In the next three years, efforts will focus on engaging community members and stakeholders; fostering land securement and stewardship; preparing joint management plans for core areas of the EcoPark System; pursuing provincial and federal government support, including possible special purpose legislation; and securing new funds.
The EcoPark System Coordinator will engage with the wider community to gather support for the EcoPark System and involve residents and stakeholders in its implementation. The Communication and Marketing Plan will be implemented with regular information conveyed to community members, stakeholders, potential donors and decision makers. The goal of the communication strategy is for community members and stakeholders to gain a sense of ownership and pride in the EcoPark System. Communication beyond the region will also be undertaken to raise the profile of the EcoPark System and gain support at the provincial, national and international levels.
The Management Committee will continue to support efforts among the partners to secure natural lands and work with private landowners to encourage stewardship on their properties. The EcoPark System Coordinator will work with the Hamilton Halton Watershed Stewardship Program to intensify their efforts in the Cootes to Escarpment Park System area. Regular landowner contact will be made to explain the environmental significance of the Park System and how to care for and enhance these natural lands. Owners of complementary stewardship lands can make voluntary positive contributions to the overall health and integrity of the surrounding system through stewardship or positive management activities on their lands.
The Cootes to Escarpment Conservation and Land Management Strategy divides the EcoPark System into six core Heritage Lands Areas, which are geographic groupings of properties according to their core natural and cultural heritage and characteristics. An important focus of work in 2013-2015 will be on developing joint management plans for each of these six areas. Through completion of these plans, progress will be made towards harmonization of policies, regulations and land classification on EcoPark System lands and creation of new joint initiatives to enhance existing programs and fill gaps related to habitat restoration, invasive species control, ecological inventories, environmental monitoring, education and interpretation, and cultural heritage protection. Work has begun on the first management plan, for the Burlington Heights Heritage Lands area. More information about this project can be found on the Burlington Heights Management Plan webpage.
Other Management Plans will be completed as resources become available.
The partners will work together to explore special purpose legislation to recognize the EcoPark System. A detailed plan for creating special purpose legislation will be developed and implemented, including required approvals, timelines and involvement of key decision makers.
Fundraising will be an important focus of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System Coordinator who will identify potential sources, develop cases for support and funding applications, and liaise with funding agencies. Relationships will be cultivated with potential donors and government agencies. The Coordinator will also provide regular reporting to the Management Committee on park system funds and expenses.
A joint fundraising strategy to support land securement, stewardship and EcoPark System operations will be formally approved by the partner organizations. This document will contain “best practices” or “guiding principles” for joint fundraising, and will contain a statement of support to present to potential funders and donors. Financial support could be provided for land securement, land stewardship, capital funding (trails), operational funding and planning.