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Scanlon Creek's healthy facelift funded by family foundation

Donald Taylor and his family sought to make a contribution to meaningful projects that would help the environment when they created the 452 Foundation
From left to right are York Region chairman and former Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority board chair Wayne Emmerson, Shona, Donald and Mary Taylor accepting an award, and Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury Coun. and former LSRCA board vice-chair Peter Ferragine. | Supplied photo

Donald Taylor and his family sought to make a contribution to meaningful projects that would help the environment and enhance our use of it when they created the 452 Foundation.

“The mandate is to support climate change or conservation efforts in southern Ontario … where we could see the fruits of the project we were supporting,” explains Don Taylor, who created “the small family foundation” as a way of giving back following a successful furniture-making career in the Toronto area.

“We started this in a very small way. We started looking for a project that had either personal connection or appealed to us.”

But they wanted to find the project, not have the project find them. So they searched for longer-term programs that weren’t attracting the attention of the big funds and that risked going unfunded.

They landed on the Scanlon Creek Conservation Area which required a fair amount of work in phases over time to restore its health through the removal of a culvert to enhance fish migration and improve erosion control as well as attention to trails, given that a wetland habitat had been inaccessible.

Partnering with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, they decided to fund the ongoing work at the conservation area as well as a project that examines how much carbon can be stored in response to climate change, which was considered too exploratory for traditional sources of funding.

Their funding supports research on carbon sequestration in Lake Simcoe's habitat restoration, offering insights into offsetting emissions and benefiting broader conservation in southern Ontario — an area of research considered to be relatively new.

As a result, researchers have been able to measure carbon sequestration rates in restored tallgrass prairies and wetlands to help in the understanding of how the ability of these ecosystems to offset greenhouse gas emissions changes as they become established. The results are expected to inform other conservation authorities and partners in their work.

The funding also allowed the conservation authority to hire summer staff to assist with the necessary work. That, in turn, allows young professionals to develop their skill sets while building the pool of people who can address the issues around climate change through nature-based solutions.

“The idea is to contribute long term,” says the 452 Foundation’s Taylor.

Scanlon Creek is a jewel for the Bradford area, says Cheryl Taylor, executive director of the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation, who worked with the Taylor family as they looked to fund the projects.

The conservation area, she adds, has a rich biodiversity which is accessible through a series of improved walking trails to ensure people have a great experience walking through the park.

“We’ve been working diligently at the conservation authority to continue the project,” she says.

For their ongoing contributions, last fall Donald, Mary and Shona Taylor were presented the 2023 Conservation Award in the healthy community category.

While the award is nice, Taylor says the contribution wasn’t made to garner recognition.

“We’re in it because we think it’s the right thing to do,” he says.

His goal is to have his children, who are young adults, continue to manage the foundation in the future.

All that work that has been done thanks to the 452 Foundation will soon be enjoyed by the newest generation as the conservation authority does the site preparation for the development of a new nature centre at the conservation area. Construction for the nature centre is slated to begin this fall. Fundraising for that project is ongoing.

“The 452 Foundation has been a great partner that has helped us elevate Scanlan Creek Conservation Area and really is helping us pull all those pieces together,” says Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation’s Taylor. “There isn’t enough public money, we really need the Bradford community and beyond to help with all these projects.”