May 15, 2012
Waterloo Chapter’s School Greening project has become so popular that this year, 10 submissions were received from public and separate school boards from Waterloo and Wellington County.

The proposals ranged from outdoor classrooms, arboreta, interpretive trails and community gardens to reflection gardens.

Members of the Chapter’s committee were charged with making the decision on the winning submissions from among the ten schools. Because of the high quality of the proposals, it was difficult to decide. In the end the committee narrowed the field down to five schools. Members of the committee included Jason Dietrich, Ace Lawn Care, Rob Tester, TNT Property Maintenance; Mike Hayes, All-Green Tree Service; Thomas Blatter CLP, Dreamestate Landscaping; and and chair of the committee Don Prosser CLD, CLT, Don Prosser Landscape Design.

“It was incredible — the passion, the value of the project to the school community, the importance in the community at large of these schools,” said Prosser.

Once the ten schools were whittled down to five, a new judging panel was formed, consisting of Tom Foster of Irwin Foster Landscape Construction, Randy Adams of Adams Landscape Supply, Jeff Dillon of Stone Landscapes, Phil Dickie of Fast Forest, and Dave Wright of Wright Landscape Services. This group had the difficult task to decide a winner from some very impressive video presentations. “The committee members were blown away,” said Prosser.

St. James Catholic High School of Wellington Catholic District School Board was declared the winner. The school’s proposal included an outdoor classroom and gathering areas. The video demonstrated what the school had done so far, along with a concept drawing, planted trees and seedlings from the Grand River Conservation Authority, interviews with staff and board members about what this new space would mean to the school, a short hilarious clip about taking buckets outside to sit on, showing the obvious need for such a space. It won the judges over.  

At Randy Adam’s suggestion, and since passed by the board, the four other finalists will each get $500 toward their school project and an invitation to apply next year.

The Chapter expects to start work sometime around Aug. 1, with a completion date of Sept. 15. The grand opening will be held on National Tree Day, Sept. 21.

Tom Foster agreed to take lead on the design, with Don Prosser and Thomas Blatter providing input. Members have visited the site to measure and shoot grades, and spoken with staff and board representatives to iron out any logistical issues.

Seedlings planted last year were removed and potted-up. These will be adopted by staff and students until the project is completed, at which time they will be integrated into the new space.

Contingent on funds, the project will feature a hard surface of permeable pavers and include a rainwater harvesting system to collect roof water to supply a proposed greenhouse and to water the new plant material. “In keeping with Landscape Ontario’s mission, the project must incorporate environmentally sustainable features and biodiversity,” said Prosser.

“We have already had support from members who have donated pots and soil,” said Prosser. “Once the concept is done and approved by the school, we will generate a material and labour list and approach the membership for help.” The Chapter is looking for a project manager.

The landscape project has a value from $30,000 to $50,000. The school community is required to donate a minimum of $5,000 toward this project.  

There have already been expressions of interest from companies to install the rainwater harvesting system, permeable pavers, a commitment for a crew for a day, and follow-up maintenance and providing the school with a maintenance plan. “All this before the design is done. This is the kind of members we have in Waterloo Chapter,” said Prosser.