SGI Greens March 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to the March 2022 Newsletter – Spring has arrived!  This wide-ranging edition contains an update from Elizabeth, information about the upcoming GPC Leader’s visit, some interesting events to consider, gardening tips, focus on community organizations and much, much more!  Read on………

Notes from Elizabeth

We are now entering the second month of war in Ukraine.  It continues to be – for all of us- a heart-breaking horror.

But attention this last week in Canada shifted to the surprising announcement of a Confidence and Supply Agreement between the federal Liberals and New Democrats. I have to say I was surprised that the NDP Caucus accepted such thin gruel to give the Liberals a free ride for the next four budgets and until 2025.  My own sense is that this deal is in the interests of the personal careers of Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh, but not necessarily for their parties.. and decidedly not in the interests of climate.

In terms of personal careers, this deal takes the pressure off Trudeau in persistent questions about whether he was leading the Liberals into the next election. The questions can be placed on hold. By 2025, Trudeau will have been Prime Minister for a solid decade. If he decides not to run again, he has time. For Singh, in every election in which he has led his party, the NDP has lost seats.  The same is very likely in the next election – whenever it occurs. This deal gives him time for fundraising, for hanging on and hoping to build his own popularity.

But for climate, I am so very devastated. The only time we get improved climate commitments from Liberals is when they are facing an election.  We need climate targets enhanced before COP27. Now the pressure is off the Liberals. It will be much harder to get tougher climate action now.

We will have to mobilize at the grassroots more than ever.

In other news, my MP non-partisan Community Meetings are coming back – in person.  From April 8-23, we will get to all parts of the riding – see below.

We also have a Green Party stop on interim Leader Amita Kuttner’s national reconnection tour.  Both Amita and I hope you will join us on April 19.  Details will be posted here when they are available.

MP Community meeting dates and locations:

Note: Final details should be confirmed by checking here.


GPC Leader’s Reconnection Tour 

The last two years have been difficult for everybody and took away our chance to get together in person. With the Covid-19 threat diminishing, GPC Interim Leader Amita Kuttner started on a Reconnection Tour.

On March 9th Dr. Kuttner kicked off the tour in Kitchener and has since visited eight other major centres in Southern Ontario. There have been rallies in each city and the tour is gaining interest as Greens have a chance to work together again at building the party.

Amita will begin the Vancouver Island portion of the tour on April 19th in Sidney. We are not sure of the venue at this time as details for the tour are still being worked out.   Details about the tour will be posted on the GPC website as they become available.

E-car Convertible for Victoria Day Parade

Each year, Elizabeth participates in the Victoria Day Parade, and we would love it if she could ride in style in an EV-convertible!  If you can help with this, please contact Dan.


Creative volunteer wanted

The late Joanne Taylor, a wonderful and dedicated volunteer, left the SGI Executive a treasure trove of clippings dating back to Elizabeth’s first campaign in 2011. Now we need another wonderful, dedicated volunteer to arrange this rich repository into a physical and/or digital scrapbook. Might you be the organized, creative person to pull these clippings into a historical record of Elizabeth’s electoral successes? If so, please contact Linda.


BC Greens News and Events

Our BC Greens cousins are busy – as usual.  The local BC riding associations (RA’s) of Saanich North and the Islands and Oak Bay-Gordon Head comprise part of the federal Saanich-Gulf Islands EDA (or Electoral District Association / EDA in federal language – another way of saying “riding”). During the pandemic they moved from in-person to virtual presentations on a wide variety of really interesting topics, named “Voices of Saanich North and the Islands” and “Voices of Victoria”.

Saanich North and the Islands – coming soon!

For local interest, the Saanich North and the Islands Riding Association (RA) will host an online presentation and discussion with forest ecologist Andy MacKinnon, Tuesday, April 5th.  To find out more, and to register, click this link.

Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Beginning with a brief overview of Saanich’s Climate Action Plan, the thoughtful (and thought-provoking)  March Voices of Victoria webinar moved into local social issues associated with climate change.  The 66-minute recording of Saanich Councillor Rebecca Mersereau, Green Party of Canada Vice President Dr. Lisa Gunderson, and the active Q&A session is available to view here.  (It’s a Facebook link, but you don’t have to be a Facebook user to play the recording.)

BC Greens

Did you know that BC Greens riding associations across BC are busy hosting interesting events?  You can find all of the listings here.


Coming up via UVIC March 31. Resurgence: Decolonizing the City

Don’t miss this upcoming lecture by Jay Pitter, Award-Winning Placemaker, Urban Planning Lecturer, and author. Organized by the UVic Committee for Urban Studies and sponsored by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Humanities. March 31. This event is free and open to the public but requires preregistration. Click here to assure your place.


In the veggie garden –March and April

While the convention is to plant your garden on the May long weekend, on the coast we can do so much better than that. However, warmth-loving plants planted too early may just sit there doing a lot of nothing until the warmth of May kick-starts them into action. But even for these plants, we can do better. So if you don’t have a greenhouse and haven’t constructed cloches for your beds, then don’t waste another minute and get building a cloche. These season extenders are ideal for early starts and late finishes. Gardeners are always anxious to get planting, and cloches allow you to start a few weeks earlier than if you intend to set out plants into bare ground. They even help those cold-weather crops that you may already have out in your garden. Given how cold our spring has been, even the hardiest of the bunch, like spinach and kale, grow faster when given a bit of protection and added warmth under a tunnel of plastic.

Cloches don’t have to be elaborate. Anything that supports the plastic tunnel and keeps it off the plants will do. We fasten the plastic to raised 2x2s that run the length of our beds and then clip the ends to ½” PVC pipes that get anchored to the sides of our beds when in use. We can then simply roll them up and tie them to the 2x2s when they are not needed. That way we never have to remove them from our garden and find a place to store them. We keep them up all winter to keep the soil drier and warmer than outside of the cloche and it keeps our cover crops growing well into the winter and they restart growing early in the spring. Probably the most popular way of constructing a cloche is to connect ½” PVC pipe with connectors to make a series of Ts the length of your bed (like a centipede with too few legs). You could simply tie the cross pieces to the pipe that extends the length of your bed to save money on fittings and to make many fewer cuts to the PVC pipe. Then simply stick the ends of the Ts into the ground on both sides of the bed to make the hoop over top of the bed. Cover that with plastic and weight down the edges and – voilà! – you have a cloche in a matter of minutes once you have the materials. You can also use these to add floating row covers for carrots, cabbage and other crops you need to protect from pests. We have even seen them used as chicken tunnels (covered with chicken wire) to allow chickens into the garden without losing them to raccoons.

Make sure you get the cloches on your beds at least a couple of weeks before you try to set out your more tender plants so the soil can heat up a bit. With cloches, we sow tomatoes and peppers in the third week of March to set out before the middle of May to reliably get an extra 2 weeks on the growing season. If you are a gambler, try starting a couple of those warmth-loving plants even earlier and get them in the soil at the end of April – then hope for a warm May! They want soil temperatures to be near 20ºC and grow at 15ºC days and 10ºC nights so you will need some good luck in early May when temperatures tend to be warm enough during the day but still dip to 5ºC at night. If you want to try to jump the season for tomatoes by this much, try growing parthenocarpic plants. They tend to set fruit in cooler temperatures. We grow them for very early tomatoes, but find they do not have the great flavour we like in our tomatoes. But for early tomatoes, we shouldn’t be too picky.

Nancy & Gary Searing

Honeysuckle Cottage

Editor’s note:  We recognize that many readers won’t have access to larger properties or greenhouses.  If you have expertise in urban gardening – patio gardens, container gardening, maximizing yield in small spaces – the SGI Newsletter team would love to hear from you.  Please contact us if you are interested in contributing either occasionally or monthly. Thanks for sharing the green!

