The Town of Oakville, Ontario
– Safeguarding the Environment Award –
When it comes to Environmental Sustainability – Diamonds are a Harbour’s Best Friend
Boating enthusiasts will know that the Town of Oakville is the spot in southern Ontario for indulging in the sport. It boasts not one but two harbours that are home to hundreds of sail and powered vessels annually. Whether the Oakville or Bronte Harbour Marina, both draw thousands to the waterfront every year from May to October. The surrounding parkland is just the icing on the cake.
No doubt because the town is such a boating haven, when Oakville launched its Environmental Strategic Plan in 2005 to improve the environmental sustainability of the town, the harbours and their resident marinas were top of mind. The Town of Oakville determined to join the Clean Marine program and adopt what are recognized as among the country’s highest standards of environmental compliance. That commitment meant adopting more than 200 standards defined by the program, which is administered by the Ontario Marine Operators’ Association (now Boating Ontario), Environment Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
These included practices that cover all aspects of marine operations, such as:
- Eliminating the release of contaminants to the water, both directly and indirectly
- Minimizing the release of pollutants to the atmosphere
- Avoiding ground contamination
- Adopting waste reduction, reuse and recycling strategies
- Optimizing energy and water conservation
- Conforming to the requirements of all relevant legislation
Clean Marine participants undergo environmental audits, and scores of between one and five anchors are awarded to reflect their compliance with the program requirements. In its very first audit (2006), Oakville’s harbours received an “Eco-Rating” of two anchors. But the Town viewed this audit as a roadmap for improvement that, after applying additional practices and targeted training, resulted in a four-anchor Eco Rating in their second audit, which was performed in 2009!
Energized by this success, staff at the harbours set their sights on achieving the highly coveted 5 anchor ‘Diamond’ rating – a feat achieved by very few marinas in Ontario. So they set in motion a plan to meet the following rigid standards of compliance:
- Marina and some of its employees have attended a Spills Containment course and have an approved Spills Kit at the dock
- Marina converts over 90% of lighting to compact fluorescents or similar high-efficiency lighting
- Marina has educated its customers on the Clean Marine Eco-Rating program with a minimum of three communications pieces
- Marina has completed an in-house waste audit and improved hazardous waste collection site
- Marina has a process to eliminate derelict boats
- Town will provide all boaters with bilge socks in 2014 will mandatory use planned for 2015
- Marina participates in a local environmental initiative
- Marina adheres to the Environmental Strategic Plan, Sustainable Purchasing and Towards Zero Waste procedures
Well, the hard work paid off on June 27, 2012, when the Town of Oakville became one of only a half dozen organizations in Canada with this designation.
While the Town’s harbours must maintain all they have achieved to maintain this coveted status (audits are carried out regularly), the Canadian Safe Boating Council congratulates Oakville on its success and for helping to make recreational boating in Southern Ontario a fun and environmentally sustainable activity.
The CASBA Award for Safeguarding the Environment is awarded to the Town of Oakville, ON. Accepting the award from the CSBC’s Ted Rankine are Trisha Henderson (Environmental Coordinator), Cindy Toth (Director of Environmental Policy), Chris Mark (Director of Parks and Open Spaces) and Ksyztoff Izakowski (Manager of Harbour Operations).