Sunday, 8 May 2016

Westmount Sports Park and Environmental Reserve, Waterloo, ON

7 May 2016

      About a year ago I was asked to join a committee to plan and implement the environmental part of the above facility. I was happy to accept and the journey from that first meeting to the official opening has been productive, exciting and fulfilling. In total I have about eighty hours of my time invested in it. One person at the City of Waterloo once joked to me, "You work here, you just don't get paid for it!"
     Part of the reserve contains a children's playground where, instead of having standard climbing equipment, we installed a stylized Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon, which the kids are free to climb on. This feature is made in Elmira, ON using wood harvested from Mennonite woodlots in an environmentally responsible way. 

       Not only do the children have a fine opportunity to play on a unique structure we hope that they also learn a little about the bird. 
     We designed an interactive sign with photographs I supplied. These species represent birds which can be regularly found in the area, so with a little diligence parents can help their children to track down and identify the species on the sign. A brief description of each bird is given below its image and when the kids push the button they hear my voice with a little more information about the bird and a recording of its song.
     Here I am standing next to the sign.

       In this picture I am joined by Miriam who had to listen to my wild enthusiasm after every meeting and who joined me in spirit along the way.

     You can well imagine that Eddie and Will, our two youngest grandchildren wanted to have their picture taken with grandpa.

     The City of Waterloo was extremely kind in recognizing my contribution to this project and this is a close up of the bottom of the centre panel.

     At the start of the official opening ceremony we were honoured to have a group of First Nations students lead the procession to the playground, where they brought greetings in their native tongue, acknowledged the land, offered an aboriginal prayer of reverence to the land and sang a Micmac welcome song to all present. This land was originally occupied by the Neutrals, a name given by early French explorers to the ten tribes of the Iroquois Nation. Other indigenous people who travelled in the lands adjacent to the Grand River, and hunted, trapped and farmed were the Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Huron, Petun, Erie and Susquehannock. I have not a bone of religiosity in my body, but it seemed to me that if we were to have prayer at this event, it was entirely appropriate that First Nations people should offer it, given their legendary respect for, and stewardship of, the land.

     All levels of government - municipal, provincial and federal were represented at the event and the following picture shows Bardash Chagger, a person I first met when she was the organizer of the Multicultural Festival, and is now a member of our Federal Government and is the Minister of State for Small Business. Congratulations Bardash!

     The nonchalant and dashing young fellow in the centre of the picture, hands thrust in his pockets, is Michael Drescher, Assistant Professor in the School Of Planning, Faculty of the Environment, University of Waterloo, for whom I do a weekly bird survey in the campus woodlot. It was delightful to have Michael take part in the day.
     The Mayor of Waterloo, Dave Jaworsky, was joined by his junior counterpart, Mayor Zoe, Both mayors participated in the formal ceremonies.

     As you can see Mayor Jaworsky had come dressed to plant some trees for Earth Day.
     My good friends John and Geraldine Sanderson came back from a birding trip to Ohio to be present at this event, and I was thrilled to see them there. Here is John looking very much like the wise man he truly is. If you are looking for dignity, good humour, strength of character and a fine all round citizen you need look no further than John.

     Here is another shot of Bardash Chagger, this time with Councillor Jeff Henry in whose ward the park resides.

     I was the last person to speak at the ceremony and was asked to give some thoughts on my personal love of birds and to leave some take-away thoughts for the participants. I hope I left them all inspired!

     The very last act was a presentation to me of a framed copy of the sign, half size, but still huge! I appreciated this gesture very much indeed and it will certainly find a place of honour in our house.

     The two people I worked with most at the City of Waterloo were Geri Quin and Karen Anderson - especially Geri. I cannot say enough about them. I looked forward to every meeting and they were fine, decent, committed, appreciative, hardworking colleagues. 

David, Geri, Karen, Mayor Jaworski, Councillor Henry.

     Five hundred native trees and shrubs were there to be planted and everyone pitched in with gusto.

     Here is Eddie, being helped by his dad, Richard.

      And Will...

     And Erin......

     And our First Nations friends....

     Erin is convinced that her Mom was exuding pheromones since the moment she started to plant her tree she was offered help by every guy in the immediate vicinity! Here is a shot of her before the horde descended.

     Various games were available for the kids, the most popular seeming to be bubble soccer. As you can see from the pictures below Will and Eddie were enjoying it.

