Oakvillegreen has been a leader and supporter of many important environmental initiatives and policy changes in Oakville and the Halton area. Here’s a snapshot of our historical accomplishments. For the latest on our advocacy action, community programs and campaigns, please visit the PROGRAMS tab or check out our BLOG.
- Continued our fight against a Mega Highway through the escarpment and Halton’s NHS with the Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition.
- Continued our fight for adoption of Zero Waste through the Ontario Zero Waste Coalition
- Continued to advocate for a natural Trail System in North Oakville, not one that would negatively impact the Natural Heritage System. System proposed for North Oakville – comments & delegations and your support, achieved no paved trails through the Natural Heritage System
- Provided feedback on the Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan to increase the success of new tree plantings, create higher standards for soil quality and quantity for street trees; require a higher percentage of native trees be planted (we asked for 50% and got 30%). These better standards were adopted by the Town.
Environmental Education Programs:
- Gave environmental presentations, based on the Ontario Science curriculum to almost 15,000 JK to Grade 12 students in Halton in 2011 – 2012 school year
- Created Living with Coyotes presentation given to almost 10,000 students and grateful teachers and parents. Partly because of our education efforts calls to the Town about coyotes has dropped significantly. Our presentation is now being used by nature centres and other municipalities.
- Led Urban Forest Tours tours through Oakville’s urban forest and natural areas with students, community groups, new immigrants and the public.
- Helped a dozen schools with Schoolyard Naturalization and Outdoor classroom projects doing everything from drawing landscape plans to bringing shovels and gloves to the planting.
- Hosted speakers at public events including Sean James and Adam Koziol – Native trees and plants; Paul O’Hara – Indian Trail Markers in Ontario; Bev Kingdon – “Swan Lady” has been working with/studying Trumpeter Swans for 30 years at LaSalle Marina, Burlington
Planted 1,500 native trees and shrubs in Oakville’s Parks and Public spaces
Sharing Bright Ideas:
- London is modelling a full-circle tree initiative after ours
- The Town of Pelham is doing a sapling sale of their historic Comfort Maple modelled on our Bronte Oak sapling sale.
- Several cities across Canada have modelled Heritage Tree Hunts on ours.
- Other communities and groups have asked about our Environmental Education Programs.
- Helped Brantford defeat incinerator proposals and currently helping Port Hope residents do the same.
- Provided Organize To Win seminars to several groups around Ontario.
- Spoke about Zero Waste at Sheridan as the College launched a Sustainability initiative.
Improved Communication With Members:
- Our 8th Annual Giant Community Garage and Plant Sale was a huge success with more than 55 vendors. It raises a little more than half of our operating costs — the rest is raised through membership fees
- Fall 2012 – Oakvillegreen’s Facebook site was created
- Ontario Trillium Fund continues to fund our Manager, Public Education and Communications
- Helped Meaford citizens stop an incinerator proposal.
- The 22 member groups Ontario Zero Waste Coalition, founded by Liz Benneian, held a press conference at Queen’s Park to announce their opposition to any plans by Energy Minister Chris Bentley to include energy produced from burning municipal waste in Ontario’s Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program. Not only would a focus on waste reduction and resource recovery be better for the environment and human health, it would also foster job growth. Incinerators were not included in the new Feed-In-Tariff Program.
- Met with Ministry of Environment staff re. lack of coherent, effective Provincial waste reduction and diversion policies and legislation.
- Fought the building of a new, $16 billion 400 series mega highway that would run from Fort Erie to Vaughan, crossing the Niagara Escarpment and destroying valuable foodlands and sensitive environmental lands in north Halton.Instead, as part of the Stop The Escarpment Highway Coalition, we advocated for a comprehensive, sustainable, multi-faceted transportation plan for Ontario.
- Delivered Organize To Win seminars to a dozen grassroots groups around the Province.
- Attended the Ontario Urban Forest Conference where past president Liz Benneian was a guest speaker.
- Found homes for about 440 saplings of the 260-year-old Great White Oak on Bronte Road grown from acorns Oakvillegreen collected in 2009. Through the community’s generosity in buying these saplings and our donations to Conservation Halton and the Town of Oakville, we preserved the genes of this magnificent tree.
- Made recommendations about the Town’s Wildlife Policy, Active Transportation Master Plan, Urban Forest Management Strategy, North Oakville Trails Plan and various site plan applications.
- Provided dozens of Environmental Education Programs, based on the Ontario Science Curriculum to thousands of students in private and public schools around Halton.
- Consulted with half a dozen schools on tree planting, renaturalization of school grounds and creating outdoor classrooms and we have taken several groups on Urban Forest Tours.
