---- Local honoured for environmental action to save the Deschênes Forest
After helping mobilize people to save the Deschênes Forest from being sold off for future development last June, a local resident recently received recognition from the Ottawa Riverkeeper for his environmental contributions. Honouring Deschênes Residents’ Association President Howard Powles with the Community Impact Award during its annual meeting on December 1, the Ottawa Riverkeeper said the award is dedicated to individuals who take action towards protecting the Ottawa River via an environmental initiative. “We are inspired by this example of community-led protection for the environment and wanted to congratulate Howard Powles and the rest of the volunteers on the team for this great result,” the Ottawa Riverkeeper wrote on its Facebook page.
Delightfully surprised with the announcement, Powles said he was very thrilled, considering how much effort he’s invested in the protection of local greenspaces over the past several years. “It’s the culmination of a long bit of work,” Powles said, noting that the award comes with a certificate. “I’m very happy about it.”
Having volunteered for the Ottawa Riverkeeper for many years, he added that the prize meant a whole lot to him. However, he noted that he was ultimately just a small piece of the pie that helped protect the Deschênes Forest. “I was happy to be singled out,” Powles said. “But it was also kind of embarrassing to be singled out when there were so many other people who were also involved and put a lot into it.
Most notably, he pointed out that local resident France Gagnon should get at least as much praise for being a catalyst in the initiative’s success. “She has an amazing capacity to draw people in and get them working on it and thinking about it,” Powles said. “She was very effective in the whole thing.” While saving the Deschênes Forest was a huge step in the right direction, the fight to protect the environment is never-ending, Powles said.
Noting an important amount of greenspace just east of the Deschênes Forest that still needs to be protected, he’s planning on forming a non-profit organization, along with Gagnon, called the Deschênes Park Alliance (PAD). “Hopefully we’ll be drawing some other people as well,” Powles said. “In the next few months, once that gets off the ground and going, we’ll be working towards preserving the whole area from the Deschênes rapids to Fraser. It never ends.”
A large portion of the space belongs to the Quebec Ministry of Transportation, noting that it was acquired to build a bridge towards Ottawa – which looks like it’s not going to happen, Powles said. “The land is there and it’s not under threat,” Powles said. “So, it would be great to see it protected and get some formal status. That’s what we want to do.”
Powles encourages people to follow the PAD’s newly-created Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/Alliance-Parc-Desch%C3%AAnes-Park-Alliance-114034010514287.