Reflections on the Credit from CVC’s Outgoing CAO

Head shot of Deborah Martin-Downs

Almost 40 years ago, I was first introduced to the Credit River. I chose to do my master’s thesis on the Credit comparing fish communities from a 1954 survey used in the first watershed plan for the newly forming Credit Valley Conservation Authority, with those I would find in 1982. Then I looked at the changes in water quality and land use that may have accounted for changes in the fish communities.  

The Credit River taught me so much – how to identify fish, how to carry a heavy electrofisher up and down the valley, how land interacts with water and how a system can improve with investments in better water treatment and watershed management. I owe my career to the work I did on the Credit. 

Thirty years later, after many positions and experiences, I arrived back at the Credit.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that young master’s student would ever have the skills and ability to lead an organization like this. I like to say you need to know enough to be dangerous – to understand what you are being told and to know enough to ask questions to enhance your understanding. Over the years I took advantage of my interactions with hydrogeologists, limnologists, botanists, engineers, planners, naturalists, fluvial geomorphologists, developers and a host of other specialists to observe, learn and question. One needs a variety of skills to manage environmental systems and govern an organization.

Watersheds are complicated. Land use is changing. Our climate is changing. Invasive species are taking over natural spaces. But every day conservation authority staff are making positive changes to terrestrial and aquatic habitats, managing stormwater runoff, changing behaviours and actions of residents and landowners, and predicting the future. The future is in good hands with the team of committed CVC staff planning, designing and restoring the watershed. 

As the year comes to an end, so does my time at the helm of CVC. It’s time for me to leave the Credit in the capable hands of the next generation. A new Chief Administrative Officer is being initiated and I have a few more weeks to wrap up loose ends and thank everyone for their work to further the management of the Credit River Watershed and for the faith they placed in me over the past eight years.  I am heartened by the outpouring of support from our community especially over the past couple of years who confirmed that conservation matters.  The Credit River is a special place running through some of the most populated areas of Ontario. We must work every day to do our best for the future of the river, as we have been for the past 68 years.

Thank you for your support of our organization and our river. I wish you and your families the best of the season and for the new year.  My new year’s resolution is to keep working for the environment, for conservation and for the Credit. What’s yours?

By: Deborah Martin-Downs, Chief Administrative Office

Comments (11)

  1. thanks for your contribution to conservation Deborah especially in the Credit Valley. Your steady hand on the tiller has been long noted and appreciated.

    I’m sure your interests will continued into the next stage of your career. Retirement of course just means you no longer get paid!

    Best wishes,

  2. Thank you, Ms. Martin-Downs for your very good works, services, and efforts in making positive changes to terrestrial and aquatic habitats, managing stormwater runoff, changing behaviors and actions of residents and landowners, and predicting the future for the CVC watershed as a CAO since Aug 6, 2013. Great work and has earned a reputation as a visionary thinker, creative problem solver, and inclusive relationship builder with stakeholders across the province. Good luck and best wishes for the ahead of time.

  3. Good luck in retirement Deborah and Seasons Greetings to you and your family! We have a steward sign on our property and have done various projects here with CVC – aquatic, bats, bluebirds and have been beekeeping for the past 4 years or so……
    Mike Schultz
    Madeleine Hague

    PS – you know my mom and dad always got their insurance from your dad and they played one year in the Canada Life with Mr. Curling Doug Maxwell……

  4. Hi Deb,
    Congratulations. Your retirement is well earned. It was always enjoyable working with you at Gartner Lee over the years and the occasional time I would run into you at CVC. I appreciated your assistance in getting aquatic plants and technical advice from CVC for the experimental floating island in my pond. It was quite successful for a number of years but became a sunken island last year. I heard Doug Jones also just retired from Orangeville. The old Gartner Lee presence is thinning out. All the best,

  5. Thank you, Deborah, for your many years of skilled service and dedication to the conservation of the Credit River. I also resolve to continue working for the environment, for conservation and the beauty and balance of our precious eco system.

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