The Niagara River corridor has been recognized as a provincially, nationally, and internationally significant natural area within the Niagara Peninsula. It is part of the northern limit of the Carolinian Life Zone that supports the most productive and endangered collection of plant and animal species in Canada. This unique set of environmental conditions has attracted and sustained societies over millennia; allowing humankind to flourish in the region for 13,000 years. Since its establishment in 1885, Niagara Parks has played a significant role in providing environmental and cultural stewardship over the lands adjacent to the Niagara River, extending from Lake Ontario 56 km to Lake Erie. In its work as a river steward, Niagara Parks relies on many partners to advance initiatives that further the health of the lands adjacent to the river to provide wildlife habitat, reduce water runoff, mitigate flooding, reduce pollution, and to provide social and psychological health and recreational benefits. This highly visual presentation will provide attendees with a stunning view of the ecosystems, events, and circumstances that have led to Niagara Parks establishing priorities for delivering its mandate as an environmental and cultural steward of the Niagara River Corridor. Experts in environment, culture, and heritage from the Niagara Parks Commission and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority will provide a range of knowledge and experiences while reviewing several projects that include Indigenous connections through the Landscape of Nations Commemorative Memorial, the pollinator corridor, shoreline habitat program, and heritage sites to illustrate how the Niagara Parks Commission delivers on its mandate.

Steve Barnhart — 2020 and Beyond: Strategic Priorities for the Environment

Steve Barnhart has worked as a landscape architect for the last twenty years in both private and public service in the parks and environmental fields. Steve’s areas of specialization include environment and human behavior, visual impact assessment, municipal park development, park and trails master plans, waterfront development, transportation planning, storm water management systems, and restoration of heritage landscapes, among others. Steve joined the Niagara Parks Commission in 2016 as senior director of Parks Environment and Culture. From that position he provides strategic leadership for parks operations, horticulture programming, environmental planning, and cultural stewardship. Steve is full member of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects and holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph. In 2016 Steve was recognized by his peers with the OALA Public Practice award. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Parks Association and is treasurer for the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects. Steve loves the outdoors and has a passion for great public spaces that connect people with nature.


Natalie Green is a certified Project Management Professional and scientist with 10 years of experience leading a local, multi-stakeholder partnership responsible for implementing remedial actions within binational Great Lakes’ Areas of Concern. She has a Master of Science degree in Biology with research previously focused on the effects of contaminants on fish behaviour. Natalie is trained as an educator (Bachelor of Education) and has 15 years of experience communicating technical and non-technical information to a variety of audiences. Since early 2017, Natalie has been employed at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority as the Project Manager for the Niagara River Remedial Action Plan where she gets to combine her passion for the environment, science, and knowledge sharing. She is responsible for leading and facilitating the implementation of activities that aim to improve the Niagara River ecosystem. Prior to her work here in Niagara, Natalie led the remediation efforts and several large educational campaigns in the Detroit River Area of Concern for 6 years.

Corey Burant — Pollinators, Shoreline Habitats and Urban Forestry

Since 2005, Corey Burant has turned his love of the outdoors into a successful career as a wildlife ecologist. Corey has worked across Ontario restoring wildlife habitat and establishing sustainable eco-tourism opportunities. During this time, Corey has worked with numerous government agencies, organizations, educational institutions, and industry partners, acquiring millions of dollars in funding support for these initiatives. In January 2012, Corey joined The Niagara Parks Commission, contributing to its mandate of protecting the natural heritage of the Niagara River corridor. In his current role as project manager of forest health, Corey oversees various wildlife conservation and eco-tourism related initiatives, including the sustainable management of Niagara Park’s natural areas, trails, species at risk, and aquatic habitats.

Ellen Savoia — Environmental Strategies at Niagara Parks

Ellen was born and raised in the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation’s traditional territory of British Columbia’s rural northern interior, which sparked a lifelong interest in the environment. With an academic background in environmental studies as well as landscape architecture, Ellen’s work as a registered professional planner is focused on public land use and environmental policy. In her role with the Niagara Parks Commission, Ellen leads the Environmental Planning team overseeing the environmental stewardship of the 1,325 hectares of Niagara Parks lands. She spends much of her recreation time outdoors enjoying hiking and gardening.

Kim Viney — The River has a Cultural Connection, one that includes prosperity

Kim Viney is the senior director, Business Development for Niagara Parks. Kim oversees all of the revenue producing operations including golf, culinary, retail, attractions, events, and programming. Through her role, Kim helps ensure that the business operations are always aligned to the stewardship role Niagara Parks plays along the 56 kilometer corridor of the Niagara River. Also, one of the founding principles mandated by the Province was that Niagara Parks should be self-supporting. To that end, Kim and her team contribute to a delicate balance between healthy revenue generating operations and alignment with Niagara Parks’ environmental and cultural stewardship role.  

Travis Hill — The Cultural Connection to the Past: Setting the River Context

Travis Hill has been with Niagara Parks since 2001, starting as a historic interpreter focusing on the Indigenous involvement in the War of 1812 and during the siege of Fort Erie. Travis has organized and facilitated numerous educational programs at this National Historic Site over the past several years and rose to his current role as the site manager. Travis is Tuscarora Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and resides in Fort Erie, Ontario.

September 13 @ 14:00
2:00 pm — 3:00 pm

Corey Burant, Ellen Savoia, Kim Viney, Natalie Green, Steve Barnhart, Travis Hill