The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust is a group of citizens and neighbours working together to protect and steward Moraine properties for our collective benefit.
This is Your Land Trust
The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust is your Land Trust.
Our Moraine is crucial and ecologically sensitive land. Consider what just one acre of green space, covered with forest, wetland or open meadow does for you: cleans the air, cleans and regulates water, shelters wildlife, supports pollination, provides space for recreation, protects us from run-off and erosion, ensures dispersal of seeds, and more.
By protecting these vital and important lands, everyone will benefit from these natural features and all that they provide. That’s you, me and all of us. What will you do to help to protect our Moraine?
The lands that we protect on the Oak Ridges Moraine will grow in importance as more and more natural areas are lost. Because of caring donors like you, we can continue to protect land forever, ensuring that water will continue to be cleaned, trees and shrubs will continue to clean our air and shelter more birds and wildlife, and we will all benefit from the protected nature and greenspace.
With your support, we have been able to permanently protect 4,480 acres of ecologically important land on or near the Oak Ridges Moraine, but there is much more to protect, and we need your help.
Our team would love to hear from you if you have questions or ideas, if you would like to join our mailing list or if you are inspired to get involved.
Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust
We envision that natural environments important to sustaining life are protected forever.
The Land Trust works to ensure a healthy ecosystem and natural environment that thrives forever, on and near the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Ethical Value Statements
The following values statements guide and inspire every decision and action at the Land Trust. We will:
- Maintain and enhance the trust of our community
- Collaborate with communities and partners for the common good
- Effectively steward our lands in perpetuity
- Be accountable for our results, decisions and resources
- Engage, influence, persuade and advocate
- Treat volunteers, staff members, donors and all others involved with the Land Trust with respect
- Celebrate successes in environmental protection
For more details about our long-term vision and plan, please view our 2018-2021 Strategic Plan PDF here.
Did you know that 90% of the Oak Ridges Moraine is in private ownership?
Together with our donors, we raise crucial funds to protect properties across our Oak Ridges Moraine. We promise to be open and transparent about how we raise our funds and where your money goes.
Thank you! Donors like you combining forces with foundations, corporations and government have made a difference! Here is where our money comes from:
Every gift protects land, saves habitat for species, and engages citizens in learning about the Moraine and Greenbelt. Here is where your money goes:
Please Contact Us
Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust
18462 Bathurst Street
Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 4V9
Office Hours: 9AM – 5 PM, Mon – Fri
Board Member Listing
The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust is governed by a Board of Directors. These helpful and caring volunteers lend their time, talent and expertise to provide leadership, raise awareness and support our efforts.
Mike Charles recently retired after 30 years as an intellectual property litigator, primarily in patent cases, as a partner with a major Toronto based firm. He also has a Chemical Engineering degree, and is obtaining his Masters in Business Law from Osgoode Hall Law School, focusing on corporate governance. He also assists self-represented litigants with Pro-Bono Law Ontario, and has been active with Habitat for Humanity with a large recently completed project. He is committed to sustaining the outdoors, enjoys hiking, water colour landscape painting, travelling, and numerous other pursuits, and is a long time Appalachian Mountain Club member.
Sarah Chiasserini, CPA, CA, BSc (Hons) is a Chartered Accountant and works as a Senior Manager in the audit and assurance department at BDO Canada LLP. She has over 15 years experience in public accounting both in Canada and in the UK. She serves private and public company clients in a variety of industries including mining, manufacturing and real estate.
Sarah was born and raised in the UK and came to Canada in 2005. She lives in North Pickering where she owns and operates a small private horse boarding facility. As well as being a certified English riding coach, she enjoys trail riding on her own horses, competing at show jumping competitions and hiking.
She is an active member of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF), Equine Canada, Women in Mining (WIM), Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) and on the Board of a small NPO for a cooperative school in Brooklin. She has previous experience serving as a board member on equestrian clubs and associations in the UK.
Ron Dewell has worked in the environmental field for 40 years in conservation and land securement, with a 30 year career with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. He started at TRCA as Manager, Water Management, where he was responsible for the implementation of the erosion control program in rivers and along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, as well as the implementation of flood control and flood warning programs. He later became Senior Manager, Conservation Lands and Property Services, responsible for land securement and the administration/management of TRCA lands and was later appointed the General Manager of the Rouge Park.
Ron has been a volunteer with the ORMLT since 2013 assisting and supporting the land securement efforts of the Trust. He has a passion for the protection of green spaces and ensuring the long-term health of natural systems. Ron believes that in the GTA, the protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine and its headwater streams is essential to the continuing health of the region.
A founding board member of the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust since its inception in 2000, Mary Dubé is typical of the spirit behind the creation of regional Land Trusts. Like many who take action on local and social justice issues at the grass roots level, getting involved leads to more. Environmental issues have always been a passion for Mary and that’s not just due to her proximity to the Moraine with a hobby farm in Uxbridge Township for the past 15 years. Believing that we are privileged to be able to stand up, speak out and take action, she is an engaged idealist who wants to leave the world a better place – because citizens working together can make a positive, lasting difference.
