Town of Oakville and partners celebrate Bronte Bluffs restoration

The town celebrated the completion of a bioswale project at Bronte Bluffs today with community partners Conservation Halton, Bronte BIA, Bronte Historical Society, Bronte Horticultural Society, Oakvillegreen, Evergreen, and Amec Foster Wheeler. The bioswale is part of ongoing work by the town and community partners to restore and protect the area’s ecological health. Since 2014, a number of public events have been held to remove invasive plants and reintroduce native species.

“The bioswale in Bronte Bluffs is an excellent example of the innovative measures we can take to manage stormwater and reduce our ecological impact,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “Thanks to the work of our many partners within the community we are able to make Bronte a more livable, sustainable community.”

A bioswale is one of the many techniques associated with Low Impact Development (LID) and provides a natural way of dealing with stormwater. It is constructed of layers of engineered soil and specially selected plants that absorb water and filter out pollutants from urban runoff.

When rainwater flows down paved streets or other hard surfaces, it picks up chemicals, waste and bacteria which run into ditches and storm drain systems and eventually into our waterways. The bioswale lets water gradually soak through the plant and soil-based filters like a sponge, helping to cleanse the water before it enters the lake, while helping to reduce erosion.

Rain gardens, permeable paving and rain barrels are examples of LID techniques that residents can use at home.

The bioswale is a pilot project and was completed with support from the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund. As part of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy, the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund was set up to help people take action to protect and restore their corner of the Great Lakes by protecting water quality for human and ecological health; improving wetlands, beaches and coastal areas; and protecting habitats and species.

Other restoration projects at the Bronte Bluffs include:

enhanced habitat and restored quality of the site’s tableland forest through the removal of invasive species, particularly garlic mustard, and replanting with native plants
removing a direct outfall pipe into the lake and reducing erosion by planting native grasses and deeper rooted shrubs
planting native wildflowers and plants that support pollinators such as bees and butterflies
installing educational signage on Low Impact Development and protecting water quality on Lake Ontario

The work also provides a more enjoyable and safer experience for those using the waterfront trail.

Bronte Bluffs is an elevated, forested park that overlooks Bronte Harbour and Lake Ontario. It has been identified as a potential Cultural Heritage Landscape under the Ontario Heritage Act. Popular with cyclists and hikers, the Bronte Bluffs offers a variety of environmental, cultural and recreational pursuits.

Bronte Historical Society, which operates Sovereign House on the site, is currently featuring an exhibit on the history of the bluffs, Bronte Bluffs Then and Now, including information on the most recent work that has been done. Sovereign House is open to the public from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

For information on Sovereign House and events, visit the Bronte Historical Society website.

For information on upcoming planting or invasive removal events, visit the OakvilleGreen website.

For information on the Bronte Bluffs cultural heritage landscape, visit the Cultural Heritage Landscape Strategy page.

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Town of Oakville and partners celebrate Bronte Bluffs restoration