Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Natural Partnership

The theme for Latornell this year is one that gives me great hope. The idea of collaborating with nature is a concept that I have believed in and shared for many years. Lately, along with the other members of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, I have been sharing the message that protecting, restoring and sustainably managing biodiversity is our best defence in a world with a rapidly changing climate. I think it’s one of the most important principles to guide the work we each do to support conservation in Ontario.

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It includes the plant and animal species, lands, lakes, rivers, forests and other ecosystems that provide us with a healthy environment, clean air, productive soils, nutritious foods, and safe, clean water. This biodiversity also supports our forestry, farming, fishing, recreation and tourism industries.

All living things are connected and rely on each other to survive. However, it used to be that as a society, we behaved as though nature was an obstacle to progress. And as you know, that mindset does still exist. But there is a very positive shift happening now, where we are realizing that biodiversity is the mightiest tool in our toolbox as we build a future where sustainable use and restoration are the norm rather than the exception.

Collaborating with nature makes sense. We need to work with and make use of the natural processes and systems if we want to maintain biodiversity and the ecosystem services we rely on for our own health and a prosperous economy. This can include investing in natural green infrastructure to support climate change mitigation, or, building resilience in natural systems – and in turn our homes and communities – to protect us from extreme weather such as floods.

All green infrastructure is good. And incorporating any green infrastructure is better than not. But we will be most successful when we leave nature to do what it does best – this is natural infrastructure. Evidence shows us that healthy forests, wetlands, watersheds and floodplains provide many of the benefits of human-made green infrastructure with significantly lower costs and maintenance expenses. Conserving our existing natural resources to capitalize on the ecosystem services they provide is truly collaborating with nature.

We have to continue our efforts to conserve biodiversity for its own sake, but also for our sake. Promoting and adopting natural green infrastructure - making it the norm – will give us multiple benefits: reduced impact of floods and droughts, better air quality, clean water, beautiful and connected natural spaces in our communities, healthy local food, and many more.

At Latornell this year, there are a number of wonderful sessions that can help us promote and argue for natural green infrastructure. We will be learning about greener roads and highways, integrating nature into urban design, storm water management, land securement, the importance of communicating science, and much more. And I hope you will join me on the morning of Day 2 for the Ontario Biodiversity Council panel on the role of biodiversity and natural infrastructure in attenuating flood risk. In the afternoon the Ontario Biodiversity Council is also pleased to offer a session that focuses on progress and the path to success for meeting two targets from Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy: completing and implementing natural heritage systems plans and conserving 17 percent of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as protected areas.

It’s sometime easy to become discouraged when you work in conservation. The stakes are high and it can feel like we are fighting a losing battle. But there’s much strength to be gained in numbers, and the Latornell Symposium offers a great opportunity to share ideas and enthusiasm with a like-minded crowd. I look forward to meeting many of you as we continue the important work of collaborating with nature to protect what sustains us.

Blog Post from Steve Hounsell, Chair, Ontario Biodiversity Council

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Building Your LID Practice

While LID is becoming more common in Ontario, there is still a lack of training and experience amongst contractors, which can lead to poor construction techniques. You may have a great LID design, but without proper construction practices, your LID feature will not function as intended. Construction of an LID feature is different than a typical stormwater practice. It requires different materials, changes to typical construction sequencing, protection of infiltration areas, and vegetation within the practice serves both a functional and aesthetic role. Contractors must have a thorough understanding of these differences to ensure successful LID projects.

A typical LID construction process follows 6 major steps:
  1. Mass Grading
  2. Excavation
  3. Installation of underground infrastructure
  4. Backfilling with granular material
  5. Biomedia installation
  6. Planting 
This video will demonstrate all 6 steps in action, through in the construction of a bioretention feature.