Brent Elson is Partner with KPMG’s Financial Institutions Audit practice. He has been with KPMG since 2000 and spent time in both Dublin, Ireland and London, UK. He leads the audit engagements of number of large banking and other financial services clients in the GTA. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, and has a Masters of Accounting from the University of Waterloo.
Brent loves cycling, hiking, golfing and cottage life.He lives at the edge of the Oak Ridges Moraine in Aurora, Ontario with his family, but is originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Brent’s objective is to help protect the natural environment of the Oak Ridges Moraine and encourage strategies and activities to manage its water resources in a sustainable way.
Jane Garthson, Secretary
Jane Garthson has been providing leadership services to Canadian not-for-profits and governments since 1992, after holding senior management roles in the Ontario government. Her focus areas are Interim Executive roles, governance, strategic planning, ethics and decision-making. Last decade, Jane provided consulting services to the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, then delivered strategic planning workshops for the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and attended in the first Standards and Practices training in Canada. She has served and supported other environmental organizations and deeply appreciates the importance of the Moraine in preserving our ecosystem and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Jane has served as Commissioner of the Ontario Racing Commission (a provincial regulatory agency), chair of the Ethics Practitioners Association of Canada, Treasurer of the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association and Executive Director of the Ontario Equestrian Federation. She grew up with strong rural ties and now rides her Quarter Horse regularly on Durham Forest trails. She lives in North York with two cats and a pesticide-free edibles garden. Both Jane and her husband are amateur singer-songwriters and fantasy readers.
Malcolm Light is a long-time resident of the Town of Newmarket and joined the Board of the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust after his retirement in 2017. Malcolm Studied Civil Engineering at The University of Toronto and is a member of The Professional Engineers Ontario. Malcolm’s career has spanned over 35 years in the field of Civil Engineering and at the time of his retirement was a Senior Development Engineer with The City of Toronto.
Preserving green spaces and our watercourses through sustainable development has always been a goal of Malcolm’s. As the City’s lead on the Centennial Watershed Study in Scarborough and in collaboration with The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Malcolm was able to mitigate the effects of developments on the Centennial watercourse. Witnessing first hand the stress that urban development has placed on our remaining green spaces inspired Malcolm to join the ORMLT. In his spare time, Malcolm enjoys cycling on the many bicycle routes in the region and is an avid photographer.
Christopher Norris, Chair
Chris Norris is an accomplished professional engineer and management consultant with a diverse 15 year career in the energy, aeronautical engineering, and financial services fields. Following 7 years in detailed aerodynamic design and analysis for Canada’s leading jet engine manufacturer, he changed gears and began management consulting with one of Canada’s banks. He now acts as an independent consultant in the energy and utilities sector.
From work with the Graduate Students Association’s board and executive at McMaster to teaching English in the Ecuadorian rainforest, his volunteer work is also diverse. He currently volunteers with Engineers Without Borders and Junior Achievement.
He holds a B. Sc. from Queen’s University, an M. Eng. from McMaster, and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University. He has been a licensed professional engineer since 2000. He lives in Aurora with his wife and three kids, and enjoys sailing, organic gardening and hiking on the Moraine.
Deb Pella Keen
Deb Pella Keen has lived and worked on the Oak Ridges Moraine since 2006. She recently retired as Director of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, a provincial agency that works to preserve the Niagara Escarpment as a continuous natural landscape through south-central Ontario and convenes the designation as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. She previously held senior management positions with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change in Toronto, Aurora, Sudbury, and Peterborough where she led environmental planning, community engagement and natural resource policy and program development and implementation with a particular interest in engaging Indigenous Peoples.
Deb continues to pursue her passion for environmental stewardship by working with the ORMLT, the Canadian Council for UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Committee (biosphere reserve program), the Landscape of Nations 360° Indigenous Education Initiative and Plenty Canada, a non-profit that promotes social justice and environmental protection in the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world. Deb holds a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) from the University of Toronto and enjoys exploring the out of doors by foot, paddle, bike or skis with family and friends.
Isobel Ralston has lived and worked on the Oak Ridges Moraine for over 25 years. She received a Ph.D. in chemistry; her entire career was centred on pharmaceutical research and development. Isobel has lived in several countries and speaks four languages.
Over the past ten years, Isobel has been committed to environmental issues. She sat on the Board of STORM (Save the Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition) and is a member of RAYS (Ratepayers Aurora Yonge South). She is a co-founder of the MapleCross, a charitable fund focused on the protection of environmentally sensitive lands.
Isobel has backpacked, hiked and canoed in various regions of Canada (Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories and Yukon) and frequently cycles in Europe. She continues studies at The Toronto School of Art; her paintings have been exhibited in several group shows.
Patricia Short-Galle, Past Chair
A long time resident of the City of Pickering. Since 2001 and until her retirement as Regional Manager, Green Space & Outreach with Transport Canada in August 2007, Patricia led the federal Green Space initiative to protect approximately 7,500 acres, including the Oak Ridges Moraine portion of the federal holdings in Pickering as Green space for future generations. Patricia was a member of the Duffins Watershed Task Force, the Rouge Watershed Task Force, the Duffins/Carruthers Watershed Resource Group and the Rouge Park Improvement & Heritage Committee.
