Engaging Huron’s Youth – Planting the Seed for Change

The Schoolyard Planting Project, a Sustainable Huron initiative, will create naturalized outdoor classrooms at three of Huron’s elementary schools. The Schoolyard Planting Project will benefit the entire community by improving the quality of existing natural areas, providing shade and wind protection, fostering natural environment and ecological awareness, providing erosion control, and engaging youth to create meaningful change.  Developed in partnership with the Maitland Valley and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authorities, this pilot project by Huron County is in support of the creation of a long-term sustainability plan for Huron County.  The Huron County Sustainability Plan is designed to provide a framework to address environmental, social, cultural and economic issues in Huron County and its nine individual municipalities.

The Schoolyard Planting project has been well received through the submission of enthusiastic applications from Huron County schools and proposals from professional landscape designers wanting to participate in the initiative.  Three Grade Six classes from Seaforth Public School, Brookside Public School and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic School will be collaborating with selected landscape designer Jane Eligh-Feryn to develop stimulating outdoor classroom landscape designs for their schools, featuring plant species native to Huron County.  The schoolyard plantings as well as educational presentation by local Conservation Authorities is slated to occur in September 2011, as the students enter Grade Seven.

The project will begin with in-class workshops, delivered by Ms. Eligh-Feryn in conjunction the local Conservation Authorities with who will teach students about naturalized and local landscapes, the tree planting process, and the benefits of taking action for ecological sustainability in their schoolyard. 

“This interactive process will allow the students to become the designers of their own environment.  They will understand that they are designing places that the school community will use, but that they will share with birds, pollinating insects and small mammals.  This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to learn first hand, what it means to create and protect habitat.” said Jane Eligh-Feryn, of Eligh-Feryn Landscape Planning and Design.

This initiative will showcase sustainable practices on the ground, build collaborative partnerships, and support local businesses.  There is potential for this pilot project to be expanded across Huron County and act as an example for future initiatives.  Sustainable Huron’s Schoolyard Planting Project will strengthen the connections that students and teachers have with nature, thus fostering awareness of the importance of respecting and preserving the web of life.

Check out the Schoolyard Planting Project page for project updates!

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Young Artists Recognized by Warden

Huron County proudly presented the Youth Art Contest for Sustainable Huron, a creative art contest to promote sustainability in Huron County. High school students were asked to create art that reflects the ideas of sustainability in their community and were encouraged to be as creative as possible with their submissions.  The students with the winning entries were recognized at their school assembly on Monday, May 16th, 2011 at Central Huron Secondary School (CHSS). 
Neil Vincent, Warden of Huron County, presented them with their prize cheques and congratulated them on their amazing work.  Jasmine DeBoer, a CHSS grade 12 student, took the top prize of $250 for her photograph titled “Preserving the Little Things in Life”.   Robyn Doig (grade 12) and Ronnie Vercruyssen (grade 10) were awarded the second and third place prizes of $125 each for their inspirational images titled “Sustainability Begins with a Seed” and “Support Farming”.  Congratulations to all the young artists who took the time to submit their artwork and to learn more about the issues affecting their community.
The youth art contest was in support of the development of a long-term Sustainability Plan for Huron County.  To ensure the effectiveness of the Plan, the project team has been reaching out to all Huron County residents, including Huron’s youth – the future residents and leaders.  It is essential that their views and thoughts for the future are included in the Sustainability Plan. 

1st Place - Preserving the Little Things in Life by Jasmine DeBoer (Grade 12)


2nd Place - Sustainability Begins with a Seed by Robyn Doig (Grade 12)


3rd Place - Support Farming by Ronnie Vercruyssen (Grade 10)


For more information on the Huron County Sustainability Plan, visit:
Sustainable Huron website: http://www.huroncounty.ca/sustainablehuron/
Sustainable Huron blog: https://sustainablehuron.wordpress.com/

Questions regarding the County of Huron’s Sustainability Plan can be directed to takeaction@huroncounty.ca or by phone to (519) 524-8394 ext. 3 for more information. 

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Manufacturing Efficiencies Project Update

PROJECT UPDATE – Sustainable Huron is pleased to announce that KUZUKA has been selected as the professional sustainability consultants for the Manufacturing Efficiencies Project.  KUZUKA is an Exeter-based consulting firm that helps organizations in both the public and private sector deal with issues of carbon management and sustainability. 

The application period is ongoing and businesses who want to participate in this free initiative that will help them identify and integrate opportunities related to efficiencies and saving money within their business are encouraged to contact Steve Boles sboles@kuzuka.com as soon as possible. 

We are hoping to have the businesses that will participate in the pilot project selected by the end of April. 

The project will include the development of a Sustainable Manufacturing best practice report and toolkit.  The toolkit will provide a framework and checklist to guide manufacturers in Huron County in their pursuit of becoming more sustainable.  

This pilot project has been developed in partnership with the HMA and the Midwestern Green Jobs Strategy, who have hired a Rural Development Officer to help with the initiative.  For more information on KUZUKA, visit their website at www.kuzuka.com.

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Out and About in Huron County

A Conversation with David Suzuki at Stratford Northwestern Secondary School


The Sustainable Huron project team has been busy talking to different people in Huron about the Sustainability Plan. 

Huron County’s Community Super Conference, held on March 22, 2011 at Bluewater Shores, brought together municipal councilors and staff, BIA and chamber members, local food advocates, industry organizations, community project partners and steering committee members.  The conference, led by Huron County’s Planning and Development department and its partners, allowed stakeholders and decision makers to share information and raise awareness of their initiatives.  Dr. Wayne Caldwell’s presentation on trends impacting our rural world kicked-off the conference and got everyone thinking about the possible impact of: climate change, peak oil, population growth and food security, no growth scenarios (i.e. decrease in fossil fuels), loss of biodiversity, the global economy and political instability, and, demographic change.

