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President's annual report - 2004-2005

Thanks to volunteers:

First of all, a huge thank you on behalf of the ACRE Board of Directors to all of the wonderful volunteers who have helped make ACRE a successful organization over the past year. Without you ACRE would simply not exist.

We have had volunteers working in many capacities over the past year:

  • Education Committee members
  • Earth Day event organizers and participants
  • H20 Chelsea volunteers and steering committee members
  • Nature conservation committee members
  • ARORA shoreline rehabilitation project
  • Chelsea Master Plan consultation committee
  • Joujoutheque ChelseaToy Library
  • Chelsea Youth Forum facilitators
  • Multi stakeholder Golf Course Committee members
  • Board members
  • And many more…

Thank you all so much!



ACRE inducted into Chelsea Founders' Club:

On June 4th, 2005, at the Chelsea All-Star Awards, ACRE was honoured twice. We were finalists for the "Group of the Year" award, and were inducted into the Founders' Club in recognition of our outstanding contribution to the development of our community.

This is a huge honour for an organization that has only existed for seven years, and a testament once again to the great work of our volunteers and members. Keep up the good work!



Education Program:

Lecture Series: Another successful series of presentations on environmental themes was organized this year by the ACRE education committee, composed of Ann Chudleigh, Geof Burbidge, Louise Lebrun and Deirdre Jackson. Dr. Kent Prior started off with a presentation on Endangered Species, followed by the presentation of the H20 Chelsea research results to the community by Dr. Scott Findlay, and finally a presentation about the geology of the Gatineau Hills by Dr. Don Hogarth. All presentations were well received, and we reached approximately 250 people through the three events.

Thanks once again to Chelsea United Church, who generously shared their home with us for these three events. And thank you to our three event sponsors, Chelsea Veggie Gas, Chelsea Freshmart, and Gerry and Isobel's.

Earth Day: ACRE's sixth annual Earth Day celebration was held on Sunday, April 24th. We held our Summer Sports Gear exchange again, thanks to Gary Fehr of Cadmian Inc. who organized the exchange once again this year. Information booths from ACRE and H20 Chelsea were also part of the day's activities, as were refreshments provided by the Joujoutheque Chelsea Toy Library.

For the first time, we partnered with the arts community as part of our Earth Day event. Heather Lamorie, local artist and ACRE member coordinated this partnership. Elizabeth Rutledge and Diane Lemire, both Chelsea artists, worked with children to create two series of large paintings representing Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. Mark Walters, an installation artist from Wakefield created a beautiful sculpture over the entrance to the community centre over the course of the day. Having these talented artists join our event brought a whole new spirit to our day of celebration for the Earth.

Thanks to all who made this event a success, particularly Ross Lee, Randi Shulman, and Deirdre Jackson of the organizing committee, as well as to Century 21 Macintyre and Greg Christie's Ski and Cycleworks for their sponsorship.



Projects:

H20 Chelsea

The H20 Chelsea project is a partnership between ACRE, the municipality, and the University of Ottawa's Institute of Environment. This project is supported by the second year of a two year $150K grant, through ACRE, from the Fonds d'action Québecois pour le developpement durable (FAQDD), as well as by the Municipality of Chelsea. The H20 Chelsea project continues to be extremely successful. I would like to express our sincere thanks and recognition to the Coordinator of the project, Patrick Henry, who is doing an exemplary job of implementing the vision of this project, as well as to our partners. H20 Chelsea has been supported by a team of more than 100 volunteers!

2004 was the first full year of research and monitoring, and results from this research were presented to Council in December, 2004 and to the community at an ACRE lecture in February, 2005. The H20 Chelsea website was launched this year (check it out at www.h20chelsea.ca, as were educational water kits that were distributed to every household in Chelsea. Our monitoring and education program will continue through 2005. We are looking for more funding opportunities for the project for future years.

ARORA

The ARORA project is a shoreline rehabilitation project that ACRE has been working on for five years. Due to the hard work of a group of volunteers, led in recent years by Steven Uriarte and Jim Douglas, and with the stated support of Hydro Quebec, ACRE secured substantial funding to restore a patch of Hydro Quebec land beside the Alonzo Wright Bridge that had been badly damaged by Cloutier's Botanix Nursery. This denuded land is just upstream from a major spawning ground for three endangered species of fish, including the River Redhorse. Funding is in place, site plans have been completed by Jim Douglas, the site has been surveyed, geophysical studies have been completed to assess the stability of the site etc.