Patricia was appointed by the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority and is a member at large on the Walker Woods & Glenn Major Stewardship Committee focused primarily on the northern portion of Durham Region; and is a member of the Oak Ridges Corridor Park East – Management Plan Public Advisory Committee.
In addition to serving as the Chair of the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust and a member of the Fundraising Committee, Patricia serves on the Board of Governors for the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and was a member on the Board of Trustees for the United Way Ajax, Pickering, Uxbridge and Chair of the Community Investment Cabinet.
Jenna Siu (BScH, MSc) works for the Nature Conservancy of Canada as the Coordinator, Conservation Biology for Happy Valley Forest. She plans and implements land stewardship activities for this natural area on the Oak Ridges Moraine, as well as other properties on the in the area. Jenna holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Studies and Biology from Queen’s University and a Master’s in Biology from Western University, where she studied some of the effects that landscape fragmentation have on butterflies in southern Ontario. Since then, she’s worked and volunteered for a number of land trusts in Ontario, doing outreach, visitor management, working with species at risk, invasive species management and conservation planning.
Jenna developed a passion for the natural world and its conservation through her education and field experiences. She hopes to continue this work with the volunteers and staff of ORMLT by helping to protect the natural landscape and biodiversity on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Jenna lives in Toronto and in her spare time enjoys cooking, hiking and caring for her balcony garden.
Leanne Stevens is a Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Hallmark York Group in Aurora, specializing in residential real estate in York Region. Prior to joining the real estate profession, Leanne spent 25 years in the technology industry, with 20 of those years at Toshiba Canada. As Vice-President of Sales for the Notebook Computer Division, Leanne’s team of sales professionals managed the Commercial, Government, Education and Reseller business in Canada. Leanne and her husband Richard have lived in Oak Ridges for 17 years, and have been actively involved in the school, volunteer and sports communities with their two sons.
A love of the green space on the Moraine and a desire to protect it for FUTURE generations, is what drew Leanne to the Land Trust.
The majority of Paul’s career has been working in Health & Safety and Environment divisions of major companies and ensuring compliance with the regulators and the social licence allowed by the local communities. His earlier formal education was in engineering technology in civil & resources followed by a bachelor degree in geography from Queen’s University and lately with a Masters degree in Environment and Business from the University of Waterloo. The education that he values the most and the reason for joining the ORMLT is his appreciation of the outdoors and the stewardship required to maintain it for future generations. Living in Toronto and within sight of the Humber River entering Lake Ontario, he witnesses the human interaction with nature on a small scale and understand the need to protect our natural environment.
Nicholas Trevisan is an Urban Forestry Planner with the City of Toronto, where he implements City tree by-laws and forestry programs. Nicholas worked previously as a consultant specializing in natural environment impact assessment, policy review, species at risk, ecological restoration and arboriculture. He received an Honours Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Ecology from the University of Guelph and a Masters degree in Sustainable Environmental Management from the University of Saskatchewan. Nicholas grew up on the moraine and was inspired by both the land and residents who worked to conserve it. He hopes to help continue this legacy of conservation through his work with the talented staff and volunteers of the Trust. In his spare time, Nicholas enjoys exploring the Moraine, camping, running, hockey and spending time with family and friends.
Jamie Windle, Treasurer
Jamie Windle is a Senior Manager with BDO. Prior to his current position Jamie served with Ernst &Young in both Ottawa and Southampton, England advising clients on mergers and acquisitions. He led the audit teams for a number of clients including large foreign subsidiaries of SEC registrants, London Stock Exchange listed and private companies. Jamie also serves as a Consultant to a small owner-managed business in Carleton Place, assisting in one-time projects and on-going management functions.
A graduate of Wilfred Laurier University Bachelor of Business Administration (Hon.), Co-op Option, Dean’s Honour Roll, Jamie also holds designations as a Chartered Accountant and Certified Public Accountant.
Residing in the Credit River watershed, Jamie looks forward to contributing his expertise to the Trust while learning more about protection of the environment at the community scale.
Michael Zahra is currently an executive with Drone Delivery Canada, bringing logistics infrastructure to First Nations and Inuit communities. He is the former President of three major Canadian companies: Staples Business Advantage Canada, Yahoo Canada and Schlumberger RMS Canada. Previously he has held engineering positions at Motorola and Alcatel. He has an M.B.A., B.A.Sc. Electrical Engineering & a P.Logistics designation. He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors (Canada) and the National Association of Corporate Directors (USA). He is certified in various aspects of cybersecurity and cryptography.
Currently, Michael is also a Board Member for North York General Hospital where he is on the Quality Committee and is Vice-Chair of the Audit & Finance Committee. He has been involved in activities with Habitat for Humanity, Mississauga Food Bank, YMCA, World Vision, Toronto Zoo, World Wildlife Federation, Junior Achievement, Computers for Schools and Boys & Girls Clubs.
Michael is a native of Toronto and is an author, world traveler and published wildlife & landscape photographer having photographed in 54 countries. Traveling to new places, Michael has seen diverse landscapes, whether environmental or human made which has sparked his interest in preserving the natural landscape in his own community.