only a few seem to be talking about the effect of all these changes on the average person. It’s fluffed off with, “Oh, we’ll get the jobs back from China.” “It’s up to them to retrain for something (what?) else”.

Driverless cars will mean driverless trucks and driverless taxis, buses and shuttles.

 

According to Service Canada Truck driver statistics; 69,300 people are truck drivers. 97.1 percent of them are men, 92 percent are between 24 and 64 years old, 70% have high school or post-secondary education, and only two percent of them are bachelors. There is a shortage of long haul truckers at the present time. Average salary is around 40,000.

According to the 2006 census, pre-Uber, there were 50,000 taxi cab drivers in Canada. 21,050 bus, shuttle, and subway operators worked in 2013.

Approximately 140,356 good paying jobs will vanish in 15 to 20 years due to driverless cars. For taxi cab drivers, good paying full time jobs are disappearing now with the growth of ridesharing apps.

You may ask why didn’t Regional council just ban Uber if they are a bad employer? That is not the job of Regional government. We look after such things as requiring criminal background checks and safety inspected cars. It is up to the provincial government to make employment laws that regulate industries (Not just Uber) who say those who work for them are private contractors not employees.

The citizens of the Region like the convenience and features of the new apps. That is not the problem. The problem is that Uber runs on a part-time contractor model instead of employing people. A ridesharing company in Montreal, Teo Taxi, pays employees  15 dollars an hour.

But this dispute will be finished when driverless cars and trucks appear.

The wife in the middle class family I mentioned above will also see her job disappear. 46,000 positions in 2014, 90 percent between 24 and 64 years old, 98 percent women, 79 percent full time and $34,900 annually.Bank machines and self checkouts in grocery stores are eliminating white collar jobs as well.

Secretaries and executive assistants now transcribe minutes directly into laptops set up with the meeting minutes template. Everyone is is paperless, no more photocopying. We all look after our own calendars and memos. Bills are paid electronically. People use a computer program to do their taxes and finances instead of hiring a bookkeeper.  Huge numbers of white collar jobs are disappearing. 

Statistics Canada says of administrative and secretarial positions as of 2014,

Over the past few years the number of secretaries has decreased very sharply. Implementation of office automation and the diversification of administrative staff duties explain this decrease to a large extent. Since these changes are already well established, the number of secretaries should decrease significantly over the next few years, but at a much less spectacular pace than before.

Where will these employees go? What will happen to those middle class families who managed so well up to the year 2000? How will they support themselves and their families? Where and at what will the majority of school children of today do to make a decent living? We need  a serious conversation about employment and disruptive technology.

 

 

 

 

USING PARTNERSHIPS TO TURN AN OPEN SEWER INTO AN AWARD WINNING URBAN RIVER AND TO PROTECT THE LOCAL DRINKING WATER AQUIFERS

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 Speaking at the 53rd International Making Cities Livable Conference, Rome, Italy, June 13 – 17, 2016. Below is my presentation.

 

 

 

 

sewer

Grand River as an open sewer, 1930s

openingmill

Grand River Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Settled by Old Order Mennonites similar to the Amish, and Scots, the Region of Waterloo and Guelph have a long tradition of using partnerships to solve problems. The people of the Grand River Watershed have a long tradition of stewardship of the land and river. Partnerships and stewardship have turned an open sewer into an award winning watershed and protected drinking water aquifers.

The Grand River Watershed is located in Southern Ontario Canada. It is about the size of the state of Delaware in the USA. The Grand River is about two-thirds of the length of the Thames in England.The population of the Grand River basin is over one million with a concentrated urban area of approximately 684,000 located in Waterloo Region and Guelph in the middle of the watershed.[1] The Region of Waterloo is best known as the home of the Blackberry smartphone and the University of Waterloo, though it has a long manufacturing tradition. 70 percent of the watershed is in agriculture.

Ten thousand years ago, as the Ice Age ended, glaciers left behind long hills of sand, gravel, boulders and dirt called moraines.

The Galt-Paris moraines run from the Guelph area southwest to Brant County. The Waterloo moraine lies under almost all of the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener. Water from the melting glaciers created spillways, carving out river valleys.

The moraines also have an important role in maintaining the health of the river system.

When snow melts or rain falls on the moraine, the water soaks into the ground and through the porous sand and gravel soil. The ground filters the water, removing some of the impurities. The water also cools off as it travels through the ground. A lot of this pure water goes into the local aquifer and becomes the source of 80% of the Region’s drinking water.

waterlooregion

Grand River, Waterloo Region

Eventually, some of that water comes back to the surface in the form of springs and seeps. The springs create streams. These cold water creeks are rich habitats and support a wide variety of fish, such as brook trout.

As the creeks flow downstream they join the Conestoga, Speed, Nith and other rivers, eventually emptying into the Grand. They help to raise the quality of the water in the river. That’s important to downstream communities, such as Brantford, which get their drinking water from the Grand River.[2]

250 years ago, the Grand River Watershed and the Region of Waterloo were forest and indigenous created savanna.  Neutral Indians lived in the watershed, then later the Mississaugas. Their footprints were light on the land and their impact on the natural system was minimal.

But in the late 1700s historical forces led to profound changes in the landscape of the Grand River valley. The Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) came after the American War of Independence when they were given land on 6 miles of both sides of the Grand to replace their lands lost to the Americans. In events now surrounded with controversy, most of the Six Nations land was sold through various developers to European settlers.

The European settlers cut down the forests to create farms. The settlers took a tremendous toll on the natural system.

In 1800, most of the watershed was forested or covered with wetlands and grasslands. By 1900 almost all of the trees and most of the wetlands were gone. Only 5 per cent of the land was forested.

The change on the river system was dramatic. Snow melted faster in the spring, because there was no tree cover. There were no wetlands to hold the runoff. Water rushed off the lands into the rivers. Floods became common. As more trees were felled and wetlands drained, the floods became bigger and more frequent.

Less water soaked into the ground, so springs dried up. In the summer, the rivers dried up to a trickle. Cities and towns grew up along the river. They needed a place to put their sewage, so they dumped it into the nearest river or stream. Very little of it was treated.

By the early 1900s the river system was a mess. Spring floods wiped out houses and factories. One massive flood in 1929 caused massive damage in Guelph and other cities. In the summer, the rivers dried up to a trickle of sewage.

