Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
My name is Mike Puddister. I am the deputy CAO and the director of watershed transformation at the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. With me is Terri LeRoux, the executive director of the Credit Valley Conservation Foundation, our charitable partner. We both wish to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this morning about our relationships with the private sector.
To begin, I'd like to provide you a little background on who we are and what we do. The Credit Valley Conservation Authority is one of 36 authorities in the province of Ontario serving a total population of over 12 million people and 473 municipalities. Established by the provincial government in 1954, we are a community-based environmental organization dedicated to protecting, restoring, and managing the natural resources of the Credit River watershed. As the primary scientific authority for the watershed, CVC works in partnership with municipal governments, schools, businesses, and community organizations to deliver locally based programs.
Situated within one of the most densely populated and fastest-growing regions of Canada, the Credit River watershed contains some of the most diverse landscapes in southern Ontario. In this area, the Carolinian forest zone meets the deciduous forest zone, both of which contain unique species not found in other areas.
The Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine also run through the watershed, further increasing the number and diversity of plants, animals, and communities. The Credit River is almost 90 kilometres in length, running from the headwaters in Orangeville, Erin, and Mono through nine municipalities, including the regional municipalities of Halton and Peel, eventually draining into Lake Ontario at Port Credit, in the City of Mississauga.
The current CVC vision statement of a “thriving environment that protects, connects and sustains us” makes clear that in order to bring transformational change to the local environment, the public and private sectors must identify new ways of working together. CVC has a long history of private sector engagement, with a number of successful projects.
CVC carries out studies to develop environmental strategies for urban streams and the Lake Ontario shoreline. CVC then works with partner agencies, residents, businesses, institutions, and the landscape industry to promote sustainable approaches to caring for natural features and our public lands, residential yards, and corporate and institutional grounds.
Some of CVC’s corporate engagement programs include the Greening Corporate Grounds program. This initiative was developed by Credit Valley Conservation with the Evergreen foundation, and it helps corporations, businesses, institutions, and places of worship to green their corporate and institutional lands.
Partners in Project Green, led by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, with the support of Credit Valley Conservation, is dedicated to creating the biggest eco-business zone in the world. Partners in Project Green strives to build a stronger and greener economy by assisting corporations in taking sustainable actions that reduce their energy and water footprints and their waste generation while improving their bottom line.
Low impact development is an area where CVC is widely recognized as a national leader in regard to stormwater, using new approaches and technologies to manage stormwater sustainably and reducing water pollution and producing other environmental benefits in our communities. CVC works with developers, corporations, municipal partners, and others to develop best practices and implement innovative LID projects. Current partners include such corporations as IMAX, Teck Resources Limited, and the Royal Bank of Canada.
The Lakeview waterfront connection project aims to create a new natural waterfront park in the Lakeview neighbourhood of Mississauga to enhance degraded aquatic and terrestrial wildlife habitat and provide public access to the waterfront in an area that currently does not provide such opportunities. A major fundraising feasibility study is currently under way to assess private sector capacity and willingness to support, and we are reaching out to the corporate community for their insight.
One of CVC’s most successful private sector partnerships has been with Holcim Canada. Greg Zilberbrant from Holcim presented to the committee earlier this week. We have been working with Holcim for more than two years on a variety of projects. Through our Greening Corporate Grounds program, we have been exploring opportunities for habitat restoration at their Mississauga cement plant property, and they have carried out some initial tree-planting adjacent to their administrative building. In another case, we are cost-sharing with them on the potential restoration, or “daylighting”, of Avonhead Creek, a tributary to Lake Ontario.
Most recently, on May 22, we were pleased to have MPs Peter Van Loan and Stella Ambler announce funding for a major joint project with Holcim, the Lake Ontario flyway habitat project, a public-private partnership. Credit Valley Conservation and Holcim Canada are the recipients of a three-year federal habitat stewardship program grant of $104,000 with matching funds from Holcim and CVC that will create four hectares of stopover habitat, a combination of forest, shrub, and grassland habitats for migratory birds on Holcim’s property along the lakeshore in Mississauga through CVC's greening corporate grounds program.
I would now like to turn it over to Terri LeRoux.