Cypher Systems Greenway

Walking group thankful after assistance given to fallen member



By Ron Giofu


Members of a local walking group are thankful to a local cyclist after a medical incident on the Cypher Systems Greenway.

The group made the local greenway their walking route last Tuesday but the intense heat took its toll on one of the members. George Conway, one of the walking group members, said they had just departed from the Thomas Road entrance to the greenway when one of the female members of the group began to feel ill.

“She was looking hot and bothered,” said Conway.

Shortly thereafter, the woman went to a seated position before falling backwards.

“None of us had a phone,” said Conway, of the six-person walking group.

Conway stated that a man on a bicycle soon approached, provided immediate assistance and called for an ambulance. Paramedics couldn’t get through the gate, Conway said, but managed to get the stretcher through an opening and attended to the woman.

“The ambulance response was very quick,” said Conway. “They did an excellent job.”

The gate at the Cypher Systems Greenway at Thomas Road was locked last Tuesday but paramedics were still able to assist a fallen woman.

The woman came around and was transported to hospital in Windsor. Conway said he was advised by ERCA that police, fire and EMS all have keys to the gate but “perhaps a bit of priority needs to be given to those keys.”

Kevin Money, director of conservation services with ERCA, confirmed that emergency personnel have all been issued keys for the Cypher Systems Greenway gates.

“From our end, we’ve provided them with keys,” said Money. “We’ll be happy to give them more keys if they need more keys. Any and all EMS services have access to the greenways.”

Conway still remained thankful to the paramedics as well as the man on the bicycle who helped out that day. He said the man on the bicycle left before anyone could get his name, but the group wants him to know they are grateful for his efforts.

The walking group meets Tuesdays in the the Dollarama parking lot at 9:30 a.m. before deciding where they want to go for the day, he added. They enjoy the Cypher Systems Greenway as “each section is a little bit different” but they use trails in other surrounding municipalities as well. In the winter, they meet at the same day and time at the Libro Centre’s indoor walking track. He said new members are welcome, adding the group has dropped from 30 members when he first joined to six.


ERCA seeking feedback on horseback riding on local trails



Special to the RTT


The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) is hoping to hear from a variety of greenway user groups on the matter of expanding horseback riding on the greenway trail system.

“Some equestrians have approached ERCA about expanding the sections of trail upon which horses are permitted,” explains Kevin Money, ERCA’s Director of Conservation Services. “We want to hear from all user groups in order to ensure we are making a balanced decision.”

Presently, horses are permitted on rural sections of the Chrysler Canada Greenway. The rules for horseback use are that riders of horses must use the grassed area to the side of the trail and clean up their horse droppings.

ERCA is seeking input on whether users of local trails would like to see them available for horseback riding. The entrance to the Cypher Systems Greenway, looking east from Thomas Road, is photographed.

The new Cypher Systems Group Greenway, which stretches 26 kilometres from Essex to Amherstburg, does not currently permit horse use.

“The Cypher Systems Group Greenway was just opened last year, and the trail needed an opportunity to settle prior to considering horse use. Currently, we are researching rules, design and maintenance standards of other trail owners such as municipalities and Conservation Authorities to help with the decision making process,” said Money.

The survey is available online at

For more than four decades, Essex Region Conservation has been sustaining and enriching the environment of the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region to ensure it is the Place for Life.



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.

Cypher Systems GreenwayWEB

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.

Essex Region Conservation identifies 2017 programs and budget



Special to the RTT


Opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway, rehabilitation of a significant Lake Erie coastal wetland at Sturgeon Creek in Leamington, and proposed Water and Erosion Control Infrastructure Projects totaling $2.1 million are just a few of the projects and programs proposed by the Essex Region Conservation Authority for 2017.

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 Richard Wyma, General Manager.  “Projects like the much anticipated Cypher Systems Group Greenway were acquired and developed without any local tax dollars.

“As well, ERCA has been extremely successful in bringing capital funds for water and erosion control infrastructure programs to our local region. There is only $5 million available for all 36 Conservation Authorities, and over the past decade, a significant amount of the total allocation for the entire Province of Ontario has been directed to the Windsor/Essex region.”  Wyma goes on to note that these are just two of many examples of the extraordinary return on investment that ERCA brings over and above the environmental work they do.


Originally, a comprehensive review of ERCA programs and the environmental needs of this region was undertaken, and a levy increase of over $300,000 was identified to meet these challenges.  “In attempting to strike a balance between meeting the sustainability needs of our community while recognizing the fiscal realities of our municipal partners, a number of changes have been proposed to our programs, fees, and organizational structure,” Wyma reports.  “Through this internal program review process, adjustments to programming, and a review of our fees for service, more than $200,000 was cut to reduce the 2017 requested budget increase to $90,900.  The proposed budget attempts to address some of our most pressing challenges and improve program delivery in these areas, but will also result in some service delivery impacts in others.”

Wyma notes these include added capacity to respond to requests for permits and development; and ERCA’s outdoor education program, while reducing on-the-ground outreach services, re-aligning fundraising responsibilities, and adjusting some operational standards at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

2017 also marks the final implementation year of ERCA’s five-year Sustainability Plan and the elimination of the accumulated operational deficit, which was nearing $480,000 five years ago.  “It is important to note that we introduced our capital and operational reserves, deficit reduction and organizational stabilization programs with no increase in levy contributions to those outcomes,” Wyma added.

Even with the budget reductions, there are many remarkable programs included in the 2017 workplan.

These include:


  • 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
  • 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 operationalize the Strategic Plan
  • 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.