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Marilyn Baxter

Environmental Manager

Hamilton Port Authority
Hamilton, Ontario
Five years in the Industry

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For most of her life, Marilyn Baxter has spent her summers racing 15-foot dinghies in Hamilton Harbor.  That pastime inspired her to devote the past 20 years to the clean-up and improvement of the area – first as a citizen volunteer, followed by the executive director position with the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) and then as the environmental manager for the Hamilton Port Authority (HPA).

“I have a passion for the environment which was borne out of the fact that I sailed on Hamilton Harbor and really enjoyed the amazing views, but wondered about the water quality. I wanted it to be clean and more accessible to everyone,“ she explains.

The HPA is a landlord port with 600 acres of land and 700 vessel calls each year.  HPA management had been involved for many years with the remediation of the harbor water and lands but wanted to increase their commitment by having a full-time person devoted to the role.

When the HPA offered Baxter a position in 2006 as their first environmental manager, she jumped at the opportunity. “I could make a difference from the other side of the table,” she explains. “To be in an environmental role using my educational background in science and chemistry, and be able to help industry and respect nature at the same time, is ideal.”

That means making sure federal environmental assessments are done at the planning stages of proposed projects. Baseline studies are also done on soil before new tenants move in and at the end of their lease to determine if there is any contamination. Baxter regularly inspects the condition of all HPA properties for oil sheens and road dust.  The HPA takes the environment seriously, and documents its environmental efforts through the annual Green Marine program audit.

Baxter, who cycles into work along Hamilton’s waterfront trail, also plays an environmental stewardship role with both port staff and tenants on best practices and energy conservation.  And she is the port’s environmental representative on major clean-up initiatives such as the remediation of contaminated sediment at Randle Reef and the port’s fish habitat creation project.

“I really like the variety of this job and the fact that ultimately what we’re doing is helping the local environment with both water and air quality,” she says.