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The time is now for Burlington Green

The non-profit group is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a new home and its most ambitious goal yet, starting with this weekend's Big Beach Clean Up

Burlington Green has a home of its own — and the local non-profit group can’t wait to welcome the community for a visit.

This will be their first summer in their new headquarters, also known as the “eco hub”, in the historic pumphouse on the Burlington Beach Strip. Staff and volunteers are looking forward to it being a hive of activity along the busy trail, starting this Saturday with the Big Beach Clean Up —  just the first of many community events they hope to see in the 2023 Clean Up to Green Up  campaign.

“Our goal this year is 15,000 community cleanups to celebrate our 15th anniversary,” said board president Gloria Reid, who has been volunteering with Burlington Green for 11 years. Between now and October, individuals from all corners of the city can sign up on to receive a bundle of supplies (bags and gloves for five people and a tip sheet), and have their event pinned on the online map. Since its launch in 2011, the program has supported 121,000 neighbourhood cleanups, about 8,000 to 10,000 per year. 

“People can go online and register, and once they register we can track how many people are actually doing the cleanup,” said board member Sharon Clark.

Leading by example

Burlington Green has operated out of many spaces in the community, from its launch in a corner of Central Library to its most recent home in the NUVO Network co-working space on North Service Road. 

And while they support initiatives all over the city, they have been the driving force for some transformative projects on the shorefront, including the restoration of the dunes and the plant and wildlife systems associated with that habitat. 

Burlington Green’s role as an eco hub on the beach will be further enhanced as they are  working with the City of Burlington to install an electric vehicle (EV) charging station and bike racks at the site, and anticipate the addition of a bike repair cafe on the property this season.

“That’s the joy of being here now, we can lead by example,” said Reid. “Because we can be here informally, whereas before not having a site to operate from, it always had to be at an event.”

Triple A approach

Burlington Green is ambitious in its mission to protect the environment, mitigate climate change and create a healthier, more environmentally responsible city. They are committed to tackling the issue on three fronts: awareness, action and advocacy. 

“We really to try to help people start where they’re at,” said Reid, initially drawn to the group’s advocacy work. “We’ve always followed the triple a approach…that has been our guiding principle from day one. Awareness being the educational piece, so helping people understand first and then once they understand providing the opportunities to take action locally so they get a chance to try it out. And the advocacy piece is policy, is trying to ensure that whatever individuals are doing, that we are advocating for policy change that  supports that and heads us in the right direction.”

Reid highlights Burlington Green’s advocacy work and their close working relationship with the City of Burlington on issues such as developing an effective EV strategy and partnering with the Chamber of Commerce to create a local Shop Local Buy Green directory. 

The awareness pillar has been enhanced greatly by the group’s website, created and maintained by Executive Director Amy Schnurr. It is packed with resources, program information, tips and public engagement opportunities.

Finally, the key for many who want to get involved is the action pillar. In addition to its regular programming such as the youth team headed by Kale Black (a familiar sight in their bright green t-shirts at local events around town), several hands-on initiatives are planned, including an Earth Day tree planting on April 22, an e-waste recycling fundraiser on May 13, and much more. 

The time is now

Like many other non-profit organizations, Burlington Green has been forced to pivot to stay on course. During the pandemic, they saw the number of volunteers and donations drop; as well, they have had to reduce their staff to two full-time and one part-time positions after some of their funding sources were not renewed

“We have applied for a number of grants and have not been successful whereas before we always were," said Reid. "So it’s been a challenge to lose what had been quite a core and one that we had relied on. 

“The world changes, we all have to adapt,” she said, adding that private philanthropists and donors have helped fill the gap.

Clark, whose focus with the group is fundraising, stressed that Burlington Green strives to be sustainable on many levels, including financially. She and staff member Sue Alksnis worked together on the group's “The Time Is Now” campaign to create awareness and raise $300,000 over the next three years.

“We wish to be sustainable, to stay here and to do the work that we’re doing,” said Clark. “Without funds ... we can’t continue. And yes, the time is now when it comes to the environment and the work that needs to be done for the environment. 

“Creating a cleaner, greener Burlington is why we’re all here, and to have a three-year continuum of having those funds come in allows us to continue to do the work that we’re doing," she added. "So we recognize sustainability for the environment, but also there is that financial sustainability that Burlington Green needs.”

The Big Beach Clean Up takes place Saturday, April 1 at 10 a.m. at the Burlington Green Eco Hub at 1094 Lakeshore Road. To find out more about the event, sponsorship opportunities and other initiatives, visit

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Brenda Jefferies

About the Author: Brenda Jefferies

Brenda Jefferies is Editor of FlamboroughToday. Brenda’s work has been recognized at the provincial, national and international levels, with awards for local sports, headline and editorial writing
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