When I was a child we would see many Monarch butterflies each summer. My bother and I used to raise and release dozens of these incredible creatures each summer.
However, the Monarch Butterfly was on the verge of extinction a few years ago. The numbers of Monarchs overwintering in Mexico became dangerously low in the winter of 2013 and there was a real and imminent danger that this iconic and miraculous species was in danger of disappearing.
I continue to be proud of the work that Richmond Hill has done to promote Monarch Butterfly and pollinating insect conservation. These efforts have become more focused since 2016 when Council adopted my member motion to sign the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge and later my motion for Richmond Hill to be designated as a Bee City.
Over the years Richmond Hill has planted almost 2000 milkweed plants on public land and has promoted plantings on private property through programs like Healthy Yards and the Mill Pond Splash. Richmond Hill’s efforts have also included the restoration of almost 50 acres of land with native trees, shrubs and flowering species. We have also hosted many public programs aimed at educating people about Monarch butterflies and other pollinating species. Finally last fall during my first annual Ward 4 Richmond Hill Ecofest, Richmond Hill also partnered with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway Project to plant a native plant garden at the Mill Pond.
The efforts from Richmond Hill and other North American municipalities are paying off for the Monarch Butterfly. The species’ recovery is still fragile and greater efforts to protect and create habitat as well as more public awareness of the Monarch Butterfly are needed to keep moving forward.
To help keep this momentum, Council recently passed my member motion to declare August 22nd Flight of the Monarch Day. This is an initiative that is being spear headed locally by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority and will feature activities for families to enjoy. These activities will be hosted by Richmond Hill and TRCA staff (some of the activities will be performed virtually). Stay tuned for details of these activities!
The motion was amended by Council to also allow staff to be able to distribute up to 200 milkweed and native plants to residents who wish to receive them. Details of this initiative will be made available soon.
Member motion as submitted
Flight of the Monarch Day – August 22, 2020
Submitted by: Councillor West
Whereas The Monarch Butterfly is one of the most iconic and cherished insects in North America. The Monarch’s epic 5,000-kilometre migration from eastern Canada to the forests of central Mexico begins in late August each year.
Whereas in 2013, the eastern population of the Monarch Butterfly dropped by 95 per cent, the smallest recorded population since the mid-1990s. Since 2013, the population has rebounded, thanks in part to the collective efforts of thousands of individuals, groups and communities across Canada, but the Monarch’s future remains in serious peril.
Whereas in 2016 Richmond Hill was one of the first municipalities in Canada to sign the National Wildlife Federation Mayor’s Monarch Pledge thus providing a leadership role in helping to save the Monarch Butterfly. Since 2016 many other North American municipalities have signed this pledge.
Whereas Richmond Hill’s commitment to preserve habitat, provide public education and to take action to help Monarchs and other insect species recover and thrive was further strengthened in 2018 when Council endorsed a motion to designate Richmond Hill as a Bee City in accordance with the Bee City Canada program.
Whereas a number of organizations lead by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority through an organization known as Monarch Nation, are working together to take action to preserve and protect Monarch Butterflies and are asking citizens and municipalities to join them by proclaiming a day in late August at the start of the annual Monarch migration period to specifically recognize this iconic species.
Whereas proclaiming Flight of the Monarch Day is an opportunity for Richmond Hill citizens to join with others to celebrate the growing movement to protect monarch butterflies and the astonishing phenomenon of their migration as their epic journey southward begins.
Therefore be it resolved that to further strengthen our commitment to provide public education, and take action to create a healthy environment for Monarch Butterflies and other pollinating insect species, that August 22, 2020 will be proclaimed Flight of the Monarch Day in Richmond Hill.
To View the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge and the Bee City Pledge please click here.
To read more please visit https://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/monarchs-and-milkweed/