Environmentalist wants kids to have tadpoles tales Markham Economist
By Stefania Rizzi
May 14, 2002 – As a young boy, Glenn De Baeremaeker remembers a little spot near his home where he could go and watch tadpoles.
He describes those moments as the most cherished days of his boyhood.
When a friend called to ask about a place where he could bring his children to appreciate such natural wonders, Mr. De Baeremaeker was saddened.
“Almost all the wetlands in Scarborough have been destroyed,” said Mr. De Baeremaeker, president of Save the Rouge Valley System. “All kids should be able to see those little critters.”
Over the years, the environmentalist has been championing the need to protect and preserve the environment.
In addition to helping establish the largest urban park in North America and another park on the environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges Moraine, Mr. De Baeremaeker has:
stopped seven garbage dumps from being located in the Rouge watershed
saved endangered woodlots, creeks, meadows and native archeological sites
initiated a bluebird box program that resulted in the reappearance of the eastern bluebird to the Rouge watershed after a 30 year absence
negotiated a precedent-setting agreement with a developer that would see, among other things, a one million dollar trust fund established for stream restoration.
Mr. De Baeremaeker has also played an important role in York Region, especially in Markham and Richmond Hill. The Scarborough resident is currently urging Markham Council to increase its forest cover from the current two per cent to 25 per cent, as recommended by the region’s official plan.
He also wants to halt the province’s proposed sale of thousands of acres of farmland in the agricultural preserve in Markham’s part of the Rouge and ensure development proposals already approved on the Oak Ridges Moraine are transferred to urban areas off the moraine.
“Markham is a perfect example of terrible planning,” said Mr. De Baeremaeker, who runs his own environmental consulting company.
“Forests produce the oxygen you breathe. Imagine if you take out 98 per cent of your lungs.
From Markham’s perspective, they’ve destroyed so much, there’s virtually nothing left. There are little pieces scattered throughout the town.”
After graduating from university and majoring in international development, Mr. De Baeremaeker traveled to Ethiopia.
Upon seeing how humans destroyed the natural environment there, Mr. De Baeremaeker vowed to stop such acts from occurring in his community. “When I went back home to Canada, I wanted to make sure there was nature there for people to enjoy. That was 15 years ago and I’ve been charging ahead ever since.”
Mr. De Baeremaeker acknowledges not everyone may agree with his reasoning or line of thinking – and that includes fellow environmentalists – but said he is unwavering in his beliefs.
“My personal goal, in the next 30 or 40 years, is to get the forest coverage back to 25 per cent and take the little pieces and reconnect them.”
“In 100 years, I want there to be a vast cathedral forest.”
“I hope somebody’s great, great-grandkids will be able to walk through that majestic forest and see tadpoles.”