By Chad Ingram
Published April 26 2018
Algonquin Highlands township will supply staff resources and equipment for the continued planting of native species as part of an ongoing shoreline naturalization project at Halls Lake’s Elvin Johnson Park.
During their April 19 meeting councillors agreed to enter into a contract with Watersheds Canada to provide in-kind assistance for the project.
That involvement came as somewhat of a surprise. As parks rec and trails manager Chris Card explained staff and council were unaware the township had been named on a grant application.
“Staff have just been made aware of a funding grant which has been received by Watersheds Canada (WC) as part of their ‘Natural Edge’ initiative to complete shoreline preservation planting at Elvin Johnson Park” a report from Card reads. “In 2017 WC worked in conjunction with a member of the Hawk Halls Lake Property Owners Association to develop a planting plan. This plan was used to apply for funding for the project implementation through the TD Friends of the Environment Fund. Neither the plan nor the grant application was reviewed or approved by Algonquin Highlands staff or council.”
However the grant application was successful and includes some $1600 worth of vegetation and materials including but not limited to bearberry bush honeysuckle grey dogwood highbush cranberry meadowsweet and red osier dogwood. The renaturalization of the park’s shoreline is intended to prevent erosion and reduce nutrient-dumping into the lake as well as deter Canadian geese from making a mess of the park’s grassy areas.
Card had been in touch with the property owners’ association and Watersheds Canada and it was his recommendation that council approve the planting plan which he said was consistent with previous renaturalization work at the park.
Some $770 of municipal staff time and equipment use will constitute the township’s in-kind contribution and it’s anticipated that planting will take place in May or June.
“I do want to comment . . . that is an excellent project it’s a reasonably good plan maybe with a little bit of adjusting that’s being proposed” said Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen. “However I am disappointed to see this coming to us without anyone having been made aware of the fact that funding had been applied for basically using our name without our knowledge and committing funds our funds without our knowledge. It is a continuing project that we are involved in I just think we have to be careful in the future that we don’t get trapped by this sort of application.”