Peter Orphanos’ life and achievements celebrated at memorial event
The memory of Peel’s most ardent environmental advocate, Peter Orphanos, was celebrated at a memorial event yesterday morning at Vic Johnston Community Centre in Streetsville, part of local Earth Week celebrations.
Orphanos, a long-time Mississauga educator, was widely known for his efforts to restore and protect the natural environment in the Credit River watershed. He also founded the Peel Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The community centre was packed with Orphanos’ friends, family, colleagues and likeminded environmentalists. Speeches were given by the Honourable Jim Bradley, M.P.P., Minister of the Environment; Brad Butt, M.P.; Bob Delaney, M.P.P.; Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion; Caledon Mayor Marolyn Morrison; Pat Mullin, CVC Chair and Mississauga Councillor; Mississauga Councillors George Carlson, Jim Tovey, Ron Starr and Bonnie Crombie; Dan McDermott, Director of Sierra Club Ontario; and Shelley Petrie, Grants Director for the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. Rae Horst, CAO of CVC was master of ceremonies for the event.
“With Earth Week upon us, it’s a fitting time to remember Peter Orphanos and his passion for the planet, and to move ahead with his dream of restoring the Credit River watershed,” said Minister Bradley.
As an educator, Orphanos introduced generations of students to the joy of getting out into nature and gave them an appreciation for their local environment. His passion for the environment was contagious and inspired the next generation of environmental advocates in Peel Region.
“Peter leaves the lasting legacy of a healthier natural environment,” said Chair Mullin. “He inspired us with his passion and set the bar to which we all aspire.”
Working closely with city councillors, Orphanos was instrumental in creating environmental advisory committees for the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, ensuring that environmental concerns are front and centre during council deliberations.
“The most important thing I learned about Peter during 34 years of friendship is that he knew how to get things done,” said Councillor Carlson. “He never waivered and always kept to the same consistent message – that we have to work harder for the environment.”
Orphanos retired in 2003 after 35 years of service with the Peel District School Board. Upon retiring he founded the Peel Chapter of the Sierra Club. He initiated community-based environmental campaigns, organized community tree plantings and lobbied city councillors to focus on local environmental protection.
“The essence of Sierra Club is the empowerment of citizen environmental advocacy and Peter Orphanos was the embodiment of what the club stands for,” said Dan McDermott.
At the provincial level, Orphanos championed the cause of conservation authorities while sitting on a provincial advisory committee. He worked tirelessly to protect drinking water as a member of the local source protection committee. Orphanos lobbied to protect Mississauga’s natural environment from inappropriate development in several high profile cases.
Councillor Mullin, representing the CVC Foundation, along with Shelley Petrie of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation announced the creation of the Peter Orphanos “Credit Forever” Tree Planting Fund. The fund will raise money to help realize Orphanos’ bold vision – to see the Credit River watershed planted with trees and protected within Ontario’s greenbelt.
“The Greenbelt is a visionary and bold piece of legislation that had tremendous change in this region of Ontario and I think the same way of Peter, said Shelley Petrie.
All in attendance made their way to Streetsville Memorial Park to unveil a memorial tree and plaque in Orphanos’ honour. Attendees continued the Earth Week celebrations with a community tree planting organized by the Peel Chapter of the Sierra Club. The planting of 400 trees was funded by the Ministry of the Environment’s Great Lakes Guardian Fund.
“Peter was so consistent. He had a vision and he was determined, said Hazel McCallion. “He truly was a strong protector of the Credit River.”
“I think it’s very fitting that today falls within Earth Week and National Volunteer Week, and I can’t think of two things that Peter was more passionate about than our planet and volunteering,” said Brad Butt, M.P.
In 2010 Orphanos received Credit Valley Conservation’s Award of Excellence and in 2012 he was awarded a Conservation Pioneer Award at the Latornell Conservation Symposium. Orphanos passed away on December 5, 2012 at the age of 67 due to brain cancer. He leaves the lasting legacy of a healthier natural environment.
The Honourable Jim Bradley, M.P.P., Minister of the Environment speaking to a crowded community centre about Peter Orphanos’ legacy.
Memorial plaque in honour of Peter Orphanos’ at Streetsville Memorial Park.
Unveiling a memorial plaque and tree in honour of Peter Orphanos at Streetsville Memorial Park. Left to right: Mississauga Councillor George Carlson; Mississauga Councillor Bonnie Crombie; Iris Orphanos; the Honourable Jim Bradley, M.P.P., Minister of the Environment; Mississauga Councillor Jim Tovey; Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion; CVC Chair and Mississauga Councillor Pat Mullin; Bob Delaney, M.P.P.; and Mississauga Councillor Ron Starr.
Planting trees on the banks of the Credit River, Honourable Jim Bradley, M.P.P., Minister of the Environment and Dave Beaton, Manager of Community Outreach for CVC.
Planting trees along the banks of the Credit River.
Conservation Authorities are a provincial/municipal partnership. CVC was established by an act of the province in 1954 with a mandate to protect all natural resources other than minerals in the area drained by the Credit River. We have been working for almost 60 years with our partner municipalities and stakeholders to protect and enhance the natural environment of the Credit River watershed for present and future generations. CVC is a member of Conservation Ontario.
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