ERCA

Cypher Systems Greenway officially open

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Although people have been trying it out for a few months now, the Cypher Systems Greenway is now officially open.

The 22-kilometre trail that links Amherstburg with Essex celebrated its grand opening last Thursday morning in McGregor. The trail, an abandoned rail line that was donated to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) in 2003, intersects in McGregor with the existing Chrysler Canada Greenway.

Claire Wales, ERCF vice president, credited the partnerships with donors, volunteers and contributors for making the trail a reality.

The town of Amherstburg officially made its $100,000 contribution to the Cyper Systems Greenway last Thursday morning in McGregor. The donation went to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) and came from the town’s 2016 surplus. From left: ERCF vice president Claire Wales, Councillor Leo Meloche, CAO John Miceli, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Councillor and Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) chair Rick Fryer.

The town of Amherstburg officially made its $100,000 contribution to the Cyper Systems Greenway last Thursday morning in McGregor. The donation went to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) and came from the town’s 2016 surplus. From left: ERCF vice president Claire Wales, Councillor Leo Meloche, CAO John Miceli, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Councillor and Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) chair Rick Fryer.

“We are so grateful to the Government of Canada, Cypher Systems Group, and the hundreds of corporate and individual donors who raised $1 million through our TrailON! campaign to develop this trail,” said Wales.

According to the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), whom the ERCF raises funds on behalf of, Caesars Windsor made an initial contribution of $25,000 to kick off the campaign.  ERCA stated that contributions of $250,000 from Cypher Systems Group, $100,000 from the Town of Essex and many other corporate and individual donations enabled the Essex Region Conservation Foundation to be approved for up to $500,000 in funding through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP 150) for the trail renovation.

The Town of Amherstburg added $100,000 more by officially presenting a cheque at the grand opening. That money was part of a surplus from the town’s 2016 operations.

Brian Schwab, president of Cypher Systems Group, said the company made the investment not just as a way to give back.

The new sign for the Cypher Systems Group Greenway was also unveiled April 27.

The new sign for the Cypher Systems Group Greenway was also unveiled April 27.

“It’s an attempt to make our community better,” said Schwab. “We can go for walks, jogs, runs and really start to explore this area and appreciate all it has to offer.  We can accomplish much and build upon the value of this area by helping to provide these types of recreational places.  It really is an investment, for everyone to use and enjoy today and for future generations to come.”

Elected officials from both Amherstburg and Essex attended the grand opening with Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale bringing greetings from Amherstburg. DiPasquale hoped people have positive experiences and stated it’s been a long time in the making.

ERCA chair Rick Fryer, also an Amherstburg councillor, said credit for trails dates back to the late Herb Gray, whose vision saw CN and CP donated old rail lines. He said trails are helping to make the Essex region a place to come to.

“We’ve become the region to come and live in,” said Fryer, adding he also met several people on the trail while on a recent bicycle ride with one of his daughters.

Fryer added that “green spaces, trails and a healthy environment directly contribute to our region being recognized as the place for life, where people choose to live, work, visit, and invest.”

The official ribbon cutting for the Cypher Systems Greenway occurred last Thursday morning in McGregor. From left: ERCA chair and Amherstburg councillor Rick Fryer, ERCF vice president Claire Wales, Cypher Systems Group president Brian Schwab, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Stephen Savage of Cypher Systems Group, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and ERCA general manager Richard Wyma.

The official ribbon cutting for the Cypher Systems Greenway occurred last Thursday morning in McGregor. From left: ERCA chair and Amherstburg councillor Rick Fryer, ERCF vice president Claire Wales, Cypher Systems Group president Brian Schwab, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Stephen Savage of Cypher Systems Group, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and ERCA general manager Richard Wyma.

Fryer noted that “we can hop on our bikes and visit our good friends in the town of Essex,” with Essex Mayor Ron McDermott making similar remarks.

“It’s nice to know we are hooked up to Amherstburg and the rest of the region,” said McDermott.

In a press release, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario Navdeep Bains stated: “Recreational activities and facilities form an essential part of every community. The Government of Canada recognizes that investments in projects like the Cypher Systems Group Greenway allow us to celebrate our heritage, improve the health of Canadians, and allow families to enjoy moments of sport, leisure and contemplation for years to come.”

 

Essex Region Conservation approves 2017 programs and budget

 

Special to the RTT

Essex Region Conservation has approved the 2017 work plan of projects and associated budget. Improving and streamlining customer service, opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway, rehabilitating a significant Lake Erie coastal wetland at Sturgeon Creek in Leamington, and proposed water and erosion control infrastructure projects totaling $1.2 million are just a few of the projects and programs proposed by the Essex Region Conservation Authority for 2017.

