Enbridge

Attendance up at this year’s River Lights Winter Festival

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The River Lights Winter Festival has officially concluded and its co-ordinator is reporting an increase in attendance.

Sarah Van Grinsven estimates that approximately 28,000-30,000 people passed through this year, “which is awesome.”

“Visitation was definitely up this year,” she reported. “Every year, it goes up. We’ve become a tradition for families to come out to. A lot of people don’t celebrate their holidays without River Lights being involved.”

The 2017-18 festival didn’t get started in a traditional way, as Mother Nature brought a soaking rain the Saturday of opening weekend.

“This year started with a twist because we’ve never had to postpone opening night at River Lights,” said Van Grinsven. “That really got us hopping trying to make alternative plans.”

The River Lights Winter Festival drew an estimated crowd of 28,000-30,000 people in 2017-18.

Van Grinsven stated that vendors and partners were able to push things back one night in order to have opening night on Sunday.

“Everyone likes River Lights and wants to see it run smoothly,” she said.

While the fireworks weren’t able to be rescheduled this year, plans call for them to return next year. Van Grinsven said they will plan for a rain date as well.

“We’ve never had to have a rain date before,” she stated.

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation’s Super Santa Run was also held opening weekend and took place as scheduled, even with the rain.

“It was pretty awesome to see how dedicated people were,” said Van Grinsven.

While 2018-19 plans still have to be worked on and finalized, Van Grinsven said the committee always finds ways to improve it and make the winter festival brighter. This year included the addition of trees wrapped with lights in Navy Yard Park between Richmond St. and Rankin Ave.

The view from the intersection of Dalhousie St. and North St., looking into Toddy Jones Park.

“That really seemed to bring the two parks (Navy Yard Park and Toddy Jones Park) together,” said Van Grinsven. “I know we’ll be able to do more of that in the future. We’re always adding to River Lights.”

The Holiday House Tours were “fabulous” this year, she reported, adding praise for the decorators of the homes. The Christmas tree dresses were a hit there and were later transported to Windsor Crossing outlet mall in LaSalle where they helped promote Amherstburg and the festival, she added.

“Having all of that cross-promotion showed Essex County what we can do in Amherstburg,” said Van Grinsven.

The gingerbread contest was popular again this year, she continued, as was the warming house. The House Youth Centre helped run the warming house as volunteers provided hot chocolate for the attendees.

The parkette at King’s Navy Yard Park was lit up for River Lights. The annual winter festival officially concluded Jan. 7.

“It’s great for youth to be involved in it,” said Van Grinsven. “They enjoy doing the activities with us.”

Telus helped sponsor the hot chocolate program with Van Grinsven thanking all sponsors for their assistance with this year’s event. Enbridge sponsored the entire festival for the fourth straight year and will be back for at least another year, with Van Grinsven adding that knowing Enbridge is back for another year helps River Lights plan next year’s event.

“Thank you to everyone who made this work,” she stated. “We have over 100 volunteers and community partners. All of the organizations (that assisted) are made up of volunteers. River Lights works because of the volunteers in Amherstburg. It’s wonderful to see how the community comes together and how important this is to the quality of life in Amherstburg. Thank you to everyone who made it happen.”

River Lights Winter Festival partners again with Enbridge

River Lights Winter Festival has received support from Enbridge again this year, with this year’s sponsorship amounting to $15,000.

“This is our eleventh year of the River Lights Winter Festival and the fourth year that Enbridge has supported the winter events. With Enbridge’s sponsorship we are able to continue to boost programming and light up our town with the beautiful light displays which have become a signature backdrop in historic Amherstburg,” says Mark Usher, long time committee member of the River Lights Winter Festival.

The event kicks off Nov. 18 with the town’s tree lighting ceremony and the opening night of River Lights. A movie, fireworks and activities from the Park House Museum and Provincial Marine are planned.

“It’s going to be better than last year,” said Usher.

