Annual General Meeting

 

Niagara Bruce Trail Club - Annual General Meeting

All members are encouraged to attend

Review club achievements and vote for new board members

Meet other members. Enjoy a casual meal together ($5 BBQ)

2023 Director's Reports

Alicia Aitchison, President

PRESIDENT – Alicia Aitchison

“The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) is one of Ontario’s largest land trusts and the steward of Canada’s longest marked footpath.  We actively preserve and care for land within the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere to protect its ecosystems for the benefit of all.  We responsibility connect people to nature through the Bruce Trail and our protected natural areas.”

The Niagara Bruce Trail Club (NBTC) manages the southern most 83 km of the 911 km long Bruce Trail and the associated side trails & is responsible for maintaining, stewarding and promoting that section.

In my final year as President of the Niagara Bruce Trail Club I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such as strong Board of Directions & amazing group of volunteers.  This past year we’ve been fortunate to have so many of our experienced board members continue on the Board and as well have had two new board members appointed to the board since the last AGM that have both already made great contributions:  Sam Rutherford, Director at Large & Tammy Morris Director at Large & Club Archivist.

The following Directors Reports will provide the details on what’s been happening within our dynamic club, so I am just touching on a few highlights.  Last year our club formed our official NBTC Biodiversity Committee who meet quarterly & whose purpose is to facilitate the protection and enhancement of biodiversity along the NBTC corridor.  The committee is already making a significant impact and activities include monitoring of NBTC nature reserves, education & outreach, nature hikes, developing and managing programs to rehabilitate key properties including monitoring and control of invasive species and planting of native Ontario species.  I currently serve as Chair of this committee and have really enjoyed participating in development of this committee & working with such a passionate group of volunteers.  Now that my term is ending as President I plan to continue to focus my volunteer efforts in this area.

Together we will continue to work to preserve and share this incredible footpath that we are lucky to have in Niagara.

“Preserving a ribbon of wilderness for everyone forever”

Janet Davey, Vice President

VICE PRESIDENT - Janet Davey

Changes to the club bylaws were made to reflect a change to the timing of the Annual General Meeting. Previously, the annual meeting had to take place prior to May 1st. This has been extended a month to June 1st. This allows the board more flexibility to book the meeting based on director schedules and hold an outdoor meeting later in the Spring.

An additional change was made to the requirements for quorum. Previously the requirement for quorum was 25 members of the club or 5% of the membership, whichever is greater. The new requirement for quorum is all those in attendance at the meeting and eligible to vote. Membership in the club has increased over the past few years but attendance at the Annual General Meeting has consistently stayed the same. This change will allow the business of the club to move forward. Members may continue to vote by proxy if they are unable to attend a meeting.

In addition, some minor changes were made to more accurately reflect some of the Director responsibilities

 

Lisa Etienne, Past President

PAST PRESIDENT – Lisa Etienne

Once again we have a fabulous group of volunteers to fill the NBTC Board and Committees. Looking forward to which initiatives they will continue and what new ones they will implement. We are all very lucky to have a continuous supply of talented volunteers to do all of the work necessary to ensure that our members have a great experience and the trail is well looked after.

Corrie Kellestine, BTC Representative

BTC REPRESENTATIVE – Corrie Kellestine

The mission of the Bruce Trail Club has never been more relevant.

The work of the BTC is focused to ensure a healthy future for people and nature through:

  • Strategic land conservation
  • Protective land stewardship
  • Connecting people with nature
  • Engaging dedicated volunteers

Our impact:

  • 18,889 Acres of Niagara Escarpment land protected
  • 2 percent of Bruce Trail within a protected natural corridor
  • 89 Species of Conservation Concern recorded on Bruce Trail Conservation land
  • 12,831 Members support the mission of the Bruce Trail Conservancy
  • 1,376 km of Trail maintained and ready to be explored
  • 1,500 Volunteers Contribute their time and talents

Margaret Northfield, Public Relations

& Multimedia

MEDIA RELATIONS DIRECTOR – Margaret Northfield

Event/Promotion Tables:

NBTC promotion tables for several different events.  These are great venues for general information as well as promotion of membership.

