“I am very big on birthdays,” says Alice Casselman, Founder and President of the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (ACER).
The one-year celebration of the Project Crossroads urban reforestation initiative kicks off with the announcement of a trifecta of community tree plantings in Bramalea Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (SNAP) urban revitalization areas, in Brampton’s E, F, and K sections. ACER’s Planting for Change program is being adapted for public-access spaces in high-density residential locations.
The Project Crossroads initiative was first announced at the Peel Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee on September 20, 2019, the same day as four million people joined the global Climate Strike march inspired by Swedish teen environmentalist Greta Thunberg.
“Our Planting for Change program will support community teams returning every year to celebrate the planting birthday of the trees,” says Alice. “And ACER will also support teams to monitor, measure, and share data on dedicated webpages.”
In March 2020, ACER was funded by Arbor Day Foundation under the TD Green Spaces program to support SNAP. Bramalea SNAP data maps show neighbourhoods with low tree canopy, higher health vulnerability, and other social factors that line up with the Peel Health COVID-19 interactive map showing the highest impact of COVID caseload by postal code.
The funding enabled a collaboration with Toronto and Region Conservation Area (TRCA) and City of Brampton Parks and Forestry, which began to design COVID-adapted planting protocols during lockdown in April. Within a week of Stage 3 Reopening, expert foresters, staff, and first-time planting volunteers ran a successful field test in Fleetwood Park, Mississauga. In concert with student volunteers from Brampton Neighbourhood Watch, training videos were prepared for ACER’s website.
“ACER helps vulnerable communities enjoy more beautiful, tree-shaded, healthier neighbourhoods,” says Alice. “We can improve wellbeing right now, together, by safely planting trees and creating future shady memory sites for all residents in the area to gather.”
“Our post-COVID recovery relies upon reversing environmental degradation, ” said Madelyn Webb, Chair of ACER’s Board. “The only way to get that done sustainably is to connect people in the community with embedded nonprofit agencies, who can collect and amplify local voices and solutions to government, and support a relevant remedy to local concerns.”
On September 15, Project Crossroads was presented to Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, which has two schools located in the planting areas.
In addition to the scheduled community tree plantings, students and teachers can access other outdoor and online volunteer opportunities, including monitoring, mulching, and maintenance of established schoolyard tree sites. Check out ACER’s resources at www.acer-acre.ca for distance learning units in ecology and biology, as well as training videos on various aspects of tree planting.
“Because of COVID protocols, limited registration and no-exceptions masking are in effect,” says Alice. “ACER’s planting opportunity is exclusively by invitation to Brampton’s E, F, and K target sites, as determined by low-tree canopy priorities of Brampton’s Parks and Forestry department.”
For further information about ACER, contact Alice Casselman via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brampton residents in E, F, and K sections can register for safe and socially distanced planting dates and locations below:
Project Crossroads – Planting for Change
- Wednesday, October 7 | 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. | Chelsea Gardens (4 & 10 Knightsbridge Road, Brampton) | Details
- Saturday, October 17 | 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. | Folkstone Park (830 Clark Boulevard, Brampton) | To register, please email BramptonGreenCity@brampton.ca with the subject line “Folkstone”
- Saturday, October 24 | 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. | Knightsbridge Kings Cross Apartments (11 Knightsbridge Road, Brampton) | Details