Special to The Standard
SCUGOG: Scugog Township contains myriad unique habitats from marshes and moraines to forests and fields, all nestled around urban and rural settlements. This uniqueness and diversity affords opportunities for residents to enjoy and share our neighbourhoods with wildlife; be it birds, mammals, fish, insects or reptiles. This diversity also requires careful stewardship, to ensure that future generations can enjoy what surrounds us today.
The Scugog Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC) was formed in 2015 under the current Scugog Council. Its purpose was, to provide a direct link to the Mayor and Council on environmental issues, to work with Council and Township staff to resolve environmental concerns, and to link with local, provincial and national environmental organizations. SEAC’s membership includes, three Councillors of Scugog Township (Wotten, Somerville and Kett), two Scugog Township staff members, one member from Kawartha Region Conservation Authority, and 8 citizen members representing the agricultural and environmental communities.
The strong buy-in by Council shows they care, believe in the natural history of the Township, and are willing to dedicate time and effort to ensure that the health of our environment is assured. Members were chosen carefully through an application and interview process to guarantee the broad experience that exists within our community was tapped. The members bring a great deal of expertise to the Township, in areas such as municipal processes, policies and legislation, environmental compliance and technology, invasive species, aquatics, natural history, soils technology, engaging youth and outreach.
SEAC is governed by a Terms of Reference approved by Council, that details all the functional and operational issues under which the committee must work. Priorities were established early in the process and timelines assigned. The workplan for SEAC details how these priorities will be met, when they will be initiated and who will lead the projects. As priorities can change based on necessity, they are revisited on a regular basis. Currently, the top priorities focus on: invasive species, particularly Japanese Knotweed and Phragmites; greening technology, endangered species protection, commercial fill, Lake Scugog and agriculture. Other projects under consideration include: ground & surface water preservation and protection, climate change response, waste management and recycling, vehicle idling, trails, outreach & education, infrastructure and sustainability.
Being a fledgling group, SEAC encourages others to share their knowledge, and attempts to have a speaker at each meeting, to talk about important environmental activities, initiatives or technology. Presentations given to date, include those by, or for, Scugog Lake Stewards, the Blue Dot program, the Fatal Light Awareness Program, Durham Sustainability, and Kawartha Region Conservation. Likewise, SEAC links with other Environmental Advisory Committees through a provincial network. Geoff Carpentier, as the Chair of SEAC, represents the Township on the Durham Environmental Advisory Committee.
Some of the successes SEAC has realized, already include: providing technical and detailed comments to MOECC’s Framework Document, re. Excess Soil Management; assisting the Region of Durham with the development of the Environmental Assessment, for the Nonquon sewage treatment plant; supporting the Blue Dot program, to ensure rights to clean water and the environment are upheld; and developing an invasive species strategy, endorsed by Council.
So where do we go from here? Obviously the committee will continue to develop new strategies, devise implementation protocols, assist Township staff, by providing advice and guidance in managing environmental issues; and provide outreach and education to the public. Future projects include: providing the Township with advice, to encourage the reduction of the use of bottled water at municipal facilities and functions; to encourage stewardship, in areas such as control of the impacts of feral cats; and to develop projects to encourage youth, to participate in the community from an environmental perspective.
Meetings are held in Council chambers, on the 3rd Friday of each month, at 3 p.m., and are open to the public.