Through a collaboration between The Greenbelt Foundation and Park People, the Greenbelt River Valley Connector Program will provide grants to support five place-based community projects across the GTHA that will celebrate and enhance these natural valley areas.  Each project is eligible to receive up to $25,000 in funding.

Possibility flows – engage your community in the enjoyment and enhancement of your Greenbelt protected local urban river valley by submitting your project idea today!

Submissions for 2019 are past due. 

The Recipients

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) – The Ajax River Valley Biodiversity Project

The Duffins Creek in Ajax will be the focus of youth leadership and citizen science project that will introduce Ajax high school volunteers and their families to the biodiversity in their local Greenbelt protected river valley system. The TRCA’s Conservation Youth Corps (CYC), made up of high school volunteers, will be working alongside conservation and municipal professionals to improve parks located within the Duffins Creek ecosystem. Through intensive hands-on mentorship, the youth volunteers will build a deeper understanding of the valuable role of conservation and habitat protection in our urban areas. In addition, a series of citizen science events will provide fun, hands-on family-oriented learning experiences that will draw attention to the species that make their home in the urban river valley systems. Participants will learn proper techniques to identify and monitor species using the iNaturalist app and will contribute to long-term conservation data. The programs will help youth understand their power, ability, and agency to contribute to the future of our urban river valleys and to have a voice in local environmental decision making.

The Riverwood Conservancy – Critters and Creeks Project

Riverwood in Mississauga is a Greenbelt protected 150-acre oasis of wetlands, forests, creeks, and ravines on the bank of the Credit River and is home to The Riverwood Conservancy. The Critters and Creeks Project will be rooted in hands-on community events that address three emerging threats to MacEwan Creek and Chappell Creek and the ecosystems they support as they flow into the Credit River: non-native invasive plants, slope erosion and off trail traffic. With an abundant portfolio of community-based programming, The Riverwood Conservancy champions the environmental stewardship of this natural area and strives to meaningfully connect people to nature. Local events will engage the community in activities such as invasive species removals, restoration plantings and educational excursions that promote the link between water quality and the health of local ‘critters’ such as snakes, frogs, weasels, deer and other species. A highlight of the project will be DogFest, a day-long celebration and dog-walk-a-thon to theriver and back, to raise awareness about the importance of keeping dogs on-leash and pickingup their waste to protect water quality and wildlife in Riverwood, and beyond. 

Friends of Parkway Forest – “Be a Native Plant Guru” Project

Led by a Toronto Park Friends group, Friends of Parkway Forest Park, this series of seven workshops will connect local newcomer groups to indigenous plants that grow in their neighbourhood ravines. The Greenbelt protected ravines in North York’s densely populated Don Mills and Sheppard area are often underutilized by local residents. However, these ravines are home to many indigenous plants that are used for medicinal purposes by ethno-cultural groups that live in the area. This program will use indigenous plants as a catalyst to build an appreciation for the Greenbelt ecosystem while helping to reduce social isolation for local newcomers. Ultimately, the project will establish environmental stewards among newcomer groups in the Parkway Forest Community who can play an ongoing role in promoting the health of our local urban ecosystems.

David Suzuki Foundation- The Butterflyway Project

The Butterflyway Project will engage a network of volunteer ‘Rangers’ within the Mount Joy and Morningside Creek waterways in planting a network of 12 pollinator-friendly canoe garden installations in river valleys permanently protected by the Greenbelt. We know that about 90 percent of flowering plant species depend on pollinators. However, a recent poll revealed about two-thirds of Canadians couldn’t identify a single native bee, even though Canada has more than 800 species. These canoe garden installations will not only help build important pollinator habitat in the region, but will help to raise awareness of how protected, naturalized river systems support the health of all species, and are essential to human life.  Each of the installations will be led by dedicated Butterfly Rangers who will work collaboratively with residents, park staff (in both Markham and Toronto), schools, local groups and individuals to steward and maintain the canoe gardens.  A series of pollinator themed celebrations will highlight the essential relationship between the health of local pollinators, our food system and the importance of Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The City of Markham- Shinrin Yoku Project

The City of Markham will establish a series of trails and host guided walks that promote the therapeutic practice of Forest Bathing, or Shinrin Yoku in Japanese. These paths, along Greenbelt urban river valley protected lands, will be the first Global Institute of Forest Therapy (GIFT) designated trails in Canada. Extensive research has pointed to the health benefits of Forest Bathing. Researchers have found that city dwellers who spend time in forests have lower heart rates, lower blood pressure and lower concentrations of stress hormones. The creation of Forest Bathing trails and guided walks will provide an opportunity to connect communities to their Greenbelt protected river valleys and shine the light on the positive mental and physical health impacts of spending relaxed quality time in nature. This project will take place in four parks located in both the Rouge River and Don River watersheds in the City of Markham.

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