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An intro to OSAT

July 13, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Martina Rowley

Thank you for glancing at this “green” column, which is the first of a new series! We are excited to present a monthly overview of local and national environmental issues, tips, actions, and solutions. Expect to read about issues on waste, water, green products, pollution, wildlife protection, and more.

The Orangeville Sustainability Action Team (OSAT) is a committee of Council formed in late 2007, consisting of one council member and Chair, which has been Sylvia Bradley since its inception, plus 10 publicly appointed citizens and Town staff from various departments. Our mission is to assist in the development, implementation, and promotion of environmentally sustainable practices within Orangeville to help reduce our local environmental impact and improve overall quality of life.

Members of OSAT are local residents with a passion for the environment, some of us with an environmental or related background. We meet once a month to work on projects within six areas.

Active Transportation: We promote cycling in town for short commutes and to increase healthy activities. We worked with the Town, and through funding from the Rotary Club and the provincial government, created three official bike routes that connect different parts of Orangeville to downtown. Some routes have “sharrows” which are road markings that identify a bicycle route on shared roads. We also created a free bicycle map that shows these routes and other off-road trails and safe routes. Get your map from Town Hall, community centres, local bike stores, or find it online at www.orangeville.ca. For safe bike parking, we have installed numerous bike racks (some funded by local businesses). This year we hosted the third annual Public Bike Ride.

Policy: We were the driving force behind the Town of Orangeville agreeing to create an official sustainability plan. The town has received funding and the process for creating a plan has started.

Urban Forestry: We have implemented a Baby Tree Program, Earth Day tree plantings, and general tree plantings since 2007, which facilitated the planting of over 9,000 trees and shrubs. Most were planted with help from hundreds of volunteers on several public planting days every year, and in collaboration with Credit Valley Conservation.  The Baby Tree Program allows families and friends to donate and have a tree planted to celebrate a baby’s birth (tax receipts available). All these plantings have increased our urban canopy in public parks and spaces.

Urban Food Systems: Have you noticed the Community Garden and Orchard on Centre Street? Its 22 plots can be rented for an affordable $20 per year and they book up fast every spring! Individuals, families, and groups plant and enjoy their favourite organic foods. A 2500-square-foot Food Bank Garden plot is grown specifically for donating to the Orangeville Food Bank. The fruit orchard and anything edible planted outside the fence is for public consumption. We hosted a Seed Saving Workshop and started a Seed Library – located at the library – where anyone can take and trade seeds. Three school gardens also exist — managed by each school and assistance received from OSAT.

Urban Harvest Program: This new program plans to find fruit trees on public land, and willing private owners with fruit trees that are not being picked. The goal is to gather volunteers to help pick and – if needed – process apples, pears, plums and whatever else is on offer and donate it to the food bank and other social service agencies. To register, see contact details below.

Waste Diversion: We started working with local restaurants to encourage them, and help put into place, a green bin collection for organic waste. We partnered with another local green group, the Dufferin-Caledon Climate Change Action Group, to encourage pubs and restaurants to stop offering plastic drinking straws by default, and switch to biodegradable straws for those who need them. Council recently voted to stop offering plastic single-use straws at municipal facilities.

These are just the biggest projects our group works on. We also host the annual Environmental Sustainability Awards which recognize positive contributions from local individuals, groups, and schools.

Funding for OSAT projects comes in part from a Council-approved budget, as well as in-kind donations from local community groups, and several grants. In fact, we quadrupled our official budget through donations, free labour, and grants for a total of $850,000 over the past 11 years, or around $77,000 per year.

If you would like more information or to volunteer, please email urbanharvest@orangeville.ca for the Urban Harvest Program or parks@orangeville.ca for any other inquiries. If you would like to read about a specific topic, let us know!

         

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