By the year 1931, conditions had become alarming. In the early part of the 20th century, outbreaks of major bacterial diseases such as typhoid and cholera swept through many communities.

Cleaning up the Grand River Watershed.

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Logging in the 1800s

Community leaders throughout the watershed recognized that they had to do something to address the severe flooding, water supply and water quality issues that threatened the vitality of their communities and their residents.

Businessmen and municipalities partnered to create an organization called the Grand Valley Boards of Trade. They petitioned the province to look into the serious water problems of the Grand River Watershed.

The province responded with a detailed study called “The Report on Grand River Drainage”, often referred to as the “Finlayson Report” after the minister of the Department of Lands and Forests. The report discovered that inadequate storage during the spring run-off created disastrous floods. During the summer the flow was as low as 50 cu feet per second. The problem was made worse by the lack of trees and wetlands.

The solution was to build a series of storage reservoirs at strategic locations. During the spring, water running off the land would be stored in the reservoirs. During the summer and fall, the water in the reservoirs would be released gradually to supplement natural flows. There would be enough water to meet the sewage treatment and water supply needs of the cities and towns.

Reforestation was looked at but due to the fertile soil, it was suggested that only areas unsuitable for farming be planted with trees. [3]

The Grand River Conservation Commission was the first watershed management agency in Canada when it received its formal Letters Patent in August, 1934. This was the first time local municipalities had banded together to address water management issues on a watershed scale. The founding partner municipalities were Brantford, Galt, Kitchener, Fergus and Caledonia. Other municipalities soon joined the partnership.

GRCC built the Shand Dam that created Bellwood Lake. Another big flood hit in 1948 and Hurricane Hazel struck in 1954. Luther Dam and Conestogo Dam were built in the 1950s. The Commission also worked to try to restore the natural system by opening a tree nursery. They also planted more than two million trees on their land and undertook some of the province’s first large scale reforestation projects. [4]

eloraladiesIn 1941, environmentalists and conservation groups came together at the Guelph Conference to discuss environmental protection. In 1946, the province passed the Conservation Authorities Act. The power to create the authorities was placed in the hands of the municipalities and they created the Grand Valley Conservation Authority. For many years, the GRCC and the GVCA worked side by side. The GRCC managed reservoirs and restoration, the GVCA focused on restoration, protection of natural areas and recreation. The Elora Gorge Park was the first conservation area created. Some friction and confusion existed. In 1966 the two agencies merged to become the Grand River Conservation Authority. In the early years, GRCA members came from municipalities and appointments by the provincial government. Today, the GRCA board is made up of municipal politicians from throughout the watershed and municipally appointed members of the public, along with hired staff. [5]

The GRCA and its forerunners were created as partnerships. A watershed is made up of many municipalities, each of which have their own ways of treating sewage and keeping the rivers and aquifers clean, or not clean.  Rivers cross boundaries, whether counties, states and provinces, or countries. When an organization brings together all of the parties in partnerships, improvements come about. In the case of Canada and the United States, the International Joint Commission helps Canada and the United States prevent disputes over transboundary waters. The IJC works on the water quality and levels of the Great Lakes. Lake Erie is the end point of the Grand River, so GRCA staff attend those meetings. As we say, everyone lives downstream. If each jurisdiction is a fiefdom, not working with other municipalities or organizations, nothing will get cleaned up.[6]

The river needed to be controlled to dilute the wastewater entering the river and improve the quality of drinking water. The Finlayson Report noted that the summer stream flow was essential to dilute effluents from sewage disposal plants so the water could be used in towns such as Brantford that still gets all of its water from the river. It was known at that time that well water from the aquifers could be infiltrated by the river.

In the late 1800s, cholera, diphtheria and typhoid fever were common because sewers dumped waste directly into rivers and outhouses were located close to bodies of water. Untreated waste washed up on shores and beaches.  Sometimes the sewer was close to the intake pipe for drinking water. Gradually, provincial public health laws were amended to cover the pollution of bodies of water. With the introduction of chlorine treatment, drinking water began to be purified.[7] The first sewage treatment plants and water treatment plants were built in the early 1900s in the Region of Waterloo and Guelph. The first wastewater plants contained sediment tanks and gravel filter beds.[8] The treatment of sewage and purification of water is considered one of the top public health achievements.

Over 90 Canadian cities still discharge raw untreated sewage including the cities of Victoria B.C. and Halifax N.S.

There are 30 wastewater treatment plants operated by 11 municipalities and two First Nations in the Grand River Watershed.

The plants handle the waste from about two-thirds of the population. Most of the rest rely on private systems, such as septic tanks.

The volume of pollutants remaining in treated effluent from one plant is small. The combination of the effluent from 30 plants adds up. This has an impact on the downstream river and Lake Erie, the smallest of the great lakes. The upgrade of the Kitchener Wastewater treatment plant will prevent a current dead zone where oxygen can drop to zero in the river.[9]

Nitrates from agriculture can run off into the rivers and streams. They can also persist in the soil for decades and cause problems in drinking water, leading to such health hazards as blue-baby syndrome.[10]

Unfortunately, upgrading treatment plants is very expensive. The current upgrades to the Region of Waterloo wastewater treatment plant in the city of Kitchener alone cost 320 million dollars.  The GRCA, the municipalities and the provincial government have partnered on ways to improve the plants with existing equipment, called plant optimization. In several cases, millions of dollars have been saved instead of spent. Managers of water and wastewater plants have worked together to create best practices for avoiding sewage bypasses and spills.

One important partnership in the Grand River Watershed is with farmers through the Rural Water Quality Program.

The program offers grants ranging from 30 per cent to 100 per cent of the cost of selected best management practices to increase water quality. Money is available for projects that include stream fencing to keep cows out of the water, tree planting, manure storage, well decommissioning and more.

In some cases, grants may be combined with funding from other sources for a combined grant of 80 to 100 per cent of the project costs.

Farmers helped create and continue to oversee the program. Local committees, with

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Manure storage with Rural Water Quality Program

representation from agricultural organizations, prioritize best management practices applications and decide appropriate funding levels to direct the available funding.