The budget was passed at ERCA’s meeting last Thursday night.

The budget totals just over $11 million and includes a levy contribution from member municipalities of approximately $3 million.

“For every dollar contributed through the levy, ERCA is successful in raising $2.66 dollars from other sources,” said ERCA general manager Richard Wyma. “Projects like the much anticipated Cypher Systems Group Greenway were acquired and developed without any local tax dollars.

According to ERCA, a recent review of return on investment identified that for the period of 2007-2016, the conservation authority received approximately $25 million in levy funding, but in return, provided $35 million in funding from external grant sources for regional environmental improvement projects.

“This is over and above the services we provide to improve the environmental health of our community,” stated Wyma.

erca-logoweb

Following an internal review process and some adjustments to programming, a broad range of projects and programs are included for 2017, including:

  • Work with partners to fund the creation of a 70 acre managed wetland cell at Cedar Creek Conservation Area and a new 10-acre experimental wetland at Hillman Marsh.
  • Restore at least 125 acres of land, plant 120,000 trees, 20 acres of prairie and collect 2,000 pounds of seed to propagate and replant
  • Continue our comprehensive water quality monitoring program while identifying projects to address phosphorus runoff and resulting Harmful Algal Blooms
  • Work with municipal partners to coordinate a regional Climate Adaptation strategy
  • Coordinate a Western Lake Erie Student Conference to educate students about the challenges facing Lake Erie
  • Create the Oldcastle “hub” to connect ERCA’s greenways to the Herb Gray Parkway Trails, and the trail systems in the towns of LaSalle and Tecumseh
  • Create comprehensive ‘Place for Life’ policies to make the Strategic Plan operational
  • Update tangible capital asset inventory and associated capital plan to inform next phase of Sustainability Plan and guide future investment and facility replacement
  • Improve ability to respond to permit applications and improve customer service by adding technical capacity

These special projects are all in addition to the significant work that Essex Region Conservation undertakes annually, such as habitat protection and restoration, water quality projects and monitoring, flood response, education and recreation to create a future of sustainability and a region that is the Place for Life, the conservation authority stated in a press release.

 

ERCA seeking public input on proposed Holiday Beach management plan

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) is developing a new management plan for Holiday Beach Conservation Area and is turning to the public for help.

An open house was held last Tuesday evening at the Libro Centre where interested members of the public heard the conservation authority’s plans for the site and received an opportunity to provide feedback to ERCA staff. Kevin Money, director of conservation services with ERCA, was pleased with the turnout.

“We’re looking for feedback on the recommendations,” said Money.

The plan will set the direction for the future of the County Road 50 site, he added, and said ERCA wants to know what the public would like to see happen there.

Holiday Beach sign

“What’s missing? What types of things would you like to see at Holiday Beach?” said Money. “What are your ideas beyond this?”

Money added that the management plan was derived after several years of work and involved a variety of partners. Those include Parks Ontario, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Field Naturalists, the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory among others.

While agencies and organizations have been worked with, Money added the every day citizen has also been a tremendous resource.

“I’ve had great talks with people who just want to take their dog for a walk or to go fishing,” he said.

A few highlights of the plan include a wildlife plan, ensuring the protection of the site’s ecological values while improving visitor experiences, finding new ways of reducing waste and energy consumption, constructing new trails and a feasibility study of creating a raptor centre. Money added capital plans also include new roads, cottages, campgrounds and the eventual replacement for the hawk tower.

Money said many people he has spoken to have wanted to ensure natural areas are protected at Holiday Beach. He said the plan is to have it before the board of directors in April.

A full copy of the plan can be found on the website at www.erca.org/holiday-beach.

Amherstburg councillor elected as new ERCA chair

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) elected a new chair of the board of directors and it is a familiar face to Amherstburg residents.

Councillor Rick Fryer was elected as the chair by his board colleagues during Thursday night’s annual general meeting at the Essex Civic Centre. He ran against Tecumseh councillor Rita Ossington for the position.

“This morning when I woke up, I didn’t think I’d be the chair,” Fryer said after the meeting. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m extremely delighted to be the chair.”

The chair of the ERCA board of directors serves a two-year term. Fryer takes over from Windsor city councillor Ed Sleiman. The chair and vice-chair position alternate between an Essex County representative and a Windsor representative with Windsor city councillor Irek Kusmierczyk being elected vice chair Thursday night.

“We plan on being the new faces of ERCA,” said Fryer.

