WHO WE ARE
Mill Pond Committee
To preserve, restore and promote the natural and historical amenities of the Dorchester mill pond site through education and community involvement. Established in 1984
Past Reflections and Future Visions
In 1984, the Township of North Dorchester created the Mill Pond Advisory Committee to help maintain and enhance the environmental integrity of the 12.5 hectare natural area together with the Township and the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA). Since its inception, the Committee’s mission has been to preserve this unique ecological site and to educate the Dorchester community about the Carolinian flora and fauna that reside within its boundaries.
Throughout the years, the Committee, in consultation with local residents, students and government officials, initiated many projects that directly reflected its mission statement. In the late 1980’s, a walking path was established around the Pond allowing the public to circumnavigate the area for the first time. A few years later, with the help of staff and students from Lord Dorchester, two projects, including a lengthy wooden walkway on the east side and a viewing deck at 'Dreamland' were completed. As well, elementary students from Northdale and St. David’s, participated in several bio-engineering projects to prevent further erosion along the path.
During the 1990’s the Committee, under the leadership of Michelle and Doris Kanter, with dedicated project team members Barbara Vincent, Elaine Gallagher, Ruth and Mike John, Jean Parker and Steve Fisher, developed and implemented a community stewardship program. The program, designed to educate and engage local residents in the preservation of Mill Pond ecology, received a ‘2000 Carolinian Canada Award’ in recognition of it contribution to the environmental need of the area. In addition, during the period, the Committee developed a five-year plan to naturalize ‘Dreamland’ with wildflowers and native plants. As well, the Committee, with community volunteers, began an aggressive plan to eradicate invasive garlic mustard from the site.
In 2001, a new bridge across one end of the Pond was completed with the cooperation of many community groups including: The Dorchester Trail Committee, the Municipality of Thames Centre (TC), the 31st Regiment (of engineers) from St. Thomas and the UTRCA. A Carolinian Canada Signature Site plaque was erected on the bridge in June 2002 to recognize the unique environmental features of the watershed.
In 2003, the UTRCA and the Municipality of Thames Centre completed an Environmental Assessment of the Mill Pond Dam. Since then, several rehabilitation and bioengineering projects have been completed to in an effort to restore the health of the Mill Pond ecosystem and the structural integrity of the historic Mill Pond Dam. These projects (e.g. erosion control, invasive species, wildflower planting) were successfully implemented with the help of community partners, school groups and the UTRCA.
Today, the Mill Pond Committee continues to act as a liaison between the community surrounding the Mill Pond and the Municipality of Thames Centre. Recently, the Committee has helped erect two Eco Shelters, at Dreamland and the Mill Pond trailhead. These EcoShelters are designed to inspire residents and visitors of the Mill Pond to “Explore, Discover and Share”. In spring 2013, Mill Pond Committee, in partnership with the TC, UTRCA and Carolinian Canada Coalition (CCC), began a 5 Year EcoTrail Plan. The goal of the 5 Year EcoTrail Plan is to enrich the Dorchester Mill Pond as a community focus for active enjoyment and protection of healthy ecosystems of Thames Centre and the Carolinian Life Zone. The EcoTrail Plan is part of a long term vision that reflects community values for the site.