Tag Archives: HCWF

Halton Children’s Water Festival celebrates ten years of water education

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“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action,” Herbert Spencer (English philosopher).

Written by: Norm Miller, Communications Advisor

The Halton Children’s Water Festival (HCWF) was launched in 2006 with the intent to teach elementary school children about water, and also inspire them to be stewards of this most precious resource. The water festival does this by teaching children about water through activities which engage them in a fun and interactive way.

This past week (September 30 to October 2) the HCWF celebrated its tenth year with 2,700 students in grades 2 to 5 participating over three days at Kelso Conservation Area in Milton. (The festival is normally four days however organizers had to cancel a day due to weather). The HCWF has seen more than 34,500 elementary students attend since its launch.

The majority of the activities at the festival are led by high school students. This experience provides the high school students with a leadership opportunity, presentation experience, and teaches them about water at the same time. The HCWF features 60 activity centres which incorporate four main water-related themes:

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Water Conservation and Protection
  • Water Health and Safety
  • Water and Society

One of the neat aspects of running a festival for ten years is that you witness the beginning of the legacy. Students who attended as elementary students return a few years later as high school students to lead activities. The students who attended the first Water Festival in 2006 as grade 5 students are now in university and may even be studying something related to the environment. What will be seen is the positive impact created in our community by the HCWF by teaching these children about water and instilling in them the desire to take action to conserve and protect it.

About the Halton Children’s Water Festival

The HCWF was first held in 2006 and was launched with the assistance of a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Festival is co-hosted by Conservation Halton and Halton Region in partnership with, the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic District School Board, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, and the Town of Oakville. Conservation Halton Chairman John Vice and Regional Chair Gary Carr serve as the Festival’s honorary co-chairs.

The Festival is sustainable thanks to in-kind and monetary support from organizations in the Halton community. Thanks to the following community businesses for their support of the HCWF:

Thank you also to Aird & Berlis LLP, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, City of Burlington, Town of Halton Hills, Me to We, Nalco Canada, R & M Construction, R. V. Anderson Associated Limited, Terrapure, Thomson, Rogers.

For more information on Festival supporters visit the HCWF supporter page, hcwf.ca/supporters/list-of-supporters

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Stream Team Visits Hamilton Harbour

By: Elizabeth Wren, Halton Children’s Festival and Volunteer Coordinator with Conservation Halton.

Our Stream Team got together a few weeks ago to learn a little more about our watershed. We had a fabulous talk from Nathan Murray, Conservation Halton’s enforcement officer who talked about common violations such as the filling in of wetlands and selling illegal fill to landowners who get stuck with huge bills for the clean-up and remediation! What an eye-opener. I only wish we had more time to spend with Nathan.

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In the afternoon we made our way down south from our office in north Burlington…all the way to the Burlington Waterfront and met up with John Hall, the Remedial Action Plan Coordinator for Hamilton Harbour. What exactly does he do you ask? Just about everything to do with the harbour, which we had a glimpse of on our tour. John took us around the bay providing a great deal of history about the harbour and current issues that we are dealing with.

Hamilton Harbour is an interesting mix of recreational trails, wildlife sanctuaries and heavy industry. It is also one of the most contaminated sites in the Great Lakes Basin mainly due to the pressures of being a heavily populated area.  The good news in all of this is that this area has been identified and there are a number of committed, passionate people working to improve the health of the bay…and it is working! With collaboration from groups such as RBG, BARC and RAP John has resulted in a successful fish way leading into Cootes Paradise, one of the largest wetlands in the area and a popular spawning ground for Carp. By keeping the carp  out the surrounding wetlands have had a chance to recover and are starting to resemble their previous naturalized states.  This is some world class work we are witnessing in action!

At the end of the day our staff left more educated about local environmental issues and confident that we can make a difference working with the local community by sharing our stories and most of all our hope for a better environment.

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Halton Children’s Water Festival 2012


We asked Halton Children’s Water Festival coordinator, Meagan Byrne (@meg_i_Byrne), to guest blog about her experience planning and organizing the 2012 Halton Children’s Water Festival. Meagan had the job of filling in for a maternity leave half-way through and had to hit the ground running. She’s done a great job and here are her thoughts about the lead up to the festival:

“The final week has begun and the entire HCWF team is in overdrive mode. These are the times I like the best, because when you have months to work on details it is easy have your excitement for the event wane. Well this week will certainly make up for that!

This week a lot happened. The new HCWF website went live, the tents went up, the activity materials were dusted off, and newly purchased items are coming in every day. This can all come together so well because of my amazing co-workers and the hard work of the HCWF committee. Each person puts in so much to get this festival going every year it’s hard to think how I could do it without them.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about this job is working on our new website. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been amazing being part of such a great project. It’s had its difficulties, there’s nothing more frustrating than writing out a block of text only to realise that you have added an extra space or forgotten to add a link. But when it’s done and you can see your hard work, well, there’s nothing like website development to make you feel like your effort has had a tangible effect.

In the end any event, no matter how small, is always the end result of a lot of effort and it is the event planner’s lot to always be thinking “Okay it’s over and went well….What’s next?” I know that once the event starts and everything is going smoothly, I too will be thinking wistfully “What’s next?”

So what do you guys think of the new website? http://www.hcwf.ca We’d love to hear your thoughts!

We would like to thank the HCWF sponsors for all their support.

  • AECOM
  • Aird & Berlis
  • City of Burlington
  • Cole Engineering
  • GE Power & Water
  • Town of Halton Hills
  • Town of Milton
  • Nalco
  • R.V. Anderson Associates
  • Storage Solutions
  • Thomson Rogers

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Halton Children’s Water Festival 2011

By Rafay Agha, Interactive Media Writer, Conservation Halton

Between First Nations story-telling, poo-tag (yes, you read that correctly), puppet shows, pioneer water-bucket races and countless other Halton Children’s Water Festival (HCWF) activities, Kelso Conservation Area was buzzing with excitement last week. Outburst of laughter, oohs, aahs and shrieks of joy made for a festival that can be best described as controlled chaos. Afterall, we’re talking about grade two, three, four and five students here. We want them to be loud, engaged and excited! The festival ran from September 27th to 30th 2011, and hundred of high school, community, staff and partner volunteers come out to support the cause of keeping responsible water management top of mind.

Excited (and competitive) grade three students wait their turn at the Pioneer Water Challenge led by Milton District high school students

Each grade occupies a separate camp area at Kelso and elementary students rotate from activity to activity and tent to tent. Within each tent, professional or high school volunteers demonstrate and facilitate different workshops or activities. Luckily this year the weather cooperated and cool, grey mornings made way for bright (dare we say warm?) afternoons. 

Darby and Amanda from Milton District High School enjoying some peace and quiet early in the morning before the elementary school students arrive

Each activity lasted either 15 or 30 minutes at which point the air horn would go off and the students rotated to another tent. Activities cater to school curriculum and this can lead to some very good questions and discussion, especially among the grade fours and fives.

The Festival is co-hosted by Conservation Halton and Halton Region in partnership with the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic District School Board, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton and the Town of Oakville in order to create a successful and financially sustainable water festival in Halton. A number of community sponsors also support the Festival.

Could you ask for a better view?

 To find out more about the Halton Children’s Water Festival, feel free to comment below or visit http://www.hcwf.ca/

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