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