A new fundraising foundation for the Niagara Parks Commission was unveiled Friday, marking Earth Day. Parks Commission Chair April Jeffs hopes this will give Niagara residents a chance to directly support an organization that has acted as steward for some of the most environmentally sensitive and culturally significant lands. of this vast country for almost 140 years.
Parks is a self-funded Crown agency of the province, which is responsible for protecting and enhancing the 56 kilometers of parkland stretching from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario along the Niagara River, including highly sensitive environmental areas and historic properties, such as the Battlefields War of 1812.
The new Niagara Parks Foundation was officially launched as a registered charity at the site of the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory at the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Debbie Whitehouse, who has held numerous positions within the parks, including as an instructor and director of the botanical gardens, for more than 30 years, was announced as chair of the all-volunteer board of directors of the new foundation.
Jeffs said the parks depend on their revenue-generating operations to fund stewardship, including environmental stewardship, heritage restoration, performing arts and active living support.
The creation of a new fundraising foundation, through which Niagara residents, businesses and organizations can help fund these initiatives, will allow the parks to do more in these areas, she said during of a large gathering at the Butterfly Conservatory.
“The support of the Niagara Parks Foundation will allow Niagara Parks to move forward with important projects in these areas that would otherwise simply not be possible,” said Jeffs.
Whitehouse said early projects identified as opportunities through foundation funding include a children’s garden in the Botanical Gardens, restoration of wetlands along the Niagara River, accessibility improvements at heritage properties and parks (so everyone can enjoy them), new Indigenous programming, and improving the performing arts through projects like improving Queenston Heights Park.
“There are incredible opportunities,” she said.
Jeffs, who has run a photography business for 20 years, said she took countless photos on the day of the wedding at the Botanical Garden.
“I believe it speaks to the special place this place holds in the hearts of so many people: on the most important and memorable day of their lives, they chose to spend time and celebrate here and create unforgettable memories with loved ones (while) immersed in the beauty of Niagara Parks,” she said.
“While Niagara Parks is a global destination that attracts visitors from around the world, our ties to Ontario and especially the local Niagara community run deep and deep. Many of us have very meaningful personal ties to Niagara Parks and a lifetime of memories created at its sites and attractions.
Being able to support the parks will allow Niagara residents to support an agency that means so much to them while creating legacy projects for future generations, Jeffs said in an interview.
“It gives them ownership,” she said. “There are so many people who love parks.”
For more information or to explore the possibility of donating, visit https://www.niagaraparks.com/foundation/ways-to-help/.
Contributors to the Niagara Parks Foundation can donate in a variety of ways, including one-time donations, monthly donations, and legacy donations, as well as gifts of appreciation, including the dedication of trees and benches in the spaces. exteriors of Niagara Parks.