Community Stewardship Program Comes to Completion

The closing of the Community Stewardship Program (CSP) marks a significant milestone in eastern Georgian Bay. Over 150 participants attended Stewardship Workshops over two years, and almost 100 projects from Honey Harbour to Britt received funding. Facilitated by the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve since April 2015, CSP provided technical advice and funding to landowners, cottagers, businesses, and organizations.

The CSP used a holistic approach toward maintaining water quality and environmental health in Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. “The Community Stewardship Program encouraged stewardship on the part of seasonal and permanent residents.” states Program Coordinator John Osmok. “There has been an ongoing need for accessible stewardship funding, and we were fortunate to finally provide it.”

At the program core were simple recommendations on best management practices to maintain or improve local water quality and ecosystem health. These practices not only reduce environmental impacts, but protect landowner’s investments. Examples include:

  • Ensure your property mimics the natural areas around you. Maintain or plant a buffer of native vegetation along the shoreline. This protects fish habitat and other aquatic life.
  • Store chemicals and fuels away from water: All potential contaminants should be stored if possible 150 meters from water, preferably in their original containers in a building with a concrete floor without a drain. The best solution is to keep as few chemicals as possible on your property.
  • Regularly have your septic tank pumped and inspected. Also keep leaching beds clear of trees and other woody plants that can block the weeping tiles.

Education and Stewardship Coordinator Delaina Arnold says “The Community Stewardship Program built on other programs offered by the Biosphere such as Life on the Bay.  Community members have embraced stewardship education and we hope to see the enthusiasm continue.”

Funding opportunities are no longer available, however many stewardship resources remain accessible online at gbbr.ca/communitystewardship. Anyone interested in a free self-assessment guidebook can contact Delaina Arnold at [email protected] or 705.774.0978 while supplies last.

The Community Stewardship Program was made possible through the Environment Canada Lake Simcoe South Eastern Georgian Bay Clean Up Fund and numerous partners. 

Biosphere Member Profile: Ontario Sea Kayak Centre

Ontario Sea Kayak Centre is one of the biggest providers of the nationally certified Paddle Canada sea kayaking skills programs. We also coach kayakers in rolling and traditional Inuit kayaking skills. We train new kayaking instructors every year, and volunteer with Paddle Canada in every way we can.

OSKC loves to show paddlers pristine and magnificent places. Through our guided kayak trips, paddlers experience nationally and internationally protected wildlife parks. We take kayakers to explore Senja Island in Norway, Saguenay Fjord in Quebec, Lake Superior Park in Ontario, Clayoquot Sound in British Columbia and Loreto National Marine park on the Baja Peninsula.

Spending much of our time kayaking in the GBBR, we have a great affinity for the plants and animals we happen upon during our adventures in the 30,000 islands. Protecting the environment begins at home, and supporting the GBBR through our membership, as well as through fundraising activities is one of our mandates at OSKC. Our fundraising auctions at Paddlepalooza and Women on the Water in Parry Sound have raised thousands of dollars, as well as awareness, for biosphere programs. Through our connection to the paddling community, we will continue to advocate for the GBBR for many years to come.

 

Member Profile: Seguin Township

By: Dominique O’Brien
 
Stretching over 700 square kilometres, Seguin is a vibrant and growing community located in the picturesque District of Parry Sound. A Biosphere Member since 2012, the Township of Seguin is home to 4,280 permanent residents that seasonally swells to over 15,000 residents during the summer months. With largely an environmental focus, our community is truly the “Natural Place to Be”.
 
Seguin Township was formed in 1998 through the amalgamation of Christie, Foley, Humphrey and the Village of Rosseau. All of our local communities are home to community centres, parks, trails and beaches and offer many recreational opportunities. Programming and community events are in place for seniors, adults, young adults and youth.
 
Our Mayor, Council and staff embrace the “environment first” principle. That is, we recognize the unique natural attributes and are passionate about preserving our small rural and waterfront character. We recognize the importance of a sustainable organization through the way we do business both internally and externally.
 
Through our programs and stewardship initiatives, we believe in greening our municipal operations and developing the plans and policies to ensure we achieve our goals. We are proud to be a member of the GBBR and honoured to have partnered with the organization on many occasions.

Member Profile: iSparks Solutions

iSparks Solutions is a proud member of the GBBR. We contribute to our community by capturing and sharing images and videos of our surroundings; while also inspecting buildings for wasted energy, solar panels for inefficiencies and beehives for honey.

iSparks Solutions is an aerial and ground photography, videography, and thermography company that specializes in business promotional videos, sports events coverage, wedding cinematography, real estate images, and thermal/infrared inspections. When we are not flying our drones we are creating videos, websites and marketing.

Did you know that a thermal infrared camera can tell you how hard a bee hive is working without opening the lid? iSparks Solutions completes building inspections to see where heat is escaping, moisture is gathering, potential electrical, plumbing or construction deficiencies. Solar panel inspections with a flying thermal/infrared camera is the most precise tool to determine if a panel is not functioning.

These are just some of the many ways our cameras help to support our environment. Getting eyeballs in the right places is the natural role of drones, working with a team of environmentalist we could quickly assess, inspect and determine if a piece of land is collecting water without actually leaving our footprints. 

iSparks Solutions is fully certified by Transport Canada with a Standing Special Flight Operations Certificate, completed UAV Pilot’s Licence, we are continually upgrading our skills and education and we are fully insured with special risk aviation insurance.

By Andy and Sonya Felsman
iSparks Solutions Husband & Wife Team

Charter Member Profile: Blackstone Lake Association

The Blackstone Lake Cottagers’ Association has been a proud Biosphere Charter member since 2014. BLCA has been actively involved in stewardship initiatives which promote education as a way to ensure environmental respect. The association partakes in annual water quality testing, organizes septic tank pump-outs, and practices mock-rescues for emergency preparedness.
 
Several years ago, BLCA participated in Kids in the Biosphere, which gave families on the lake a chance to engage in outdoor activities. Residents also hosted “stewardship parties” as part of the Life on the Bay program, in which GBBR staff educated cottage owners on best practices to shrink ecological footprints. Blackstone Lake also participated in the Love your Lake shoreline stewardship program and was featured in the GBBR episode of the TVO series Striking Balance.
 
BLCA feels lucky to have the GBBR in the community. The GBBR provides opportunities for similar organizations, and it is the goal of BLCA to communicate continuation of  stewardship education.

Where are they now?

By Brian Mills

I began working with GBBR in May of 2014 on the Love Your Lake program. The survey area was Honey Harbour where I enjoyed my summers, at my parents’ cottage. I was very fortunate to be helping to improve the quality of the environment where I consider to be home. I loved my job and returned the following two summers, surveying over 1500 waterfront properties across the biosphere. I gained a strong appreciation for the unique environment we live in and I have become empowered to protect it.
 
Presently I am working with the Shawanaga First Nation to monitor species at risk populations of turtles and snakes as the Highway 400 expansion continues. This study will investigate best practices to reduce human threats. Research projects like this are essential as we strive for sustainable development and conservation of biodiversity.
I learned new meaning to the term ‘community’ while working at the GBBR. I have endless happy memories including amazing staff field trips, Brew Ha Ha, Dragon Boat Festival, working on Georgian Bay, and lunch outside with happy passionate coworkers.
Thank you GBBR, for helping to keep my home naturally beautiful!