The GRCA administers the program. Most of the funds come from municipal governments. The Rural Water Quality Program is voluntary. [11]

Protecting Water with Source Water Protection

Although much has been done to clean up the Grand River Watershed and to make sure the residents have clean, safe drinking water, not all goes well. 80 percent of the drinking water in Waterloo Region and Guelph, the main urban areas of the Watershed, comes from aquifers. Many a person drinking bottled spring water in our Region does not know that this commercial product comes from the same system of aquifers as their tap water.   This pure source is not always pure.

Aquifers can be contaminated by seepage from the river and by farm practices. In May of

walkerton well #5

Infamous well #5

2000, many people of Walkerton, a town to the north west of the Grand River Watershed, experienced bloody diarrhea, gastrointestinal infections and other symptoms of E. coli. For days the Walkerton Public Utilities Commission insisted the water supply was “OK” despite being in possession of laboratory tests that had found evidence of contamination.

Five people died from drinking the contaminated water and about 2,500 became ill.

The Walkerton Commission wrote a two-part report on the incident. Lack of training of the water manager and foreman, false entries, not using chlorine properly, and lack of regulations and provincial oversight were some of the problems.  The well in question was contaminated by agricultural runoff. A key recommendation was to implement source water protection. [12]

The Lake Erie Drinking Water Source Protection website defines the Ontario Government program as follows:

“The Clean Water Act ensures communities protect their drinking water supplies through prevention – by developing collaborative, watershed-based source protection plans that are locally driven and based on science.

The Act establishes source protection areas and source protection regions.”

It also created a local multi-stakeholder source protection committee for each area. These committees identify significant existing and future risks to their municipal drinking water sources and develop plans to address these risks.

The Ontario government paid the entire cost of developing source protection plans.

The Lake Erie Region Source Protection Committee is composed of the following partners:  Seven representing municipalities, seven representing economic sectors including three from agriculture, three from business and industry and one from the aggregate industry, seven representing the public interest, and three representing First Nations.

Three non-voting, advisory members also participate in committee meetings: a provincial liaison member named by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, a representative of the health units in the Lake Erie Region, and a representative of the four conservation authorities in the Lake Erie Region (Usually the Chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority)[13]

The other Source Protection Committees in the province took the lead in developing their Source Protection Plans. The Lake Erie Region initiated a collaborative approach to develop our plan with municipal leads (not all municipalities opted for this though) on the one hand and Source Protection Committee oversight on the other.

Martin Keller, the Program Manager describes the reasoning this way, “Conceptually the reason is that Lake Erie Region strongly believes that municipalities who have the majority of implementation responsibility need to be at the table and part of developing the solutions i. e. developing policies for addressing significant drinking water threats.”

It is also important to have representatives from industry, First Nations, and the public, as well as many public meetings to address those effected by the plan.  People will follow a plan they have had a hand in making.

The plan circled areas around wells and marked where there would be a potential threat to the ground water and the well, if any. The municipalities look after zoning bylaws and official plans and risk management plans. A municipal Risk Management Official can negotiate a plan with a landowner or tenant that spells out the action necessary to reduce the risk posed by a significant threat. For example, the owner of a business or farm that stores chemicals could develop a spill response plan that would be part of a risk management plan. Municipalities also look after outreach and education programs and incentive programs.

The provincial government looks after permits under the Pesticides Act, licenses under the Aggregate Act, and Nutrient Management Plans under the Nutrient Management Act.

Each type of possible source water problem has been paired with a solution. These include voluntary stewardship with grants, permits, nutrient management plans, laws and regulations.

Elmira, Uniroyal and the Contaminated Aquifer: When partnerships are difficult.

Partnerships sometimes take a long time to come about and then do not always work well together.  The town of Elmira in Waterloo Region is a bucolic place best known for horse and buggy Mennonites and the world’s largest Maple Syrup Festival. It is also known for the Elmira Water Crisis. In the fall of 1989, the provincial Ministry of the Environment found high levels of NDMA in the town’s municipal wells. N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, can occur in drinking-water through the degradation of dimethylhydrazine (a component of rocket fuel) as well as from several other industrial processes. It is also a contaminant of certain pesticides[14] The levels were 40 ppb and the guidelines are .009 ppb. Residents were advised not to drink the water. NDMA got into the Grand River and outlets were closed downstream. A pipeline was built from the nearby city of Waterloo and it supplies Elmira to the present.

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Sludge pond

The Ministry of the Environment issued an order for Uniroyal to stop discharging wastewater into the Elmira sewage treatment plant. Instead of a partnership developing, Uniroyal appealed, creating the longest hearing ever before the Environmental Appeal Board. The citizens’ group, APT participated in the appeal, bringing an NDMA expert.  The MOE had not tested for pollution at that time. The Region of Waterloo ended up leading with consultants and project teams.  A second MOE order told Uniroyal to clean up the aquifer in 30 years and contain the groundwater on the Uniroyal property. Over 200 toxic chemicals were found in the Elmira aquifers and 14 buried waste pits. Sludge was in settling ponds with no clay bottoms.

The whole incident was controversial because a lot of people living in Elmira worked at Uniroyal. It was a major industry. It should also be noted that before the 1980s, no one in the Waterloo Region thought much about the by-products of local industries, whether meat packing, automotive, or chemical. The Region and the province presently have brownfield remediation grants for developers who want to clean up old factories, such as the Kaufman shoe and rubber factory in downtown Kitchener which is now condos. The loss of heavy industry is lamented but it did lead to environmental degradation.

After more adversarial appeals, Uniroyal installed pump and treat wells in the municipal aquifer. The company and the provincial government paid for the remediation. Two buried pits were excavated and stored in a “Toxidome” in the town until residents agitated to have it removed and it was taken to the city of Sarnia. The Canagagigue Creek showed high levels of DDT and Dioxins in the sediment and floodplain soils on the Uniroyal site and downstream. No action was taken as sometimes it is better to just leave the contaminants alone and monitor. Pump and treat wells were installed along the creek. APT lost a battle to have full containment of the shallow aquifer and better creek clean-up.

In 1992, the Ministry of the Environment, Uniroyal, Elmira politicians and staff, and citizens formed UPAC/ CPAC to work in partnership to clean up the mess.  The committee continues to this day. The Uniroyal plant was taken over by Chemtura in 2006.

The Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee/Chemtura Public Advisory Committee has had a long and difficult history. In 1990, Uniroyal withdrew from UPAC in anger when the MOE laid charges for air emissions. A year later Uniroyal came back to the committee. A class action suit from Duke St residents was settled out of court and the smells stopped. The company issued two major reports accessing risks but little action was taken. APT worked quietly with the GRCA and the Region to reduce farm exposure to the dioxins downstream from 2004 to 2010.[15]

Partnerships can also run into the same problems that plague any team or group. In CPAC’s case, not only was the company difficult to work with, but so were some of the citizen members of the committee. Looking at the various problems the residents of Elmira had with Uniroyal/Chemtura, from an explosion and fire, to reluctant clean ups and a toxic dust that coated cars and properties, it is no wonder some of them refused to believe the company or work with the MOE. When those people are part of a partnership trying to solve the problems, however, things quickly come to an impasse.

In 2014, a 5-year review of the off-site clean up showed that the 2028 deadline would not be reached. The CPAC committee fell apart with Chemtura and the MOE refusing to attend meetings where they felt they were constantly browbeaten. The committee was reconstituted in 2015 by the new Mayor of Woolwich as two committees, the technical advisory group and the remediation advisory committee. Some members of the public were not reappointed. The company and the province came back to the table.[16]

Although shallow wells along Canagagigue have improved the creek by removing chlorfenyals and there are no smells and fish have returned, the amount of dioxin levels have not gone down since the 1990s. According environmental activist, Susan Bryant, the MOE is delaying. The Township of Woolwich is going to put up signs warning people not to fish in the creek hot spots.

Prevention is the Only Way.

Susan Bryant, an original member of the APT citizen group and an inductee in the Region of Waterloo Hall of Fame for her work, states, “Prevention is the only way” when it comes to combating pollution.

Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes

In 2007, the Region of Waterloo created a ground-breaking policy and planning framework

eslwilmotline

The Wilmot Line, an ESL

to protect more than 15,000 hectares of environmentally sensitive lands. The Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes (ESL) framework is the first of its kind in Ontario and one of the first in Canada. It protects significant ecological systems – not just individual environmental features.

ESLs are areas in Waterloo Region that have significant environmental features, such as wetlands, rivers and creeks, groundwater recharge areas (aquifers) and the habitat of endangered and threatened species. They also include farms, villages, small towns and outdoor recreation areas.

An implementation plan was developed for each ESL with help from the community. The Laurel Creek Headwaters ESL Public Liaison Committee has been set up with members who are private property owners in ESLs, as well as other people with interest and expertise in land stewardship. This committee serves as a model by: Developing tools to enhance natural features and connections, promoting responsible land stewardship, assessing possible impacts of activities such as recreational use and water extraction proposals, exploring options to acquire conservation lands, addressing relevant concerns of residents and property owners within the ESL, and investigating opportunities to provide incentives and recognition for good land stewardship.[17]

Regional Official Plan

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Waterloo Region Countryside Line

The Regional Official Plan (ROP) contains the planning policies needed to direct growth and change in Waterloo Region over the next 20 years. Through the ROP, the Region will continue its tradition of innovative planning and growth management. One of the key elements of the plan is Protecting our drinking water and significant environmental areas. The plan includes a fixed border between rural and urban areas and directing growth to built up areas.[18]

Grand River Watershed Water Management Plan

Building on the success of the Finlayson Report and many other plans over the years, the Grand River Conservation Authority once again brought together partners to create an integrated water management plan for the Grand River Watershed. The goals are:  Ensure sustainable water supplies for communities, economies and ecosystems, improve water quality to improve river health and reduce the river’s impact on Lake Erie, reduce flood damage potential, and increase resiliency to deal with climate change.

Many groups and organizations provided input, including members of municipal councils,

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Elora Gorge

the agricultural community, aggregate producers, urban development organizations, environmental non-government organizations and the interested public. The following agencies took part in the plan development and had members on the Project Team and/or Steering Committee. Local municipalities and counties, Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Environment Canada and the Grand River Conservation Authority. Meetings with the public were also held for input.

The plan was completed in 2012 with an update in 2014. The plan is a voluntary, collaborative process that brings various agencies together as partners. The plan promotes the adoption of best practices and the implementation of projects and programs that provide the greatest benefits relative to the investment. The partner agencies have set out a strategy, based on agreed-upon local objectives and targets, to meet the needs of the ecosystem and watershed communities. The strategy will assist each partner to fulfill its role and support each other. (GRCA website)[19]

Partnerships are the Key to Improving Urban Rivers and Aquifers.

The Grand River Watershed has won two major designations.

The Grand River and its major tributaries – the Conestogo, Eramosa, Nith and Speed rivers – were declared Canadian Heritage Rivers in 1994.

The designation recognizes the outstanding human heritage features and the excellence of recreational opportunities along the rivers. Fly fishing is internationally recognized.

The GRCA won the Thiess International Riverprize 2000 for its long-term successful restoration work on the Grand River. The GRCA, its partners and local communities undertook a collaborative combination of programs that lead to the Grand River recovering after years of degradation and industrialization.

This included replanting, controlling erosion, regulating development in floodplains and wetlands, creating outreach programs to landholders, and developing outdoor recreation areas.
Solid guidelines are now in place to manage fisheries, prevent pollution and improve river bald eaglewater quality.[20] The fish have returned and recreational use of the river increased significantly.  Birds such as the bald eagle, once almost extinct due to DDT, now nest along the Grand. Otters and rare fauna have returned. It also led to reduced flood damage by 80% through reservoirs.

Partnerships have led to the development of the Source Water Protection Plan to protect wells and drinking water sources.  In Elmira, a rocky partnership has nevertheless led to the cleaning of industrial land and a creek by the company responsible.

