Deschênes Park Alliance held first general meeting
Newly-formed non-profit organization, the Deschênes Park Alliance (APD) held its inaugural general assembly on February 4, electing its administrative board members and discussing potential projects. Composed of seven members, the APD’s administrative board includes President France Gagnon, co-founder Howard Powles, Secretary Lucie Goulet, Lucie Métras, Jean Poitevin, Henry Robertson, and Rosalie Van Couwenberghe.
Drawing 24 people to attend the meeting, Gagnon said she felt encouraged by the community’s enthusiasm towards the alliance and what it stands for – the environment. In an e-mail to the Aylmer Bulletin, Goulet said the APD envisions creating a natural park extending from the Deschênes Rapids to chemin Fraser, to provide protection for what is currently known as the Deschênes Forest and the watershed, as well as for a natural corridor that extends all the way to the Boucher Forest – owned by the Quebec Ministry of Transport.
Modelling itself after the Boucher Forest Foundation’s (FFB) organizational concept, the APD wants to make the Deschênes Forest an educational nature conservation space, and intends on holding various activities focused on promoting the importance of environmental protection. Among those activities should include community clean-up days, as well as the implementation of a biodiversity program featuring a management plan for exotic and invasive species.
Notably, Powles said a plant called Buckthorn is wreaking havoc in the forest and that something needs to be done to mitigate the damage. “It’s a big sort of very tough shrub that grows to about 10 feet high, but it takes over just about everything in its area,” Powles explained. “So, one of the plans is to cut back that stuff and get some native species growing where they should be.” He added that the APD wants to install informative interpretation panels in the forest. Noting that FFB program coordinator Maxime Chaumont-Lessard attended the meeting, Powles confirmed that both organizations plan on collaborating to organize environmental initiatives.
Noting that a previous Aylmer Bulletin article mentioned a $10,000 donation, Powles also confirmed that Deschênes district councillor Mike Duggan has agreed to donate an initial $1,000 of seed money to the APD, dedicated to fund the launch of the organization’s website – with the possibility for more funding in the future. “This is good,” Powles said. “Money is great and that’ll help us get ourselves going and stuff. So, kudos for that.”
Having worked to get local green spaces protected for the last decade, Powles feels optimistic about what the alliance’s future could hold in that regard. “We’ve taken a lot of different approaches to this, and hopefully this is the good one,” he said, emphasizing the importance of environmental organizations in educating the youth and getting young people involved in the cause. “We’ve got a lot of support. I’m hoping for good things for it all.” Still needing funding to make the APD’s aspirations possible, its members are actively seeking subsidies for its 2021 activities, which should begin in the spring and should provide a plethora of opportunities for people in the community to participate, Goulet said.
Powles said that, during its next board meeting on March 9, the APD will be discussing its planned activities and priorities. “At some point, we’re going to open up these meetings to other people,” Powles said.