ERCF

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.”

 

Town to donate $100,000 of $738,000 surplus to Cypher Systems Greenway

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town finished 2016 with a surplus of $738,000 and $100,000 of that will be donated to the Cypher Systems Greenway.

Town council heard from Susan Stockwell Andrews, president of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF), who told the elected officials that the ERCF is the one who raises the money for the greenways, such as the Cypher Systems Greenway and the Chrysler Canada Greenway. While the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) operates them, no money comes from the ERCA levy to develop them, said Stockwell Andrews, and that the foundation pays acquisition and development costs.

Stockwell Andrews said they ran into unexpected costs in Amherstburg with that including drainage. Councillor Leo Meloche voiced concerns with people parking on the shoulders of roads near entrances to the Cypher Systems Greenway with ERCA general manager Richard Wyma indicating that the plan is to develop community entrances – which include parking areas – much like there are along the Chrysler Canada Greenway.

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Councillor Rick Fryer, who is also chair of the ERCA board of directors, made the motion to give the donation and said this region is “a place for life” and healthy living. The surplus, he noted, was administration showing its due diligence.

Many are already enjoying the Cypher Systems Greenway, Fryer added, noting the official grand opening doesn’t take place until Thursday morning.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the $783,000 surplus is “big news” and that “we spread it around.” In addition to the donation to the greenway, $15,000 went into an economic development reserve while $20,000 went into a Gordon House working capital reserve. The Libro Centre reserve will receive $100,000 while $292,291 goes into a police reserve. Debt reduction to the Texas Road project covers the rest, amounting to $255,711.

DiCarlo pointed out the importance of reserves and that the surplus “translates very well for Amherstburg’s financial situation.” The town’s financial standing has improved and he is confident of the town’s direction, but noted there is still outstanding debt that is currently locked in.

Council considering greenway donation, want to hear from ERCF first

 

By Ron Giofu

The town of Amherstburg considered donating $100,000 to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) for the Cypher Systems Greenway but will wait for a report instead.

Town council opted to wait for more information, also wanting to hear from foundation representatives, before formally committing any dollars to the greenway, the trail linking Amherstburg and Essex. Essex has already donated to the project and Councillor Rick Fryer suggested Amherstburg also contribute.

Fryer originally made a motion, which he later withdrew in order for the town to get further information, for Amherstburg to donate $100,000 to the greenway project. He said the project is worth $1.1 million with $700,000 of the work taking place within Amherstburg.

Despite the Cypher Systems Greenway not being officially open, Fryer said it is already being used. It will be a great addition to the town and its families, he believed.

Cypher Systems GreenwayWEB

Amherstburg council debated whether or not to give $100,000 to the Cypher Systems Greenway. The sign that is pictured is near an entrance in Essex.

“It’s just fantastic,” he said.

Fryer, represents the town on the ERCA board of directors along with former deputy mayor Ron Sutherland, suggested the money come from the 2016 operating surplus, but director of finance/treasurer Justin Rousseau cautioned that the year-end financial work has not been completed as of yet. The town could have a $300,000 operating surplus, Rousseau noted, and while it is trending in that direction, that is not a final number.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said he would want to see complete numbers from the foundation, which is the fundraising arm of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) before he supports a $100,000 funding request, though Lavigne noted he is in favour of the greenway itself.

Both Lavigne and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo noted the funding put in by the Cypher Systems Group, believing that was to cover the costs of the greenway construction. Fryer said there were “cost overruns” and that the money would offset deficits in the project. Lavigne said he would like to see what the shortfall is and know that the money would be going towards that.

ERCA, ERCF launch new visual identity

 

 

Special to the RTT

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) have launched a new visual identity to demonstrate the strengthened relationship between the two organizations.

“Through our strategic planning effort last year, we heard over and over that the public wants to better understand who we are and what we do,” explained Ed Sleiman, ERCA Chair.  “We have been grateful for the work of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation and their many successes over the past four decades.  Indeed, many of the conservation projects and programs we have accomplished would not have been possible without the tremendous leadership and financial support of the Foundation and its many volunteers, participants and donors.”

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman, Essex Region Conservation Foundation president Susan Stockwell Andrews and ERCA GM Richard Wyma unveil the new visual identity for the Essex Region Conservation Authority and Foundation.

