Community Partner Spotlight: Brandon Cooney with the Town of CBS

A man stands in front of a display and the Railway Coastal Museum in St. John's, NL.

Brandon Cooney is the Sustainability Intern with the Town of Conception Bay South (CBS) and our go-to person with the CBS Green Team this summer. Previously, Brandon created CBS’ Climate Adaption Plan as a Conservation Corps NL intern in 2019.

The Green Team is working with the CBS Parks Commission on a variety of projects throughout the town. Can you describe what they have been working on this summer?

This year, the Green Team started at Manuels River. There, they helped tidy and maintain the grounds and gardens, clean up the trails, and prepare the site of the new neighbourhood garden and greenhouse project.

Next, the team moved to Chamberlains Park where they are building a new section of boardwalk, and helping to clear out brush. The new boardwalk will allow park visitors to enjoy a stroll through the large meadow and wetland. It will eventually connect to the other end of the trail, and complete the looped trail system within the park.

Toward the end of the summer the team will work with the CBS Community Garden on a variety of projects at the Gateway Garden. This work will include building a stage area for educational events, as well as a rustic fence.

Throughout the summer the team will host several Environmental Awareness Events on topics of their choice. They have already completed one with Manuels River’s Discovery Lab, and they’re currently planning an online scavenger hunt for later in the summer [keep an eye out for the online scavenger hunt on the Town of CBS social media!]. They have been doing amazing work and we are happy to have a great Green Team for another season!

Four people in Green Team t-shirts stand in front of a garden.
The 2020 Conception Bay South Green Team (from left to right): Michael, Ashley, Katerina, and Reed.

You’ve worked with Conservation Corps NL (CCNL) in the past. Can you talk a bit about your experience?

My experience working with CCNL has been fantastic. I was originally employed through the CCNL Internship Program and I have been fortunate enough to have my contract with the Town extended. CCNL has been extremely supportive and they’ve provided myself and countless others with meaningful work experience across Newfoundland and Labrador!

As the Sustainability Intern my role has had three main areas of focus: developing the Climate Change Adaptation Plan, working on tourism and heritage initiatives, and working with the CBS Community Garden Steering Committee to expand community gardening throughout CBS.

The work experience I’ve had with the town has been wide ranging and exciting. As a lifelong resident of CBS, I have enjoyed spending my time working to make a difference in my own community.

Brandon Cooney was the Sustainability Intern for CBS in 2019, a position funded through CCNL’s Internship Program.

What has been a highlight of this summer for you or the team?

I love seeing the end result of the work being done in the community. Watching the new neighbourhood garden at Manuels River come to life, or witnessing the boardwalk at Chamberlains Park appear out of the wetland. It is amazing how much work four motivated people can accomplish in such a short time!

This is my first time working with a Green Team, and it is clear to me that we have a strong team with four dedicated individuals. They enthusiastically take on everything they do, and sometimes they complete the work faster than we can keep up with! A highlight of my summer has definitely been seeing the team work together so well.

Your role with CBS is new and they have been doing some really interesting work related to climate change. Can you talk about those projects?

In 2012, the Town of CBS participated in the Partners for Climate Protection program which lead to the creation of the town’s Climate Change Mitigation Plan. Years later, in 2018, the Adaptation Changemakers Project was launched by the International Government for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Canada and the town was once again asked to participate. Through this program we worked with ICLEI and local stakeholders to develop a Community Climate Change Adaptation Plan (CCCAP) for Conception Bay South.

Creating the CCCAP was a two-year process, complete with local and national conferences, risk and vulnerability reports, and stakeholder engagement. Toward the end of the process we came up with 26 adaptation actions that were prioritized and included in the plan. Each action has a corresponding implementation table created to guide the implementation process.

While the CCCAP contains many physical actions to be completed in the community, another aspect of this project has been raising awareness and education around climate change and sustainability. To help with this we have developed a Sustainability page for the town’s website, as well as social media toolkits to raise awareness about what we as individuals can do to make ourselves more resilient to climate change impacts, as well as mitigating our own impact on climate change.

Photograph of four people building a raised walking trail.
The CBS Green Team at work in Chamberlains Park.

What is something about the Green Team program that you find really cool, interesting, or valuable that you think more people should know about?

I think the best thing about the Green Team program is the broad, positive impact it has on communities and the youth participants. The program provides community partners with much needed help, while giving the teams a fantastic opportunity to work and learn alongside people who are making a difference in their area.

The scope of the work that the Teams do over the summer is incredible, and the skills and connections that they’re able to make along the way will stay with them as they move through their career.

Learn more about the Conception Bay South Green Team by following the Town of CBS on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow Conservations Corps NL on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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