Hamilton’s 2019-2020 Environmentalist of the Year

As we approach World Environment Day on June 5, Hamilton’s Environmentalists of the Year Awards Committee is pleased to announce this year’s Environmentalist of the Year. 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. 

This year (representing 2019 and 2020) we are recognizing Thomas A. Beckett of Dundas with a Lifetime Achievement Award to celebrate and honour his many decades of effort to preserve and protect nature in the Hamilton watershed. 

For those familiar with the development of conservation authorities in Ontario, Tom needs no introduction. In Hamilton-Wentworth, his name is synonymous with our 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. 

Our community has much to thank him for in this role, as 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 continued to be a valuable part of the environmental community, being recognized for his extraordinary contributions by the establishment of the ‘Thomas A. Beckett Forest’ within the Dundas Valley Conservation Area. The pandemic has shone a light on how important his work from decades ago continues to be to the health of both the environment and local residents, and 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. 

We look forward to being able to publicly recognize Tom Beckett at next year’s Environmentalist of the Year awards dinner. 

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Who sponsors the Hamilton EOY Awards? 

Prior to the pandemic, the Environmentalists of the Year Awards and dinner have been held annually since 1979. An independent committee of community members judges the nominations, which are sought from across the greater Hamilton area. 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, please call (905) 547-5116, visit our website at eoyawards.com, or look for us on Facebook. 

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Media contacts: 

  • John Struger, (905) 547-5116 – john.struger@sympatico.ca 
  • Barbara McKean, (905) 527-1158 ext. 247– bmckean@rbg.ca 

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