For Immediate Release – October 9, 2019
Westminster Ponds Centre for Environment & Sustainability Launched!
Today, London, Ontario just got a whole lot greener in its approach as the Westminster Ponds Centre for Environment & Sustainability was launched by ReForest London.
Centrally located in London on a 14-acre site adjacent to the Westminster Ponds Environmentally Significant Area, the new Westminster Ponds Centre (WPC) will be a hub promoting environmental excellence, sustainability, health and wellbeing across our region by co-creating resources, services and impactful programming.
“After years of groundwork, it’s wonderful to finally launch the rebirth and repurpose of this special site,” said Dean Sheppard, Executive Director, ReForest London. “Environmental sustainability is the foundation of a truly thriving community, especially in the face of human-driven environmental degradation and climate change. As a gateway to environmental learning and innovation, Westminster Ponds Centre is a new resource and will be a primary driver in our community sustainability journey.”
There is no dedicated community space in London where people can discover, explore and develop environmental sustainability. WPC will fulfill this long-standing gap offering a new and unique resource, while inspiring environmentally conscious behaviour.
“We consider the Westminster Ponds Centre to be an important civic asset for our city to engage, educate, and mobilize the community to respond to the climate crisis,” said James Chan, VERGE Capital. “Children and youth are in many ways already leading the way to a more sustainable future, and VERGE is betting on them with this impact investment that values people and planet, not just profit.”
On the traditional territory of First Nation peoples, the Westminster Ponds Centre site holds a rich history of built and cultural heritage. Formerly a veterans’ recuperative village built following World War II, the site has a powerful legacy of serving Veterans and mental health. The last three remaining veterans’ dormitories, Bruce, Huron and Perth will be restored for programming and facilities for partners and tenants. The Wellington Pavilion, the former Community Centre will be a community destination and the centrepiece of the site.
“London Community Foundation is extremely proud to support the Westminster Ponds Centre,” said Lori Runciman, Director, Grants, London Community Foundation. “With inclusion and education being core components of its mission, London and Middlesex will be gaining a valuable space to gather and learn about environmental stewardship.”
Organizations and activities are already happening on-site and the first Westminster Ponds Centre programming is underway. “We are starting small, but we have started,” said Sheppard. “As we have a multi-building site, renovations and upgrades will be completed incrementally, all leading to the ultimate restoration and re-purposing of all four buildings and the landscape connecting them.”
Westminster Ponds Centre for Environment & Sustainability will impact the community in many ways. “A healthy environment is the foundation of a flourishing city,” said Brianne Curry, Westminster Ponds Centre Coordinator. “Some of the issues our programming will address include sustainable communities and economies, green building, renewable energy, climate change, nature-based mental health, nature-based children’s programming, and urban green spaces.”
The Centre will have programming for school groups, families and the next generation and provide all Londoners with wide-ranging new opportunities to experience and value nature, the environment and sustainability. It will be a hub and a campus for collaboration, interaction and innovation among changemakers and it will catalyze and support community collaborations among a wide array of organizations whose missions include some aspect of sustainability.
ReForest London sincerely thanks London Health Sciences Centre, City of London, Ontario Trillium Foundation, London Community Foundation, Government of Canada and Mr. Richard Ivey for their belief in and support of this project. Thank you also to Canada Life, Lead Sponsor of ReForest London since 2009, and to every supporter of this journey so far.
Westminster Ponds Centre is for everyone who cares about the environment and wants to make a difference. By helping to create a greener, healthier and more sustainable community, this centre will benefit all Londoners and surrounding areas, with thousands of visitors, clients and program participants projected each year. Visit westminsterpondscentre.ca for more information and to see how you can get involved.