Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition (SPEC): Protecting nature by building community

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The Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition (SPEC) invites you to a public meeting:

 Thursday February 20

7:00 – 9:30 pm

2410 Malaview Ave, Sidney

(St Paul’s United Church)

Representatives of organizations on the Saanich Peninsula have been meeting to follow up the community input from the November 2018 Sidney Summit on Habitat and the Environment. The three municipalities on the Peninsula (Districts of North Saanich and Central Saanich, Town of Sidney) are all starting this year to review their Official Community Plans. Together they have a rare opportunity to develop a coordinated set of bylaws protecting the rich natural environment of the Saanich Peninsula.

The Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition (SPEC) invites you to the February 20 event to meet Coalition member organizations, to learn about plans, to ask questions and to take part in a facilitated discussion where your input is welcome.

Speakers include:

SPEC  Coordinator, Bob Peart 

Saanich North and the Islands MLA, Adam Olsen,

Executive Director of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, Roy Brooke .

 For more information please see the paragraphs below or contact: Bob Peart Chair Friends of Shoal Harbour. 250-655-0295 bobpeart@shaw.ca

 BACKGROUND

 (January 2020) There has been a long-term interest by those who live on the Saanich Peninsula to improve the coordination among the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula, particularly as it relates to the ecological health of the marine and terrestrial environment. More specifically:

  • October 2013. The Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH) hosted a community gathering Sharing our Shores: Towards a Community Based Vision that focused on the importance of working together and the value of a community vision with support from the public, key businesses and elected officials.
  • November 2018. Those attending the Sidney Summit expressed concern that a collective voice was needed to support the importance of natural spaces, outlined the need for the adoption of a pan-peninsula integrated management plan for habitat and the environment and called on our municipal leaders to advocate for a stronger hand in conservation.
  • June 2019. Adam Olsen MLA hosted a meeting of community leaders and the Mayors of Sidney, North Saanich and Central Saanich as a follow-up to the Sidney Summit where discussion was framed around the concept of better coordinating the protection and restoration of the Saanich Peninsula habitat and environment on a ‘pan-peninsula’ basis.
  • January 2020.   Taking up where the June 2019 meeting left off, a collection of independent environmental groups* came together as the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition (SPEC) to help conserve and ensure the future environmental health of the natural assets of the Saanich Peninsula – including the shoreline, beach, harbour, forest, wetland and stream habitats. SPEC intends to act as an informal, collaborative, advisory group and to work closely with the current MLA, Adam Olsen.

SPEC acknowledges that the territory of the Saanich Peninsula is unceded, and that the inherent aboriginal rights and title of the WSANEC First Nation and people remain undefined. We also appreciate that the aboriginal-federal-provincial-municipal jurisdictional landscape is complex and fragmented and that there is insufficient collaboration among the governing agencies. At the same time, SPEC recognizes that the traditional understandings of First Nations Peoples regarding the relations between humans and their natural surroundings will help to guide this endeavour.

Building on this existing positive opportunity, SPEC’s goal is to encourage the development of an Integrated Management Framework (IMF) that will be legally incorporated into each of North Saanich, Sidney and Central Saanich’s Official Community Plans (OCPs) as a set of common key principles [or ‘meta OCP’ or vision statement] prior to the next municipal election in November 2022. These principles will, in turn, guide the process for updating the three Council’s various regulations and bylaws accordingly. Within the context of the climate change, our focus is fourfold:

  1. Conserving beach spawning habitats for forage fish to help support healthy marine food webs;
  2. Establishing a north-south and east-west landscape framework to help preserve ecological connectivity throughout the Peninsula,
  3. Building public awareness of the concept of an IMF it is important for the future ecological health of the Saanich Peninsula, while highlighting areas of public concern and how they might best be addressed.
  4. Using these activities and more to establish the Saanich Peninsula as a progressive and cohesive human community respectful of its surrounding natural community, a place where it is very good to live.

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* At the time of formation, the member groups were: Friends of Shoal Harbour, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, Peninsula Streams Society, WWF Canada, Roberts Bay Residents, Tsehum Harbour Task Force, WSANEC Leadership Council, Friends of North Saanich Parks, and Climate Justice Advocacy.

* SPEC members have agreed that we have come together for the purpose of this conversation only, and that we will disband when the project is complete.