- Planted 1,000 native trees and shrubs for a total of over 12,000 around the community since 2004 and worked with schools and our Tree Foster Parents on tree seed propagation and sapling growing.
- Sponsored several film screenings and information nights.
- Hosted our annual Urban Forest celebration that celebrated local tree heros.
- Hosted the 7th Annual Giant Community Garage Sale.
- Our Biodiversity Group has organized two hikes through Sixteen Mile valley.
- Failed to get hydrofluorosilicic acid removed from Halton Region’s water. Regional Council was wrong to continue water fluoridation when it hasn’t been proven to be either safe or effective, especially since safer, more effective ways to use fluoride are available to anyone who brushes with a fluoride toothpaste. We will take up this issue again when a new Regional Council is elected in 2014.
- Oakvillegreen board member Diane Burton wins an Oakville Spirit Award for her contributions to the community.
- Received a $10,000 grant from Earth Day Canada’s Community Program for our Growing The Urban Forest Program and received at $61,000, two-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to hire a manager of Public Education and Communication.
- Worked with people across the country to form Zero Waste Canada.
- Participated in the WDA review
- Authored letter on Zero Waste signed on to by 14 groups across the Province
- Met with Toronto Star’s Editorial Boardf
- Fought against the Mid-Pen Hwy in Niagara that was eventually dropped
- Opposed plans to put new highways through NHS and Niagara escarpment in Halton
- Spoke at a Queen’s Park rally against incineration.
- Bringing the Community Together: Multicultural/Multi-faith meetings, also had meetings with school board officials to try and strengthen relationship with the board.
- Events: Hosted Heritage Tree Awards, had the Hanlon Creek defenders come to speak, held an All Candidates Meeting, held an Greenbelt 5th Anniversary Party, held Community Garage Sale, hosted international expert on fluoride Dr. Pal Connett, attended the recent Sustainability Conference in Guelph and the Urban Forest Conference in Thorold
- Participation in Community events: Ecofest, Midnight Madness, Oakville Conserves, Earth Day at Town Hall, had a booth for a week at Silver City.
- Participated in planning for Glenorchy Conservation Area and saw good plans approved
- Participated in Wildlife policy development meetings and are launching a committee to keep an eye on it
- Launched our Fluoride Campaign
- TV interviews with local COCECO shows
Participation in Town Committees:
- Liz Benneian sat on Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability
- Several of our members including Board member John McMullen sat on Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Trails
- Board member Diane Burton sits on the Environmental Strategic Plan Committee
- Board member Enver Domingo sits on the Parks Committee
- Liz Benneian have also been part of a committee looking at plastic bags and water bottles.
- Delivered “Organize to Win” seminars (helping other groups to become effective advocates) in nine communities
- Received a $2,500 grant from Mountain Equipment Co-op to offer more “Organize To Win” seminars.
- Oakvillegreen recognized that in order to be successful, grassroots community groups needed to learn how to: organize; develop strategies and tactics; understand politicians and bureaucrats; become effective advocates; and keep their organizations strong. To that end, our former Board President created a half-day seminar called Organize to Win which was delivered to communities across Ontario.
- Working with other Halton Environmental groups, Oakvillegreen successfully lobbied for a natural heritage system to be a part of the Region’s new official plan that will guide development in Halton until 2031. The NHS, which consists of about 36% of the region’s land mass, will protect Halton’s natural areas as well as its valuable agricultural lands.
- A citizen backlash over “developer welfare” prompted Halton Region Council to back down – unanimously – on a proposal to freeze development charges. Liz Benneian led citizen’s reactions at Town meeting and Oakvillegreen members were vocal in the more than 450 emails sent in opposition of proposal to their Councillors and Mayor Rob Burton.
- Oakvillegreen helped local residents when, despite the Town’s good intentions, the project to pave the Petro Canada trail in Bronte provoked a massive outpouring of complaints. At the Town meeting, OCA Director Enver Domingo said Oakvillegreen had deep concerns about the impact the construction, particularly excavating the trail and cutting down numerous trees in the process, would have on the local environment. It is a vital area for migratory songbirds, who depend greatly on some of the affected parkland areas after their long crossing over Lake Ontario.
- Stopped plan to put paved paths through Natural Heritage System – Oakvillegreen alerted Council to the cost, both fiscally and environmentally, of Parks and Rec’s plan to put paved paths throughout the Natural Heritage system. The plan also would have violated the Ontario Municipal Board decision on the lands. The plan has been shelved until Parks and Rec can prove such paths will not damage the Natural Heritage System features or functions.
- Oakvillegreen Conservation Association president Liz Benneian was selected, from more than 90 nominations from across the country, as the recipient of 2009’s Hometown Hero Award.