Ken Seiling, Chair of the Region of Waterloo and long time resident of Elmira, notes that it is better to try to work together to find solutions than to have constant fights between lawyers and numerous orders and appeals. Only working together can the environment be cleaned up.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Adams, Frank P. Engineering and Contract Record. Water Supply and Sewage Disposal to be Aided by Flood Control Measures on the Grand River. January 13, 1937, vol. 50, no. 55, p 19-22

Agcanada.com Nitrates to linger for decades in N-heavy waterways, study finds http://www.agcanada.com/daily/nitrates-to-linger-for-decades-in-n-heavy-waterways-study-finds 3/28/2016

Baine, Janet. The Grand, Spring 2009, http://www.grandriver.ca/publication/ 2009_spring_grand_web.pdf

Bryant, Susan. Timeline: Elmira Water Crisis and the Aftermath. Jane’s Walk. http://www.woolwich.ca/en/townshipServices/resources/Recreation/Timeline-Janes_Walk__2_.pdf . 3/29/2016

Canadian Public Health Association. Sewage and Sanitary Reformers versus Night Filth and Disease. CPHA Website. http://www.cpha.ca/en/programs/history/achievements/05-he/sewage.aspx. 3/28/2016

DenHoed, John, Robertson, Tim. City of Guelph Wastewater Treatment: The Historical Perspective. http://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/WastewaterHistory.pdf 3/28/2016

Grand River Conservation Authority. Grand River Watershed. Water Management Plan. https://www.grandriver.ca/en/our-watershed/resources/Documents/WMP/Water_WMP_Plan_ExecutiveSummary.pdf Sept. 2014

GRCA. http://www.grandriver.ca. 3/29/2016

GRCA. Rural Water Quality Program. https://www.grandriver.ca/en/our-watershed/Rural-Water-Quality-Program.aspx 3/28/2016

GRCA. Water Management Plan. https://www.grandriver.ca/en/our-watershed/Water-management-plan.aspx 3/29/2016

International Joint Commission.  http://www.ijc.org/en_/ 3/28/2016

Kannon, Steve. As CPAC Winds Down, Long Standing Concerns Remain. Woolwich Observer. http://www.pressreader.com/canada/the-woolwich-observer/20150829/281509339941119/TextView 29 August, 2015.

Lake Erie Source Protection Region. https://www.sourcewater.ca/en/index.aspx . 3/28/2016

Ministry of the Attorney General. Walkerton Commission of Inquiry Reports. https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/walkerton/ 3/28/2016

Region of Waterloo. Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes (ESLs) http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/abouttheenvironment/environmentallysensitivelandscapesesls.asp 3/29/2016

Region of Waterloo. Populationhttp://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/doingbusiness/population.asp 3/28/2016

Region of Waterloo. Regional Official Plan http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalgovernment/regionalofficialplan.asp 3/29/2016

Special Collections and Archives. University of Waterloo. Grand River Conservation Commission Fonds. https://uwaterloo.ca/library/special-collections-archives/collections/grand-river-conservation-commission-fonds 3/24/2016

Schultz, Dave, Jane Mitchell, et al. Grand River Conservation Authority. It’s a Grand River, PowerPoint presentation 2013

Statistics Canada. Focus on Geography Series, 2011 Census: Census metropolitan area of Guelph, Ontario https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/fogs-spg/Facts-cma-eng.cfm?LANG=Eng&GK=CMA&GC=550 3/28/2016

World Health Organization, 2008 Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/fulltext.pdf . 3rd edition

 

[1]Region of Waterloo. Population.  http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/doingbusiness/population.asp 3/28/2016

Statistics Canada. Focus on Geography Series, 2011 Census: Census metropolitan area of Guelph, Ontario https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/fogs-spg/Facts-cma-eng.cfm?LANG=Eng&GK=CMA&GC=550 3/28/2016

[2] Dave, Schultz, Jane Mitchell, et al. Grand River Conservation Authority. It’s a Grand River, Powerpoint presentation. 2013.

 

[3]  Frank P. Adams. Engineering and Contract Record. Water Supply and Sewage Disposal to be Aided by Flood Control Measures on the Grand River. January 13, 1937, vol. 50, no. 55, p 19-22

 

[4]  Special Collections and Archives. University of Waterloo. Grand River Conservation Commission Fonds. https://uwaterloo.ca/library/special-collections-archives/collections/grand-river-conservation-commission-fonds 3/24/2016

[5] Janet Baine, The Grand, Spring 2009, http://www.grandriver.ca/publication/ 2009_spring_grand_web.pdf

[6]International Joint Commission.  http://www.ijc.org/en_/ 3/28/2016

[7]Canadian Public Health Association. Sewage and Sanitary Reformers versus Night Filth and Disease. CPHA Website. 3/28/2016

[8] Ministry of the Attorney General. Walkerton Commission of Inquiry Reports. https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/walkerton/ 3/28/2016

John DenHoed, Tim Robertson. City of Guelph Wastewater Treatment: The Historical Perspective. http://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/WastewaterHistory.pdf 3/28/2016

[9] Grand River Conservation Authority. Grand River Watershed. Water Management Plan. https://www.grandriver.ca/en/our-watershed/resources/Documents/WMP/Water_WMP_Plan_ExecutiveSummary.pdf Sept. 2014

[10] Agcanada.com Nitrates to linger for decades in N-heavy waterways, study finds http://www.agcanada.com/daily/nitrates-to-linger-for-decades-in-n-heavy-waterways-study-finds 3/28/2016

 

 

[11] GRCA. Rural Water Quality Program. https://www.grandriver.ca/en/our-watershed/Rural-Water-Quality-Program.aspx 3/28/2016

[12] Walkerton Report. Ibid.

[13] Lake Erie Source Protection Region. https://www.sourcewater.ca/en/index.aspx . 3/28/2016

[14] World Health Organization, 2008 Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/fulltext.pdf . 3rd edition

[15] Susan Bryant. Timeline: Elmira Water Crisis and the Aftermath. Jane’s Walk. http://www.woolwich.ca/en/townshipServices/resources/Recreation/Timeline-Janes_Walk__2_.pdf . 3/29/2016

[16] Steve Kannon. As CPAC Winds Down, Long Standing Concerns Remain. Woolwich Observer. http://www.pressreader.com/canada/the-woolwich-observer/20150829/281509339941119/TextView 29 August, 2015.

[17] Region of Waterloo. Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes (ESLs) http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/abouttheenvironment/environmentallysensitivelandscapesesls.asp 3/29/2016

[18] Region of Waterloo. Regional Official Plan http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalgovernment/regionalofficialplan.asp 3/29/2016

[19] GRCA. Water Management Plan. https://www.grandriver.ca/en/our-watershed/Water-management-plan.aspx 3/29/2016

[20] GRCA. http://www.grandriver.ca. 3/29/2016

How to Torpedo Your Chances of Getting Political Change.

