Essex Region Conservation Approves 2017 Programs and Budget
Essex Region Conservation has approved the 2017 workplan of projects and associated budget. Improving and streamlining customer service, opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway, rehabilitating a significant Lake Erie coastal wetland at Sturgeon Creek in Leamington, and proposed Water and Erosion Control Infrastructure Projects totaling $1.2 million are just a few of the projects and programs proposed by the Essex Region Conservation Authority for 2017.
The budget totals just over $11 million and includes a levy contribution from member municipalities of approximately $3 million. “For every dollar contributed through the levy, ERCA is successful in raising $2.66 dollars from other sources,” said Richard Wyma, General Manager. “Projects like the much anticipated Cypher Systems Group Greenway were acquired and developed without any local tax dollars.
A recent review of return on investment identified that for the period of 2007-2016, ERCA received approximately $25 million in levy funding, but in return, provided $35 million in funding from external grant sources for regional environmental improvement projects. “This is over and above the services we provide to improve the environmental health of our community.”
Following an internal review process and some adjustments to programming, a broad range of projects and programs are included for 2017, including:
- Work with partners to fund the creation of a 70 acre managed wetland cell at Cedar Creek Conservation Area and a new 10-acre experimental wetland at Hillman Marsh.
- Restore at least 125 acres of land, plant 120,000 trees, 20 acres of prairie and collect 2,000 pounds of seed to propagate and replant
- Continue our comprehensive water quality monitoring program while identifying projects to address phosphorus runoff and resulting Harmful Algal Blooms
- Work with municipal partners to coordinate a regional Climate Adaptation strategy
- Coordinate a Western Lake Erie Student Conference to educate students about the challenges facing Lake Erie
- Create the Oldcastle ‘hub’ to connect ERCA’s greenways to the Herb Gray Parkway Trails, and the trail systems in the Towns of LaSalle and Tecumseh
- Create comprehensive ‘Place for Life’ policies to operationalize the Strategic Plan
- Update Tangible Capital Asset Inventory and associated Capital Plan to inform next phase of Sustainability Plan and guide future investment and facility replacement
- Improve ability to respond to permit applications and improve customer service by adding technical capacity
These special projects are all in addition to the significant work that Essex Region Conservation undertakes annually, such as habitat protection and restoration, water quality projects and monitoring, flood response, education and recreation to create a future of sustainability and a region that is the Place for Life.