  • April 23 - Earth Week, Pelham
  • April 25 - Met Zwena Gray & Sima Fabricant at cairn for their E2E - Focus on BIPOC community
  • May 7 - Raptorfest, Grimsby
  • June 8 - Lincoln Senior Showcase
  • June 16 Pelham Summerfest
  • Oct 2 - Bruce Trail Day
  • Oct 7-10 - Balls Falls Thanksgiving Festival
  • Nov 16 - Community Awareness Event, NOTL
  • Feb 7 - NOTL Rotary Club Presentation (Powerpoint Presentation)

Print Media:

Keep local community/recreation guides up to date with club contact information.  Many were put on hold during COVID.

Social Media:

Promotion of club events, conservation projects and hiking.  Helped by a dozen Facebook Editors who take photos on hikes.

Website:

Update the website several times per month to keep the latest information available for members.

Hiking 101:

Workshops for new hikers which are open to members and non-members.  Many of the non-members soon become members after the workshops.

Conducted in May (16 people) and October (12 people).

Leaving the NBTC Board:

I have enjoyed working with our energetic, engaging NBTC Board for over a decade.  I have especially enjoyed meeting new hikers and sharing their joy of the trail.  However, it is time for new beginnings and new perspectives.  I will continue as a Hike Leader, working with the Biodiversity Committee, Hiking 101 and of course trail maintenance.

I am happy to say that we have found fabulous replacement volunteers.  They bring great depth and breadth of experience to the club.

  • Tammy Morris with decades of experience in tech is taking over the management of the website.
  • Faye Perkins who has a wealth of Public Relations experience in many areas will be doing the promotion of the club through events and promotion tables.
  • Jill Troyer, award winning journalist, is managing our Facebook & Instagram accounts.

 You are in great hands!

See you on the trail!

 

Alan Laver, Hike Coordinator

HIKE COORDINATOR - Alan Laver

Our hiking program continues to be one of the most active of all clubs in the BTC offering a wide range of hikes for all abilities. Diversity is a key function of our program with offerings that include different types of terrain, distance, speed and time. In addition, thanks to our amazing volunteers we have increased the number of specialty hikes such as “Black History Hikes” , “Bluebird Hikes”, “Nature Hikes”, “Youth Hikes”, “Night Hikes” and “Bio-Diversity Hikes”

Series hikes are also on offer to allow hikers to challenge themselves and earn the various badges that are available, including End to End Hikes, Side Trail Hikes, Merritt Trail, Laura Secord and our newest offering the “Benchlands” hike series.. The Benchlands series was developed in conjunction with the Town of Lincoln and includes a winery tour hike, a Jordan historical hike and a Balls Falls Hike.

Event hikes during 2022 have been met with success.

Merritthon 55 started 53 finished
Fort to Fort 70/60 started 68/58 finished 56 badges
Laura Secord 57 started 51 finished
End to End 74/65/64 Started 51/46/38 Finished

Hike Leader Training this year concluded with 17 new graduates all of which are Looking forward to joining our active team of hike leaders. A special thanks to all our hikers. Keep on hiking, enjoy the fresh air, the mental relaxation and the opportunity to improve your mobility and physical fitness

Marinus Koole, Treasurer

TREASURER – Marinus Koole

We were blessed this year to be able to raise good funds for our treasured Trail! Due to event fundraising again, and all the volunteer work completed in our club we were able to support our own maintenance and still forward surplus funds to the Conservancy.

