Report of the Annual Meeting

Reporting on the Annual Meeting is a pleasure!! Beyond the required quroum, Members joined in making some significant changes while being informed of successful accomplishments and new initiatives.

“THE FRIENDS OF WALKERS CREEK … WCNA”  now becomes the official name of a venerable, respected and much appreciated “Walkers Creek Neighbourhood Association”. Eleven years into its existence, from a  beginning that managed to resolve concerns, that created the Parks as they now exist, that has been a stalwart in helping the local Community be well informed and involved in issues, the name change adds the ‘welcoming’ to all City folks making the City of St. Catharines our Neighbourhood. 

       As more and more people become aware of and familiar with the Walkers Creek meandering course from Grantham Avenue to the bluffs overlooking the Lake, as “Walks in the Parks” in Spring and Autumn encourages more usage of the pathways, open spaces and natural settings, the choice to enjoy has spread well beyond the immediate neighbourhood. And as the Parks take on more than a recreational benefit, with increasing educational examples of the existence of a Carolinian Forest, as local settlement history becomes more identified, this gem becomes even more of a treasure to be enjoyed. 

    Reporting on the very positive, cooperative, respected and much appreciated involvement of the City’s Recreation and Community Services (RCS) expertise, the important  assistance  of the Community Development department of RCS, the ever ready help from the City’s Public Works staff, the significant help and advice offered by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) , working hand-in-hand with the volunteers and  leadership of “The Friends of Walkers Creek …WCNA” and with the ongoing support of Grantham Ward City Councillors, a formidable impact has been achieved. With a generous grant from the TD Bank “Friends of the Environment” Foundation, coordinated by the NPCA , volunteers have added 425 new trees and bushes, all of native species, to the Parks. Recently, “The Friends of Walkers Creek…WCNA”, received a grant for $1500 from the Niagara Community Foundation that will allow for the re-development of  a demonstration ‘buffer-zone’ plot, with examples of appropriate native species plantings that will also resolve erosion issues on the creek-side. Cooperative efforts of City Staff, NPCA advisors and the volunteers of “The Friends” will see this project get underway in May, 2014. 

   At the end of May, “The Friends of Walkers Creek…WCNA” , is honoured to be asked to provide three ‘walk-abouts’ for delegates to a significant Conference of Municipal Officers and Staff gathering in Niagara Falls from across the country, . The Walkers Creek water shed and natural settings is an ideal example of environmentally sensitive  parkland nestled in residential development, of effective cooperation between many levels of Government and the volunteer monitoring and development of parklands.  

     Gavin Pally, the City of St. Catharines aroborist, was the guest speaker at the AGM. Gavin’s presentation gave all attendees pause as he described in detail the challenge our tree shaded streets and parklands face due to the invasion of foreign insects that will denude so much of our existing tree inventory. “The Crisis to the Canopy”  is a result of the Emerald Ash Borer, a small intrusive pest which will eradicate most of the Ash trees that presently exist. While efforts are being made to inoculate some Ash trees against this blight, the prognosis is that Ash trees will almost all disappear in the immediate future. The arrival of the Long Horned Beetle threatens the many Norway Maples that line our streets providing that delightful shade in the summer’s heat. Some streets have already suffered the necessity of having trees removed due to dangerous conditions resulting from  an infestation and more of this destruction will certainly be soon visible. The choice of replacement stock does not include many species that are native to our area, Gavin reported. It is hard to imagine, yet properly so for those of us who witnessed the Dutch Elm Disease of years ago, how the City will look as this serious denuding takes place. 

     As parents and grandparents, the Directors are often parties to conversations regarding the need for younger children to be able to play, to become more familiar with nature and to enjoy the pleasure of knowing how to make their mark positively on the environment while discovering the many interests that can be sparked as plants, trees, wee animals, amphibians and aquatic life become familiar.  Discussion at the AGM brought forward some expressed interest by Members to join with the Directors to plan a  ranging effort to encourage efforts towards these expressed objectives.  Happily, Grades four and five from Prince Philip school have acted on this interest and have made an initial foray into the Parks with their teacher and leadership from The  Friends of Walkers Creek. 

   AGM’s often concentrate of what has been accomplished but The Friends of Walkers Creek … WCNA also looks forward to the busy seasons ahead. 

Early May     City Staff, Ward Councillors and The Friends’ Directors will take the annual Spring Stroll, reviewing the Parks and noting items need attention.
Early May     Preparation work will begin on the Buffer Zone project at Strathcona/Gosten entrance, supported by the Niagara Community Foundation grant.
May 6th    Rice Road Nurseries discount day … 25% off regular prices … for 2014 Members of “The Friends of Walkers Creek … WCNA” … a definite ‘must do’ for all Members.
May 15th    The Spring “Walks in the Parks” begin in Walkers Creek Park
May 29 – June 2nd   The Federation of Municipalities Conference, which involves delegates from across Canada, occurs at the Niagara Falls Scotia Convention Centre. 
Friday and Saturday May 29 & 30th will provide Walks to delegates of the Conference, beginning on Cindy Drive. 
Saturday June 7th   The Annual Friends of Walkers Creek  … WCNA PLANT SALE  happening at 88 Cherie Road
Saturday September 6th      Star Gazing Night in Cindy Drive Park, wearther permitting. 
Thursday September 11th    The Autumn Stroll of City Staff, Ward Councillors and Directors of The Friends of Walkers Creek …WCNA  is scheduled.