2008: Tree Protection Bylaw
- Fought for and won a tree protection bylaw that will stop developers from clear cutting properties and protect Oakville’s valuable mature trees.
2007: Establishment of a Natural Heritage System in North Oakville and Good Planning in new Development North of Dundas
- As a result of our appeal of the urbanization plan for 7600 acres in north Oakville, the Town has persevered about 30% of the land as a Natural Heritage System. The system is comprised of environmentally sensitive areas their buffers and linkages that join them together into a system capable of preserving wildlife and plants in a healthy ecosystem. A precedent setting Ontario Municipal Board hearing concluded that this systems approach is how planning “should be done”. This will lead to the preservation of more green space throughout Ontario. As well, Oakvillegreen lobbied for a new urbanist approach to development in North Oakville which means a walkable, mixed use, energy efficient, transit-first community. These good planning practices have also been adopted.
2007: Stopping The Incinerator
- Oakvillegreen led opposition to Halton Region’s plan to spend $800 million to build a polluting incinerator. The Region canceled the plan and is focusing on waste diversion.
2007: Pesticide Bylaw
- Working with Gardens Off Drugs, we convinced Council to enact a bylaw that bans the use of cosmetic pesticides in Oakville. The bylaw took effect January 1 2008.
2007: Preserving Old Growth Forest
- Oakvillegreen worked to have 24 acres of old growth forest adjacent to Ford Drive preserved. The Province has agreed to turn the land over to Conservation Halton as a new Concervation Area, Wildflower Woods.
2006 & 2007: Helped to Establish Burlingtongreen and Miltongreen
- Oakvillegreen helped bring together concerned citizens in Burlington and Milton to found two new environmental and sustainability advocacy groups.
2006: Establishment of Glenorchy Conservation Area
- Oakvillegreen lobbied to have Ontario Realty Corporation-owned lands in North Oakville remain in public hands instead of being sold to developers as was planned. In the fall of 2006, the Province announced 650 acres of land would be preserved in a new Conservation Area.
2004 to Present: Planted Trees and Launched Tree Programs
- Through the Ground Breakers program, community volunteers worked with Oakvillegreen to plant more almost 10,000 native trees and shrubs in Oakville since 2004. Oakvillegreen launched our first Heritage Tree Hunt. Oakvillegreen launched the Tree Seed Collection Program and the Foster Tree Parent Program.
- In 2003, we received the Conservation Award of Excellence from Conservation Halton “in recognition of our outstanding contribution in the Halton Watershed.”
- Several new environmental initiatives resulted out of the appeal of OPA 198 – the urbanization plan for 7600 acres in north Oakville including: the protection of a Natural Heritage System in North Oakville, the establishment of the Town’s Environmental Strategic Plan and the establishment of an environmental trust that will fund local environmental initiatives. About 30% of the land in North Oakville has been preserved as a Natural Heritage System. In a precedent-setting ruling in 2007 the Ontario Municipal Board concluded that taking a systems approach to protecting natural features and functions is not only a good idea it’s “the way planning should be done”.
- Three of our founding Directors, Allan Elgar, Mike Lansdown and Renee Sandelowsky, have been elected to local and regional councils. Although Mike and Renee decided not to stand for re-election, Allan continues to serve on council and has been an active member of Conservation Halton, Credit Valley Conservation, and the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Allan was awarded the Carolinian Canada Award for “an outstanding contribution towards the protection of the natural diversity and natural habitats of Ontario’s Carolinian Zone.”
- Oakvillegreen has input on Provincial Legislation and Town Bylaws. Provincially we have commented on the Greenbelt Plan, the Provincial Policy Statement, the Planning Act, Ontario Municipal Board Reform and the RFP process for new energy generating plants. Regionally we have commented on Halton’s Official Plan and Sustainable Halton. Locally we have commented on Oakville’s Official Plan, The Environmental Strategic Plan and innumerable development plans and bylaws.
Serving The Community
- Oakvillegreen members have served on many boards, committees and advisory groups including the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability, Mayor’s Advisory Group on Trails, Energy Plant Stakeholder Group, the Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee, the Pesticide Bylaw, Education Task Force and the Environmental Strategic Plan Implementation Committee.
- We have raised awareness locally and provincially about environmental issues including urbanization of north Oakville, retaining public ownership of the Oakville Land Assembly (ORC lands), the importance of the Trafalgar Moraine, the Greenbelt Protection Act, Sustainability and Zero Waste. Oakvillegreen also worked cooperatively with Halton’s other environmental groups and causes, for instance participating in The Great Community Garage Sale with Gardens Off Drugs, participating in the Oakville Community Centre for Peace, Ecology and Human Rights EcoFest.