Celebrating an Environmental Success Story in Niagara

Niagara Citizens Committee Honoured for Decades of Work on Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site

A plaque on a bench unveiled near the entrance to the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site in St. Catharines, honouring those who helped make this special place a reality.

A News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted July 23rd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley speaks at unveiling ceremony. Photo by Doug Draper

It was a ceremony that seemed long overdue.

And yet in a day and age when groups of citizens and governments don’t always do the best job of working together, it was great to have a reminder of what can be accomplished for a community when they do.

Such a time and reminder came this Monday, July 22nd when surviving members of what began in 1984 as the Glenridge Landfill Citizens Committee and representatives of Niagara’s regional government and cities of St. Catharines and Thorold gathered together at what is now known as the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site to celebrate the decades-long transformation of a problem-plagued municipal landfill site into a popular setting for outdoor recreation and wildlife.

It was in the 1980s that operational troubles at an old quarry on top of the Niagara Escarpment near Brock University and by then in full use by the City of St. Catharines as a municipal landfill site, were surfacing in the form of putrid effluent from manholes on streets and in the basements of some of the homes in a neighbourhood below.

Sitting on the new bench unveiled at the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site during the ceremony, are from left in front row, Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee members Mary Lorimer, Maureen Barker and Bryant Prosser, and standing from left to right are Thorold City Councillor John Kenny, St. Catharines Regional Councillor Tim Rigby and Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley, Photo by Doug Draper

Residents in that neighbourhood formed a group called the Glenridge Landfill Citizens Committee to fight for a cleanup and for closing the site down. And by the end of the decade, the group was renamed the Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee and was working with the city and later Niagara’s regional government to close the site and turn it into the naturalization park it is today.

In 2005, what was by then called the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site won national and international recognition as a model for landscape architecture and for turning a problem place into a beneficial use for the larger community.

At a gathering this Monday, July 22nd of some of the remaining members of the Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee and representatives from Niagara Region and the Cities of St. Catharines and Thorold, a new bench with a commemorative plaque on it was unveiled in the committee’s honour.

A popular spot to hike to in the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site above the Niagara Escarpment in St. Catharines

“Thanks in large part to the vision of the committee,” said Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley at the gathering, “a troublesome landfill was turned into a usable asset. … I want to join in commending them for the outstanding work they did, their persistence, and their ongoing interest.”

Words of thanks to the committee also came from Thorold City Councillor John Kenny, representing the city (that once used the landfill for disposing of municipal waste) at the July 22nd ceremony, and from Tim Rigby, a Niagara Regional Councillor for St. Catharines who was the city’s mayor when some of the work was done to convert the old quarry landfill to a sprawling park.

Attending the gathering were long-time Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee members and St. Catharines residents Mary Lorimer, Maureen Barker and Bryant Prosser.

Among those who were missing at the gathering but not forgotten were the late Lynne Matthews, who was a resident in the St. Catharines neighbourhood below the escarpment and a dedicated committee leader, the late Dee Dickman, another St. Catharines resident and leading member of the committee, and Dave Smith, a former St. Catharines, then Niagara Region engineer who played a frontline role in getting the whole conversion from landfill to naturalization site done.

Unveiling the ceremonial bench at the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site, from left to right are Glenridge Liaison Landfill Commtee members and St. Catharines residents Maureen Barker and Mary Lorimer, Thorold City Councillor John Kenny, St. Catharines Regional Councillor Tim Rigby, St. Catharines resident and committee member Bryant Prosser, Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley, Niagara Region’s acting CAO Ron Tripp and Niagara Region’s Acting Public Works Commissioner Catherine Habermebt. Photo by Doug Draper

It is also important to note that Jim Bradley was the Ontario Minister of Environment for the Liberal government of David Peterson from 1985 to 1990, and helped set so much of the spirit and policy framework that made a resolution to environmental problems that sites like the old Glenridge quarry landfill site posed more possible. He too deserves recognition for the role he played in the success of all of this.

The journey that all of these parties went through together, from what seemed like irreconcilable differences in the early days, to coming together with a grand idea that has been fulfilled for the benefit of all stands as a shining example of what can be done when citizens and governments work together.

It should serve as an inspiration to all.

Now here is a news release that Niagara Region circulated following the July 22nd ceremony –

News Release, July 22, 2019

A legacy of stewardship

Earlier today at the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site, Regional Chair Jim Bradley along with CAO Ron Tripp, (St. Catharines) Regional Councillor Tim Rigby, and Thorold Councillor John Kenny held a ceremony to unveil a bench and plaque to commemorate the work of the Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee.

The Glenridge Landfill Citizens’ Committee was formed by a group of citizens in 1984 as a response to environmental issues attributed to the operation of the Glenridge Quarry Landfill Site. In 1989, this committee was renamed the Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee and was managed by the City of St. Catharines and then by Niagara Region in 2000.

The Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee included representation from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Niagara Escarpment Commission, citizens residing in the area of the Landfill, St. Catharines City Council and staff, the City of Thorold and Niagara Region.

An early drawing by designer Peter J. Smith and Company of the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site when it was a work in progress.

The Glenridge site was originally a limestone quarry before the City of St. Catharines used the site as an operating municipal landfill from 1976 to 2001.In the 1990s it was determined that a naturalization site with a trail system would replace the landfill once it closed on January 1, 2002.

In April 2002, a visioning session was held with the Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee​ to define the role of the naturalization site. It was decided the Glenridge site should be usable public space, to provide a significant benefit to the public and local neighbourhood residents, while prioritizing environmental education.

Today, thanks in large part to the vision of the Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee, the site is a public space to be enjoyed by families, students, environmentalists, walkers, joggers, hikers and bird watchers.

In 2016, the Glenridge Landfill Liaison Committee formally disbanded as the site remains within the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks regulations since the landfill closed.

About the *Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site*

The Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site was one of Ontario’s first comprehensive ‘Green Sites’. Efforts were made in the design of the site to use natural materials, native flora, and avoiding hard surface paving to promote ground water percolation.

The naturalization site has been recognized with a number of awards, including the prestigious First Place and Gold Award at the International Awards for Liveable Communities in Spain.

Additional awards were received from the following organizations:

  • * American Planning Association
  • * American Society of Landscape Architects
  • * Ontario Public Works Association
  • * Canadian Urban Institute

The Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site opened as a public park on September 28, 2004. It is located at 1860 Sir Isaac Brock Way, just off Highway 406.

Learn more about the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site​ by clicking on the following link – 

<https://www.niagararegion.ca/living/naturalization/glenridge-quarry.aspx>.

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“A politician thinks of the next election. a leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

 

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2 responses to “Celebrating an Environmental Success Story in Niagara

  1. Linda McKellar

    Just an observation. Many of these community groups appear to be composed of seniors. Where are the young people who have to live with the messes that are being created in so many communities? They have the most to lose. I hope they become active in their towns.

    Like

  2. Great article Doug! Keep up the fine journalism

    Like

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