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My Sustainable Day-Cation in Oakville Part 3 – Biodiversity and Natural Areas

Oakville residents have been graced with one of the most beautiful settings in the GTHA.  Between the waterfront of Lake Ontario, the beautiful parks all throughout the Town and Bronte Creek Provincial park nestled along the western edge of the Town, nature is absolutely everywhere in Oakville.  We’ve already seen how Oakville residents are reducing the amount of waste that they produce and how they are protecting their canopy cover, so today the focus is on some of the incredible wildlife experiences to be had in Oakville and the great parks and trails system available to residents and visitors.

With a Waterfront like this, what wild animal wouldn’t want to live in Oakville? For that matter, what domestic animal wouldn’t?

Perhaps one of the most famous of Oakville’s animal residents is the Red-Necked Grebe, which can be found frequenting areas in Oakville’s harbour.  The grebes are well known for their colourful plummage, loud calls and elaborate mating displays, and are favorites of bird-watchers.  Grebes normally nest in boggy areas, so to see them nesting on Lake Ontario is a bit of an oddity, although the Town has taken steps to encourage them to continue to do so.

By floating several tires in the harbour, the Town has provided grebes a site on which to build their nest.  And the grebes make very good use of the tires, setting up nests year after year, attracting bird-watchers and interested photographers from all around the region.

A Grebe nesting in the Oakville Harbour, as shot by me with my not-so-telephoto lens.

But not all of Oakville’s wildlife is as welcome as the grebes.  Because of the town’s proximity to large amounts of natural areas, sometimes humans find themselves unwillingly interacting with animals that normally keep to themselves.  A perfect example of such an animal is the Coyote, an animal that normally avoids human contact, but has been of increasing concern in Oakville.  In order to minimize interactions between people and Coyotes, the Town has established a new Coyote Management Strategy.  the strategy is aimed at educating the public about how to minimize interaction with Coyotes, such as ensuring that food is not easliy accessible to them, and also at encouraging residents to report Coyote behaviour so that Town Staff can determine whether or not a particular animal is behaving normally or in a fashion that is of more concern.  The strategy is, at its core, a set of guidelines to ensure that humans and coyotes can continue to coexist in harmony in Oakville, an admirable goal and one that is important to hold onto as we strive to bring more natural areas back into our cities.

The Pioneer Cemetery in Oakville, one of the places where I saw Coyote notification signs posted. A great example of Oakville protecting both its natural and historical heritage.

Wildlife requires wild areas, and Oakville has them in spades.  As I walked around the Town, I was shocked at the sheer volume of trails, streams and wooded areas I stumbled upon.  From the beautiful little trail system just around the back of Town Hall to the Trails along Bronte Creek leading down to South Shell Park to the beautiful woods in Iroquois Shoreline Park, Oakville has taken major steps to protect their natural heritage and provide residents with some spectacular arenas in which to observe nature within the urban boundaries.  The vistas along the shoreline, the way that the trees absorb sound and make it seem like the city is miles away and the incredible diversity of open spaces that exist in Oakville are a gift for all the residents there to enjoy, and I sincerely hope that some of you reading this right now make a conscious effort to get out and enjoy some of the great spaces Oakville has to offer.  Of course, if you’re reading this and you’re not from Oakville, then get out and enjoy the natural spaces that your municipality has to offer as well, and be sure to consider a trip to Oakville the next time you feel like grebe-watching!

A beautiful little trails system just around the corner from Oakville’s Town Hall – I’d be ere every day for a lunch hour walk if I could!

Tomorrow, we move into the Urban Jungle, venturing into scenic downtown Oakville and seeing how creating welcoming, walkable communities is having a positive impact on the businesses there.  See you tomorrow!

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