From 2005 to 2012, EcoSpark led the Monitoring the Moraine (MTM) program, recognizing the need for an active citizen voice in the stewardship of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The goal of the program was to build a movement of engagement and informed communities to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine by providing opportunities for people to discover and celebrate the moraine, monitor its health, and work towards democratic governance where all stakeholders take responsibility in the Moraine’s safekeeping.
Through the MTM program, we engaged thousands of people to better understand and appreciate this special landscape. We led numerous educational hikes and workshops for students and local community groups, and we developed A Citizens’ Guide to the Oak Ridges Moraine – the definitive guide to learning about the moraine. We also inspired 146 photographers on the moraine to take 892 photos of its land, water, plants, animals, and people. Lastly, we recognized 33 Moraine Heroes, representing 2100 individuals who have all helped to make the Oak Ridges Moraine a better place to live, work, and play.
EcoSpark led the MTM program to achieve many firsts in bringing people together to track and protect the Oak Ridges Moraine. To initiate dialogue around moraine monitoring and protection we led 10 meetings that attracted 272 people representing 100 moraine stakeholders groups. From 2005-2008, we assembled and led the first multi-stakeholder advisory committee to prepare for the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) review. We also produced the first series of reports to track municipal compliance and provincial progress on the ORMCP (2006, 2007, and 2012 Status Reports).
The MTM program helped to ensure a strong local voice through community-based monitoring. We developed Moraine Watch— the first policy monitoring program for volunteers—and tracked over 50 local issues across the landscape in a systematic way. From 2005 to 2011, we coordinated 13 Check Your Watershed Day events, working with 14 partners and 384 volunteers to monitor baseflow on 1327 streams in 13 Moraine-based watersheds. In 2012, we produced an in-depth analysis and report on the volunteer-collected data.
In our seven years on the Oak Ridges Moraine, we witnessed positive changes in people and their communities due in part to the MTM program. Individuals who attended our early workshops went on to become local environmental activists, councillors, and moraine heroes. They became members of existing local groups, joined the boards of others, and formed their own groups. In 2010, we launched the first public awareness campaign about the 2015 Review of the ORMCP, which garnered support from 1,350 individuals who pledged to participate in the plan review.
The MTM program enabled the creation of the Oak Ridges Moraine Partnership (EcoSpark, Earthroots, Ontario Nature and STORM) in 2013, a successful partnership to mobilize communities to ensure the ongoing protection and strengthening of the Oak Ridges Moraine through the 2015 Coordinated Review.
“MTM... unit[ed] people from different areas of the Moraine and helping spread concepts and ideas over a larger area among committed people” - Margo McNab, Protect the Ridges
“MTM helped to engage a community in the entire watershed/jurisdiction, not just those living on the Moraine. There were positive impacts felt consistently in our area.”
– Pamela Lancaster, Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority