MNAI Grindstone Creek Project launches!

The Grindstone Creek Project Partners – the City of Burlington, Conservation Halton, Royal Botanical Partners and the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, together with the City of Hamilton as a funder – have taken a major step to ensure the Grindstone Creek Watershed continues to provide well-managed, reliable, cost-effective delivery of core services such as drinking water to local communities for years to come.

On Dec. 9-10, 2019, the project partners, together with community stakeholders, held the project launch workshop in Burlington where they took the first steps towards creating an inventory of the natural assets within the watershed, and organizing it to mesh effectively with core financial and asset management processes. The launch workshop is the first step in a 14-month project that will:

  • identify and quantify the natural assets (e.g. wetlands, forests) within the watershed and understand how they are or could mitigate erosion and floods, filter storm water, provide clean drinking water and other services; and
  • determine what the associated costs and benefits are of having the natural assets provide these services relative to the costs and benefits of installing, operating and maintaining engineered assets (e.g. diversion channels, storm water management ponds, storm water management facilities and systems).

Over the coming year, the MNAI Grindstone Creek project will comprise additional workshops, technical work, and collaboration across a range of organizations to assess, plan for and finally implement effective strategies to understand, measure, value and manage natural assets in the Grindstone Creek Watershed and eventually well beyond. To support effective decision-making, the project will consider a variety of scenarios including climate change impacts and different management and land-use practices.

Ultimately, the project will:

  • Enhance the services that natural assets provide to local communities and their well-being.
  • Manage community financial and asset risk: natural assets can, in some cases, provide the same benefits or services to municipalities as engineered assets, at a lower cost.
  • Help make the watershed more resilient to climate change.
  • Create a replicable model and natural asset management approaches that other regions or other watersheds across Canada could use.
  • Promote and support collaborative watershed planning and management.

The Grindstone Creek watershed and its sub-watersheds are located partially within the Cities of Burlington and Hamilton and the Regional Municipality of Halton, and span 91 square kilometres. The region has experienced flood events for several decades with some of them being quite extreme.

The watershed contains the greatest diversity of wildlife of any Canadian Forest Zone, including species found nowhere else in the country. It also provides fish and wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for the public, including the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The MNAI team provides scientific, economic and municipal expertise to support and guide local governments in identifying, valuing and accounting for natural assets in their financial planning and asset management programs and developing leading-edge, sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure. The MNAI Grindstone Creek project will lead to an understanding of how the natural assets could continue to provide essential services in a changing climate for the long-term, and for the health of all involved.