CONNECTING OUR COMMUNITY
Why build greenways?
Connecting the Place for Life ensures that people have safe opportunities to connect with nature and each other, improving mental and physical health. A survey conducted by the County of Essex found that 96% of respondents would use trails if they were available to them. Similar numbers have been reported in Windsor. Ultimately, improving active transportation opportunities through trail networks make communities more livable. Trails attract tourists to Ontario communities and create jobs. The Ontario Trails Council estimates that trails contribute at least $2 billion a year to the Ontario economy.
Riding a bike or walking along a trail through a woodlot is a simple pleasure. It appeals to people of all ages and abilities, from all backgrounds. Trails support active lifestyles which help prevent coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, colon cancer, depression and premature death.
According to the Canadian Medical Association, “a 10% increase in physical activity could reduce direct health-care expenditures by $150 million a year”. In fact, research indicates a walk in the woods can strengthen immunity, lower blood pressure, increase ability to focus, and ultimately lower health-care costs.
Connecting our Community Funding Priorities:
- Increase vibrancy in the Place for Life by connecting the ‘Oldcastle Hub’ to our other active trails.
- Rebuild the boardwalk and re-surface the trails at Holiday Beach and Devonwood Conservation Areas
- Support nearly 80 km of safe and accessible greenway trails in the Place for Life.
- Create four community entrances for the Cypher Systems Group Greenway to enhance accesses for the community.
GREENING OUR REGION
Why Plant Trees?
Conserving the Place for Life protects the natural areas that remain in our region, while creating and connecting new habitats. Natural ecological areas within the Essex Region provide numerous benefit that have economic value. These include clean water supply, natural filtration of contaminants, water flow stabilization, greenhouse gas mitigation, erosion control, nutrient cycling, habitat, recreation and health benefits. This natural capital also helps to combat the impacts of climate change and related flooding incidents. In addition to the important economic rationale, there is an unquestionable connection between human and environmental health.
Presently, only 8.5% of the region’s land base is in a natural state. Our community has adopted the United Nations’ standard that requires 12% green space to be healthy and sustainable. In total, approximately 20,000 acres of habitat must be restored to achieve this goal.
An ancient Chinese proverb reminds us that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. While we’ve been planting trees for more than four decades, we need your help to continue to mitigate our ecological footprint and enhance sustainability in the Place For Life.
Greening our Region Funding Priorities:
- Create two new forests near Holiday Beach Conservation and Cedar Creek Conservation Areas.
INSPIRING FUTURE GENERATIONS
Why Support Outdoor Education?
In today’s world of computers, iPads and cell phones, one of the greatest challenges of our time is connecting our children with the world around us. A compelling body of evidence exists that trees and natural areas are essential elements of healthy communities for children.
Introducing kids to nature supports a diversity of types of play, as well as numerous health benefit which include better motor coordination and balance, increased physical activity, healthier body weight, better concentration and less impulsivity, reduced symptoms of ADHD, less depression or psychological distress and a greater sense of energy.
Research also suggests that a connection to nature in childhood is positively correlated with long-term knowledge about the environment. Studies further support that nature exposure in childhood can have lasting health benefit by building a foundation in which children learn to seek out nature as a lifelong health habit.
Inspiring Future Generations Funding Priorities:
- Ensure that at least 10,000 students each year benefit from outdoor education programs.
- Continue to provide the Earth Day Travelling Road Show to more than 3,500 students each year
- Create an innovative ‘Natural Playground’ at Holiday Beach Conservation Area to connect kids with nature while nurturing their imagination.
PRESERVING OUR HERITAGE
Why preserve heritage?
Sites like the John R. Park Homestead bring together people of all ages. They become focal points for community celebrations and highlight our Canadian story: how our way of life has evolved over the centuries. There are few places where people can experience our history and traditions. As these sites age, legacy funds are required to create sustainable solutions for preservation. If these important elements of our history are not preserved, they will eventually be erased from our community’s memory – and lost forever. Your support is critical to fostering our community’s continued sense of place.
Every historical site has a story to tell and these stories can inform and inspire our culture and convictions. Heritage sites are our connections to the past, and places like the Homestead provide important perspective that has helped to shape our present community.
Preserving our Heritage Funding Priorities:
- Restore the sawmill at the John R. Park Homestead to ensure that our cultural heritage is preserved for the future.