Rideau Valley Conservation Authority meets challenges even in the pandemic

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2020 was a year like no other, but Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) staff and conservation partners worked diligently to serve the watershed while keeping everyone safe during the global pandemic.

“We are very proud of how quickly and efficiently RVCA staff were able to pivot in 2020,” said Sommer Casgrain-Robertson, RVCA General Manager. “We faced challenges head on and were busier than ever.”

The RVCA’s 2020 Annual Report highlights a banner year for some departments, including a 50 per cent increase in visitors to its 11 conservation areas and record numbers of planning and development applications. Staff also navigated significant changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, introduced in the final weeks of 2020.

The RVCA is one of 36 Conservation Authorities across the province tasked with watershed management to protect people, property and environment. For 55 years, the RVCA has provided quality programs and services based on this watershed model for the people who live, work and play in the Rideau Valley watershed. Programs range from tree planting to water quality monitoring to flood forecasting.

They serve a watershed of more than 4,000 km2, stretching from Central Frontenac to Merrickville-Wolford and downriver to the City of Ottawa. Through science, stewardship and education, the RVCA strives to manage local natural resources sustainably to ensure a healthy watershed for the future.

“Our programs protect the health of our watershed and the people who live here,” said Casgrain-Robertson. “But we don’t do our work alone. We are grateful to our many partners that help us achieve our goals – our municipalities and countless individuals, organizations and businesses.”

2020 Highlights:

  • 300,000 visitors to RVCA’s 11 conservation areas (an increase of 50 per cent).
  • $396,488 in grants allocated to farmers and landowners for projects to improve water quality, valued at more than $1.3 million.
  • 231,050 trees planted in the Rideau Valley watershed, bringing our total to 6.6 million trees planted since 1984.
  • 14,554 trees and shrubs planted on 92 waterfront properties to naturalize shorelines.
  • 1,844 students participated in curriculum-based outdoor education programs, before staff pivoted to providing online resources for teachers and parents.
  • 1,422 Planning Act applications reviewed, 1,099 property inquiries completed through Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act and 724 septic system applications processed for new or replacement sites in Ottawa and Tay Valley Township.
  • 1,385 free butternut seedlings distributed to replace dead and dying endangered butternut trees.
  • 156 sites sampled for water quality on lakes, rivers and major tributaries.
  • 44 sites sampled in spring and fall for the Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network.
  • 3.1 kilometres of shorelines naturalized with trees and shrubs.
  • 8 Rideau River and 3 Ottawa River flood messages issued.

The RVCA is grateful for the local support for conservation authorities that resulted in improved amendments and inspired the province to work more collaboratively with conservation authorities and municipalities moving forward.

“Thank you to everyone who helped us through a challenging year,” said Ms. Casgrain-Robertson. “We are grateful for your continued support and commitment to watershed health and resilience.”

For your copy of the RVCA 2020 Annual Report, visit www.rvca.ca or call 613-692-3571 or
1-800-267-3504 for a hard copy.

 

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