Province funds wetlands

Two Pickering wetland projects spearheaded by conservation organizations have received a historic $925,000 in provincial funding.

The five-year, $20-million Wetlands Conservation Partner Program supports projects. This includes restoring and enhancing large-scale wetlands, smaller wetlands on agricultural lands, and wetlands in more urban areas as part of municipal stormwater management.

Since the program was launched in 2020, some $20 million has been invested in more than 330 wetland projects, restoring and enhancing approximately 7,200 acres of wetlands, officials stated in a release. In the first two years of the program, an estimated $6 million in damage due to flooding has been avoided and more than 170 green jobs were created.

OFAH among partners

As part of the program, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) received approximately $340,000 in 2022. It was received to restore swamp habitat and transform an old aggregate extraction site in the Brock North area into a natural heritage and recreational destination.

Restoration activities included adding soil, reshaping the landscape, and planting native species to restore its natural drainage patterns and swamp habitat. The project is complete and the site ready for visitors.

“Wetlands are critical ecosystem components that help to improve the water quality and quantity of fish and wildlife habitats and protect infrastructure from flooding,” said OFAH Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program Coordinator Ben Teskey, who has worked at the site. “These wetland restoration projects support the restoration of Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon while benefiting many other species, including humans.”

The OFAH has been working with the province and partners for more than 17 years to restore the species to Lake Ontario, OFAH Executive Director Angelo Lombardo stated.

“We are thankful for the ministry’s significant financial contributions to these wetlands restoration projects, and for our local partner TRCA’s work here at Brock North and the many other projects we’ve worked on together to benefit Atlantic salmon and the Duffins Creek fishery,” he said.

TRCA also funded

This year, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) also received more than $585,000 to restore a wetland at a previous aggregate extraction site in the Brock North Headwater Wetland Complex area of the City of Pickering that will improve water drainage in this important ecological area. Restoration of this area will also improve habitat for fish and wildlife. Including Atlantic salmon and brook trout, and will provide future public recreational opportunities.

The investments are one of the largest in wetland restoration in Ontario history. On July 5, the province announced up to $6.9 million in investments. The investments were for approximately 100 local conservation projects to restore and enhance more than 2,400 acres of wetlands.

“I am very proud that Ontario is partnering with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority  and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to restore and enhance the health of wetlands in Pickering,” Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Andrea Khanjin stated. “Wetlands are vital ecosystems and we will continue to support projects that ensure they are protected, now and in the future.”

Click here to learn more about the Wetlands Conservation Partner Program.