Brian McHattie : Environmentalist of the Year – 2000

Brian McHattie has been in the middle of nearly every environmental advance in Hamilton in the past dozen years. In the late 1980s he sat on the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan and was largely responsible for its strong focus on bird and wildlife habitat. Subsequently, he was a member of the task force that produced Vision2020 and a new Official Plan that has won international awards for Hamilton.

Brian reinforced these environmental efforts by leading the Natural Areas Inventory of Hamilton-Wentworth in the early 1990s. This definitive examination of the biodiversity of our area provided the scientific foundation to bolster official policies protecting sensitive lands. Brian voluntarily chaired the technical steering committee and raised most of the quarter-million dollars for the project. The study is still the model for all new inventories across the province, and Brian is now at the centre of the 10th anniversary update project.
In between, Brian has been the spiritual leader of the Conservation and Education Committee of the Naturalists’ Club, making the body one of the most respected commentators on environmental and planning issues in the region. He was also at the centre of the successful efforts to block urbanization of Dundas’ last rural area in the early 1990s, and the current Ontario Municipal Board appeal of the urban boundary expansion into Glanbrook.

During the 1990s, Brian also acquired a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and a Masters in Planning, and played a major volunteer role in environmental projects outside of Hamilton. He is a co-founder of the Lower Grand River Land Trust and has spent nearly five years as a Board member of Zoocheck Canada Inc., where he now works protecting whales and other cetaceans across the country.

Brian is a natural leader who generates ideas and develops visions. He frames the letters, writes the proposals, develops the strategies and makes the necessary contacts to keep projects moving toward success. He can amass an enormous amount of information, organize it, remember it and use it logically and effectively. In 1997 he ran as a green candidate for mayor, demonstrating a remarkable ability to present environmental issues in relation to quality of life and other civic concerns, and winning widespread respect.

Even his paid jobs serve the environment, including his co-founding of the Green Planet Tour Company, Hamilton’s first ecotourism business. Brian lives what he preaches and is willing to sacrifice his personal comfort for the betterment of society.