April 26, 2024

Call for Volunteers

Town of Renfrew looking for Community Volunteers to help establish a Nature Park and Trail along the Bonnechere River

(Renfrew, Ontario) – The Town of Renfrew has partnered with the Schad Foundation, an Ontario-based foundation with significant experience in supporting and advising on nature conservation and environmental education initiatives, to establish a Nature Park and Trail along the South bank of the Bonnechere River.

Since early 2023, the Town of Renfrew has been investigating the potential for establishing a linear park and trail system along an approximate 2.7 km stretch of the Bonnechere River utilizing Municipally and Federally-owned lands that are not suitable for development due to the geology and topography of the lands. While the project has been scoped to lands that are owned by or will be dedicated to the Town, there is also future potential to expand the park lands and trail system to the east, subject to partnership with adjacent land owners, which could allow the trail system to tie into lands being studied through the Waterfront Master Plan (including lands near O’Brien Park and the swinging bridge), and any associated redevelopment initiatives.

To this point, Town officials have met with officials from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on two (2) occasions about establishing the lands as a Provincial Urban Park, a new type of Ontario Parks designation that is in the process of being established elsewhere in the Province. The MECP, although interested and supportive of the project, has not made any commitments at this time. The Town has also leveraged other strategic partnerships including the Schad Foundation, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC), and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) Protected Areas Program, and currently has momentum to continue the work required to establish the lands as a Nature Park with a Trail System.

On April 12th 2024 The Town of Renfrew’s staff was joined by members of the NCC, BTC and Schad Foundation for a site visit of the proposed lands to determine the technical feasibility, strategy, and potential phasing of a trail system. Following the site visit, Rob McRae, NCC Program Director of Eastern Ontario, offered the following remarks: 

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada applauds the effort by the Town of Renfrew to protect key natural heritage lands in the municipality and provide additional access to nature for your residents. The proposed nature reserve could also be an ecotourism destination for visitors from Ottawa and beyond.”

As an important next step, Town Council has provided direction to establish a Working Group, and endorsed associated terms of reference, which would include Members of Renfrew Town Council, Town Staff, Representatives from the Schad Foundation, and community members, to advise on and oversee the Park and Trail development process, and to promote the project in the wider community. Community Members interested in volunteering for the Working Group are encouraged to apply by submitting an expression of interest that highlights any experience in nature conservation, ecotourism or fundraising to the Town by May 16th 2024. More information about the Working Group can be found on the Town’s Website or by contacting the Town.

For more information please contact: 

Amanda Springer

Manager of Environmental Services

Town of Renfrew

613-432-4848 ext. 307