City environmental committee says lots to celebrate this Earth Day

The City of Markham prides itself on being a leader in sustainability. Earth Day gives it an opportunity to prove just why that is.

The city’s environmental advisory committee promises a “celebration of all things sustainable and green” in its Earth Day festivities, which committee representative Karl Lyew says includes a number of laudable municipal achievements.

Lyew is the environmental advisory committee’s past chair and one of three members spearheading Markham’s 11th annual Earth Day event this year. While Markham is acting on numerous environmental initiatives year-round, Lyew said a lot of people in the community aren’t necessarily aware of them.

Earth Day gives the City of Markham an opportunity to showcase these efforts that prioritize sustainability, while also encouraging Markhamites to learn about steps they can take in their own lives.

Though Earth Day itself is April 22, Markham’s official event will be April 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Remington Centre on Steeles Ave. E.

“The main takeaway is to highlight what the City of Markham’s environmental and sustainable achievements and projects are,” said Lyew. “The event has always been to bring awareness to the community at large as to what the city is doing.”

Much of the focus in recent years has been on waste management efforts to bolster proper disposal of organics and recyclables. Lyew said these efforts will still be discussed at the event, but his team is shining a spotlight on this year’s official theme for Earth Day events around the world: wildlife protection. It isn’t often discussed in an urban context, but it’s a subject that’s relevant in Canadian cities, and especially Markham.

“It’s not always the biggest headliner, but it’s important,” he said. “A few years ago Markham was proudly proclaimed Canada’s first monarch (butterfly)-friendly city. We’re friendly for pollinators, butterflies and bees and such. On the wildlife end of things that’s one of the things we’re quite proud of. We’re always looking to build upon that.”

Other animals like raccoons and skunks may be seen as nuisances, but their health as species ties into the broader picture of how the environment is faring.

The sprawling array of booths and workshops indoors will be accompanied by the return of the popular electric vehicle test driving circuit outside, made possible last year by several manufactures, including Hyundai, BMW and Tesla.

The Markham Earth Day team has also involved a number of environmental and ecological clubs from York University and various area high schools to bolster the outreach component of the event.

Attendees will be able to visit an array of booths connected to sustainability and environmental initiatives, presented by numerous local businesses and committees and departments from different levels of government.

While the final list is still being sort out, typically there are booths from the Rouge National Urban Park, Markham Public Library, as well as the city’s animal care, waste management and cycling operations, to name a few.

Visitors can get their “environmental passport” stamped at the various booths, with the potential for prizes available to those who collect all of the stamps.

A full list of events, including presentations and breakout seminars, will be available at closer to the event.

Photo: Waste management is a popular subject at Markham’s Earth Day events, organizer Karl Lyew says. Credit: City of Markham Environmental Advisory Committee

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