November 30, 2017
Mayor and Council
RE: Recent Friends of Shoal Harbour presentation
I want to thank you for the invitation to speak to Council on Monday November 20th about the activities of the Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH) and the NatureHood program. We thank you for your continual support for our initiatives. So much appreciated.
The points I made include:
The ecological, cultural and economic value of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
And to this end, how important it is that there is cooperation with Sidney in its care and management.
Tsehum Harbour, Roberts Bay, etc are ecologically significant areas and that the management of the foreshore development is crucial to the protection of its habitat.
As the Saanich Peninsula is situated so much within a marine context, the management of Pat Bay is important as well — as the migratory birds move back and forth to feed and rest.
And to this end, how important the Scoter Trail is so that people can walk along the shore and enjoy the waters and scenery of Pat Bay.
In 2013, we hosted a forum: Sharing our Shores: Towards a Community Vision for Tsehum Harbour and the Shoal Harbour MBS; and that we intend to host a follow-up forum in Spring 2018. Again any community vision involves cooperation between yourselves and Sidney council.
The focus of NatureHood is on reconnecting children and families with nature. Nature in ‘your hood’ — NatureHood. To this end we deliver a variety of programs to youth and school children to get them outside and learn about where they live. There is much health research about the value of being outside.
In 2015, the Saanich Peninsula received the designation of NatureHood in a ceremony with the Lieutenant Governor. In 2017, that designation was expanded to include the entire capital region, with a sign being erected at Government House in early December to honour this designation.
One of the fun and important programs of FOSH and NatureHood is the annual Bufflehead FFestival. We see the Bufflehead Festival as an important way to bring people to the Saanich Peninsula to enjoy the winter birds, and that over time it can become an important economic asset and destination, like similar bird festivals around the province. It is encouraging that the Robert Bateman Centre has become a key supporter of the Bufflehead Festival, indeed this year he even painted a special bufflehead painting to commemorate the occasion. Again we thank you for your support of FOSH and its annual bufflehead day program.
I reminded you of the ‘sister sanctuaries’ of Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary; and that similar programs are occurring with them as well.
In closing I made two specific requests:
1. The proposed boundaries of the Strait of Georgia NMCA do not include Shoal Harbour MBS. This omission doesn’t make sense to us. So our request that in any correspondence related to the NMCA, or in any meetings with Parks Canada, if you could support our request that SHMBS be included within its boundaries that would be appreciated.
2. That financial resources be made available to extend the Scoter Trail north as far the reserve lands, as has been recommended previously.
We know that you are supportive of an integrated approach to the management of SHMBS and the Saanich Peninsula, and we thank you for your support of FOSH and our volunteer work. If we can work in any way to broaden the knowledge and education about this region and to build a ‘nature vision’ with North Saanich citizens please let us know.
Chair, Nature Canada