THUNDER BAY - Over the past year, champion teachers, administrators, custodians and student-driven EcoTeams have enthusiastically led 17 schools within four northwestern Ontario school boards to achieve EcoSchools certification.
This year, Huron Superior Catholic District School Board, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, Lakehead Public Schools, and Keewatin-Patricia District School Board have joined a movement of 1,900 certified schools across the province. This success has been supported through the third year of a partnership between Ontario EcoSchools and EcoSuperior Environmental Programs, a Thunder Bay-based non-profit that supports and promotes environmental stewardship throughout the Lake Superior Basin. The partnership has provided a Northern Outreach Coordinator based at EcoSuperior who offers local resources and targeted regional support throughout the year.
EcoSchools works with 58 school boards to nurture student leadership and foster environmental learning and action in schools. Certification is based on a provincial standard of excellence and reaches 1,000,000 students across Ontario.
This year EcoSuperior Environmental Programs’ Will Vanderploeg worked collaboratively with a new certifying school, Claude E Garton Public School in Thunder Bay, to develop and execute a DePave Paradise project. The project involved communicating with school administration to remove an area of under-utilized asphalt, excavate, and create a rain garden that will help control and absorb stormwater on the school grounds.
“I am hoping that this experience allows for some educational opportunities for the students and staff in regard to stormwater management,” Vanderploeg says. The program is executed by parent and community volunteers to assist with removing the old asphalt.
“The morning of DePave Paradise was just awesome! Families from the school came out and made quick work of the 102 square meters of asphalt that needed to be removed,” reports EcoSchools Northern Outreach Coordinator Erin Moir. “In addition to all the families that were involved, DePave Paradise brought together some really wonderful partners who provided asphalt removal service, excavation service, topsoil delivery and planting expertise. It really was a community effort!” A big thank you to Taranis Contracting Group, Green Communities Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Home Hardware, Trash Trailer, and Earthworks Contracting.
DePave Paradise was great motivation for Claude E Garton Elementary School to engage with the EcoSchools program and complete their first application.