Main photo: Noah Gonthier (centre) receiving the Brooks White Youth Environmental Leadership Award at his home in Baysville from Melinda Zytaruk (right), a founding director and president of LOBREC, and Helen White (left), Brook’s lifetime partner. The award was presented on May 3, with appropriate social-distancing precautions. (supplied by LOBREC)
The Lake of Bays Renewable Energy Corporation (LOBREC) announced on May 5 that Huntsville Public School student Noah Gonthier is the recipient of the inaugural Brooks White Youth Environmental Leadership Award.
The award was created in memory of Brooks White, one of the co-founders and original board members of LOBREC. According to a media release sent by the corporation, “Brooks was an avid environmentalist concerned for the future of the planet and anxious to help make societal change around protecting the one planet we have.”
The competition was open to students attending elementary schools and high schools that serve the Lake of Bays community, as well as home-schooled children and youth in the Lake of Bays region.
Entrants were asked to take a photo of an environmental issue and to write 50-200 words answering the questions “What is an important environmental issue that you see in Lake of Bays? How do you think we can address it?”
Gonthier received $500 and another $500 will go to a club at his school.
His entry, regarding coastal erosion, is below:
“The erosion of shoreline is a environmental issue in our community that impacts fish spawning areas, aquatic vegetation and loss of habitat for many wildlife species. These things could also lead to a decrease in property values. Shoreline erosion is caused by a few factors in the township of Lake of Bays including: human activities such as digging, building and removal of vegetation. Shoreline erosion is also caused by residential and industrial development in vulnerable areas such as lakefront and riverfront lots. If we do not take care of our shoreline then the lakes have a greater risk of harmful substances entering the lake and a greater threat of algae bloom in the lake. Lake of Bays thrives on the tourists, cottagers, and homeowners who choose to live and vacation here because of the lakes, wildlife and naturally beautiful setting.
“We can fix this environmental issue by limiting the building of boathouses, start planting more natural vegetation on our shorelines and slowing down while boating near shores. If we end shoreline erosion we can continue to enjoy our lakefront and riverfront properties while being environmentally friendly.”
According to its media release, LOBREC is a not-for-profit renewable energy co-operative with the goal of bringing “community-owned renewable energy projects to Lake of Bays for the benefit of the community as a whole.” Its first project was a 50 kW solar PV installation on the rooftop of the arena at the Baysville Community Centre in August 2015, and “members of the Lake of Bays community who purchased bonds in support of the project have been earning interest on their investment. Proceeds from the sales of green energy from this array also go towards supporting community initiatives and charities.”
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