The Aurora Community Arboretum Inc. (ACA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the creation and maintenance of an arboretum for Aurora and surrounding areas. It is managed by its members through a Board of Directors. Members, if they so choose, are active participants in the work in the Arboretum.
The Aurora Community Arboretum is the 100+ acres of Town of Aurora parkland between Wellington Street on the south and St John’s Sideroad on the north along the valley of the East Holland River.
The ACA works with Town of Aurora Parks and Recreation Services under their Adopt-a-Park program. Funding to build the Arboretum comes primarily from the Town of Aurora, but also from ACA through its fundraising activities and a currently limited number of grants.
ACA also works with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, which has environmental responsibilities for the East Holland River and which contributes to the development of the Arboretum; for example, through annual Community plantings done in collaboration with the ACA Board.
The idea for the Aurora Arboretum began about 1995 and it was established in 1996. The primary focus of the individuals working on the project at that time was to plant caliper trees as memorials. These first plantings are located in the valley of the East Holland River, just west of the Aurora Town Hall. The planting of the memorial trees (as of 2007 called Commemorative Trees) is done under Adopt-a-Park Agreements with the Town of Aurora.
Since the beginning, the Arboretum has been structured as a Not-for-Profit Corporation, chartered in Ontario. (ACA was officially incorporated in 2001.) The corporate structure provides for Members, who elect Directors of the corporation. The Directors of the Arboretum are charged with the responsibility of fulfilling the objectives of the corporation.
The objectives are:
ACA's Board worked together with the Town of Aurora, The Region of York and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to prepare a more ambitious project encompassing the whole river valley from Wellington Street to St. John’s Sideroard. A Master Plan was drawn up and presented to Council in 2006 and was approved. In 2007, the ACA and the Town of Aurora agreed to a new, 10 year, Adopt-A-Park agreement to execute the Master Plan for the Arboretum.
On its way northward to Lake Simcoe, the East Holland River wanders through a 100-acre (40 hectare) flood plain between the Aurora Sideroad (Wellington Street) to the south and St. John’s Sideroad to the north, with the Industrial Parkway on the west. Like much of the land in York Region, this was forested land before the settlers came and actively farmed the area. The Aurora Community Arboretum aims to help restore some of that former forest grandeur.
Part of the area is dedicated to formal sports facilities, part is reserved for semi-formal planting of specimen trees and the remainder is devoted to naturalized forest, meadow and wetland zones. The area serves over 50,000 residents of Aurora. In 50 years, when our current work will be well established, the Arboretum will be serving an area population base of 100,000. It will be their jewel; their urban oasis.