For 35 years, The Riverwood Conservancy (TRC) has stewarded Riverwood, a 150 acre urban oasis of woodlands, meadows and nature trails. More than 10,000 people a year take part in TRC’s nature-focused events, and their volunteers log more than 24,000 hours a year. TRC has twice received a Park People Greenbelt River Valley Connector grant to support programs that connect people to their local Greenbelt protected watersheds.
As an organization with a strong understanding and foothold in the community, TRC was in an ideal position to help a new Mississauga park group get their volunteer program started. Friends of Hancock Woodlands was established when the City of Mississauga purchased a family-owned plant nursery with plans to open it as a new garden park. From the start of the project, the City was committed to ensuring the park had a robust volunteer program including a strong community park group. Hancock Woodlands was finally opened as a public park in 2018. In 2019 they received their first TD Park People grant to support awesome events that connected the community to their newest park.
The Riverwood Conservancy is more than 20 times the size of Hancock Woodlands with a long, established role in their City. How did Friends of Hancock Woodlands become the “little sister” to The Riverwood Conservancy and how did TRC’s experience help shape volunteerism and community engagement at Hancock Woodlands? We spoke to Robin Haley-Gillin, Manager of Organizational Development & Volunteers at TRC and Sytske van der Veen, Chair of the Friends of Hancock Woodlands, to learn more about their impressive collaboration.