ALUS Canada and MPP Toby Barrett hosted a special reception at Queen’s Park on March 2019 in support of ALUS in Ontario.
A special reception at Queen’s Park on March 19, 2019, brought together approximately 25 Ontario MPPs from all parties, ALUS supporters, partners, participants and community leaders.
The “A Taste of ALUS” event included representatives of seven ALUS communities in Ontario and featured delicious, farm-fresh food and drink produced by ALUS farmers and ranchers.
It was an excellent opportunity for Ontario’s elected representatives to learn more about how ALUS can help communities across the province meet their environmental targets.
Acting as emcee, ALUS Canada’s CEO, Bryan Gilvesy, introduced ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, a national charitable organization whose program supports farmers and ranchers who produce cleaner air, cleaner water, more biodiversity and other ecosystem services in their communities.
“We believe in farmers as solution-providers for many of our environmental problems. The solutions lie in rural communities and in farmers and ranchers,” said Gilvesy.
Strong attendance at the ALUS reception reflected the popularity of a private member’s bill, in support of ALUS, introduced by Toby Barrett (the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario MPP for Haldimand- Norfolk, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry).
Bill 28 has received unanimous support upon its second reading in the provincial legislature. [Read more here.]
“I proposed this legislation to raise awareness of the benefits of the ALUS approach,” said MPP Barrett, “and was quite heartened that MPPs of all stripes supported the bill.”
Fittingly, the speakers at this event also included Mike Schreiner (Leader of the Green Party of Ontario and MPP for Guelph), John Fraser (Interim Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and MPP for Ottawa South), the Hon. John Yakabuski (Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario MPP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke), and Paul Miller (Ontario New Democratic Party MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek).
“ALUS Canada is proud to be a community-developed, farmer-delivered program,” said Gilvesy. “Each ALUS community is strong and unique, determining its own priorities while benefitting from a shared set of ALUS principles and a central support system.”
There are now eight ALUS communities in southern Ontario, located between Cornwall, Windsor and Tobermory. Representatives of these ALUS communities helped host the “A Taste of ALUS” event and, as a special treat, provided a generous sampling of their own, Ontario farm-grown food and drink.
ALUS Canada was very pleased to welcome some key supporters to the event, including Jennifer Canham (Program Director, Conservation) from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, ALUS Canada’s primary financial partner, as well as Carolyn Scotchmer (Executive Director, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation) and Helen McLean (Executive Director, Donner Foundation). The ALUS program is supported through a blend of philanthropic funding and government grants, with a new foray into corporate sponsorships through the New Acre™ Project.
Many of ALUS’ important strategic partners were also in attendance, including Don Ciparis (Board Member for Ontario, National Farmers Union), Jo-Anne Rzadki (Business Development and Partnerships, Conservation Ontario), Judy Maxwell (General Manager, Long Point Region Conservation Authority), Dr. Andrew MacDougall and his students (MacDougall Ecology Lab, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph), Emma Horrigan (Conservation Science Coordinator, Ontario Nature), and Mike Collins-Williams (Director of Policy, Ontario Home Builders Association).
The Queen’s Park event brought together many diverse stakeholders, highlighting that the beauty of ALUS lies in its strong partnerships. At its root, the ALUS program supports synergies between farmers, communities and the environment, with many benefits for all stakeholders.
It’s a formula that is working. Nearly 400 Ontario farmers have already chosen to become ALUS participants, and to transform more than 3,100 acres of marginal land into wetland, grassland and woodland projects.
All these ALUS projects produce important ecosystem services that directly benefit rural communities across the province. For instance, ALUS projects in Ontario not only sequester carbon in the soil to produce cleaner air, but also reduce phosphorus to produce cleaner water in our lakes and rivers, and increase wildlife habitat and biodiversity in our communities.
“ALUS’ environmental impact is growing quickly, and with widespread support, it will continue to grow,” said Gilvesy. “In Ontario, and all across this nation, ALUS farmers and ranchers are part of the solution for improving the environment for Canadians.”
Read more about ALUS in Ontario in this downloadable PDF: Backgrounder-ALUS in Ontario-March 2019