By Stacey Escott
A church, a synagogue and a group of environmentalists banded together to haul out more than 20,000 pounds of discarded rubble brick by brick, at a community cleanup that began with a blessing.
Members of the Westdale Reformed Church and Temple Anshe Sholom, a synagogue also in Westdale, teamed up with the Stewards of Cootes Watershed to clean up a piece of Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) property in an area behind the church on Paradise Road North Sunday afternoon.
"When we were contacted by the synagogue about it, we were very excited. It gets us out meeting the people of Westdale, blessing the area in Westdale and working with the synagogue, which is terrific," said the church's pastor, Stan Seagren.
The groups got in contact through Alan Hansell, executive director of the Stewards of Cootes Watershed. When the church members were invited to a recent service at the synagogue to learn about their worship style, the groups came up with the idea for the cleanup. They are now planning more events in partnership with the stewards.
The afternoon started with a blessing from Seagren and included a song by Paula Baruch, a cantor at the synagogue.
"There is a natural fit here taking care of the planet and stewarding the land is very much in alignment with the beliefs of both faiths," said Hansell.
The group dug up bricks and concrete patio stones that were spread out over an area of roughly 400 square metres. The green space is a part of the RBG property that has been subject to urban encroachment for decades.
Hundreds of bricks were left on the property illegally and it's expected they'll all be gone by Monday. No one knows where they came from.
The stewards will try to reuse as much of the materials as possible.
Dundas Valley Montessori School will take a big load of bricks. They will also use some of the patio stones for the base of a greenhouse they are going to build.
The city will clear away the rest of it and crush it up to use as road bed material, Hansell said.
Church member Richard Boesveld, got his sons and nephews out for the afternoon and said he's enjoyed getting to know synagogue members over the past few months.
"We have our parishes in the same community and we feel this is a way to make a good impact and give back. We get to know each other in our differences and our similarities."