2022 Municipal Elections on the Saanich Peninsula featuring our imagined Bioregional Candidate

The three Saanich Peninsula municipalities (Town of Sidney, District of North Saanich and District of Central Saanich) share a natural environment that is almost uniform across their combined regions. This uniformity extends to the distributions of climate, topography, ocean interface, native tree species, native birds and animals etc.

Geographers and naturalists would recognize the area occupied by the three municipalities as a bioregion, a distinct area of common natural features and a common distribution (almost) of plants and animals. Some bioregionalists include humans in the bioregion, others leave humans out. Before the arrival of the colonists 150 years ago, humans were definitely in. 

Recognizing the individuality of the three Peninsula municipalities but mindful of the common natural features of their surroundings, a group of environmental organizations active on the Saanich Peninsula formed a coalition (SPEC, Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition) to encourage a pan-peninsula harmonization of municipal bylaws that protect the natural endowment of this beautiful space we share. This post, both serious and goofy, reflects our wish for the upcoming municipal election. We hope that voters will recognize the merits of harmonized, Peninsula-wide environmental protection and make it one of the determinants in their selection of the candidates who receive their vote. See also the text that follows the last cartoon. In the goofy part to follow we imagine an idealized Bioregional Candidate for municipal office who supports the Coalition’s view.

Things to consider while deciding which candidates to vote for:

It is important to recognize the rich and interconnected nature of the Saanich Peninsula and the need to work together to maintain it.  We need to remember:

  • The environment is indifferent to jurisdictional boundaries.
  • A healthy natural environment is an integral part of the health and well-being of the entire Peninsula Community.
  • The “rules” under which we govern our collective lives as citizens are of necessity compromises.

We are now approaching the municipal election to choose your Mayor and Council on Saturday October 15th, and it is your responsibility as a member of the community to vote.  And when you do vote, we hope that you will do your best to choose candidates who will care about the future of the Saanich Peninsula in general and in particular candidates who you believe will support the qualities and actions in the bulleted list below:

  • Support collaboration across municipal jurisdictions (creating a Peninsula-wide vision is our main theme)
  • Respect the Peninsula’s First Nations while honouring their traditional environmental wisdom.
  • Be aware of (and reduce where possible) the impacts on global warming  of both current and proposed actions.
  • Protect our natural endowment of plants and animals as well as conserving agricultural lands. This includes landscape connectivity for wildlife and vulnerable species.
  • Protect natural shorelines while anticipating the effects of rising sea-levels
  • Look for ways in which well-maintained passive natural assets can replace or assist “engineered” solutions to land management problems. For example, ponds, open spaces etc. can treat some waste water instead of dedicated “industrial” treatments such as sewage treatment plants.
  • Reevaluate the roles of municipal governments in maintaining an acceptable bioregional-wide balance between public and private interests in land management.

On October 15th when you vote, think about how much you enjoy living on the Saanich Peninsula and cast your vote accordingly.

Together, we can make a difference. If you have any follow-up questions or suggestions, please contact Bob Peart (bobpeart@shaw.ca) representative of the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition

To explore and/or endorse the goals of the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition please click on the link below.


Here is a link describing the British Columbia rules/procedures for voting in municipal elections: https://www.squamishchief.com/bc-news/heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-voting-in-bcs-municipal-election-5864935


Sidney Rotary-by-the-Sea Hosts a World Environment Day Event, Sunday June 5, 2022, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at the Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney BC

From Sidney Rotary Club’s E-Announcement

You might remember an all-day session called the Sidney Summit in the the Mary Winspear Centre Bodine Hall on November 10, 2018. Here is a paragraph from the summary document written by the organizers of the Summit:

“We recognize the need and importance of an active and common approach to the
management of natural spaces. We welcome an adoption of a pan-peninsula
integrated management plan for habitat and environment and call on our municipal
leaders to initiate the conversation between the general public, commercial enterprise
and those advocating for a stronger hand in conservation.”

Sidney Rotary By-the-Sea is presenting a second all-day “Summit”, again at the Bodine Hall of the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney on Sunday, June 5, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Admission for the day: $15.00. Details below. This event is an opportunity to assess the results triggered/encouraged by the 2018 “Summit”.

Here is the link to the web announcement of the World Environment Day Program


and list of speakers to entice you to investigate the offer and better still, attend a day of information and environmental camaraderie.

Sunday, April 24. Friends of Shoal Harbour and St. John’s United Church Host the 2022 Birdwalk & Tea, a Community Event

The 2022 Birdwalkers spot a water bird of interest from the Scoter Trail. Observers walked the length of the trail from south to north, taking a mid-point diversion inland to observe the activities of birds of the thickets and woods.

Birdwalkers at rest. Not only is it tea-time, but also it is story-time! See stories below.

Bob Peart, Chair of Friends of Shoal Harbour gives an overview of FOSH activities. These include (1) championing uniform (bioregional) protection of natural spaces and wild creatures across the three Peninsula municipalities along with the other members of the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition (2) promoting improved stewardship of the 1931 Migratory Bird Sanctuary (Tsehum Harbour, Tseyhum Lagoon, and Roberts Bay) on the northeast “corner” of the Saanich Peninsula, with emphasis on practical and enforced regulation of moored boats in Tsehum Harbor, (3) speaking out vigorously when natural spaces and their inhabitants seem threatened by urban developments and (4) building a community of supporters through informative public events such as the October All Buffleheads Day and the Spring Birdwalk and Tea.