“Enbridge is one of Canada’s largest renewable energy companies and we are proud to help support the solar powered displays at the River Lights Winter Festival,” says Ian MacRobbie, Enbridge’s Eastern Region General Manager, Power Operations. “As the owner of the 15 megawatt Amherstburg solar facility – which generates enough power to supply nearly 2,400 homes – this partnership is a natural fit for our company and we look forward to sharing the holiday spirit with the Amherstburg community once again this winter.”

River Lights board members and volunteers accept a $15,000 from Suzanne Shea (far left) of Enbridge. Enbridge is the primary sponsor of River Lights again this year.

River Lights board members and volunteers accept a $15,000 from Suzanne Shea (far left) of Enbridge. Enbridge is the primary sponsor of River Lights again this year.

Suzanne Shea represented the company at a cheque presentation last Wednesday at the Gordon House and called River Lights “a great event.” She said she came with her six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son to the event and plan on driving in again this year.

“It was exciting,” she said. “All of the lights are solar powered which fits in with our theme.”

The six week-long festival includes the hundreds of solar-powered custom made light displays, the life size Gingerbread Warming House showcasing the annual Gingerbread House Contest and free crafts and hot chocolate. The program runs until Dec. 31. Animated and themed solar powered displays begin to illuminate starting at approximately 5:30 p.m. every night at the Kings Navy Yard Park and Toddy Jones Park.

Approximately 6,000 people attended opening night last year, with the events preceded by the Essex Region Conservation Foundation’s “Super Santa Run.” Overall, River Lights organizers estimate 25,000 people pass through the festival.

 

River Lights officially open for tenth anniversary year

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

For the tenth consecutive year, Amherstburg is shining thanks to the River Lights Winter Festival.

The River Lights Winter Festival started Friday with the “Downtown Winter Nights” event that featured a scavenger hunt at local businesses, ice sculpting, horse-and-buggy rides, a downtown market and more and spilled over into Saturday night when the Super Santa Run, tree lighting and fireworks were held.

A group of carolers entertain near the Navy Yard Park parkette Nov. 18.

A group of carolers entertain near the Navy Yard Park parkette Nov. 18.

“This is River Lights tenth year. We are so excited,” said River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven.

Van Grinsven was happy to see the large turnout for Saturday night’s tree lighting ceremony as was Ian MacRobbie, general manager of Enbridge. Enbridge, who developed the Amherstburg Solar Farm, is the presenting sponsor of River Lights for the third straight year. He noted the lights are solar powered.

Ruthanne and Melissa Vuk were volunteering at the Park House Museum during the opening of River Lights.

Ruthanne and Melissa Vuk were volunteering at the Park House Museum during the opening of River Lights.

“It’s a great fit for us,” said MacRobbie, noting it is a Top 100 festival in Ontario.

Nicole Fogarty from Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO) believed River Lights provides a “perfect holiday setting” in Amherstburg. She pointed out that events like River Lights take more than just great ideas, but people who “roll up their sleeves” and put the work in to make it happen.

The fountain in the King's Navy Yard Park parkette is lit up this year for River Lights.

The fountain in the King’s Navy Yard Park parkette is lit up this year for River Lights.

The Great Grocery Giveaway winner was also announced. That partnership between The House Youth Centre and Sobeys raised $10,000 for the House. Activities co-ordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart announced that Gail Cecile won the top prize.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo also pointed out that 2016 is the tenth anniversary of River Lights.

“That’s just awesome,” he said.

Town crier Frank Gorham welcomes the public to the tree lighting ceremony Nov. 19.

Town crier Frank Gorham welcomes the public to the tree lighting ceremony Nov. 19.

DiCarlo thanked Enbridge and all of the sponsors and supporters of the festival. He also pointed out the partnership between River Lights organizers and town departments to ensure the lights and activities get set up.

“Thanks for making Amherstburg shine,” said DiCarlo.

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.