Our project team presented the sustainability planning process and facilitated group discussions with the participants on the challenges and opportunities for a sustainable future in Huron County.  Participants identified the priorities they would like to see addressed in the Sustainability Plan.  Thanks to all who attended and helped make the event a success. 

The annual Huron County Municipal Officers Association meeting was held on Friday, April 15, 2011 at the Stanley Township Complex in Bluewater. The meeting included presentations on local health, climate change and source water protection.  Of particular interest was the presentation by The Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptive Resources (OCCAR).  The OCCAR discussed the concept of adaptation, which involves taking action to minimize the risks, take advantages of opportunities and ultimately increase resilience to the negative impacts associated with climate change. Visit their website at http://www.climateontario.ca for helpful resources and for more information on this exciting initiative. 

Dr. Suzuki talks with students (Photo Credit: blog.amdsb.ca)

A Conversation with David Suzuki took place at Stratford Northwestern Secondary School on Tuesday, April 12, 2011.  All 52 schools in the Avon Maitland District School board were represented by almost 700 secondary and elementary students.  Dr. Suzuki screened his new documentary “Force of Nature” to the students and answered their questions.  Students were given the opportunity to listen to Dr. Suzuki talk about sustainability and discuss pro-active measures that students can take to be environmentally responsible.


Is there an upcoming event we should be at?  Let us know!  Contact us by e-mail at takeaction@huroncounty.ca or by phone at (519) 524-8394 ext. 3.

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Vancouver and Victoria: Leaders in Sustainability

How well do you think Canadian cities are doing in sustainability?

Vancouver, BC

When it comes to cities, sustainability is not only about the environment, but also the communities and people who reside there, the politics and governance of the area, as well as economic site. Many of the activities which occur in our urban areas have the potential to cause serious damage to the environment due to the release of greenhouse gases, urban development and much more.

However, according to the “2011 Most Sustainable Cities Report” released by Corporate Knights on February 9th,  Canadian cities are taking big strides in sustainability. In particular, cities in Western Canada prove to be great role models!

The report compares 17 cities across Canada using 28 sustainable indicators listed under five different categories: Ecological Integrity, Economic Security, Governance and Empowerment, Infrastructure and Built Environment, and Social Well-Being. The cities are categorized depending on population size as being a part of either the Big, Medium or Small cities group. (A list of the Canadian cities and their groups is listed in the table below).


The cities of Vancouver and Victoria are ranked highest – both tie for first place in the overall standings as Canada’s most sustainable cities. Vancouver scores an impressive 71% and lands the top spot in the Medium cities group. Meanwhile, Victoria with the same score tops the small cities category. Toronto on the other hand, trails closely behind with 69% and receives the top spot amongst big Canadian cities. It is important to note that St. John’s and Iqaluit did not participate in this study by choice, and the data for Whistler has not been included in the results.

It comes to no surprise that Vancouver is a leader in the ranks, since Vancouver is known to be one of the most sustainable cities in the world. A unique example of a sustainability initiative in Vancouver is a renewable heating system that takes sewage and turns it into heating for homes, known as the Neighbourhood Energy Utility. The Neighbourhood Energy Utility is the first of its kind to be developed in North America.

Plus, since January 31st, 2011, Vancouver’s policy now requires the rezoning of new buildings to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified at the highest green building standard in Canada – Gold. LEED is a certification program which is recognized worldwide for green building. This is all in the hopes of making Vancouver the greenest city in the world.

The sustainability scores, however, can still use some improvement. Cities such as Saskatoon, Ottawa and Charlottetown, need upgrading in the Ecological Integrity category, which takes water consumption, green space and air quality into consideration; and in Infrastructure and Built Environment, which compares density, green buildings and renewable energy among others.

Remember, everyone can do their part to help their own city become more sustainable. It all begins with you!

Read the entire report here: http://corporateknights.ca/report/2011-most-sustainable-cities-canada

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Youth art contest closes this weekend!

The youth art contest wraps up this weekend! Artwork can be dropped off at any Huron County Library by 4pm on March 20th, 2011. Or email electronic submissions to agolden@lura.ca. Don’t miss out on your chance to win amazing cash prizes and have your say in Huron’s sustainable future!

See the Youth Art Contest page for more details.

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Improving Indoor Air Quality with Houseplants

(Photo courtesy of http://www.almightydad.com)

Studies have shown that plants can have measurable benefits on people and the spaces they inhabit. Houseplants have been proven to improve indoor air quality.  Consider planting the following houseplants to help improve the air quality in your home or office:

Areca palm – boosts humidity, reducing overly dry air from forced-air heating systems.

Bamboo or reed palm – filters formaldehyde released by building materials, cigarette smoke and some household products.

Boston fern – filters both formaldehyde and xylene – found in certain solvents.

Janet Craig dracaena – widely used in homes; filters benzene from vehicle exhaust fumes.

English ivy – effectively removes airborne mould as well as formaldehyde and benzene.

Spider plant – filters formaldehyde and carbon monoxide-a colourless, odourless and deadly gas that can be produced by heating devices, gas ranges, fireplaces and vehicle engines.

Peace lily – filters benzene, xylene and toluene-found in solvents used in many common building, office and household products.

Dwarf date palm – can help strip formaldehyde from the air.

Snake plant – can remove formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from the air.

Dracaena – filters carbon monoxide and trichloroethylene, which can be given off by certain paints.

Visit Green Living magazine for a full list of houseplants that can help provide cleaner indoor air: http://www.greenlivingonline.com/green-living-magazine

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