In spite of this progress on ACRE's part, over the past year Hydro Quebec has continued to put roadblocks in the way of this project. Hydro Quebec has not resolved the drainage problems that have arisen on the site, and has not signed the agreement that they require for us to implement the project. We are extremely frustrated by the delays to this project. ACRE's Board of Directors has decided to consider the option of backing away from the project and publicly pressuring Hydro Quebec to complete the rehabilitation of the site themselves as we do not see any hope of starting to implement the project this year. We will be giving Hydro Quebec one last chance to resolve the site problems and sign an agreement with us.

Backing out of the project at this point would be extremely disappointing for all of us, and particularly for Steven, Jim and many others who have worked so hard over many years to get this project off the ground. However, we feel we may have no choice at this point, given the continued delays and lack of support from Hydro Quebec.

Joujouthèque Chelsea Toy Library

The Toy Library had a year of both great successes and challenges. The Toy Library was successfully launched and operated for most of last year, building a membership of 75 families in just over six months.

Unfortunately, in December of last year asbestos was discovered in the ceiling of the toy library storage space in the Community Centre, resulting in the closure of the library for close to six months while tests and renovations were conducted by the municipality. During this time, the space has been renovated, cleaned and tested, and is now free of asbestos. However, unfortunately the toy collection had to be disposed of because of the discovery of low levels of asbestos fibres, even after professional cleaning. Obviously this ran counter to the objective of encouraging the re-use of toys in the community, and was particularly disappointing because of the generous donations of toys from members of the community to start the library. However, the health of our children must be our number one priority.

In recent months, the Toy Library has begun a new toy drive to replace its lost inventory. The library has re-opened in a newly renovated and cleaned space in the basement of the community centre, and the Municipality has provided funding to partially replenish the stock of toys. If you have any toys that you have finished with, please consider donating them to the library. The toy library collection is geared for children aged 0 to 5 years. If you are interested in donating toys, joining the toy library, or volunteering, please contact Louise at 827-8972.



Other Activities:

Master Plan Submission

An ad hoc committee of ACRE members and other interested parties prepared a submission on the Chelsea Master Plan last fall. The final report was presented to the Planning Committee, the Mayor, and to the entire Council for their consideration. A number of our recommendations were reflected in the final master plan.

A copy of our submission on the master plan is available on request.

This exercise was useful not only for the Master Plan, but for ACRE as an organization. We conducted a broad scan of environmental issues in Chelsea, identified which ones we are working on, and where there are gaps.

Nature Conservation in Chelsea

One of the key gaps that we noted from our Master Plan analysis was in the area of nature conservation. As a result, a committee has been struck to examine further opportunities for nature conservation in Chelsea. As a first step, a GIS-based analysis of important wildlife habitat and corridors is being assembled to inform our work, thanks to work by Stephen Woodley and Ewen Eberhardt. ACRE has also had initial conversations with land trust organizations working in the region. This initiative will continue in the coming year.

Youth Forum participation

Three ACRE members, Martin Von Mirbach, Andrea Lockwood and Stephen Woodley facilitated sessions on the theme of the environment at the Chelsea Youth Forum held in the autumn of 2004. This was an opportunity for ACRE to reach out to young people in the community and discuss local environmental issues with them.

Chelsea Foundation

The Chelsea Foundation has begun its consultations with community groups and the community at large to determine what is desired in a community centre on the Foundation lands on Old Chelsea Rd. ACRE participated in the initial consultation meeting in June, and expressed our interest in ensuring that a community centre is an example of environmental leadership in its building technology and operation. We also expressed our support for creating an educational opportunity around the wetlands on the property. The Foundation is seeking members of an environmental leadership team to pursue this part of their vision. If you are interested in getting involved in this initiative, please call Alison Woodley at 827-4092.



Conclusion

Once again, ACRE has had a busy year. We are always looking for more volunteers to help with our many initiatives. Particular needs are:

  • Translation (even a few hours would be a huge help)
  • Displays committee (to improve our display and coordinate and staff booths at community events)
  • Fundraising
  • Communications

If you can help, please contact us at 827-4092.

Submitted by Alison Woodley, President June 22, 2005

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