Kristi McKechnie and Don Scott have devoted thousands of hours to the Conservancy over the years. Both operate their businesses out of Washago and are playing a big role in the office renovation.
Standing in a section of the Couchiching Conservancy office which is missing most of the elements that make up its walls, Kristi McKechnie rolls her eyes at Don Scott.
She’s reacting to his claim that everything the architectural designer does has to have a wall on an odd angle. Like a trademark.
She denies it, then laughs, perhaps conceding the point. She has, after all, just finished explaining a great solution to a problem of wheelchair accessibility in the renovation of the Grant’s Woods office just outside Orillia: a wall on a 45-degree angle.
The Washago couple run the binary businesses of K. McKechnie Architectural Design and Scott Inc. Construction and they are at the core of a volunteer committee that is overseeing the renovation of the land trust’s office.
Kristi and Don have devoted thousands of hours to the Conservancy over the years. Both were heavily involved in the original renovation of the farmhouse that was donated along with more than 50 acres of old growth forest by Bill Grant in memory of his brother Jack. When Bill passed away and left a legacy to the Conservancy, an opportunity arose to upgrade the building further. Kristi and Don once again stepped up to help with the renovation.
A grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, combined with Bill Grant’s gift, is allowing the Conservancy to make its office completely accessible, and remove its carbon footprint through the installation of geothermal heating and solar power.
The renovation committee is chaired by David A. Homer and includes Ken Thomson, Bruce Duncan and Conservancy staff along with Don and Kristi. Together they are steering the project through its various phases, enlisting other businesses assistance and managing the work.
In addition to lending their many skills, Kristi and Don have allowed the committee to meet regularly at their office and have rallied the local construction community behind the project. The two are excellent examples of business people who see the value in investing in their community. They are committed to the idea that a healthy environment is crucial to a healthy community. They love the natural surroundings of the Washago area and they want to keep some of it intact for the future.
Many business leaders are concerned about big-picture issues like climate change, the loss of habitat for Ontario species and clean water, but the colossal nature of these problems can lead to an uncomfortable sense of helplessness.
The antidote, some have discovered, is action right at home. Donate to the protect a local wetland and you’ve made a contribution to cleaner water; help a property team care for a regional grassland and you’ve thrown your weight into the fight to keep grassland bird populations from collapsing; contribute to a capital campaign to bring a healthy forest under protection and you’ve added a little extra resilience to the landscape in the face of a shifting climate.
People doing these things in every community have a cumulative impact for the better.
Kristi McKechnie and Don Scott get this. As a result, they have been supporters of the Conservancy for years. Not only have the two been generous donors, but Kristi has served a term on the board of directors and Don has assisted in multiple projects. The two are shining examples of the impact individuals can have in the face of big challenges.
Written by Mark Bisset.