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Fond farewell from OSAT chair

October 30, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Sylvia Bradley

After 12 years of chairing the Orangeville Sustainability Action Team (OSAT), I am retiring from political life.  Politicians do not have a job, they have a passion.  My passion has always been the environment and I am pleased that I was one of the founding members of OSAT and I am proud of what we have accomplished.  Our mission statement is to assist in the development, implementation and promotion of environmentally sustainable practices within the Town.

One of the first projects we undertook was a celebration of Earth Day and that has evolved into Earth Week.  Every year we have a number of tree planting events that has contributed approximately 12,000 trees and shrubs to our town.  Our Baby Tree Program commemorates the birth of a child and provides the child with a life-long connection to our community. During Earth Week, we host educational workshops, book donations and exchanges, informational displays and environmental awards in four categories.

Trees are one of the few assets that appreciate in value over time making it a very good investment. We’ve partnered with many community groups and service clubs to plant trees.  The work we’ve done would not have been possible without the wonderful partnership we’ve had with Credit Valley Conservation. They provide an amazing professional service including site selection and design, species selection, instruction and follow-up.  Community volunteers are the backbone of our community and they come out every year to make Orangeville a little greener. OSAT is very appreciative of the support given to us by various departments including Parks, Public Works and Communications – the best staff second to none. 

OSAT was the driving force behind the Orangeville Community Garden and Orchard – a gem in our community that provides gardening plots to residents for their own use and a huge Food Bank Garden that produces food for donation, all done with volunteers.  The apple, pear and plum orchard along with raspberries is open to the public for their consumption. 

The Active Transportation Subcommittee initiated three bike routes through town, all with a downtown destination, made possible through donations and grants.  A Sustainability Plan is in the works driven by the efforts of OSAT and made possible by obtaining a grant to offset the cost. 

Additionally, OSAT started a Seed Library at the Mill Street branch where free seeds are available to the public to plant a garden.  Also at the library, energy meters are available for loan to measure your home’s energy consumption.  A new program started this year, the Urban Harvest Program, where residents with excess fruit or vegetables donate their produce and volunteers pick the produce and bring it to the Food Bank. 

So what about the cost. I believe OSAT should be a model for all committees to follow.  In the 12 years, the town provided approx. $200K for our works.  OSAT managed to quadruple that amount to $850K through donations, grants, in-kind and volunteers.  A very good investment in our environment.

I am very proud of the work OSAT has done.  We have brought a focus to the environment that was missing, the rewards are enjoyed in every corner of our town and we’ve been fortunate to be the recipients of a number of environmental awards recognizing our efforts. 

I leave this position with mixed emotions.  The future is bright, we have wonderful, skilled individuals seeking office that can take our environmental portfolio to the next step.  At the same time, I will miss it enormously.  It’s time to hand over the torch.  I will continue to do one of my favourite things — survey all our tree plantings and watch them grow, spend time at the gardens and ride the bike routes.  Thank you to the Town, OSAT members, volunteers and partners for giving me the opportunity to indulge my passion for the betterment of Orangeville.

         

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