The Long Point Region Conservation Authority (LPRCA) has been awarded a $40,000 RBC Blue Water Leadership Grant to implement a low impact development demonstration project.
The project will improve water quality, provide onsite infiltration of storm water, enhance terrestrial and aquatic habitats and serve an outdoor example for the community and surrounding areas.
“It’s going to be a high profile demonstration sight,” said Ed Ketchabaw, vice-chair of the LPRCA. “I think it’s a beautiful location, it’ll be visible and people will be welcome to view it. Perhaps it will lead future development to adopt these kinds of green techniques.”
The project was announced Friday morning during a presentation at the Long Point Region Conservation Authority office in Tillsonburg. Dignitaries and special guests were on hand for the announcement and cheque presentation, including Tillsonburg Mayor John Lessif and Councillor Dave Beres, Tillsonburg CAO David Calder, staff members from the LPRCA, and members from the RBC Blue Water Project.
“There’s a lot of partners involved. I’m really grateful that RBC has come onboard and provided the financial means in order to get this project off the ground,” said Ketchabaw, noting that the Tillsonburg Lions Club and Glendale High School have also played an important role with the project and will be involved in future months as well.
“It helps perhaps more of our residents understand that LPRCA is doing more than just planning, or planting trees and harvesting trees,” he added. “This is a pro-active approach.”
Tom Parisi, RBC’s Regional Vice-President for Huron/Perth/Oxford was in Tillsonburg for the presentation.
“As one of Canada’s largest companies and corporate donors, RBC has been focusing on its giving efforts to ensure we are making sustainable, meaningful and measurable impacts in the communities and areas we support,” he said. “Today, our commitment continues, as we celebrate the Long Point Region Conservation Authority here in Tillsonburg, as one of our prestigious 2013 RBC Blue Water Project Leadership Grant recipients.”
After welcoming remarks and the ceremonial first dig, a number of wildflowers and prairie grass were planted.
“We’re planting native prairie grasses and wildflowers - they include switch grass, big blue stem, Indian grass, little blue stem and for the flowers we’ve got brown-eyed Susan, blazing star, butterfly milkweed, compass plant and grey-headed cone flower, so there’s a variety,” said Paul Gagnon, Lands and Waters Supervisor with the LPRCA.
“It’s a mixture of grasses and wildflowers and some legumes too, like round-headed bush clover, and they’re native to this area.
“Native vegetation provides habitat and food for native wildlife – it was established and made for this type of ecosystem, this area, so it works really well that way.”
In addition to the flowers and grass, there were 1,500 trees planted in May on the north and south sides of the LPRCA property. The demonstration site itself will be in the form of the LPRCA logo (which can be seen from Vienna Road).
“We added those features of the logo onto this hill. The main reason why we’re taking a lot of this area out is we want to try and mimic the natural hydrology of the site and essentially the natural water flow,” said Gagnon.
“Right now there’s a lot pavement, a lot of water that comes down off the site, into the storm gutters and into the Otter (River) causing erosion, peak flows and possibly flooding down stream.
“All these things will slow the water down, create habitat and also it will decrease the amount of lawn that we’re cutting,” explained Gagnon.
“So we want to use this as an example, to not only use it for ourselves to address those issues but also industries in Tillsonburg and throughout southwestern Ontario.”