   ∙ We received another significant donation of $10,000 from the St. Catharines Roadrunners & Walkers which puts them over $100,000 over the years! Thanks so much! ∙ There were other large and small donations from local supporters making our total direct donations received $15,893.
   ∙ You can see our event Hike Revenue reported of over $18,000.
   ∙ Since our membership did go down slightly since the peak in the pandemic, you will notice that received $2000 less from the BTC for our work on the trail, which is more in line with our “normal trend”
   ∙ As noted on the second Expense line on the Income Statement, this year we sent over $46,000 to the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
   ∙ Badge and Merchandise sales continue to generate interest and revenue for maintaining and improving the trail.
   ∙ Finally, as demonstrated on the Balance sheet, we still maintain a good reserve to keep our club activities operational through the coming year.

We could not do any of this without your support and encouragement, both as active volunteers and in various other ways. We thank all of those renewing their memberships throughout the year!

We encourage every member to share our story and invite others to become members, make the commitment to regularly support this beautiful trail and find a way to be involved.

Klari Kalkman, Landowner Relations

LANDOWNER RELATIONS DIRECTOR – Klari Kalkman

On the cusp of last year’s AGM, 10 landowners on Dorchester Drive, Grimsby, granted  our Club permission to reestablish the Trail at the back of their properties. Due to their  generosity, the Trail no longer runs along Ridge Road. I wish to acknowledge the  excellent team effort of Board members and other volunteers who made this happen.

With Covid restrictions loosening through 2022, our volunteers were able to more  confidently connect with landowners, distributing 2023 Bruce Trail wall calendar  packages to Niagara’s approximately 130+ landowners, whether private, business,  institutional and municipal: 

  • Landowners allowing access to the Main Trail, Side Trails, and/or on the Optimal Route all received calendar packages.
  • Thank-you letters and handwritten cards expressed our deep gratitude for continuing to provide Trail access, particularly as usage has increased since the pandemic.
  • Landowners were polled for preferences in advance of of developing a new  landowners appreciation event this next year.

Many thanks to this year’s team of Landowner Ambassador volunteers, without whom  these crucial relationships with landowners would not be maintained:

  • Michele Altobelli
  • Ineke Brinkman
  • Debbie Demizio
  • Mary Ann Enns
  • Irma Giese
  • Elaine Kelly
  • Teri Kramer
  • Anne Kubu
  • Jean Lucente
  • Robert Maclellan
  • Terry Mactaggart
  • Vince Mayne
  • Fran Mortiboys
  • David Mumford
  • Judy Pihach
  • Cassaundra-Leigh Pitul
  • Gary and Donna Sands
  • Victoria Steele
  • Bernice Thiessen

There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work this past year. I am extremely thankful for  the Board and Executive support I received this year while developing and enhancing the Landowner Relations function, including:

  • A revised role description for the Landowner Relations Director
  • An enhanced and defined “Landowner Ambassador” role for volunteers
  • Routes rationalized to neighbouring properties of a manageable number for volunteers
  • Route kits developed to equip and support volunteers with resources and information • An excellent, full-day of training on landowner relations developed and hosted by the BTC head office - thank you, it was amazing!
  • A focus on building positive relationships with landowners, with the immediate goal of maintaining good relations and the long-term goal of land acquisition.
  • A new Committee of the Board for Landowner Relations, for sharing information  among key Directors about landowners, their needs, issues and opportunities.
  • A landowner survey to verify / update landowner contact information and preferences
  • A new, primary document to more easily maintain up-to-date landowner information
  • Uploading and organizing all relevant landowner relations to Google Drive to ensure  NBTC retains and can easily share our organizational knowledge

I also wish to thank Elise Gatti for her exceptionally detailed volunteer work in reviewing  and cleaning up our landowner database.

Finally, miscellaneous activities included: responding to landowner queries, requests  and concerns; working with others to understand local trail issues; working with  Conservancy staff on various matters; and other outreach activities.

David Kelly, Land Acquisition

LAND ACQUISITION - David Kelly 

In the Niagara section, one new land severance was completed, securing 505m of Optimum Route (OR) trail on 10.6 acres of land. In addition, the trail that had previously followed Ridge Road in Grimsby was redirected onto the OR escarpment trail thanks to the Landowner Relations team. The last year was very successful for the Conservancy as a whole with 11.5 km of the OR being secured, comprising 14 new nature reserves and 1,039 acres. A total of 4.6 km of trail was removed from roads and onto new trails this past year. This means that 70.2% of the Bruce Trail is now on permanently protected land.

