On June 13, 2013 Niagara residents, community groups and school programs were awarded for their contributions to the environment.
The Niagara Region Environmental Awards are one of the longest-running Environmental Awards programs hosted by any municipal government in Ontario.
Press-ready photos of the 2013 Environment Award winners are available.
Lifetime Achievement Award - Dr. Michael Dickman, Welland
Dr. Michael Dickman has shown true dedication to the ecological restoration of the Welland River watershed. His research was important in eliminating the previously unknown problem of thermal pollution in the Welland River, which was devastating to one of its most important fish populations, the Brown Bullhead. His work was also instrumental in identifying and cleaning up heavy metal contaminants and eliminating the discharge of toxins in the Welland River.
Dr. Dickman has been important in gathering information which has permitted government regulatory agencies to work co-operatively with industries to identify and ultimately eliminate pollution problems. He continues to play an active role in protecting the Welland River watershed through his involvement in the Humberstone Landfill Advisory Committee and remaining problems of phosphorous over loading.
Green Non-Profit Award - Mel Swart Lake Gibson Park Committee, Thorold
The Mel Swart Lake Gibson Conservation Park is Niagara's largest inland lake. Since 1996, the Mel Swart Lake Gibson Park Committee (Chair Rosaire Tisdelle, David Griffiths, Fred Neale, Gary Burnett, Jan Nielson and Melva Snowling) has been hard at work to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the park, creating trails and planting thousands of trees, plants and wild flowers. A boardwalk was also built on Lake Gibson for viewing, fishing and walking.
The Nature Park has evolved over the years by having fundraising and partnering with Scouts, Cubs, Ontario Power Generation and other businesses that have volunteered their time and funds for the project.
Volunteers have raised over $300,000 from donations towards the establishment of the toboggan hill, parking lot and the benches placed throughout the conservation area. Because of the park, more water birds, including swans, ducks and hawks, have made Lake Gibson their home, thanks to the variety of trees, plants, wild flowers and other vegetation that many species of birds use to roost.
Green Business Award - Thermography Clinic Niagara, Welland
Thermography Clinic Niagara (TCN) is solely owned by Laurie-Ann Whitnall and has been in business since 2010, offering thermal breast imaging with radiation-free technology, making TCN completely environmentally friendly. The clinic uses infrared technology to preserve and protect the natural environment in Niagara.
TCN has been involved in industry-related trade shows, seminars and social media networks educating the public on the benefits of thermography‘s clean, environmentally friendly, non-invasive approach to breast-screening. TCN also coordinates Lunch N' Learns through various business health and wellness representatives, providing information on a healthy, environmentally friendly and proactive approach to a person's well-being. Lunch N' Learns through TCN have demonstrated that clean, non-invasive options are available to women and that making informed decisions can broaden and enhance their yearly screening objectives.
Green Family Award - Nathan Turner, Niagara Falls
Nathan Turner, a gas technician student, has always had a knack for finding innovative solutions to home energy issues, and over the past few years, his determination and dream to have a completely self-reliant home has been becoming more of a reality.
Over the past few years, he has taken recycled materials to create projects that help to save on heat, energy and water usage.
Nathan has built solar panels out of bits and pieces of copper and glass, invented a heat-recovery system for showers and baths that helps to repurpose the lost heat and to put it to use watering gardens and filling toilet bowls.
Volunteer Award - Niagara-on-the-Lake Surf Club, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Port Colborne
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Surf Club organized the first beach grass transplant on the dunes in Sherkston last year. Beach grass helps build the dunes and maintain their form. In major storms, these dunes will act as a buffer against waves and flooding. The beach grass will also encourage dune growth. The club worked to receive approvals from the City of Port Colborne to be able to put up a sign highlighting their work.
The project is being highlighted by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in a report on habitat restorations in watershed areas this year.
The Niagara-on–the-Lake Surf Club also organized many shoreline clean-ups and one of the first shoreline clean-ups at Firelane 1 in Niagara-on-the-Lake last year.
Young People's Award, Secondary Age Category - Varsha Jayasankar, St. Catharines
Varsha Jaysankar is a Grade 11 student at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary school in St. Catharine's. Also the recipient of the Elementary School Age award in 2009, Varsha has been a strong proponent of environmental awareness for many years. She leads her household in reducing, reusing and recycling and observes Earth Hour meticulously.
Varsha has also presented science projects in regional and national level competitions, with the environment as the central theme, and received many accolades.
Her recent project, Plantibiotics: A CACE study, won best-in-fair in the 2012 Niagara Regional Science and Engineering fair, and a patent has been filed for her findings. In 2012, she also won the Commercialization Award in the Sanofi Biogeneius challenge.
Apart from her passion in environment and science projects, Varsha participates in numerous philanthropic activities, such as fundraising to facilitate eye surgeries to the less-fortunate in India and donating to orphanages.
Varsha has other interests as well; she is in Grade 8 piano and is a member of her high school's orchestra. She is also an avid swimmer, and is a member of the Sir Winston Churchill's swim team.
One of Varsha's goals is to meet people like David Suzuki and Al Gore to discuss current environmental issues.
Young People's Award, Elementary Age Category - St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School, Fort Erie
St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School has been a certified Eco School for five years. Starting out by focusing on energy conservation and waste reduction, their energy has expanded to include environmental stewardship. The school held contests for 'eco spies,' reporting on classrooms that are conserving energy and reducing waste.
Last year, the school also became a member of the Think Recycle environmental program, urging parents and the community to recycle cell phones, laptops and other electronic goods. Through the Canopies for Kids program, 25 trees native to the area were planted in the schoolyard, allowing the school to focus on improving our biodiversity, and water and air quality.
The school's most recent accomplishment was partnering with community organizations to use organic and sustainable farming to enhance the health and wellbeing of St. Joseph students. Each week at lunchtime, two classes enjoy salad grown from the school's own organic gardens, planted and harvested with the help of farmer Rick Ladoucer and Chez Nous Farms. Healthy eating leads to healthy bodies and healthy minds here St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School.