Lower Thames opens new office

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 LTVCA general manager Don Pearson and vice-chair Linda McKinlay are seen next to one of the barn quilt displays that will be located at the Authority’s Thames Street office.

LTVCA general manager Don Pearson and vice-chair Linda McKinlay are seen next to one of the barn quilt displays that will be located at the Authority’s Thames Street office.

When it came time for the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority to upgrade and redesign its Chatham office, the organization made sure it stayed true to its environmental principals.

A key feature in the LTVCA’s $730,000 project is an environmentally friendly parking lot built on top of a former brownfield site.

Parking at the office was so tight that when the organization has a board meeting, staff members had to move their cars.

Randall VanWagner, manager of conservation lands and services, said the LTVCA obtained the property from the municipality.

“There used to be a gas station here so it was classified as a brownfield,” he said. “We had the parking lot designed in a certain way to capture the runoff into three bio swale areas. The water flows from one to another, is purified by the native vegetation we’ve planted and eventually flows down a rock chute and into the river, avoiding the storm sewers.”

Although the parking lot expansion took about two thirds of the total project cost, renovations to the building itself represent state of the art accessibility and environmental features.

The RBC Bluewater Fund provided a $75,000 grant for the parking lot while the federal government whipped in $50,0000 for accessibility features and a barrier-free entrance to the small green space next to the building.

Dillon Consulting donated $1,000 and a tree for the parking lot.

General Manager Don Pearson said the move would serve the Authority and the 12 staff members who work there for years to come.

The LTCVA, one of 36 conservation authorities in Ontario, is responsible for the Thames River watershed (3,275 square kilometers) from west of London to near Comber.

It operates more than two-dozen conservation areas.

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