I was at Laurel Creek Sunday for the annual Earth Week tree planting organized by the Grand River Conservation Authority. In the five years I’ve had the privilege of hosting the event, much has changed in the region. It’s not as much a “fringe” event as it was even five years ago as the number of “tree huggers” seems to grow with each passing season. But just think of the environmental initiatives in this region over the past half decade. The city of Kitchener has implemented a Local Environmental Action Fund, Waterloo has pledged to build all new municipal structures to a minimum standard of LEED Silver, Cambridge has the greenest City Hall in all of Canada and the region has outlawed the sale of bottled water in municipal buildings.

These broad initiatives aside, I continue to be impressed with the turnout at the annual tree planting event. In particular, I am energized by the number of new Canadians who show up year after year. Such was the case again on Sunday as a number of different dialects could be picked up in and around the planting area. The common thread, though, was the desire to make even a small gesture to make our community a better, greener place. For those recently settled in our community to make such an effort not long after their arrival speaks volumes to me not only of their desire to contribute but also of their happiness with their new home.