Speed River Project

The Speed River Project grew out of OPIRG-Guelph’s Annual Speed River Cleanup. Between 1988 and 1997, this project involved large-scale naturalization initiatives, ecological monitoring, education and outreach, all supported by OPIRG-Guelph’s staff and volunteers. Since then OPIRG Guelph has continued these activities at various scales, such as planting native species, hiking workshop for plant identification, community river forum, river restoration fundraising dinner, removal of invasive species and park maintenance. The goal of the Speed River Project is essentially to provide meaningful opportunities for students and the broader community to engage in action-oriented projects intended to enhance the ecological health of the Speed and Eramosa Rivers.

The Speed and Eramosa River System

The heart of Guelph is situated around the confluence of the Speed and Eramosa Rivers. This system is part of the Speed River sub watershed, which empties into the Grand River and eventually flows into Lake Erie.

Mission and goals of Speed River Project

The Speed River Project inspires community passion to care for Guelph’s rivers through education and action.


  1. Increase plant biodiversity along river banks in Guelph
  2. Reduce soil erosion and compaction along river banks
  3. Increase water storage capacity within local sub-watershed
  4. Improve the river water quality
  5. Continue dialogue with community about the health of river
  6. Promote continued learning about current river issues
  7. Build partnerships with local businesses & organizations

Main Programs and Events

1. Tree Planting and Park Maintenance

We engage community members and volunteers in tree planting and park maintenance in the fall and spring. This initiative help to diversify plant species and rehabilitate degraded urban river banks through neighbourhood-based naturalization projects. Currently, our focus is on increasing plant diversity along riverbanks through planting native trees and shrubs and controlling the growth of exotic invasive plant species. Some of the species that our volunteer plant include Serviceberry, Chockcherry, Black Elderberry, Pagoda, Silky Dogwood, Nannyberry, Black Cherry, Hemlock, Tulip, Witch Hazel, Red Bud, Oak Red, Nine Bark, Sumac, Walnut Black and Oak Bark. It is becoming apparent that planting trees and shrubs into the river corridors have helped further the work of the SRP by increasing the biodiversity of native species, reducing invasive species and improving the vitality of the riparian zones in our watersheds.

2. Hiking Workshop for Plant Identification

Ever wondered which trees are which, and why we continue to plant more native species into the River Corridor? This is the right event for you. Participants learn more about both native and non-native tree species in our parks through a short hiking workshop on how to identify trees. Usually we also provide handouts of prominent identifying characteristics of the dominant species.


One of Speed River Project`s greatest strengths lies amongst its dedicated volunteers, both individuals and those belonging to organizations. Our dedicated volunteers always provide invaluable assistance with our various activities. There are several ways you can get involved in the Speed River Project either as park stewards, year round volunteers and event-based volunteers.

Community Park Stewards act as community leaders in sharing the importance of healthy, urban riverbank habitats in their neighbourhoods. Specifically, Park Stewards assist with planning, recruiting and coordinating volunteers for a couple of major workdays and several mini-work days during fall, spring and summer. They will work together with the Speed River Project Coordinator to develop a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan for their park’s riverbank.

Please email speedriver@opirgguelph.org for more information.