Cypher Systems Greenway

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.

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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.

Councillor wants town to look at financial contribution for ERCA trail

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A member of town council is asking that administration meet with Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) to see if the town could contribute in a similar fashion as Essex.

Councillor Rick Fryer was hoping for a way that Amherstburg could “match funds with Essex” towards construction of the Cypher Systems Greenway. The trail itself, which runs from Amherstburg to Essex, is nearing completion though funds are still necessary to construct trail entrances similar to those of the Chrysler Canada Greenway.

“It’s looking like a great project,” commented Fryer.

The Cypher Systems Greenway, as seen from Thomas Road, is currently under construction from Amherstburg to Essex. Councillor Rick Fryer asked whether town administration should meet with ERCA officials to consider financially contributing towards the new trail.

The Cypher Systems Greenway, as seen from Thomas Road, is currently under construction from Amherstburg to Essex. Councillor Rick Fryer asked whether town administration should meet with ERCA officials to consider financially contributing towards the new trail.

Fryer, who represents Amherstburg on the ERCA board of directors with former deputy mayor Ron Sutherland, said he was pleased it comes out at Thomas Road as that allows for connections to the trails on that road, the new paved paths on Texas Road and other paths in the area.

Fryer added that construction wasn’t complete yet and material still has to settle. Councillor Leo Meloche suggested signage be put up marking the trail and noted there are people that are currently putting it to use.

“Everything is looking good,” said Meloche. “People are using it already.”

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale pointed out he attended the official groundbreaking in McGregor for the greenway. It was there that Essex officially presented a cheque for $100,000.

DiPasquale believed the trail adds to quality of life in Amherstburg.

“It’s a whole different world out there,” said DiPasquale. “It’s a great asset to the whole community.”

Fryer added it allows residents a chance to pursue healthy lifestyles and gives children an avenue to be active.

Groundbreaking held for next phase of Cypher Systems Greenway

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Construction on the Cypher Systems Greenway has officially broken ground and the latest and largest stretch should be complete in two months or so.

Representatives from the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) joined elected officials from Amherstburg and Essex at the Agris Co-op in McGregor for the ceremony. The co-op is next to the trail with the Cypher Systems Greenway also intersecting with the Chrysler Canada Greenway in McGregor.

Claire Wales, vice president of ERCF’s board of directors, stated that “trails link healthy place and healthy environments” with the foundation’s “Trail On!” campaign having started in 2012.

“Thanks to a generous and significant gift of $250,000 from Cypher Systems Group, and support from the federal government, the town of Essex and many corporate and individual donations, we are so thrilled to be here to celebrate the groundbreaking of this long awaited trail,” said Wales.

Wales pointed out Cypher Systems Group made its contribution in 2015. The “Trail On!” campaign raised over $1 million to develop the 26-kilometre trail but donations are still being accepted as other amenities as community entrances need to be developed.

Ground was officially broken Sept. 29 in McGregor for the Cypher Systems Greenway, which will run from Essex to Amherstburg and intersect with the Chrysler Canada Greenway. From left: TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Essex Region Conservation Foundation board vice president Claire Wales, ERCA general manager Richard Wyma, ERCA chair Ed Sleiman and Cypher Systems Group COO Dave Dyer.

Ground was officially broken Sept. 29 in McGregor for the Cypher Systems Greenway, which will run from Essex to Amherstburg and intersect with the Chrysler Canada Greenway. From left: TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Essex Region Conservation Foundation board vice president Claire Wales, ERCA general manager Richard Wyma, ERCA chair Ed Sleiman and Cypher Systems Group COO Dave Dyer.

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman thanked all the contributors and everyone who is helping make the project happen.

“Green spaces, trails and a healthy environment directly contribute to our region being recognized as a place of choice for people to live, visit and invest,” said Sleiman. “Trails improve the communities where they are built, which is why we are so pleased to be celebrating another success with our partners.”

Dave Dyer, chief operating officer with Cypher Systems Group, brought greetings and said the company was happy to get behind the new trail.

“It’s a great event,” said Dyer. “It’s a great step in the next part of the greenway and we are proud to be part of it.”

“We love this community and are happy to partner with this organization to expand the greenway and improve upon the health and quality of life in our region,” Cypher Systems Group president Brian Schwab in a press release. “The groundbreaking of this trail has been years in the making and we are thrilled that we could contribute to such a worthy endeavor and be part of this exciting event.”

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott was joined by his deputy mayor Richard Meloche and councillor Steve Bjorkman in presenting the ERCF a cheque for $100,000. McDermott said it is a project that benefits not just Essex and Amherstburg.

“It’s good for the entire community,” said McDermott.

McDermott said the two impacted municipalities are divided by boundary lines but a project like the greenway brings them together.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said the ceremony and the trail itself was a prime example of what can happen when people work together. He echoed McDermott by stating there may be boundaries between Essex and Amherstburg but the trails are bringing communities closer together.

“I admire you all,” said DiPasquale.

Other Amherstburg council members at the groundbreaking were councillors Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche. Both Fryer and Bjorkman are also ERCA board members.

Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI), said outdoor adventure is a “pillar” for the area and called the 26-kilometre trail a “tourism enhancer.”

A portion of the trail in Essex was completed several years ago and the current work will extend the greenway into Amherstburg.