A Tim Horton’s parking lot was the site of the Fourth Annual Environmental Awareness Day, hosted by M.G. Shore Restaurants Inc., the Oakville Chamber of Commerce and the Kerr Village Business Improvement Area (BIA).
Geoff Shore of M.G. Shore Restaurants Inc., owns and operates the Tim Hortons at 111 Cross Avenue. The idea for this annual environmental day and clean-up is something he brought with him when he moved to Oakville in 2008.
“Ever since I’ve become a father, I’ve got a strong desire to leave the environment better than the way I received it,” said Shore.
He has worked as a Tim Hortons franchisor since 2003 and started the environmental awareness day in Toronto. When he began operating his current location, he presented the idea to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.
“They were all over the idea,” he said.
Together they hosted the inaugural event in 2009, bringing in 80-100 people. This year, they expected to see between 300 and 400 people, based on previous numbers. The organizers said the thundery weather forecast for the day probably deterred a portion of their patrons though.
Shore exuded enthusiasm for the free, two-hour event. He said he has a passion for the Tim Hortons brand and doesn’t want to represent it with littering. His desire to leave the environment in a good state for future generations is part of the reason he continues to host the event each year.
Various vendors and display tents were set up, including representatives of Kevin Flynn, Fortinos and Cold Stone Creamery. A team from Shred-it was there to securely destroy vistors’ documents. Gear4Tech was also there to collect electronic waste. The Home Depot provided a children’s workshop and M&M Meat Shops supplied the main fare with a barbecue. Oakville Toyota displayed hybrid cars, among them the electric Rav 4. The company also made a surprise donation of $500 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton.
John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, talked about his organization’s involvement with the event.
“The Chamber’s job is to connect people,” he said.
Sawyer noted the commitment of Oakville businesses to the environment. He explained that when analyzing the 10-year-trend, the residential sector, which is the largest environmental polluter, hasn’t changed. Transport, the second largest, has changed a little. But the industrial sector, the third largest, has dropped 30 per cent.
He mentioned the “myth” of businesses being against the environmental movement, saying, “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Sawyer said he was most proud of “the way the community comes together for this.” He encourages people to come out next year.
Richard Messer, Executive Director of the Kerr Village BIA spoke of the relationship his organization has with the Chamber of Commerce. He described it as “a true partnership.”
“We get things done,” he said.
Messer pointed out positive aspects of the event, including the community clean-up and the waste disposal options offered by Shred-it and Gear4Tech.
Visitors were encouraged to join as volunteers to assist with the event and gain a t-shirt and lunch voucher. Midway through the programming, Shore rallied as many people as he could to join him in a clean-up of Cross Avenue. Gloves and garbage bags were distributed and the cleaners set off. They returned with a sizable stash of trash.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of new bicycles, complete with instruction manuals and helmets, to 13 children from Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Tim Hortons Earn-A-Bike program. They had each completed 30 hours of volunteer work doing community clean-ups. An additional two children were unable to attend the event, bringing the grand total of young volunteers to 15.
“It’s nice to have our children engaged in the community,” said Barbara Ferrone, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton.
All donations and proceeds from the event will support the organization, which currently serves 1,000 children. It offers programs such as The Homework Club, Group Recreation and Mentoring.
Ferrone encourages people to support Big Brothers Big Sisters in whatever way they can.
“You can leave a legacy of money donations or you can leave a legacy of time,” she said.