Thank you to the NBTC Board, volunteers and members for your continued vision, hard work and collaboration.

 

 

Vince Zvonar, Land Stewardship

LAND STEWARDSHIP DIRECTOR – Vince Zvonar

Land Stewardship had a good year with no major issues or problems. One new land steward joined the team this year (Steve Grochot) 80% of properties have been inspected and annual reports submitted. We would like to see it at 100%. Among minor issues that were resolved were; several donor plaques location, coordinates were corrected for the new trail guide. Hunting stands were checked on two properties to be sure that they were not on our property. "No hunting" signs were posted on our side close to the stands. Biodiversity team had several invasive species pull parties on our managed lands and several more are planned for this year.

Thanks to all land stewards for all their work.

Rick Waters, Trail Development

& Maintenance

DIRECTOR TRAIL MAINTENANCE & DEVELOPMENT – Rick Waters

Since April 2022 there have been a number of changes and additions to trails in the Niagara Section of the Bruce Trail:

May 2022 we rerouted the main Bruce Trail off of Ridge Rd Grimsby and rerouted it to the escarpment brow through BTC protected property and private lands. The landowner relations group was able to secure handshake agreements with homeowners on Dorchester Drive to allow this to happen and 590 meters of trail was taken off of Ridge Rd.
A stone path was laid down through the screaming tunnel off Warner Rd which now gives hikers a dry foot path during spring melt and heavy rain.
A boardwalk was built in Louth CA on the Lower Falls ST with 3 more boardwalks to be built this spring in Louth CA.
Again another year with strong winds.Our sawyers have been busy clearing trees blocking the trail.White Ash, Cherry

Trails
Niagara has 81.7 km of main Bruce Trail and 45 km of Side Trails
Two new Side Trails were built in Louth CA with the help of Howie McRae and Philip Beale laying out the initial tracks for these trails.The Lower Falls ST 1.6 km and the Midway ST 215m make a great addition for hikers to explore Louth CA
The Margaret Reed ST at Cave Springs CA is a 360 meter trail connecting the main Bruce Trail to a 16 car parking lot. There are other Conservation Area trails to explore at Cave Springs from that parking lot.
New trails for 2023 a side trail connecting the main Bruce Trail to the terminus of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail.
A side trail near Bradley Street off the main Bruce Trail going to Lock 24 of Welland Canal #1

Trail Workers
Rob Stevens, Tim Vince and Stuart Forbes are now Trail Captains
Kaidjah Profijt is a new Trail Monitor
Many of our Trail Captains and Trail Monitors help when a big project requires many hands.
Volunteers are the backbone of the Niagara Bruce Trail Club. They keep our trails safe for hikers.

Projects for 2023
Create a database of all the structures in Niagara with GPS coordinates of the structures location along with a detailed description describing the structure i.e Stile, boardwalk, steps or bridges.

Kathleen Orth, Newsletter Editor

NEWSLETTER EDITOR – Kathleen Ort

The Grapevine appears quarterly: Spring 2022, Summer 2022, Fall 2022 and Winter 2022/2023. NBTC’s Board of Directors supports the newsletter by providing updates and photos that keep members informed of BTC and club activities, awards, maintained.

While still dealing with pandemic issues, “being back” became a theme for 2022. “Fort to Fort is back” (Lauren Doig); “Welcome back, Laura” (Janet Davey); the Merrithon is back (fundraising report by Marinus Koole); “Niagara 2022 End to End” (Wendy Howick), and updates on Hiking 101 and Bruce Trail Day.