Flooding and active transportation were two issues Fryer identified as priorities for his term as ERCA chair. He said he wants to work with municipalities to gain funding from upper tiers of government to assist in the prevention of flooding.

Rick Fryer (right), the new chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA),  presented the outgoing chair Ed Sleiman a new leather jacket for the latter’s time in the position. The presentation was made as part of ERCA’s annual  general meeting last Thursday night.

Rick Fryer (right), the new chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA),
presented the outgoing chair Ed Sleiman a new leather jacket for the latter’s time in the position. The presentation was made as part of ERCA’s annual
general meeting last Thursday night.

Active transportation such as trails is another goal with Fryer believing that if kids get off the couch, it will lead to a better and brighter future.

“You get to the younger generation and they want to see pathways, they want to see avenues for them to ride their bikes to school,” he said. “I think that healthy, active living – once you institute that in a young age – I think they’ll have that for life.”

Fryer noted his involvement with ERCA during his time as an Amherstburg councillor. He said healthy environments and healthy citizens leads to a healthy economy.

“This is probably my most important position as a councillor, representing ERCA every chance I get,” he added.

Also as part of the ERCA annual general meeting were the presentation of the Conservation Awards. Ten awards were handed out as part of this year’s AGM.

Irene Moore Davis was awarded the John R. Park Homestead Award for her preservation of black history in our community while J. Brush Farms Ltd. received the Conservation Farm Award for the use of conservation farming practices to protect soil health and water quality.

The Education Award for educating agricultural and non-agricultural landowners alike about sustainable farming practices was awarded to Henry Denotter.

Tom Henderson was given a Volunteer Award for more than 25 years of volunteering to improve the Little River and Detroit River watersheds while Robert Pula and Andrew Pula also received a Volunteer Award for their continued efforts to connect people to nature and inspiring healthy and active living in the Place for Life.

Union Gas Ltd. were the recipients of the Volunteer Organization Award for more than two decades of staff volunteerism in supporting environmental initiatives in the Essex Region and beyond.

Carrie Lee earned the Active in the Place for Life Achievement Award. That award is a newly introduced recognition that celebrates an individual who has demonstrated dedication and participation in Essex Region Conservation’s roster of active events.

The Essex Region Conservation awarded ten individuals and groups as part of their annual Conservation Awards last Thursday night.

The Essex Region Conservation awarded ten individuals and groups as part of their annual Conservation Awards last Thursday night.

Caldwell First Nation were the recipients of the Environmental Achievement Award for their ongoing protection of the Hillman Marsh, restoration of Sturgeon Creek, and education of students and others about our responsibility to protect water and the environment.

The Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement was given to the town of Essex. The award recognizes that town’s “leadership in trail development, low impact design, and efforts to reduce flooding and protect water sources.”

Candice Kondratowicz received the Dennis Chase Staff Award for her dedication, conscientiousness, kindness and compassion. Kondratowicz is the administrative associate for corporate services with ERCA.

Staff service awards were also handed out with agricultural technician Michael Dick and application support technician Bryan Schmidt being recognized for ten years of service. Finance and human resources administrator Beth Johnston was honoured for 15 years of service as was director of conservation services Kevin Money.

ERCA also reviewed the accomplishments from 2016, including launching a new strategic plan and visual identity, construction of the Cypher Systems Group Greenway, implementation of 88 water quality improvement projects, and the review of over 980 permit applications.

ERCA looking for feedback regarding Holiday Beach

 

Special to the RTT

Essex Region Conservation is inviting input on future plans for Holiday Beach Conservation Area.  An open house will be hosted to review the draft master plan for this globally significant Important Bird Area and day trip destination for thousands of visitors.

“Holiday Beach Conservation Area provides important habitat values, is a beautiful beach destination, and features more than 70 seasonal campsites,” says Kevin Money, ERCA’s Director of Conservation Services.  “It’s also world renowned for fall birding, and was named the third best fall migration viewing site in all of North America by Audubon Magazine.”  The draft Holiday Beach Master Plan has been developed in consultation with many park users and stakeholders.  Now, ERCA is inviting the public to input on this document.

Holiday Beach sign

A few highlights of the plan include ensuring the protection of the site’s ecological values while improving visitor experiences, finding new ways of reducing waste and energy consumption, constructing new trails and a feasibility study of creating a raptor centre.

A full copy of the plan can be found on the website at www.erca.org/holiday-beach.

The open house is scheduled for Jan. 24 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Libro Centre, located at 3295 Meloche Road in Amherstburg.