2021 Annual Report released

Message from HCA’s Board Chairman, Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, and HCA CAO, Lisa Burnside

2021 has been another incredible year for HCA. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult in many ways, staff at every level have continued to safely respond and adapt our operations to perform regulation and monitoring duties while welcoming more visitors than ever. We continued to progress in all five of our priority areas and are pleased to share the results of our combined efforts in this report.

We were very excited this year to officially open our newest conservation area, Saltfleet Conservation Area. Also at that site, the first wetland restoration project was tendered and awarded. This wetland project will reduce downstream flood risk and erosion to residential and commercial properties in Stoney Creek by enhancing and enlarging existing wetland areas, creating new wetland areas and restoring the natural features and functions of watercourses in the area. Once all four planned wetlands are created, the combined areas will have the ability to hold the equivalent of 236 Olympic-size swimming pools.

2021 has demonstrated that our conservation areas continue to play an important role for watershed residents and visitors from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. A poll by the Nature Conservancy of Canada showed nine out of ten Canadians value nature now more than ever before. There is also more awareness of nature in our lives, from backyard birds to greater use of trails and camping. We saw this play out with a record number of annual
membership passes sold, and over 1.2 million visitors coming to our owned and operated areas. We added 177 acres of land to our holdings, looking to and planning for the future.

The pandemic also helped us leverage technology for public engagement and communication with new and enhanced virtual communication tools. Over 2,500 people visited our new engagement platform site www.conservationtalkhca.ca. Regarding our work with invasive species management, we raised awareness by creating multiple HCA Insider videos, blogs, and Invasive Species Awareness Week social posts. Our heritage buildings at Westfield went virtual with 360-degree tours. LinkedIn and TikTok became new parts of our social media platforms to share information on our work and projects.

We are exceptionally proud of our team at HCA, both Board and staff, and their collective talents, hard work and resilience. We also welcomed new staff that have joined us during this unprecedented time of virtual meetings and hybrid work arrangements. Together, we are delighted to share this annual report and our 2021 accomplishments as we continue to pursue our mission of providing a healthy watershed for everyone.