Long-time local environmentalist, Tom Beckett has been selected to receive a lifetime achievement award for his decades of activism in preserving and protecting natural areas in and around Hamilton. Established in 1979, the Environmentalists of the Year Awards program recognizes the dedicated efforts of citizens, businesses and organizations to improve the environment in our community each year. Awards are usually presented at a community dinner during Environment Week in June, however this hasn’t been possible due to the ongoing restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Mr. Beckett’s name is synonymous with the local conservation authority. A lawyer, Superior Court judge and former Ancaster councillor, he was instrumental in the 1958 founding of the Spencer Creek Conservation Authority. In 1966, the SCCA was renamed Hamilton Region Conservation Authority (HRCA) and Tom became its first Chair.
He was the single most active individual in the late-1960s fight to prevent the construction of the current Highway 403 through the Dundas Valley. That battle and the land acquisition and securement for which he is well-known, preserved 1,200 hectares of Carolinian forests and fields, coldwater streams and Niagara Escarpment geology. Tom Beckett served as HRCA Chairman until 1971 and later was recognized for his contributions by the establishment of the ‘Thomas A. Beckett Forest’ within the Dundas Valley Conservation Area. He continues to advocate for environmental protection, most recently making his voice heard on Bill 229 and the ways in which it would undermine of the work of conservation authorities across Ontario.
The Awards program is co-sponsored by the Conserver Society of Hamilton and District, the United Nations Association in Canada-Hamilton Branch, Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, Environment Hamilton, Royal Botanical Gardens, Friends of Red Hill Valley, and the Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club, with support from McMaster University and the Bay Area Restoration Council.
For additional information on the Awards visit eoyawards.com.