Milliken Students Take a Stand: The Mission, Protect the Water and Ecology in Markham

Date: March 22, 2018 Author: EcoSpark Categories: Latest

This blog was contributed by Milliken Mills students Shamar Brown and Thuvarakan Jeyasanthan. These students were inspired by the Changing Currents program to take action in protecting their local environments.

Thuvarakan and I are members of the Milliken Mills T.E.A.M. Program (Teaching Esteem and Academics at Milliken Mills), our mission is to protect the water and ecology in Markham. This year we have teamed up with GM Canada, Earth Force U.S., and EcoSpark in hope of bringing more focus to climate change through citizen science projects aimed at local watersheds. As a result of what we are learning through this work, we are very concerned with the possibility of a new development being built on the Bruce-Berczy Ecological Corridor here in Markham.

Milliken_Group_Picture-ReSized.jpgDuring a stream assessment with EcoSpark in Unionville on October 27, 2017, we analyzed the number and types of benthic macroinvertebrates in Bruce's Creek. [Results can be found here]. After processing our data through a stream Quality Index metric, we were able to conclude that the section of Bruce's Creek in downtown Unionville is worth protecting.

From previous citizen science, work we know that any development in the Bruce-Berczy Ecological Corridor will adversely affect the water quality downstream. Pollution from the construction will seep into the groundwater and tarnish the quality of the waterways. Many aquatic species rely on clean water for habitat and breeding. Development will also affect native species of plants and trees. Plant and species diversity is a necessary part of a healthy ecosystem. Wildlife also depend on this natural area so that they can live without interference from humans and other influences of urban life. Where will they go and how will they continue to move through existing corridors to the Rouge Urban National Park if all this is taken away?

Thuvarakan and I made the decision to address the Mayor and Council over this - a nerve-racking experience to say the least. Sadly, mitigation comes after the fact. We plant trees, stabilize stream banks, investigate water and soil quality, and we worry about how we can improve conditions after the damage has already been done. The vote that council will take on the future of the Bruce-Berczy Corridor gives us a chance to do the right thing before we damage one of our few remaining natural environments.[Left to Right] Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitt, Thuvarakan, Shamar and Markham's CAO Andy Taylor.

We would be very upset and disheartened if Markham Council made a short-sighted decision to develop this sensitive and biodiverse area without the consideration and planning needed to protect this corridor. We would like to enjoy these areas for many years to come and to show our own kids some of the projects that we were a part of.

In the end, Mr. Jim Robb, the General Manager of Friends of the Rouge Watershed, might have said it best in his address to Council, "The decisions you make will affect the future health of our children, communities, and planet. Will your decisions lead to a healthier future, or increasing human suffering and economic losses from dangerous climate change and declining watershed and human health.”

Let’s hope Markham makes the right decision for the environment.

Teachers, inspire your students this spring with Changing Currents to do the same and take action in protecting their local environment. Registration for the spring season ends Friday April 6th, 2018. Visit EcoSpark’s Changing Currents page to register.  

MillikenMills_Students.jpgThuvarakan Jeyasanthan (left) and Shamar Brown (right). Thuvarakan and Shamar are grade 12 students from Milliken Mills High School who are both currently enrolled in the T.E.A.M program. Thuvarakan is also an Environment SHSM student at Milliken Mills. After high school is completed Thuvarakan will be heading to Niagara College for the Landscape Environmental Technician program, while Shamar will pursue a career in broadcast/journalism.