Orchard Park Sherwood Forest Ratepayers History
|Orchard Park Sherwood Forest Ratepayers' Logo|
The organization was formed over 30 years ago, though the history of the area dates to 1955 when developer Bill Davies began a 500 home development which promotional material declared “carved out a huge apple orchard” from farmland in the area. This would become Orchard Park. Five years later, the first phase of the Sherwood Forest neighbourhood began to be developed.
As the neighbourhoods grew, the Orchard Park Sherwood Forest Ratepayers group was formed to promote an organized neighbourhood network to responds to developments and changes, and to present a strong unified voice with local government when representing the interests of the neighbourhood. Issues tackled by the group over the years include supporting and maintaining existing facilities such as pools, libraries and areas, as well as raising resident concerns regarding traffic, development, zoning restrictions, and the environment – particularly related to protection of the Medway Valley.
Programming and Initiatives
In addition to keeping the community informed of local concerns, and representing the community as members of the Urban League of London, the Orchard Park Sherwood Forest Ratepayers also host local events. They hold an Annual General Meeting in May of each year, and last year held their first community BBQ and get together. The group also helps share information about local events held by other local groups such as the Medway Seniors.
According to association President Sandy Levin, the most notable achievement of the group occurred during the early 90’s when the association raised $18,000 which was matched by the Ivey Foundation to allow the city to build a staircase and creek crossing in the Medway Valley Heritage Forest Environmentally Significant Area (ESA). This project reduced erosion and damage to the natural features of the valley and their ecological functions.
The group’s work supporting environmental protection of the Medway Valley continues to this day. In addition to helping residents connect with activities in the ESA, they are monitoring the development of the City’s Conservation Master Plan for the southern portion of the Medway Valley Heritage Forest Environmentally Significant Area (ESA). This study was initiated by the City in 2013 and Phase 2 of the study will begin in 2015. Members of the association have also adopted a section of the ESA under the City’s “Adopt an ESA” program.
More recently, the association has worked successfully with the City to have the City agree to purchase the former Sherwood Forest School following the Thames Valley District School Board’s decision to close it. After a very involved public engagement process with the organization and residents of the area, the City purchased the site and rezoned it for use a a public park and an infill housing development.
The Orchard Park Sherwood Forest Ratepayers association serves the residents of the Orchard Park and the Sherwood Forest areas of London. This includes the area between Wonderland Road, Sarnia Road, Gainsborough Road, and the University of Western Ontario and Medway Valley.
Any residents of the Orchard Park or Sherwood Forest neighbourhoods who are interested in learning more about the association can visit orchardparksherwoodforestratepayers.ca/ or contact association President Sandy Levin at email@example.com.
This article is part of a series on neighbourhood associations in London, Ontario.