Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) has had to temporarily layoff some of its full and part-time staff, as well as reduce hours of those full-time staff still providing essential services. These cuts, affecting over 50% of GRCA staff, have been in place since Monday, April 27th.
The GRCA operates on revenue-based watershed programs and services, including the Ganaraska Forest and the Ganaraska Forest Centre which contribute to approximately 30% of the GRCA’s annual revenues, as well as levy support from its eight partner municipalities. Due to the pandemic, which has seen closures and loss across Ontario, both the Forest and Forest Centre have been closed since March 17th.
The Ganaraska Forest Centre’s outdoor education program sees close to 10,000 students from across Ontario throughout the year. With the previous province-wide teacher strike, followed by the pandemic, schools have had to reduce visits since early winter; greatly reducing revenue of the 42 year old program. The closures have also affected weddings at the Ganaraska Forest Centre. The hope is for most 2020 weddings to be postponed to 2021, but the financial impacts of this pandemic will be felt for quite some time; thus leading to some couples having to completely cancel their special days.
Staff, students, brides and grooms, are all feeling the affects of these losses, and now too, the GRCA’s Nature Nuts Summer Camp program could be jeopardized, affecting the young environmentalist who attend camp each year.
“These cutbacks and closures were extremely difficult to make. The GRCA, like many others, are being optimistic that this current situation will end soon, so that we can bring staff back to their important positions serving our local watershed and open our buildings and properties to the public.” said Chair of the GRCA’s Board of Directors, Jeff Lees.
Although operating with reduced staff, the GRCA remains committed to the Ganaraska Region Watershed, and working with its partners to ensure that the special spaces and places that make the Ganaraska Region so unique remain intact for others to enjoy.