Town’s nuclear plan gets assist from Enbridge

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s nuclear plan is being updated and a grant from Enbridge will help in case that plan has to go into effect.

Enbridge gave a $3,500 cheque to the Amherstburg Fire Department Wednesday afternoon as part of the company’s “Safe Community Program.” The program sees grants awarded to local first responders to purchase safety equipment, obtain professional training or deliver educational programs that help save lives.

“They are an excellent corporate partner,” fire chief Al Reaume said of Enbridge.

The $3,500 grant will specifically be used to purchase dosimeters, devices that measure radiation. Reaume said that an ideal reading is zero but if that number starts to rise, it means a person is absorbing radiation.

There will be one dosimeter purchased for each of the Amherstburg Fire Department’s nine vehicles.

“It’s a start,” said Reaume. “Ideally, we’d like to have one for every firefighter. That will happen over time as a budget item.”

Reaume said the existing nuclear plan features outdated contact information with some of the people listed having since retired. There are other issues with it as well.

Enbridge gave a $3,500 grant to the Amherstburg Fire Department as part of Enbridge's "Safe Community Program." The cheque was presented Aug. 17 and it will be used to purchase dosimeters to help keep firefighters safe in case of a nuclear event. The fire department is currently updating its nuclear plan. From left: assistant deputy fire chief Ron Meloche, fire chief Al Reaume, Enbridge general manager Ian MacRobbie and Enbridge senior community engagement advisor Suzanne Shea.

Enbridge gave a $3,500 grant to the Amherstburg Fire Department as part of Enbridge’s “Safe Community Program.” The cheque was presented Aug. 17 and it will be used to purchase dosimeters to help keep firefighters safe in case of a nuclear event. The fire department is currently updating its nuclear plan. From left: assistant deputy fire chief Ron Meloche, fire chief Al Reaume, Enbridge general manager Ian MacRobbie and Enbridge senior community engagement advisor Suzanne Shea.

“It was contradictory in many areas,” said Reaume, noting there are references to a 16-kilometre evacuation zone and a 23-kilometre evacuation zone.

“It’s a matter of updating it and working with the province,” he said.

While there is a cost to updating the plan, Reaume said the department believes that should be covered by others.

“We feel Amherstburg should not have to absorb any of the costs,” he said.

That funding should come from the province or the Fermi II nuclear plant in Michigan or both. Meetings have already been held with the province with another meeting to be set up with Fermi II officials.

“Fermi has been extremely co-operative,” said Reaume.

Part of the plan also involved medicine known as “KI pills” which is potassium iodide that assists in blocking radiation from being absorbed by the thyroid gland. If it was pre-distributed in case of a nuclear emergency, it would involve only about 300 homes within a 16-kilometre primary area, Reaume said.

Plans are still be formulated for how to deal with the area outside of the 16-kilometre zone.

The entire plan is being modeled after other municipalities in Ontario with similar plans, as Reaume indicated there is “no need to re-invent the wheel.”

Despite the planning, Reaume said he doesn’t want to alarm the public, noting there have been no incidents in the past.

“It’s just a precaution,” said Reaume. “Nothing has ever happened to date. This is just a precautionary measure. We are just doing our due diligence.”

The town did a tabletop emergency exercise in the spring and Reaume said a full exercise is planned for next year. He noted LaSalle and Essex would be impacted by a nuclear event as well and have been asking for an exercise for several years “so we’re going to” have one.

Ian MacRobbie, general manager with Enbridge, said “Safe Community Program” is designed for just that, to keep communities safe. He said similar grants have been made in previous years for such things as gear, boots and pagers.

“We have a great relationship with (the Amherstburg Fire Department),” said MacRobbie.

Describing working with the fire department as “a wonderful fit,” MacRobbie said that Enbridge is happy to continue that partnership. He added that the company, which operates the Amherstburg Solar Farm locally, has sponsored the Roots to Boots Festival in 2012, the Sails to See Festival in 2013 and is an ongoing sponsor of the River Lights Winter Festival.