To learn more about LID construction techniques, join CVC and TRCA on November 14th at the Pre-Latornell conference training Making It Work: Low Impact Development SWM Construction, Inspection, Maintenance, and Monitoring Module and check out Credit Valley Conservation’s Construction Guide and Construction Case Study

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Monday, 7 November 2016

Erosion and Sediment Control

Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) is a critical component of an LID construction project. During construction, natural drainage pathways are altered, vegetation and stable topsoil aggregates are stripped away as part of the grading process. If left uncontrolled, erosion of exposed soils can cause local air quality problems, degradation of aquatic habitats, and damage to downstream recreational areas and infrastructure. ESC is often not properly designed, installed or maintained leaving the integrity of the site and downstream drainage areas at risk. While ESC is important to protect against many external site factors, it is also critical to protect against internal factors, particularly for a LID construction site. Improper ESC could lead to contamination of bioretention soils, clogged permeable pavers or sediment ridden clear stone beds and underdrains. An ESC plan will first identify all erosion and sediment sources, then identify the ESC protection practices you need to put in place, such as construction phasing, minimization of land disturbances, vegetative buffers, temporary seeding, sod stabilization, horizontal slope grading, preservation of trees and other natural vegetation, and temporary and permanent vegetation establishment. For these reasons, ESC is one of the aspects of an LID project that should receive careful attention.

To find out more about ESC, join CVC and TRCA on November 14th at the Pre-Latornell conference training Making It Work: Low Impact Development SWM Construction, Inspection, Maintenance, and Monitoring Module. Otherwise, check out CVC’s LID Construction Guide for helpful tips that can be found here:

and a video link illustrating the ESC process:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Friday, 4 November 2016

Tender and Contract

Tender, Contract and Pre-Construction for Low Impact Development

When constructing a low impact development (LID) feature, your tender and contract can be a tool to solve problems before they ever come to pass. It helps ensure that a qualified contractor constructs your LID project properly, and allows you to set out clear expectations for the contractor, consultant and inspector. It is important to be very detailed in your tender and contract, as there are critical components that may differ from traditional construction. Special provisions within the contract can provide detail to erosion and sediment control, material specifications and testing, inspection points, and specific maintenance protocols into warranty period. By having that critical information in the contract it can help to prevent costly repairs and maintenance as the project goes from construction to assumption.

Communication is also an important tool for a successful LID project. Many contractors in Ontario are new to LID and having a pre-construction meeting is a great way to help educate your contractors on what is different about LID construction. Pre-construction meetings should include discussions about protecting infiltration areas, meeting material specifications, material storage areas, construction sequencing, and communication chains. To properly prepare yourself for LID construction, maintenance or monitoring check out the Pre-Latornell LID training workshop on November 14th being offered by CVC and TRCA.

Check out Credit Valley Conservations video on Tender, Contract and Pre-Construction for more tips and tools.

More information about CVC’s LID Training Program can be found here:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Siting and Design Verification

LID practices use techniques and specifications that differ from traditional stormwater management construction practices. Failing to follow proper LID construction methods can result in barren bioretention landscapes, clogged infiltration practices, uneven permeable pavements and costly post-construction repairs. CVC offers training courses where experienced instructors take participants through each step of the LID construction process, highlighting potential errors and explaining proper techniques. In 2017,the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) will be releasing the LID Stormwater Management Manual, which will encouraging the use of green infrastructure. It will also identify minimum runoff volume control targets in addition to water quality control targets. Taking advantage of the LID Construction, Inspection, and Monitoring training offered on November 14th as a Pre-Latornell workshop can help professionals stay ahead of the changes.

In anticipation of the MOECC changes, CVC has created a series of videos to complement the LID construction, inspection, and monitoring training course. Siting and verification of LID practice design is the first part of this series. This video stresses the importance of verifying several design and preconstruction tasks. Identifying construction boundaries and verifying grades is a critical step in all construction projects. Verifying design assumptions is needed to be done on site and then determine if any changes to the design are necessary.

More information about CVC, TRCA, and LSRCA’s LID Training Program can be found here:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Interview: The 'Latornell Experience' through the eyes of a 2015 Grant Recipient

Jayme Hughes, Latornell Communications Coordinator Interview with Greg Bunker, Kawartha Conservation

With the opening of the Latornell Grant Program this year, the Steering Committee wanted to try and give the program a bit more profile, since it tends to (shockingly) be a bit undersubscribed.  Alas, I found myself on the hunt for a past grant recipient to chat with so I could find out what their experience was like, and hear some of the perks to applying (aside from the obvious financial benefits).  

I quickly realized that I actually had a 2015 grant recipient right downstairs- Kawartha Conservation’s Stewardship Outreach Technician, and the driving force behind our ‘BlueScaping’ program, Greg Bunker.  This guy is essentially a dream to have in the office- a new Associate Landscape Architect, a dedicated team member, and a fantastic person to bounce creative ideas off of.  I knew he’d be the perfect person to talk to about the grant program!

