Ed Sleiman

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.

Wetland habitat created near Holiday Beach Conservation Area

 

Special to the RTT

The percentage of wetland habitat in the Essex region grew a little last Friday as Enbridge and Essex Region Conservation planted trees, shrubs, wildflowers and other riparian plants at a one-acre wetland, located on County Road 50 near Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

The Holiday Beach Demonstration Wetland is a controlled wetland habitat that will improve water quality by reducing phosphorus runoff.  It will also serve as a demonstration project to inspire other landowners to recreate this type of wetland on their private property.

“Wetlands improve water quality, filter surface runoff, provide groundwater recharge, reduce flooding and erosion, and maintain soil moisture during drought conditions,” explained Claire Wales, Vice President of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation. “It is estimated that 98 per cent of the wetlands in the Essex region have been lost. Essex Region Conservation, together with tremendous partners like Enbridge, are working hard to change this.”

Enbridge, a North American energy transportation and delivery leader, is committed to leadership and corporate social responsibility, and committed $30,000 toward the project.  Enbridge employees assisted the elementary students in planting the wetland species.

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman, Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, Enbridge general manager Ian McRobbie, Essex Region Conservation Foundation vice president Claire Wales, Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Amherstburg's manager of parks and facilities Annette Zahaluk unveil the sign for the Holiday Beach Demonstration Wetland. (Submitted photo)

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman, Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, Enbridge general manager Ian McRobbie, Essex Region Conservation Foundation vice president Claire Wales, Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Amherstburg’s manager of parks and facilities Annette Zahaluk unveil the sign for the Holiday Beach Demonstration Wetland. (Submitted photo)

“When we came across the opportunity to partner with the Essex Region Conservation Foundation we knew it was a perfect fit, as it aligns perfectly with the environmental benefits provided by our Amherstburg Solar Farm,” said Ian MacRobbie, General Manager, Green Energy, Enbridge.  “Enbridge is proud to be part of everyday life in Essex County, helping do what we can to fuel this community’s quality of life.  We’re especially proud to be able to partner with community organizations like the Essex Region Conservation Foundation on important initiatives that contribute to the health and sustainability of rural and urban landscapes.”

This project will serve as a model of Best Management Practices for landowners, demonstrating the reduction in the amount of sediment and nutrients in our waterways.  “This project is ideally suited in our region where the landscape is covered by heavy clay soil and our waterways are experiencing high nutrient levels which impact Lake Erie,” explained Ed Sleiman, Chairman of the Essex Region Conservation Authority.  “In addition to habitat and water quality benefits, this site will now become a living classroom for neighbouring schools.”

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.

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.

erca-logo

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.”

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.

Essex Region Conservation Authority holds annual AGM

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) held its annual general meeting last Thursday night in Essex and the same heads of the board will remain another year.

As Windsor city councillor Ed Sleiman and Lakeshore councillor Len Janisse were elected to two-year terms at last year’s AGM, elections were not held this year and Sleiman took the time to thank staff and volunteers for their service while also looking forward to another year as chair.

Sleiman said much had been accomplished in 2015.

The Essex Region Conservation Authority handed out its 2016 Conservation Awards as part of the AGM held at the Essex Civic Centre Jan. 21.

The Essex Region Conservation Authority handed out its 2016 Conservation Awards as part of the AGM held at the Essex Civic Centre Jan. 21.

“We increased our focus on water quality projects, particularly in the western basin of Lake Erie, planted 125,450 trees, restored over 142 acres of habitat, created four new wetlands and worked with over 2,500 volunteers in the past year,” Sleiman stated.

The meeting featured dignitaries and politicians from around the area. Elected officials in attendance included Windsor-Tecumseh MPP and former ERCA chair Percy Hatfield, Warden Tom Bain and mayors Aldo DiCarlo of Amherstburg, John Paterson of Leamington, Ron McDermott of Essex and deputy mayors Hilda MacDonald of Leamington and Joe Bachetti of Tecumseh. Bachetti is also another former ERCA chair.

The evening’s guest speaker was Mitch Wilson, district manager with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Wilson outlined the MNR’s longstanding partnership with ERCA and said the provincial ministry’s relationships with conservation areas “has never been stronger.”

Wilson noted the MNR’s role in developing the Big Creek Watershed Plan and highlighted the planting of a 20-acre Riparian buffer along the Big Creek. He also noted the ministry’s role in working to protect the Detroit River and various local watersheds in the region.

Amherstburg’s representatives on the Essex Region Conservation Authority are Councillor Rick Fryer and Ron Sutherland.