Georgian Bay Biosphere unveils charter
PARRY SOUND - Sustainability, protecting natural resources and minimizing environmental impact were the focus of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Charter launch Thursday evening.
Georgian Bay Biosphere unveils charter.
Georgian Bay Biosphere Communications Manager Rebecca Pollock, left, and Marketing and Communications Coordinator Brittany Mahnke.
Stephannie Johnson/North Star
More than 60 community, business and area council members attended the event that featured two guest speakers and the unveiling of the organization’s charter.
The charter membership program is open to individuals, families, students, seniors, municipalities as well as businesses.
A membership gives businesses and organizations free marketing, promoting their location within a biosphere reserve and offers workshops on how to boost bottom lines by using best practices.
Michele Rich, with the Environment Network, discussed sustainable communities and eco-enterprises - how businesses could save money by investing in and using sustainable products.
“How do we do it sustainability? It’s pretty simple, there are four simple rules. We have to ensure we have clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean food - that’s how simple it is,” said Rich. “We have four simple rules that we follow...reduce our dependence on things like oil and heavy metals. The reason why we want to reduce our dependence on it, is because we keep piling it up on the earth’s surface...reduce our dependence on synthetic substances things like PCPs and pesticides. Why? When it builds up in our biosphere it makes us sick. Stop degradation of nature. And ensure all humans have their basic needs met. If you don’t have your needs met, you won’t care about the environment.”
Rich said it makes sense for businesses to care about the environment, because the public is starting to expect companies to operate with environmental protection in mind.
“It is relevant to existing business principles and it’s an opportunity for you to lead by example,” Rich said. “You’re doing exactly the same thing, you’re applying the same strategy, you’re just looking at different kinds of companies, different kinds of technology, different career paths. Essentially what you’re doing, you’re looking for better neighbours, you’re trying to create a new team - a better team.”
Andrew Sprig, from the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, talked to the crowd about sustainable tourism and how to get individuals as well as the business community to take pride in living within a designated biosphere through a charter program.
Greg Mason, general manager of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, said the area received biosphere designation in 2004, and has been working towards the charter launch since.
“Uniquely for us, we’re known as the largest, fresh-water archipelago, so there’s nowhere on earth, that has more islands than us, in a fresh water setting - that’s cool,” said Mason. “One thing that we try to do is we try and recognize our diversity community. We recognize that we have many different people - different types of communities within the area - our permanent residents, our seasonal residents, boating communities, we have kayakers, we have First Nations communities. So what we’re trying to do is to find a way for those communities to live better in this space, not only for the natural environment, but for each other. So the biosphere was formed to bring these communities together under one house.”
With the launch of the charter, the organization wants to build awareness and exchange ideas and feedback with everyone in the community to engage in sustainable development activities.
“The designation belongs to everyone,” Mason said.
Georgian Bay Country Tourism manager Anna Marie Harris said she found the event informative, but was surprised with the number of people who understood what a biosphere is.
“Greg asked all of us to stand up and those that had never heard of a biosphere to please sit down,” said Harris Friday morning. “The majority of the people stayed standing, which was an excellent response. I enjoyed seeing the passion that Andrew had for not only the Bay of Fundy’s biosphere, but with what the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve has been able to do, especially with how many charter members they have already.
“Greg’s presentation was interesting, especially to see all the different programs that fall under the biosphere locally.”
Charter member and Carling Township Coun. Mike Konoval said he enjoyed the event, including the review of the biosphere and what’s it’s been doing.
“It’s been a while since they officially came to be and they’ve been on the road for awhile,” he said, praising the work of Mason and Communications Manager Rebecca Pollock.