A great post I saw on Facebook over my objection to a truly awful, sexist comment against one of our local female columnists was one that suggested using Clippy in Word to warn a writer:

hilltodieon

As a politician, I deal with angry people all the time. Anger can be good. It tells you something is wrong. It gets people advocating and politically involved. It’s how you channel and work with that anger  that makes the difference.

First, do your research. Let me say that again, “Do your research.” Maybe what you are enraged about is not true. Maybe the issue is already being worked on. Maybe there are very good reasons it is not being addressed. Maybe what you want interferes with the life of everyone else. Maybe what you want is a good way to go or even necessary, but people are happy with the way things are.

What are the reasons people and politicians don’t agree with you? It’s not always obvious. For instance, cyclists ride on the sidewalk because they feel (and frankly are) unsafe on busy roads. Pedestrians dislike cyclists on the sidewalk because they feel unsafe on the sidewalk (One of my dogs was hit by a cyclist as we were walking on the sidewalk). This can come out as, all cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road.

So you have done your research and you have good reasons for your cause. Your opinion is not everyone’s opinion. You have arguments and solutions to counter why your change can’t be done. Now you are ready to figure out how to present your arguments.

We live in a democracy. Do you know how important a free press is? Look at the Arab spring. The dangers of climate change. The local Uniroyal water scandal in the 90s. All covered by the media, both social and traditional. It’s not idle chatter that people are concerned with the shrinking of the local newspapers and the loss of investigative journalism. There are reasons why journalists and bloggers are jailed and killed. They expose the truth.As the founder of the Toronto Star once said.”The role of the journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”  They create discussion.

The Oxford English Dictionary says that the two swearwords that begin with a “c” and a “n”, are the most offensive at this time. You are trying to get the press onside for your issue. Swearing at a journalist, belittling them, saying negative things about them on social and other media does not help your cause.Don’t be personal, stick to your issues. Other people you want to support your cause are listening.They may belong to the racial, sexual or income group your words attack. Some of them are the people who can make your change. I’m talking about politicians.

Let me emphasis again: In a representative democracy you want to convince politicians that your cause is right. Like the media, politicians are people. We are your neighbours, your friends, family, co-workers.We pay taxes. You and your neighbours elect us. We aren’t aliens or nobility or dictators.

It does not help your cause when you swear at politicians, shout at us, call us names. Do not say that we are on the take with the other side or feeding at the trough. No matter the party or if I agree with them, almost all politicians I know at whatever level, are, yes, honest and there to help their community. Why would you do this if you are trying to get someone to support you and invest a lot of money in your cause?

In Canada, we do not have a bribery culture. It is very rare. All politicians ask for when they fund or support your cause is a handshake, an invite to your opening, a thank you, and a picture for their constituents. Yes we like positive publicity. People need to know what we are doing for us to get re-elected!

A comment on my objections stated sarcastically, “Oh dear, you have lost a politician as a (Facebook) friend”. Because, you know, elected politicians are bad.  Is that really a good thing when you want us to support your cause and listen to what you have to say?

And by the way, if you don’t like what politicians are doing, make sure you vote in the next election.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip Celebration in Uptown Waterloo

 

tulipfestival

What’s Up with the Corduroy Road?

First of all, Mayor Sue Foxton of North Dumfries Township wants you to know that North Dumfries still has a lot of corduroy roads. A million snappy jokes jumped into my head, but I like North Dumfries and Mayor Sue is doing a good job!

The one pictured above is, of course, the corduroy road found under King St. in Uptown Waterloo on March 11 when the asphalt road was dug up to put in utilities and set up the new Ion light rail line. An archeologist had to come and examine it and his findings are going to the provincial heritage ministry for approval before work can begin again on the Ion construction. The road is the original Mennonite road built before 1800 by cutting down the standing trees to make the road. You can see large stumps also that became part of the road.

Uptown Waterloo and indeed much of the surrounding housing on Euclid, Alexandra, up to where I used to live on Beverley St, are on the site of the Beverley Swamp. Even today, many houses in this area have sump pumps due to the high ground water levels.

The logs of the road were put over the swamp so horses and carts and people could traverse the swamp ( or as we say today, wetland). Over time, the road was buried and the ground built up. The basement at the Waterloo Hotel where you can descend to a store or bar (depending on who is renting)  is what remains of the original ground floor of the hotel, as told to me by a local resident.

While everyone is concerned what the delay in studying the road will mean for the stores and businesses on King St., it turns out the road has become quite the tourist attraction.

At the Mayor’s Breakfast this morning, Mike Murrary, CAO, mentioned that the Region is working on letting people take a piece of the road if they wish. Tom Galloway presented this idea to me yesterday.

In a previous update memo, Kim Moser said:

The Region will be offering residents a chance to secure their own piece of the corduroy road after it’s been removed
 100, two-foot sections of the corduroy road will be available to the public for free on a first-come, first-service basis, while supplies last in May
 Details on this giveaway will be provided by the Region once the corduroy road has been removed from the area by GrandLinq
 The remainder of the corduroy road and the surrounding soil will be disposed of according to environmental standards and regulations

Here is some information from staff about the process so far.

From Lucille Bish, Director of Cultural Services concerning preserving the road.

The process to preserve wet wood artifacts from archaeological sites is to keep them wet in the field and then in the lab.  Water is slowly removed and replaced with PEG – polyethylene glycol – a process which can take several years.  This cannot be done easily if the wood has been allowed to dry out in the field or the lab.

In the case of the corduroy road section found under King Street, it has been uncovered and fully documented under the direction of an archaeologist.  However, there was no intent to keep it wet and covered, so the cell structure of the wood will have already begun to collapse.  We don’t know how long the wood will stay intact, but any display or use would be short term at best. Without some form of preservation, now that the wood has been exposed to the elements, it will become dust in a matter of a couple years. The resources to preserve the wood are likely limited to federal conservation labs in Ottawa.

The City of Waterloo Museum is planning to take a section, with the knowledge and support of the Region of Waterloo Museum.  There is no need to keep more than one section of the road in the community.  As the actual preservation of the wood is beyond the physical and financial resources of either museum, it would be a temporary exhibit.