     Marcelo Thierry used to work for me almost from the day he first arrived in Canada from Argentina. His boys then were just little guys and I got to know them all well. They are all part of a fine family. 
     On the left in the picture below is oldest son Marco, now in medical school. His dad, Marcelo is on the right.

        Number two son, Franco is pursuing a career in the culinary arts and is about to go back to school for some advanced learning.

     I very much appreciated that they drove from Toronto to be with me on this special day. I hope to see them again soon.
     Seeing this project come to fruition is one of the highlights of my life. Thanks to everyone who participated at any point along the way. The result is a fine new facility for the citizens of Waterloo.


  1. Congratulations to you and those who helped.
    Wonderful to see that you are recognized for such work.
    Well done!

  2. Dearest David,
    It is always a worthwhile project for creating something outdoors for children.
    Also for passing on some passion for birds is a great thing to do.
    Our adopted daughter is a First Nations Canadian...
    For anyone, passionately involved in nature and observing the many miracles that surround us day by day, it is impossible to deny any deity...

  3. Hello David, this looks like a day of victory for nature. So much dedicated people. Thank you for giving an insite view on this event.

  4. Hi David.

    That's very nice what you have carried it.
    Nice that the kids than the birds can recognize on the plate.

    Thanks for so much help with planting trees.
    This is going to be very pretty.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  5. What an awesome blog post, I thank You from sharing it. And the Belted Kingfisher is a great idea.

  6. Hi David.
    Nice to see some of your loved ones,and congratulations nice to see that others enjoyed your efforts and rewarded for your hard work.

  7. Wow David what a great idea and so educational. It is good that you have been recognised for the work you have done, they obviously appreciate you. Take care Diane

  8. Wow! What an accomplishment! Congratulations. Looks like some wonderful ideas.

  9. It seems to me an honor to be asked for such a project.
    You have done a great job, David. Congratulations!
    Gr Jan W

  10. My heartfelt congratulations on your wonderful efforts on behalf of nature and the community, David. You certainly deserve all that recognition. I'm delighted to see that so many family and friends were able to share in the the event too!

    I trust that this place will be on the itinerary in 12 months time?

    Our love to you both - - - - - Richard

    1. For sure, Richard. It's five minutes from our house.

  11. David ... what a truly wonderful blog post.
    Your writing, all your wonderful photo's.
    You should be so proud of what you (and others) have achieved here, just wonderful to see.

    All the best Jan

  12. Have you ever seen the movie Reservoir Dogs? You really remind me of one of the characters in it (physically at least)!

    1. No, I have never seen the movie.

    2. Cut and paste this link

      It's meant as a compliment by the way!!!!!

  13. Hello, what a wonderful post. It is great your whole family was supportive and involved in some kind of way. Kudos to you for all you do in your community! Wonderful photos! Happy Tuesday, enjoy your week ahead!

  14. Congratulations David on your efforts with this park! A friend just called me to tell me about it and to my dismay...but not really...there you were a big part of the children's interactive play special a feature to engage the young in gotta get'em when their young :) Hopefully we'll run into each other soon with the Peregrine fledge watch team! Hugs! Karen

    1. Thanks for your comment, Karen. Hope to see you soon.

  15. Yes, congrats on that you've done David.

  16. I admire your efforts David, and it must be incredibly rewarding to see your hard work come to fruition. Nice to see the family and everyone else enjoying themselves. Applauding loudly :)

  17. Hello David,
    80 hours of volunteer work is very much. Your love of nature also makes you do it anyway :-)
    Funny to make this kingfisher as playset. It's also nice to see you in various photographs. Now I have a face :-)))) Really beautiful post with all the nice pictures. I love that there is much work to keep the beautiful nature and also to have gebeiden where one can learn from nature.
    A kiss for you

  18. Hi David, congratulations on your efforts and the wonderful post to record it. Wonderful to see you were well supported by family and friends. Well done to you. Regards John

  19. Que importante es la educación ambiental, fantástico proyecto. Enhorabuena David.

  20. What an important work you have been doing in environmental education, looks to have borne good fruit, it will hopefully be of great benefit for young people. It gave me a big joy to see this post. I also saw that there are two of my compatriots who are your friends.

    1. Hola mi amigo. There are many Argentinians in Canada, especially from Mendoza.

  21. Congratulations Dave! It looks amazing! Great job :)