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman, Essex Region Conservation Foundation president Susan Stockwell Andrews and ERCA GM Richard Wyma unveil the new visual identity for the Essex Region Conservation Authority and Foundation. (Submitted photo)

Throughout the public consultation process for the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s 2016–2025 Strategic Plan, the message to strengthen ERCA’s image as a customer service-based, valued, and knowledgeable organization, and enhance integration of extension programs such as the Essex Region Conservation Foundation, resounded.

Concurrently, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation was undertaking research to determine a plan of action to position itself as the environmental foundation of choice in the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region.

Throughout these processes, the two agencies stated it was determined that strengthening the relationship between the two organizations, rather than differentiating them, was the best path forward.  ERCA implements the conservation projects and programs, while ERCF raises the funds to support this important work.

“There was some confusion in the public about which organization did what,” said Susan Stockwell Andrews, President of the ERCF.  “But, we heard loud and clear that who does what is less important than what we achieve together.  And what we are doing together is making the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region the Place for Life.”

In fact, the two organizations have embraced the Place for Life concept as part of their formal identity. The Place for Life reinforces that all elements of a place are interconnected – our community, its environmental health, healthy lifestyles for our citizens, and our economy. Life recognizes our living, thriving, sustainable natural systems. Life refers to the people of our community; their health and protection, and our shared heritage. The organizations say it shows they “embrace this place and make it our home. For life.”

An overarching Essex Region Conservation visual identity has been created, which promotes the Place for Life.  As well, both the Authority and Foundation logos have been updated and modernized with unique but complementary icons and messaging that strategically portray the spirit of the Place for Life.

“We are so excited that after more than four decades, we embrace a new visual identity to better reflect the conservation work we do and the strength of our relationship with the Essex Region Conservation Foundation,” said Richard Wyma, ERCA’s General Manager and Executive Director of the Foundation.

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Essex Region Conservation has also launched a social media contest to build community excitement and pride in our region, and showcase all of its special places.  “The Essex Region is truly a special place,” Wyma added.   “Our region is the most southerly, and biologically diverse in all of Canada. We are at the centre of the Great Lakes, which supply more than 20% of the world’s fresh water, and are stewards of more than 290km of Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and Detroit River shoreline.  Every person has a story about their place; and we want to learn why you choose to make this region your #PlaceforLife.”

Essex Region Conservation is urging residents from this region and beyond to tell their story or send a photograph via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the #PlaceforLife hashtag for a random chance to win an outstanding prize package.

Wyma cautioned that as a responsible public agency, this new visual identity will be implemented over time.  “As our signage, vehicles and other materials require replacement, the new look and logos will be incorporated,” he said.  “However, we will not be replacing our assets before they come to the end of their useful life, so the old ERCA goose will be around yet for a bit of time.”

Super Santa Run returns to Amherstburg streets Nov. 14

 

 

Participants in the 2014 Super Santa Run leave the starting area. The 2015 Super Santa Run returns to the streets of Amherstburg Nov. 14.

Participants in the 2014 Super Santa Run leave the starting area. The 2015 Super Santa Run returns to the streets of Amherstburg Nov. 14.

Special to the RTT

 

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation is calling all runners, walkers, and Santa enthusiasts to don a Santa suit and running shoes Nov 14 to race along a 5K route for the annual Super Santa Run in Amherstburg.

The 5K fun run will take place just prior to the Amherstburg River Lights Festival opening ceremonies. All participants will receive a free Santa suit to wear for the run, including a traditional jacket and pants, belt, beard, and of course, Santa hat.

“This is event is fun for the whole family.  In addition to promoting healthy and active living, it is a great way to kick off the holiday season,” said foundation president Susan Stockwell Andrews.

The cost is $35 per adult and $20 for children under 16-years-old.

Runners will meet Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. at Navy Yard Park in Amherstburg, on Dalhousie St. Dressing up as Santa is much more fun with your family and friends! Teams in this event will receive a $5 discount off of each registration fee for the group. So grab your friends, cousins, and co-workers and join in the jolly fun – and save!

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation is also looking for volunteers to help marshal at the race. Volunteers will be positioned at various locations around the Amherstburg race route.

“This will be a great event to be involved in and will put you in the festive spirit,” said Stockwell Andrews.

All funds raised will go to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation. Join in the jolly fun and register your entire family today at ourgreenlegacy.com/santa

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation has been working with the Essex Region Conservation Authority to raise the funds to protect and improve our local environment and water quality in the Great Lakes.  Protecting existing natural areas, planting trees and building trails are just some of the successes that the Foundation has realized over the past three decades.