Board members Alicia Aitchison, Jessica Ranalli, Margaret Northfield, Rick Waters, provided regular updates, and Klari Kalkman continued her series on invasive plants. There was a lot that was new, too – NBTC’s biodiversity committee, new side trails, a new series of hikes celebrating Black history in Niagara, new board members Jessica Ranalli, Dave Kelly, Sam Rutherford, and Tammy Morris, new BTC merchandise – and new members. As of Summer 2022, NBTC had 1443 members. So much news that the Summer 2022 issue included an eight-page supplement.

Fundraising acknowledged and thanked - a front-page photo to recognize $10,000 donation from the St. Catharines Road Runners & Walkers, a donation of wood from Gaulds Nursery to be use for blaze boards, and NBTC volunteers at the Niagara Falls International Marathon. Brown Rabbit and Denure Tours placed ads. In 2022, contributors included Jill Troyer, Susan Gammage, Sheila Massey, Karen Couch, Mary-lyn Hopper, Vince Zvonar, Robin Garrett, Colin Cook, and the new Biodiversity Committee. Trudy Senesi, Keith Rae, Dave Walters wrote a tribute to Frank Delogu, and Debbie Demizio wrote a tribute for Dave Dewy.

The newsletter occasionally publishes stories submitted by members of other BTC clubs.

The Editor thanks the board members and all contributors to the newsletter for their support that ensures the success of The Grapevine. Congratulations for a successful year!

Jessica Ranalli

Jessica Ranalli, Membership/Volunteer Coordinator

MEMBERSHIP/VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR – Jessica Ranalli

The Niagara Bruce Trail Club now has 1226 members, compared to 1443 from last year. This marks a 15% decrease in membership. This is likely due to a correction following the boom in membership during the pandemic. New members are added to the club email distribution list on a monthly basis to keep them informed with club news and special events.

The past year there were 178 active volunteers across the club, to which we are very grateful to each and every one. This is up from 140 volunteers last year, marking a 27% increase. It was wonderful to see a resurgence of in-person events over the last year, and our volunteers played an invaluable role in making these events successful.

Each year, three volunteers’ outstanding achievements are recognized through the annual Volunteer Awards. The recipients are chosen from nominees submitted by current club members. The Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to a member(s) who has made a significant volunteer contribution to the organization at the club level over many years. The Volunteer of the Year Award is awarded to a member or committee whose volunteerism has gone above and beyond in the year just completed. And the Unsung Hero Award is awarded to a member(s) who can always be counted on to lend a hand and volunteer at the club level over many years.

I am pleased to announce this year’s winners:

  • Margaret Northfield for the NBTC 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Klari Kalkman for the NBTC 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award
  • Lauren Doig for the NBTC 2023 Unsung Hero Award

Diane Marlatt, Social Convenor

SOCIAL CONVENOR – Diane Marlatt

Social Activities 2022:

Apr 24 - AGM

May 21, 22, 22 - E2E

Jun 11 - Laura Secord Event

Oct 2 - Bruce Trail Day

Nov 2 - Merritthon

 

 

 

Tammy Morris, Member at Large/Archivist

MEMBER AT LARGE / ARCHIVIST – Tammy Morris

The Archives for the Niagara Bruce Trail Club are housed at Brock University Library in Special Collections and Archives. Anyone can access them, and an appointment must be made to view the collection. The archives are updated every two years, the next update being 2024. This year has been spent developing and documenting procedures for keeping the archives current, consistent, and complete. 

Marion Hanover

Marion Hanover, Secretary

SECRETARY – Marion Hanover

The Board of Directors of the Niagara Bruce Trail Club meets monthly with the exception of July and August. Minutes of all meetings are shared with the BTC. The Niagara Board stores club documents including meeting minutes on its own Google Drive. This allows for greater access for board members and succession planning.

Hikers achieving goals and being awarded with badges (as set out in Niagara Bruce Trail website) continues to be popular. In the last fiscal year 630 badges were issued in contrast to 711 in 2022, 314 in 2021 and 238 in 2020.   The creation of a ‘niagara badge’ google account with automatic email reply with detailed information to the badge requestor has been working very well to streamline the process.  The account is shared with the assistant badge processor, Mary-lyn Hopper which has worked out very well.