Neither can the road be left intact and re-covered with soil, as there are adjacent underground services which must be replaced.

The real value of the find has already been accomplished.  The formal documentation has included photographs, detailed drawings and construction notes, and 3D imaging.  The City of Waterloo Museum plans a temporary exhibit of images at the construction site.  Many people have been attracted to Uptown Waterloo to take a look, which has been good for business.

Here is even more detail about the corduroy road, for those obsessed (like me).

Background:
· On March 11, GrandLinq crews performing light rail transit (LRT) construction at the King/Willis Way intersection, discovered a change in conditions and the presence of wood
o In keeping with requirements of both the Project Agreement and the Ontario Heritage Act, work was immediately stopped and GrandLinq’s Environmental Department was informed
· The investigation, which is nearing completion, has been led by an independent licensed archaeologist, with support from historical experts at both the Region and the City of Waterloo
· On March 18, the lead archaeologist confirmed that the finding was a corduroy road
· Following the confirmation, the lead archaeologist and his team were required to:
o Determine the extent of the corduroy road on King, between William and Erb
o Carefully and completely expose the intact sections of the corduroy road in order to document the findings (i.e. map and photograph the corduroy road)
o Submit a report, for review and approval, to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport (Ministry)

Current Situation:
· Today (April 19), the lead archaeologist and his team are expected to complete their documentation of the corduroy road on King, between William and Erb. They will also prepare the report for the Ministry
· Understanding the concerns a prolonged delay will have on ION LRT construction and businesses in UpTown Waterloo, the lead archaeologist has worked closely with the Ministry throughout the investigation and will remove the corduroy road once the documentation process is complete and authorization from the Ministry has been granted. This work will require two steps:
o Step 1: Removal of unsuitable soil that surrounded the corduroy road. Some of the soil in this area cannot be reused due to poor conditions
o Step 2: The corduroy road (i.e. the logs) will be removed
· Once the unsuitable soil and corduroy road materials have been removed, LRT construction in this area will resume

Next Steps:
· At this point, it’s too early to know what impact the corduroy road delay will have on the ION construction schedule for UpTown Waterloo
· Once LRT construction resumes, GrandLinq and the Region will need some time to assess the situation and determine what (if any) schedule time can be gained through other construction methods (i.e. double-shifting and/or a noise by-law exemption, etc.)
· The Region and GrandLinq understand the importance of the Christmas shopping season for UpTown Waterloo businesses. We expect to have an update on the ION construction schedule and the impacts of the corduroy road delay by the end of June
· It’s important to note that during the archaeological investigation of the corduroy road, GrandLinq crews were re-assigned to accelerate the completion of LRT work in other areas of UpTown Waterloo. This will help with the overall LRT construction schedule for UpTown Waterloo. For example, on Allen, and in the Caroline/Allen intersection:
o The Caroline/Allen intersection did not open, as previously planned, on March 24. Instead, the intersection remains closed until mid-June
o When the intersection re-opens, all required work in the intersection will be complete, including installation of the track and related infrastructure
· On-going work in UpTown also continues, as scheduled, including:
o King/Union – construction at this intersection is progressing well and it is expected to re-open May 15 prior to the Caroline/Erb intersection closing
o King/William – construction at this intersection began March 29 and it is expected to re-open May 15. The Caroline/Erb intersection will not close until King/William re-opens

What will happen to the corduroy road?
· As required by the Ontario Heritage Act, the corduroy road has been carefully and completely exposed and documented. A report on the findings, as required, will be submitted to the Ministry for review and approval
o The final report will be shared with both the Waterloo Region Museum and the City of Waterloo’s Museum
· The City of Waterloo’s Museum has requested, and will receive, a piece of the corduroy road for its archives
· The Region has extensive drone footage of the corduroy road
· The City of Waterloo has documented the corduroy road through 3D-imaging. This information will be shared with the Region
· The Region and the City of Waterloo will be creating several banners to document the history of the corduroy road and what was found in UpTown Waterloo
o These banners, once completed, will be displayed along the construction fencing in UpTown Waterloo
· The Region will be offering residents a chance to secure their own piece of the corduroy road after it’s been removed
o 100, two-foot sections of the corduroy road will be available to the public for free on a first-come, first-service basis, while supplies last in May
o Details on this giveaway will be provided by the Region once the corduroy road has been removed from the area by GrandLinq
· The remainder of the corduroy road and the surrounding soil will be disposed of according to environmental standards and regulations

Will GrandLinq be able to complete their work in time for the 2016 Holiday shopping season?
· At this point, it’s too early to know what impact the corduroy road delay will have on the ION construction schedule for UpTown Waterloo
· Once LRT construction resumes, GrandLinq and the Region will need some time to assess the situation and determine what (if any) schedule time can be gained through other construction methods (i.e. double-shifting and/or a noise by-law exemption, etc.)
· The Region and GrandLinq understand the importance of the Christmas shopping season for UpTown Waterloo businesses. We expect to have an update on the ION construction schedule and the impacts of the corduroy road delay by the end of June

What is a Corduroy road?
· A corduroy road (or log road) is a type of road made by placing logs perpendicular to the direction of the road over a low or swampy area
o In some cases, these road sections were sand or earth covered. The result is an improvement over impassable mud/dirt roads
· Corduroy roads are the first instances of roads in Ontario. The corduroy road in UpTown Waterloo predates the 1800’s

Why is it important to document information about historical finds?
· Archaeological features, like the corduroy road in UpTown Waterloo, tell us about our past
o This feature tells us about the earliest Euro-Canadian settlers in the area (pre-dating 1800) and provides an example of the first roads travelled in Ontario
· From discoveries like this one, that connect our present to the past, we can learn about the evolution of Waterloo Region
· It is important – and regulated – that historical specimens discovered during construction be treated in accordance with the steps outlined in both the Project Agreement and the Ontario Heritage Act

What are the costs of the corduroy road?
· It’s too soon to speculate on what the costs will be. However, it is expected that any costs associated with the corduroy road will be managed within the contingencies that are being carried for Stage 1 ION LRT
· As we have done to date, any impacts to the schedule or costs for ION will be included in the staff update to Regional Council. The next update will be later this fall/winter

And finally, an interesting article in the Waterloo Chronicle about a bridge, probably removed when Laurel Creek was buried, across the original street in Uptown.

http://www.waterloochronicle.ca/news-story/6411654-historical-discovery/

Pictures of Uptown Waterloo and Corduroy Road, on April 22nd, 2016, Earth Day

 

 

 

Why the One Roof Pilot Didn’t Get Funding

The following is written by Regional Chair Ken Seiling.

