Promoting greener grounds in Ganaraska

Landscaping workshops in southern Ontario push urban environmental stewardship

Environmental stewardship in an urban environment is always a delicate dance – but it can be pulled off with the right choreography.

For the past 22 years, Ken Hall has volunteered with the Friends of the St. Clair River in Ontario. The committee was formed in 1985 after the Canadian government identified 43 areas of concern on the Great Lakes — places where industrialization, urbanization and agricultural land-use activities had caused damage to the environment. The St. Clair River was one of those places.

“It’s been 30 years of working to get the St. Clair River delisted from the 43 hot spots,” says Hall, who works as a senior public affairs advisor in Enbridge’s Eastern Region. “I’m happy to say that within five years we’ll actually achieve that.”

The efforts involved in this remediation project have given Hall an appreciation for the value of proactive environmental efforts – like those being spearheaded by the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority.

This spring, the authority held a series of packed Greening Your Grounds workshops, in the Ganaraska region of Ontario, to teach ecologically sound landscaping techniques in the communities of Cobourg, Port Hope, and Newcastle.

The workshops were organized to educate urban homeowners about water management – and were staged with the help of a $7,500 grant from Enbridge.

“In a natural system, about 50 per cent of all the water that falls gets infiltrated in the ground, whereas in an urban setting, we’re only seeing 10 to 15 per cent infiltration,” says Kestrel Wraggett, the GRCA’s stewardship technician.

In an urban environment, rainwater falls on concrete patios and rooftops, streets, sidewalks and parking lots — impermeable surfaces that wash precipitation into storm drains that, in turn, empty directly into rivers and streams. Wraggett and her GRCA colleagues are making a difference at a grassroots, yard-by-yard level through the Greening Your Grounds program.

Safety and the protection of the environment are Enbridge’s highest priority. As part of that focus, we partner with organizations that promote environmental stewardship, conservation, habitat remediation, and environmental education in the communities where we operate.

Enbridge is also one of the largest renewable energy companies in Canada. Since 2002, we’ve invested $4-billion in wind, solar, geothermal, power transmission, waste heat recovery, and an array of emerging technology projects. We believe that working toward lower-impact energy solutions is in everyone’s best interest.

“All of those programs are a demonstration of Enbridge’s commitment to the environment, and they’re at the heart of community investment grants like this one,” says Hall. “When we find a partner like the GRCA, who has a similar objective to protect and promote conservation, it makes good sense to collaborate.”