- Wasaga Beach Healthy Community Network > Past Initiatives

A Wasaga Beach Centre for Sustainability Dream or Reality !


A Wasaga Beach Centre for Sustainability 

Dream or Reality !

Have you ever heard of the small prairie town of Craik Saskatchewan? Probably not. You may be surprised then to learn that it is a leader in community sustainability planning and has won national awards and accolades in the national media for its approach to promoting sustainability which many believe will become the dominant issue of the twentieth century. Perhaps we should take a leaf from Craik's playbook here in Wasaga Beach as we try to meet the demands of today while protecting our resources for use by future generations.


The cornerstone of Craik's approach to developing a sustainable town is a 6000 square feet Eco Centre which serves as the focal point to demonstrate the viability of energy efficient and alternative approaches to construction while acting as a community meeting place where local residents and visitors can meet to discuss issues of the day and learn about new developments and approaches to creating a sustainable and healthy community.


 The Centre was made possible through local fund raising campaigns, corporate sponsorship, in kind contributions and volunteer support as well as a grant and a loan from The Federation of Canadian Municipalities. It opened in July 2004. It features innovative energy efficient building design and integrated heating, cooling and electrical systems. Passive solar design, use of heat sinks and ground water source heat exchange provide for most of the heating and cooling needs. Rain water which is used for drinking purposes is stored and subsequently treated before consumption. The exterior wall of the building is made from durum wheat straw bales donated by a local farmer. The straw provides an insulation value of R-40 well above current building code requirements. The ceilings are insulated with cellulose which provides an R-50 value.


Aside from acting as a demonstration and learning centre for innovative approaches to sustainability, the Eco Centre contains meeting rooms which can be used for seminars and workshops or simply places for the community to gather and discuss the issues of the day. A restaurant which promotes the use of locally grown food rounds out the accommodation.


Outside the Centre, shelter groves, featuring 55 different species, have been planted to act as a windbreak and noise barrier, while creating habitat for wildlife, and increasing the biodiversity of the area. Complementing the shelter groves is the Botanical Xeric Garden. It consists of 298 species of grasses, perennials, bulbs, shrubs, vines and trees. The Garden will be used to demonstrate and educate people about site reclamation and naturalization, the rich diversity of native plants as well as exotic plants which are suited to prairie conditions and xeriscape (low water use) strategies.


Since opening in 2004, The Eco Centre has become a tourist attraction for locals and visitors alike and along with other local sustainability initiatives has raised awareness throughout the province and beyond about the environmental challenges facing the world today not to mention reviving the economic fortunes of the town. It has become a model for sustainability education and practice, one which many municipalities are looking to emulate. The question for us is - Could it or should it happen here?


Why not!! We already have the momentum; some would argue we have a need. Council has certainly indicated its commitment to establishing Wasaga Beach as a healthy community and is moving ahead with the creation of a green plan for the town. The town is projected to significantly increase in size over the next few years bringing with it social, economic and environmental challenges that all growing communities face.


Perhaps there is no better time than now to start planning for our own, "coffee shop with a purpose" where the community can come together around an idea that not only can create community spirit, contribute to the economy of the area but also, most importantly, protect the many assets of The Beach now and for the future.


Is this only a dream or could it be reality.


Be a part of the Dream!!! - Submit your thoughts; plans; contributions and creativity.


We would like to hear your opinions or ideas!!!


Visit our website at:




Let us know what you think.

( Submitted by Peter Willmott, Chair of The Healthy Community Network)

Anti Idling School Campaign


Fall of 2007


In the fall of 2007, twelve

enthusiastic students from

Birchview Dunes and Worsley Elementary Schools were

trained by HCN on the health and environmental effects of

unnecessary idling of vehicle engines.  They then observed

parents picking up their kids and recorded the number of idling



The highlight of the campaign was the days when the students talked to the

waiting parents, handing out information and asking them to shut off their engines.


The messages on banners, signed by all students, and on their T-shirts stated:


"For kids' sake - don't idle"


"Don't mess with our air"




Municipal Fleet Anti Idling Policy (Fall 2007)


A no idling policy for all municipal vehicles

was implemented in cooperation with

the Town's Public Works Department.

Large decals were placed on all vehicles




Idling Control By-Law (fall 2008)

A by-law to control idling was drafted together with

The Town of Wasaga Beach By-Law Department.

Council passed By-Law No. 2008-91

on September 9, 2008.


The Healthy Community Network launched a

public awareness campaign with large signs

throughout the town and a mass mailing to all

households.  In addition Healthy Community

Network members handed out info cards at

major retailers.

Permanent parking lot signs will be installed at

municipal buildings and shopping areas (spring 2009).




Why an Anti-Idling By-Law?


Idling of vehicle engines is a major contributor to air

pollution (smog) and greenhouse gases.


The health impacts from smog range anywhere from

itchy eyes and sore throats to respriatory and cardiac



The Ontario Medical Association states in a recent study

(June 2008) that approx. 9500 people die prematurely

in Ontario each year from the effects of air pollution;

300 in Simcoe County alone.


Idling a vehicle engine converts 800 litres (210 gallons)

of clean air into exhaust fumes every minute.

(based on a 2.4 litre engine at 800 rpm)


Modern engines do not need more than 30 seconds of

"warming up," even in cold temperatures.


Idling is easily avoidable; turning off your engine will

save you fuel and money!!!




Anti Idling Blitz

Road Side Banner



T-Shirt Logo




Rack Cards




By-Law Sign