Focus on Community: Peninsula Streams  

Outside my window, the first flowers of spring are being blessed with a gentle rain. These raindrops collect in the folds of our landscapes as they rush towards the local watercourses and eventually to the sea. These riparian zones (streams and surrounding areas) provide a specialized and unique environment in our towns and countryside.

Urban sprawl, industrialization and concrete containment have, for the most part, reduced the beneficial ecology of these stream zones and turned them into runoff ditches, meant to move the water as quickly as possible. This destroys the ecological role that streams play in our natural environment.

On the Saanich Peninsula, local stewardship groups were concerned enough about ongoing natural degradation to assemble their efforts under one organization – the Peninsula Streams Society (PSS). Incorporated in 2002 with Tom Davis as the founding director, the organization received funding from the District of North Saanich and office space and support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This important work continues now with the financial assistance of many local governments and businesses.

Today, under the guiding hand of Executive Director Ian Bruce, PSS is involved in many local projects including:

  • Rehabilitation of the toxic airport stream Reay Creek
  • Restoring fish to seven miles of Millstream Creek with a new fish ladder
  • Adding native plantings and salmon spawning areas to Colquitz Creek
  • Removing overgrown invasive species and restoring habitat to Graham/Hagan Creeks
  • Restoring spawning gravel to local beaches for forage fish like surf smelt
  • Rehabilitate a meadow to native plants to promote local insect life
  • Educate and encourage children through hands-on efforts and class lessons

This is a shortened listing for an organization with a broad mandate to steward our natural environment and each project is a complex web of volunteers, effort, knowledge and funding.

PSS continues to grow their efforts and their organization. Three recent hires are providing their scientific training to the ongoing work. As an example, Katrina Adams, with a B.Sc. in Biology from McGill University, has waded through most of the peninsula’s streams. This has allowed her to assess the effects of work already done as well as determine what further efforts will be beneficial to the goal of a healthy watershed. She is also using models of local watersheds to educate our school children and give them a healthy awareness of our streams. Katrina also works with citizen scientists to collect data on our forage fish spawning beaches – an underpinning of the life of our marine environment.

My enthusiasm for this organization leads to my own volunteer efforts in our local environment. The base of the web of life is the basis for what we see around us and any efforts to steward those resources will pay huge dividends at a later date.

Like most non-profits, PSS would be happy to receive a donation or volunteer time to support them in their valuable efforts. For further information on this organization as well as information on how to donate or volunteer, please go to Peninsula Streams Society.

Dan Kells, SGI CEO

Regional Information: Saanich

Emergency Preparedness

Last fall, Gregor Craigie, host of CBC’s On the Island, launched his book, On Borrowed Time. It is based on ten years of research by scientists, engineers, and emergency planners as well as interviews with survivors. If you have not yet created an emergency kit or suspect it may be inadequate, don’t have a “grab and go bag” or a clear idea of what should go in one, consider attending a free Emergency Preparedness Information Session put on by the Municipality of Saanich. Register here for a free 60-minute virtual information session to learn about the Saanich Emergency Program. The presentation covers not just earthquakes and tsunamis, but also fire, gas leaks, power outages and lines down. If you can gather ten neighbours together, Saanich will send out a team to do a live presentation to support you in getting everyone prepared for when – not if – the Big One hits. This would be a great Block Watch activity!

Volunteer opportunity

Looking for a Green volunteering opportunity in Saanich? Help remove invasive plant species such as Scotch Broom, English Ivy and Himalayan Blackberry in public parks with the Pulling Together team! It’s great to be outdoors, working with like-minded people, learning by doing, and really being able to see that you have made a difference. Once you’ve cleared an area, you’ll have the fun of planting native species where they belong and seeing them grow over the years. There are teams working in 55 parks across the municipality, so you’re bound to find one where the location and terrain suit you. Good fellowship, good work, and good green fun outdoors!


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