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Trent University Hosts Trent-Severn Waterway Leaders' Round Table in Partnership with Parks Canada

Local and world leaders in all things water gather to identify solutions in Champlain College’s Great Hall

Trent University Hosts Trent-Severn Wate On January 20, 2011 in the Great Hall at Trent University, delegates representing three levels of government, First Nations, non-governmental organizations, and leaders of key stakeholder groups came together in the first ever Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW) Leaders’ Round Table, jointly hosted by Parks Canada and Trent University’s Institute of Watershed Science.

Dr. Steven E. Franklin, president and vice-chancellor addressed the 140 delegates in the round table after a ceremonial First Nations opening and welcome. “Trent University has an outstanding track record in researching all aspects of watershed science and has long standing connections to the Trent-Severn Waterway system.”

Shared Vision, Engagement and Leadership

The purpose of the roundtable event was to engage the leadership participants in working towards a shared vision to enhance the future of the TSW region. Goals of the day included identifying issues and challenges faced and to establish success indicators, visions and next steps for confirmed shared priorities. The process of the round table fostered dialogue amongst the leaders present while focusing on strategic issues and solutions.

Dawn Bronson, field unit superintendent for Parks Canada Central Ontario, set the context for the day and invited individuals to voice their passions concerning the TSW through a moderated, open forum, in order to identify the issues, challenges, questions and opportunities associated with a shared vision for the TSW.

“There is a lot of expertise in this room and I hope to tap into it to from temporal, spatial and values perspectives.” said Ms. Bronson. “What do we really care about?”

One by one, delegates came to the centre of the circle and addressed the group of gathered leaders. Trent University student Dylan Burrows introduced himself and shared his interest in conducting research on an organizational model for the Trent-Severn Waterway heritage network (Heritage Region Council) for the Trent-Severn Waterway corridor region. His project is conducted through the Trent Center for Community based education in partnership with the Kawartha Heritage Conservancy.

Ten major themes were identified as priorities coming out of the forum including water quality and management, First Nations, culture and heritage, environmental impact, jurisdictional / organizational roles and responsibilities, tourism and marketing, infrastructure, land conservation and planning, user / residential interests and going forward.

Leaders then went through a series of workshops and information exchanges to define successful outcomes and to attempt to draft summary visions for each priority.

Special guests forming a panel discussion to begin the afternoon included Beth Sciumeca of the United States National Parks Service, Carmella Mantello of the New York State Canals Office and Mayor Fritz May of Fairport, New York, one of the communities along the NY Canals. The three panellists shared insight into the challenges and successes of the New York State Canal system revitalization.

Ms. Sciumeca outlined six key areas identified as priorities in their work, including historical preservation, natural resource protection, interpretation and outreach, heritage tourism, recreation and economic revitalization. Ms. Sciumeca emphasized the importance of partnerships in the success of the canal system in New York, pointing out that the underlying goal is to help revitalize the communities found along the system. “What you are doing today is about right on track,” she said.

Dr. Steven Franklin said, “The leadership forum provided a unique opportunity to build new alliances within the water community. The round table discussion represents a major step forward in the government’s response to the summary report from the Trent-Severn Waterway Panel, of which Professor Tom Symons, Trent’s founding president and vice-chancellor was a member.”

Prof. Symons, who was present for the day’s proceedings, addressed the delegates. “I congratulate and thank Parks Canada and Trent University for their imagination and determination in planning and convening this valuable and helpful roundtable. How helpful and valuable it will be depends on what we do, what we come up with and what we agree upon. The hope is that it will provide a sense of direction for all who care about the future of TSW as a large and significant part of our country’s heritage. An integrated approach in active partnerships is needed for an overarching vision unifying all those concerned, with a shared sense of purpose. All levels of government, communities and organizations need to be involved.

“It’s all about the water,” said Prof. Symons. In addition to the components of the care and development of the waterway itself with respect to water quality, control and flow, President Symons highlighted the necessity to care for and protect the cultural aspects of the TSW and such fundamental aspects such as its history and archaeology. “What is needed is public consensus and political will,” Prof. Symons said. “Today’s meeting will help us move in that direction.”

Parks Canada works to ensure Canada’s historic and natural heritage is protected and, through a network of 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas, invites Canadians and people around the world to engage in personal moments of inspiring discovery at our treasured natural and historic places.

The Institute for Watershed Science is a partnership between Trent University, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Fleming College. The Institute aims to further the understanding of physical and ecological processes governing watershed function and to transfer this knowledge to support resource management decision-making.

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011.

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