Vince Fiorito; a man with a mission - to clean up Sheldon Creek and keep it clean.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 29th, 2015


Vince Fiorito teaches and instructs people in the arcane science of information technology. He knows all about Virtual Private Networks; how to set them up and how to keep them both running and safe from the cyber bandits.

He has been around information technology since its inception and while he hasn’t invented anything or become ridiculously rich he is content with what he is able to earn.

Vince Fitorio

The Halton Hamilton Watershed Protection group and Conservation Authority issues these placards – they are prized possessions in the rural part of the region.

The passion for Fiorito is the environment – and here he has become an absolute bulldog. Fiorito will see a lush green lawn and know that it was treated with some chemical that is polluting the creeks and streams that run through Burlington and into the lake – our water supply. That makes the hair on the back of his neck bristle.

When Fiorito and his wife went looking for a home in Burlington he knew that he wanted a ravine property; it was his wife who found what they were looking for. His back yard is a slope that is landscaped with stones – not as much as a blade of grass to cut but a clear view directly into the flow of Sheldon Creek that runs from the watershed in the Escarpment through the city and into Lake Ontario.

Sheldon Creek - farm equipment + Vince

This hunk of metal has obviously been in the creek since before the development surrounding the creek was constructed. A farmer or the developer that bought the farmland just left it; does the city not inspect the land at all during the construction phase. Getting it out is going to be a challenge.

Sheldon Creek is Vince Fiorito country – he has a sign into his back yard that declares he is the Friend of Sheldon Creek. His reputation has spread throughout the city. During one of his Inspire speeches Mayor Goldring was taking questions from the audience – Vince was on his feet and asking the Mayor what his position was on the cleaning of the creeks. Goldring recognized the name and said “you’re the guy that cleans the Sheldon Creek” – not bad in terms of recognition.

Fiorito has walked every foot of the creek from Upper Middle Road to the Lake – during the summer he expects to trace the path of the creek from Upper Middle Road to its headwaters in the Escarpment

During a delegation before a city Standing Committee Fiorito upbraided council for not keeping the creeks cleaner – pointing out that they were city property.

Councillor Craven took exception to that comment and said it wasn’t city property but the property of people whose property who bordered on the flood plain. Staff corrected the Council member – it was for the most part city property they said; the decent thing to do would have been for Craven to apologize to Fiorito and listen to what the man had to say but that isn’t the currency Craven deals in.

Fiorito can recite chapter and verse on how many tonnes of garbage have been removed from Sheldon Creek and had the photographic evidence to back up his point.

Sheldon Creek - chemicl cans

Not toxic but not the kind of thing you want adventurous boys coming across when they play in the creeks.

When Fiorito came across the two 40 gallon barrels and the cans of chemicals in Sheldon Creek his first instinct was to inform the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Easier said than done. There was no phone number; there was a form he could complete and did.

Fiorito didn’t understand why he couldn’t send a GPS marker to the Ministry so they would know exactly where to look.

Sheldon Creek - small dam - fallen tree

The back up here is due to a fallen tree – there is no one culling the forestry – the result is small damn that get created and catch everything flowing through the creek.

There is more work to be done on the Sheldon Creek and while Fiorito gets quite cranked up about the environmental mess and isn’t the least bit shy about warning neighbours about the potential harm – the truth is Sheldon Creek is a mess and it is city property and while it will cost a pretty penny to clean it up from top to bottom there is the potential for flooding and the backing up of the spring runs offs – and there might be some junk in there that could be dangerous.
Burlington has 10 creeks that flow through the city and into the lake. They are for the most part abandoned with no one paying much in the way of attention to them. The city got a very rude awakening when the August 4th flood hit the city last summer. The practice before the flood was not to do all that much to the creeks; the natural approach, just leave everything that falls into the creek bed wherever it falls, was both cheaper and though to be environmentally sound.
That 191 mm of rain in a single day resulted in water roaring down those creeks and that harmless tree stump became a battering ram that lifted large pieces of concrete on New Street.

Flood weather network bridge

It was a backed up creek that brought the flood water over this bridge

Creeks got plugged and water began flowing into the streets and basements were flooded – the wonder is that some lawyer in town didn’t see the potential for a class action law suit and go after the city for tens of thousands in claims arguing that the city was negligent – which it has been.

Last week Conservation Halton held its annual awards night in Milton where it recognized those who had made significant contributions to the preservation of the environment

After the flooding brought on by Hurricane Hazel in 1954 that resulted in more than 90 deaths, flood control in Ontario and Canada as a whole became a more important issue.

Fiorito has nothing but positive words for the work BurlingtonGreen does each year when it spends the best part of a Saturday organizing thousands of people to help clean up the trash in the city – but makes this observation:

We have thousands of people helping clean up but we appear to have thousands who are littering our creeks – hundreds of vehicle tires have been pulled out the creek and they didn’t just fall of a passing car.

Sheldon Creek - vince in high water

Vince Firoito thinks there might be some scrap metal revenue in the creeks – is is salvageable? Part of his mission is to clean the creeks and keep them clean.

Fiorito has a mission: he is the Friend of Sheldon Creek – now wants every creek in the city to have a friend and people who will serve as stewards of the creeks to oversee their environmental health.

In the fullness of time Fiorito hopes that the stewards of the city’s creeks will begin to have some influence on the city’s elected council and encourage them to put some resources into rehabilitating the creeks.

In some city’s the ravines are quiet laces for people to walk and just enjoy being outside. Burlington has been spoiled – most people are just vaguely aware that there are all those creeks running through the city. Vince Fiorito is setting out to change that perception.

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1 comment to Vince Fiorito; a man with a mission – to clean up Sheldon Creek and keep it clean.

  • Kurt Koster

    Burlington is fortunate to have people like Vince Fiorito. Thanks for all your volunteer work Vince.