Malcolm is a member of Friends of Shoal Harbour, a participant in the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition and the coordinator of the Tsehum Harbour Task Force. He has been active in bringing attention to the problems associated with the  placement of private mooring buoys in coastal waters, particularly in Tsehum Harbour and the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

There was oversight and enforcement of private mooring buoys by the Canadian Coast Guard until 2004. In 2004 Transport Canada’s Navigation Protection Program, intended to streamline the regulations for the benefit of commercial operators such as fish farms, effectively removed critical oversight and enforcement. Moreover, Transport Canada lacked the sea-going capability of the Coast Guard.

Malcolm is working with political partners, other societies, First Nations, and businesses to reestablish effective regulation and enforcement of private mooring buoys. We collectively must do better to protect our marine ecosystems while representing a community vision that respects the values of its citizens.

Here is a link to the Tsehum Harbour Task Force Mandate:https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qUPMoSG4Qll6w2Iecl2rflwv1qM47SN3/view?usp=sharing

Jocelyn Gifford represents Roberts Bay Residents, a group of neighbours who live in or near the Roberts Bay area. The group works closely with Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH) and the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition, providing information to neighbours and advocating to preserve the bay’s fragile ecosystems which include eel grass beds, mudflats, spawning beaches, Great Blue Heron and Bald eagle nests, with the goal of insuring that Roberts Bay remains a safe refuge for wildlife and an inspiration for residents and visitors for generations to come.  The multi-year Roberts Bay Restoration Project, with Peninsula Streams, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, and others, seeks to address the effects of development: beach erosion, flattening of the intertidal zone, erosion of estuary banks, reduction of sea grass meadows and decreases in bird populations, with particular attention to Mermaid Creek, which is now the storm drain for much of downtown Sidney. Jocelyn distributed a pamphlet about the group and the project and invited anyone interested to contact the group. Roberts Bay Residents may be contacted by email at robertsbayres@gmail.com

Living on the Saanich Peninsula as If It Were Home

The title of the 3rd and last Webinar fielded by Friends of Shoal Harbour ( February.24) The title “Living on the Saanich Peninsula as if I were Home” was inspired by the book “Living in the World As If It Were Home” by philosopher and poet, Tim Lilburn.

These titles suggest that our homes extend beyond the walls of our dwellings to include not only the society in which we live but also the surroundings in which the society is embedded.

In Hamilton, Ontario, where I worked for 30 years as a Great Lakes scientist, I told school kids that you could learn only a limited amount about frogs by examining them captive in a jar. You might consider the frog’s normal surroundings as “parts of the frog’s body outside its skin”, some easily understood, some mysterious because we cannot talk to frogs.

This observation about frogs explains why I am interested in, not just the obvious parts of our bodies outside the skin but also the intangible ones such as the enjoyment of our natural surroundings, our sense of belonging in a community, etc. because loss of these important parts harms our relationship with the rest of the world.

Listed below are the other people who contributed to this webinar.

Tiffany Joseph from the Wsanec Leadership Council. Tiffany has represented the Wsanec people in the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition and she spoke compellingly about the pre-settler relationship her forebears enjoyed with all the inhabitants of the Peninsula. The word “indigenous” gets bandied about carelessly, but when I hear it now, I think of Tiffany’s stories.

Jacklyn Barr is one of the animators of the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition. Jacklyn is a person of action first and foremost and could make herself useful in just about any outdoor fieldwork. Without people like Jacklyn, we scientific cogitators would not have a lot of data to chew on.

Reverend Shana Lyngood, Co-Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria. Shana is well acquainted with the human condition through her profession and she also reads. It was Shana who related to the Adam and Eve story and who recognized the book “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a biologist of First Nations ancestry. Kimmerer writes about reconciling the insights of both First Nations traditional knowledge with those of science. Shana’s presentation and Kimmerer’s book align beautifully with Tiffany’s stories.

Here is a link to a recording of the February 24 webinar:https://youtu.be/9ORDqbWWIDw

As a result of this “exploration” I believe that all the participants in the February 24 webinar share the hope that all of us here on the Saanich Peninsula can become collectively more indigenous, recognizing and respecting the Saanich Peninsula, it’s people, its rich natural surroundings as inseparable parts of our home. Firmly planted here, we could reach out to the world without regret.

Making Whoopee! Farrell Boyce and Elaine Ethier (with assist from Bob Peart as CBC radio announcer) goof off disguised as as successfully amorous Stellar’s Jays

Another May, the same old way,
We’re very busy, and that’s OK.
So what’s the reason? Well it’s the season
For making whoopee!

A lot of flights to gather bugs,
We sleep at nights; no time for hugs.
It may seem sappy but we’re quite happy
When making whoopee.

You could call it a love nest
Up in the sheltering boughs.
We’re doing what true Jays can do best,
The work Mother Nature allows.

Although we’re puffin’ to keep ‘em fed
We keep on stuffin’ ‘till we’re in bed
We’re still quite willing; we find it thrilling
Just making whoopee!

The afternoon was well-photographed as you can see above – except for one notable omission – the splendid refreshment table prepared and staffed by members of St. John’s United Church. Your editor felt compelled to acknowledge this significant contribution with a cartoonish drawing Maybe a proper photo will show up.

Pre Covid, Friends of Shoal Harbour rented the downstairs floor of the church for the tea portion of the event and organized the refreshments too. Adjusting to the realities of Covid, it seemed wiser to hold the event outside and hire the Church to provide the refreshments. St. John’s folks organize refreshments every Saturday morning during the growing season. When we asked for a statement/bill so that the FOSH treasurer could prepare a cheque. We were told that there would be no bill, St. John’s United wants to be a full partner in tis event and other similar community-building events. St. John’s United Church and Friends of Shoal Harbour are now partners in community building and that feels very good!

One last thing: Friends of Shoal Harbour (and your editor particularly) extend thanks to Linda Hembruff of St. John’s United Church and her team of helpers not only for their contributions to this event but also for assistance and encouragement going back to the very first Birdwalk and Tea adventure.