John Norris : Environmentalist of the Year – 1988

The Dr. Victor Cecilioni Award for the 1988 Environmentalist of the Year was shared by John Norris and the Conservation Committee of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club.

In the past two years, John Norris had spearheaded a successful campaign by a neighbourhood association — Save the Olympic Park — to prevent the conversion of open green space on Hamilton’s Mountain into a twin pad hockey arena.

A native of Hamilton, John has been an environmental advocate since the early 1970’s when he was an active member of CHOP — Clear Hamilton of Pollution, the predecessor of the Conserver Society of Hamilton and District Inc. As a member of CHOP, John was active in organizing opposition to a commercial development in Sam Lawrence Park and in organizing a demonstration on the Jolley Cut directed at convincing the Ministry of the Environment of the need to monitor air pollution in this City.

For many years, John has actively pursued, through his involvement in various community groups and non-profit organizations, the preservation of passive open space. After the amalgamation of the Parks Department and and the Recreation Department of the City of Hamilton, the supporters of open space were without a strong voice. John Norris took on this role and lobbied City Council to pass amendments to the zoning by-laws which would protect existing parkland from intensive recreational use.

His commitment to this cause took John and the Olympic Park group through a successful application to the Ontario Municipal Board and an appeal to the Cabinet of the Province of Ontario. His tireless efforts in organizing the local community to continue its campaign to save Olympic Park and his persistant lobbying at City Hall to protect parkland, serve as an example of the impact which one individual can make on the environment.