YORKLANDS GREEN HUB
Innovating, Educating and Collaborating to Open Green Doors to the Future
WHO WE ARE:
Yorklands Green Hub (YGH) is a non-partisan, registered non-profit corporation that promotes the re-purposing of the former Ontario Reformatory/Guelph Correctional Centre and transforming this important heritage site within the City of Guelph into a public “Sustainable Environmental Education Centre.”
Our group formed in May 2013 when we learned of the provincial initiative to consider proposals for adaptive reuse or development of the Ontario Reformatory/Guelph Correctional Centre (OR/GCC) lands and buildings. An initial proposal to our MPP at the time, the Hon. Liz Sandals, who supported our vision, tasked us to gauge public support for the idea. To date, over 2,500 individuals signed a petition as supporters, and more than 40 provincial and local groups have given us their official endorsement of our vision.
We envision repurposing this natural green space and heritage land along with the superintendent’s house on this provincially-owned property to create an active green hub. This centre, created for Ontario’s public domain, will be a self-sustaining education, demonstration, innovation and research hub that will focus on preservation and stewardship of the environment through sustainable local food production, wise water use & wetland protection, as well as heritage and energy conservation and renewable energy technologies.
The site will provide the opportunity for people of all ages to work, learn, and innovate with the common purpose of being engaged stewards of our land, food, water, and energy resources. It is an ideal site to provide work space, indoor and outdoor displays, rotating exhibits, workshops, lectures, videos and educational programming that promote greater understanding of sustainable living.
The site will host students, tourists and other interested groups allowing them to engage first-hand in sustainable environmental initiatives applicable to their own lives but also connect them to the surrounding nature and biodiversity.
At this time of great concern regarding preserving biodiversity, food and water security, the Yorklands Green Hub vision aligns with a number of societal goals including: the UN Sustainable Development goals, environmental public education, urban agriculture (as outlined in the Ontario Local Food Act), the race to zero goals of the City of Guelph and provincial goals of sustainability for energy, water and food production.
WHAT WE HAVE ASKED OF INFRASTRUCTURE ONTARIO:
In October, 2013 YGH submitted an Expression of Interest to Infrastructure Ontario (IO) the entity that oversees and maintains the property, to request long term lease of a part of the property. In October 2014 Infrastructure Ontario informed YGH that the property would be sold in part, rather than a whole. However, in 2019 we were informed that the new provincial government would be selling it as a whole. In June 2016, IO was working to remediate parts of the property and as of 2023, remediation is still occurring. In the meantime, the City of Guelph has designated the site as the Reformatory Heritage Conservation District which includes the Matthew Farmhouse on southeast side of York Rd. A detailed study heritage study is now underway and is expected to be completed by sometime in 2024.
Yorklands is now part of a larger coalition of organizations working toward establishing the site as a National Urban Park in collaboration with Urban Park Guelph.
A destination that promotes innovative, sustainable and resilient food production, wise water use, wetland restoration, and energy conservation & alternatives
A place that fosters increased citizen engagement in building strong, safe, healthy and inclusive communities through education and recreation on the site.
An historic exhibition centre that highlights the stewardship of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee, the Attawandaron as well as other FN groups and reflects the innovative history of the spirit of reforming prison inmates in the early 20th century.
WHAT WE HAVE ACHIEVED:
We have developed a vision and mission with short, medium and long term goals
We have become a registered non-profit organization, and are currently applying for charitable status, while building our membership support base.
We have completed a business plan, a feasibility study, strategic plans, developed volunteer and fundraising tools, and are currently reviewing all of our education programming, and have a hired both a professional fundraiser/volunteer coordinator and community development lead.
Volunteers have contributed in excess of at least 50,000 hours of expert time in the past 10 years to build this project for our community and the province.
We encourage public participation and make public presentations about the Yorklands Green Hub and how it can contribute to a new kind of prosperity for the city and province.
WHAT WE ARE DOING RIGHT NOW:
Some members of our Board are working with Urban Park Guelph to establish an National Urban Park under the Parks Canada system. We are strong supporters of this initiative.
We are continuing to build a firm volunteer base and advocating for the property to be protected for its biodiversity and important cultural heritage.
We are working on truth and reconciliation with indigenous peoples and learning about the history of the many indigenous inmates that were imprisoned there.
We are working with funding groups, Ontario Trillium Foundation and various Ontario ministries and the City to gain their support
We are providing educational & demonstration opportunities for children at the elementary and high school levels on the importance of the ten keystone trees and other pollinators, water and wetland conservation, efficient energy use, sustainable food production and the indigenous history on the site.
WE ASK YOU TO HELP US MAKE THE YORKLANDS GREEN HUB ALL THAT IT CAN BE:
An economic driver, green business opportunity, educational resource, environmental exhibition centre, eco-tourism destination, community hub and a preserved natural and cultural heritage site.
You can help by:
- becoming a member https://yorklandsgreenhub.ca/become-member/
- participating in the project https://yorklandsgreenhub.ca/volunteer/
- donating to fund our programming and operating costs https://yorklandsgreenhub.ca/donate/
- and spreading the word by telling friends, family and colleagues