Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project recognizes donors

By Chris Abbott, Tillsonburg News


Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project Committee celebrated the completion of its multi-year project Friday afternoon with the unveiling of a donor plaque at Gibson House on Concession Street.

"In the summer of 2011 a group of concerned citizens came together with common purpose – stopping the deterioration of Lake Lisgar and preserving it as a town jewel," said John Glass, member of the Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project Committee. "They remembered that a generation ago the town rallied around the Lake Lisgar Renaissance Project (which started in 1992). Significant funding had been raised - $750,000 over five years – which went toward improvements such as a gazebo, pedestrian bridge, facilities for the rowing club (dock and clubhouse), the fountain, boardwalks, lake cleanup and much more."

But by 2011 the Renaissance showpieces had deteriorated significantly, said Glass.

"The Rowing Club dock was sinking, the lake was choked with weeds, and a large fish kill had happened the year before. Through a generous donation from Dr. Glenn and Ellen Springer, the Kinsmen Club in 2011 updated the trail lighting, and repainted the gazebo and the bridge. But there was so much more to be done."

In the fall of 2011, the Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project Committee was formed, endorsed by Town Council, and a charitable foundation created. Glass was the initial committee chairperson, a position he passed to Frank Kempf a year-and-a-half ago.

Over the last three years the committee received more than $250,000 in cash donations and in-kind services. The majority of the money came from grants, said Glass, including federal, provincial, Ontario Trillium Foundation, RBC Blue Water Project, and TD Friends of the Environment.

"As well, we thank the Town of Tillsonburg and the Long Point Region Conservation Authority staff who advised and assisted us from Day 1.

"Our committee, all volunteers, is proud of what was accomplished over the last three years. Of note, two existing sediment ponds were dredged and re-dredged, one new sediment pond was dug, then later enlarged. Six aeration systems were put in the lake at three different sites. More than 600 rainbow trout were stocked, some of which are over seven pounds now. Significant improvements were made in and around Gibson House – a new accessibility ramp, new windows, improved parking lot, and landscaping. In collaboration with the Tillsonburg Rowing Club, a new world-class rowing dock was installed. Water quality was significantly improved by measures such as weed and erosion control, and the planting of shoreline grasses and aquatic plants."

Each of the committee members were recognized on the plaque, including Virginia Armstrong, Larry Donnelly, Stephen Molnar, Craig Blodgett, Joan Weston, Eric Sharpe, Glass and Kempf.

"To all our donors, we dedicate this plaque and say a big thank you," said Glass, unveiling the plaque with assistance from Kempf. "We made sure anyone who made a donation has been listed up on the plaque."

"Lake Lisgar has often been called the 'jewel' of the town," said Mayor Dave Beres. "With the help of the Kinsmen Club we have a beautiful fountain. We have a gazebo, walking trails, and people of all ages enjoy the natural beauty of the lake. The Lake Lisgar Revitalization Committee has stepped forward and championed the cause to keep Lake Lisgar clean and safe.

"The Town of Tillsonburg appreciates their environmental and aesthetic stewardship, and extends a sincere thank you to each and every member of the committee. Their vision and hard work to enhance our community are most appreciated.

"The efforts of the volunteers in this community are second to none, they've been there for many, many years and will continue.

"I think the thing we have to remember," Beres summed up, "is we got this far, let's not stop, let's continue what we're doing. The cause is great."

"The revitalization of Lake Lisgar has been instrumental in improving the quality of this area as a natural habitat for many native species of animals and plants, as well as enhancing recreational facilities for the community's use," said Oxford MP Dave MacKenzie.

"Our Government is pleased to have invested in the infrastructure of this unique site and is committed to strengthening communities, creating jobs, and economic prosperity in southern Ontario."

The project received federal funding in the amount of $56,250 through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF), which assisted in the installment of energy efficient lighting and windows at Gibson House, and wheelchair accessibility... extending the parking lot and laying fresh gravel... widening the walkway around the lake and installing solar lights... making safety improvements to the public scenic landings... and purchasing new park benches.

"Lake Lisgar has a long history in our community and has been a place for families and individuals to enjoy the great outdoors. Facilities like this one are the foundation of our communities bringing families and residents together. By helping to improve these facilities, we're helping our communities grow and making them better places to live, work and play.

"Lake Lisgar truly is a jewel in Tillsonburg," MacKenzie summed up, "and our Government was happy to invest in this project.

"Congratulations to everyone involved in the Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project, and thank you for your hard work and dedication that made the completion of this project possible, and so successful. Thank you to everyone."

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