Funding for Roof Pilot – February 5, 2016

A number of people have written to me and/or members of Regional Council with regard to the Roof pilot project which had requested funding through the Region. Hopefully the following information will help you better understand the situation. Unfortunately, media coverage had not carried the full story to date and left some incorrect assumptions of what has happened. This same response is being sent to all of those who emailed my office or various Regional Councillors.

The Province of Ontario revised and consolidated many of its programs with regards to homelessness. In doing so, it provided funding and greater flexibility to allow municipalities to better structure its supportive hosing and homelessness programs. Approximately $3.5 million was given to the Region to support better and increased funding for the hard to house and homeless population. This has long been identified as a pressing need in the community. Not only was there a need to provide more supports to housing providers but there was a need to upgrade many of the facilities operated under the former domiciliary hostel program.

To do this, the Region designed both new and improved facility standards and the ability to finance the staffing necessary for supportive housing. It then issued a call for proposals. Those applying had to meet the new standards. If they did, then they had to identify the number of beds they would provide and the costs.

In the report attached you will see that the Region awarded 291 beds to various agencies and groups at an average cost of approximately $9300 for a total of $2,704,466. There were a number that did not qualify either for not meeting the base requirements or because their costs were too high. Roof already receives assistance to operate its main program but had begun a pilot funded by a foundation. Their proposal was for 10 beds. Although they met the base requirements, their funding request was for $678,000.00 for the 10 beds, a cost of approximately $68,000 per bed. The proposal was simply too costly and to fund it would have meant reducing the number of beds to others in need by almost 73 beds. We simply could not sacrifice 73 badly needed supportive housing beds, real people in our community in need of supportive housing, for the 10 beds of this program. I think it is also important to note that all of the programs awarded beds do take people from the age of 16.

Although it would be great if we could fund every program, the reality is that our budget is set (at not an insignificant amount), that some of the submissions were too costly, and that our mandate  is to get the greatest number of people in need into a safe and good supportive housing situation, in some cases off the streets.  In summary, to fund  this particular program at this cost would have meant leaving more than 70 people without good supportive housing and in some cases possibly in homeless situations.

The balance of the funds are being used to provide supports to Cambridge residents where there were insufficient responses from organizations to award beds. Individual programs will be funded for these people using the balance of the funds.

The impression in the media coverage is that Regional Council has cut funding to ROOF. This is not the case. ROOF has received and will continue to receive approximately $250,000 per year from our funding program. What they applied for was NEW funding for a 10 bed pilot which was not previously funded by the Region. The application was not approved for the reasons outlined above. ROOF will continue to receive its funding to provide services to young people and this has not been cut.

Regional Council in its wisdom sought to properly house the greatest number of people it could with the funds it had at its disposal. This comes just after the Region picked up more than $2 million in discretionary benefits to people in poverty that the Province had discontinued funding.

I have attached the Regional Council reports so that you can read more fully what was done and why. Community Services Nov 2015, (It is the first report)  and Report on page 40 of Dec 2015 Community Services

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Thanks to CTV Kitchener and One Roof on Twitter for correcting the impression that One Roof is closing. The Record had the correct information that it was a pilot — Jane.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.

My Good Bye Speech at the End of my Term as GRCA Chair

(GRCA has a term limit of 5 years for Chair)

I have had an amazing five years as Chair. Thank you to the incredible staff at GRCA for all they do. Thank you to Joe Farwell our CAO who started when I did and continues to work hard to make GRCA the best it can be.

There have been many changes in five years. I promised to streamline our meetings and administration and that has happened. We have gone from two vice chairs to one. The meetings only look at the essentials, taking a morning instead of all day. A lunch no one ate has been cut back and moved to delicious snacks.

The GRCA is now much closer to the Grand River Conservation Foundation, though still at arm’s length. The GRCF now raises about a million dollars a year.

A couple of years ago, Conservation Ontario was not meeting with the ministry of Natural Resources. I got a slot at AMO to talk to the minister and Eleanor McMahon MPP who I had met through the bicycling coalition. This led to a close working relationship between Eleanor and Kim Gavine the CAO of Conservation Ontario. Joe is on many committees of CO and I was a Director.

I don’t know if we will have sunny ways ahead. However the Conservation Act review looks hopeful and CO has booked an advocacy day at Queens Park in the spring that the new Chair and Joe will attend.

Climate change looms large with its potential for destructive storms and flooding. GRCA will be part of the climate change preparedness committee of the Region of Waterloo and its cities and I’m sure the other cities are looking at doing this vital work. Emerald Ash Borer continues to spread.

The Source Water Protection plan for the Grand has been approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and it looks like some funding for implementation will remain.

The conservation areas remain an important part of our income and the new automatic gate at Shades Mills is a good start to increased winter and summer attendance. We have to do something about our passive lands like Snyder’s Flats, Dumfries and Puslinch if we want them to remain refuges for flora and fauna and pleasant hikes for the public. Whether gates or increased enforcement or both remains to be seen.

As always, finances remain important. We now have healthy reserves and Joe continues to work on better staffing, including the introduction of an HR and bargaining position. We will have a new website that will continue to be one of the few places people can get real time data on the watershed and properties, cutting down on many phone calls and staff time. But money is always tight and retirements mean many changes. Joe has done a fine job of encouraging mentoring for promotions in the future.

In June, I am going to the International Making Cities Liveable Conference in Rome to present  a paper on “Using Partnerships to turn an Open Sewer into an Award Winning River and to Protect Local Drinking Water Aquifers”. That’s speaking about our Watershed and our many successes cleaning up and protecting our environment.

Finally, I would like to personally thank Joe Farwell for his leadership of GRCA. I would also like to thank the board for making my job chairing and leading easy. I’m glad I’ll still be on the board for at least the next few years and am looking forward as always to tree planting, LaTornell, and Heritage Day.