We casually sat down in a small meeting room at the Kawartha Conservation headquarters in the ‘dog days’ of summer so I could ask him what it is he loves about Latornell, and what it was like to attend the Symposium in 2015 as a grant recipient.  

JH: Thanks for agreeing to chat with me Greg! I know you’ve attended Latornell in the past through previous career roles, tell me what initially interested you in the Symposium and what made you interested in applying for a grant last year to come back?

GB: I first learned of and came to Latornell in 2004 as a student poster presenter, and was blown away by the scope and diversity of conservation work happening across the province. I remember meeting many like-minded students and professionals, and for the first time realizing that there were so many directions my undergraduate education could take. When my partner and I decided to make a documentary about the Greenock Swamp, we started working with the local Conservation Authority there and it just made sense to put the word out at Latornell – to both reach out to and get feedback from a broad environmental conservation audience. Now that I am working for a Conservation Authority, I was fortunate enough to receive a grant to return to the Symposium last year as an attendee.

JH: Sounds like you’ve caught what I call “Latornell Fever”!  That’s so cheesy I know. But seriously, once you’ve been a part of the event, and feel welcomed into the community, you just can’t get enough.  There’s something unique about it.

GB: Totally! If I could choose only one conference to attend each year, it would be Latornell for sure.

JH: So, after successfully applying for a grant in 2015, are there any tips or tricks for the application process that you can provide to those interested this year?
GB: The Symposium is always full of interesting topics to learn more about, but it’s important to take a good look at the program and figure out which sessions will provide you with the information and contacts you need to succeed at whatever you are pursuing.  Also, make sure to mention in your application how you will take advantage of the social activities on offer – there are many and they provide a great way to get to know others in a more relaxed atmosphere.

JH: Aside from the obvious financial perks, what benefits do you feel like you received as a grant recipient?  

GB: Meeting other grant recipients and the Steering Committee members at a special little wine and cheese networking session just for the grant recipients. It was great because a lot of the grantees are really starting to develop their careers, and it’s helpful to get advice and new contacts from more experienced individuals within the conservation community.  Plus they host it right at the beginning of the Symposium, so throughout the week you see familiar faces and it helps to get introduced to more delegates later on and make contacts.

JH: Ok, let’s say someone is attending the Symposium for the first time this year, how can they make the most out of their ‘Latornell experience’?

GB:  Best advice? And keep in mind this is advice coming from an introvert … just don’t be shy! It’s really important to put yourself out there in order to get the full experience.  The conference has so much built in programming that’s conducive to talking to people and making new connections in a natural way.  The sessions, meals, and social events are all perfect places to spark a conversation.  In my experience the conservation community is especially nurturing and there is a definite feeling of comradery in the air at Latornell.  I’ve always found that people within this sector are willing to go out of their way to help and to really support each other.

JH: I hear you’ll be coming back to Latornell this year as a session speaker! That’s exciting, tell me more about that.

GB: Yes, I’m definitely excited to attend again this year and to speak! I’ll be presenting about Kawartha Conservation’s ‘BlueScaping’ program, which is all about landscaping urban areas to manage storm water on-site.  I’ll be sharing what’s happened with the program in the past year, and also where it’s headed.  The session I’m speaking in is all about how stewardship initiatives can complement natural system functions.  I think it will be really interesting because we have speakers sharing insights into three different programs at different stages of development: our BlueScaping program which is quite new, one program which is a few years along, and another which has over 20 years history of implementation.  
JH: Thanks so much for filling me in on all of this! It sounds like your session will be really interesting and you’re all set to have another amazing experience at Latornell this year!

Greg Bunker is the Stewardship Outreach Technician at Kawartha Conservation.  He will be presenting about the Conservation Authority’s ‘BlueScaping’ program at Latornell 2016 in session WC2

Jayme Hughes has been the Communications Coordinator for the Latornell Symposium for the past five years, and is also the Marketing & Communications Specialist at Kawartha Conservation.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Green Infrastructure for a Healthy Future

By Bill Trenouth, Jennifer Dougherty and Kyle Vander Linden, Credit Valley Conservation

It is exciting to know that green infrastructure will be the focus of the 2016 Latornell Symposium.  For three days this November – plus an additional fourth day in the immediate run up to the conference – professionals from across Ontario will convene, share ideas and explore opportunities, challenges and lessons learned with the goal of , advancing the state of knowledge and practice, and to encourage the use of solutions which build healthy, resilient communities that connect, support and sustain us. Specialists working on low impact development (LID) will be sharing ideas and promoting tools that can take this multi-functional technology beyond the pilot stage to full-scale adoption.

