Eileen and John Holland Nature Sanctuary: Wealth of the Greenbelt

John Holland speaking at the Eileen and John Holland Nature Sanctuary opening. Credit: Conservation Halton/NFinney.

On May 30, 2014, approximately 70 Burlington residents and local politicians gathered to honour John Holland, a local businessman, at the unveiling of a new nature sanctuary in West Burlington.

The Eileen and John Holland Nature Sanctuary, a beautiful and largely untouched 37-acre property, was donated by the Holland family to the City of Burlington. It now becomes a jewel in the crown that is the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System, as an area of national significance for plants and animals within the Greenbelt, and as one of the last unspoiled spots left between Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment.

John Holland is joined by friends and family in celebrating the opening of the new sanctuary.

Mr. Holland’s generous donation was made in honour of his late wife, Eileen. “This is a unique and beautiful property, one I am proud to share with the people of Burlington on behalf of my family,” said Mr. Holland, adding that he looked forward to working with the city on its further development.Also present at the ceremony were Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, Minister of Community and Social Services Ted McMeekin, and local Councillor Rick Craven, as well as representatives from Royal Botanical Gardens, Conservation Halton, and other Cootes to Escarpment partners.

Brenda Axon (Conservation Halton) and Felix Whitton take a look at the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System map.

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has supportedthe Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System since its inception in 2007, donating $300,000 over the past seven years to the development of the 4,700-acre park’s vision, governance, and management plan. Our support leveraged funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and helped to build support among the nine partner agencies, which include the Cities of Burlington and Hamilton, and Halton Region. This partnership was formalized in June 2013 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The unveiling of the Eileen and John Holland Nature Sanctuary heralds the next step in turning this grand vision into prosaic reality. The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark is surrounded and fragmented by more than 4,000 acres of privately-owned land, which are crucial to the long-term viability of the overall system. John Holland’s donation, while small in the grand scheme of things, sends a big message to other landowners that such actions, when added up, can have a tremendous impact.


In fact, such lands are critical to the Greenbelt’s natural heritage system, which recognizes that the connecting tissue between forests, wetlands and other important natural features is critical to the success of the whole. So let us pay tribute to these unsung natural connections, and heroes like John Holland, for without them the Greenbelt would be a poorer place.


-- Program Officer


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