But what is “green infrastructure”? Innumerable policies, documents and plans make reference to this phrase, but there is no clear consensus as to what falls inside – or outside – of this terminology. This year’s Latornell Conference organizers have done a fantastic job of encapsulating the key aspects associated with this term. Chiefly, that green infrastructure includes living systems that are either “built or naturally occurring”, and that these systems “support the environment, the economy and our quality of life”.

Credit Valley Conservation and many other CA’s have long embraced these ideas and have worked tirelessly to encourage the protection and responsible use of green infrastructure, and collectively we have worked to build a valuation of the services we receive from these features as part of a full-cost accounting. From ‘Natural Credit’ to our latest LID Monitoring ‘How To’ guide, CVC and its partners have been at the fore of a range of green infrastructure initiatives.  But there is still much work to be done.

Experiences and expertise need to be shared, and the 2016 Latornell Symposium serves as the perfect space where this can be accomplished. We look forward to seeing many of you at the Latornell Symposium, and quite possibly at our pre-Latornell LID Construction, Operation, Maintenance and Monitoring Training as well!

Bill Trenouth, Jennifer Dougherty and Kyle Vander Linden work in the Water and Climate Change Science and Integrated Water Management groups at CVC. Their teams specialize in the planning, design, implementation, and performance monitoring of low impact development (LID) stormwater management features. Having worked with their municipal partners to implement more than 60 LID projects throughout the Credit River Watershed, their teams now offer comprehensive training courses related to the design, construction, operation, maintenance and compliance monitoring of these technologies in conjunction with both the Toronto and Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authorities.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Latornell Leadership Award...Priceless

By Tom Prout, 2015 Leadership Award recipient & 2016 Leadership Awards Master of Ceremonies 

What a humbling surprise and honour to not only be one of the 2015 Latornell Leadership Award recipients, but to also be selected as the Master of Ceremonies for the 2016 Leadership Awards Banquet! What a wonderful way to finish an amazing career in conservation and the environment and start my retirement.

To many of you, the name Art Latornell will mean something and it should. Whether you knew Art or not by attending the Latornell Symposium you are benefiting from his dedication and generosity and helping fulfill his vision.  Art was very big on giving youth opportunities and seeing what they could do with it. He was respected by all those who knew him.

I was fortunate to know and work with Art Latornell. Never, during my forty year career did I achieve the level of calm, collect and compassion that Art Latornell lived his life by. As my mentor I would often turn to Art for advice. He was in no way a micro-manager, if fact the complete opposite. Art would listen to my issues and yearning for advice. Through his quiet comments and questions he would have me resolve my own problems. When two or more people were together with Art he would challenge us with a problem and then stand back and listen to the ensuing debate. This debate often provided answers to current challenges.

Art’s legacy continues to grow, through this Symposium, and now at the University of Guelph. In April of this year, the University of Guelph announced the Latornell Professorship in Environmental Stewardship.  Through a collaborative effort between the Latornell Endowment Committee and the University of Guelph, this new professorship was made possible.  Art would be pleased.

To me the value of the Latornell Leadership Award is priceless. I want to thank the Sympoisum organizing committee for taking the extra effort to acknowledge individuals who strive to be the mentor that Art Latornell was.  If there is someone you work with who you feel has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the conservation sector, I encourage you to nominate them for this prestigious award! You can find more information and the necessary forms on the Latornell website.

I would like to leave you with a challenge provided to me by my eight year old granddaughter, Mercedes Prout; “Let us open our minds together and breathe in the fresh air that our world makes. Let us take the time to find out what we can do to make our world a better place. We can make a difference together.”

Tom Prout was the General Manager and Secretary-Treasurer of Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority in Exeter Ontario for more than three decades.  Tom's life-long, and outstanding contributions to the conservation sector earned him a Latornell Leadership Award in 2015.  Tom will be our Master of Ceremonies for this year's Latornell Leadership Awards.