SGI Greens April 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to the April 2022 Newsletter – and Happy Earth Day 2022!   Spring has arrived – at least according to the calendar.  This edition contains an update from Elizabeth, some interesting Earth Day events to consider, gardening tips, focus on community organizations and much, much more!  Read on………

Notes from Elizabeth


This is the 52nd year I have celebrated Earth Day and the third year I have celebrated John and my wedding anniversary!  With luck you may have received an email from me sent out by GPC staff. I would be very grateful for any donations in response to my email.  The party fundraising has been falling short in the first few months of 2022.  Really hoping this email gives us a bit of a boost.  The GPC Donation page is here, with gratitude.

For those who missed it, I want to share that the event in Sidney with our Interim Leader Dr. Amita Kuttner was well-attended and well-received. Deep appreciation to our EDA executive for taking on the organizing.  I did discover that some strong and long-standing Greens who attended the event have not yet received ballots for the GPC council elections.  Please check your email – it will be titled “2022 Federal Council & Young Greens Council Elections“ and would have been sent approximately April 10-12. It’s a good idea to check your promotions or spam folders as well.   Let us know if you have not received it and would like some help, by emailing  If you are uncertain about your membership status, sign into the GPC website here, to see what your expiry date is (or email us to check). The deadline to vote is May 11.

Speaking of deadlines, May 10th is the deadline for my petition to ban the export of thermal coal. The legal technicality is to get Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault to place thermal coal on the Priority Substances List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). This is an on-line petition found at this link.  I would be very grateful for your signature.

As I write this my non-partisan community meetings are nearly wrapped up.  I have only Galiano, Mayne and Saturna remaining.  I am very happy to have been able to see constituents again. As ever, SGI citizens are well-informed and concerned to hear from me about pressing concerns – climate, the persistent problem of freighter anchorages in our waters, protection of SRKW, Old Growth Forests, housing affordability, cracks in our health care and reconciliation – among many other topics of concern. We have been very careful in maintaining COVID safety practices with good ventilation, masks and hand sanitizing.  Fortunately, the numbers who show up have stayed lower than usual so physical distancing has been easy.

I am considering a few zoom town halls during the week of the Victoria Long Weekend.  Let us know if you would attend any meetings my team can organize virtually!



Saanich-Gulf Islands EDA report:

On Tuesday evening, many residents of SGI enjoyed a thoughtful and informative town hall with Interim Leader Amita Kuttner.  We took part in a visioning exercise to focus on what we can do in order to achieve our goals for the party.   It was wonderful to gather again in person and on Zoom, and we hope to plan more events over the summer.

If you missed Amita’s town hall, there are other opportunities here, including one on Salt Spring Island.

BC Greens News and Events:

Saanich North and the Islands Greens – Annual General Meeting

The Saanich-Gulf Islands Riding Association is holding its Annual General Meeting on Sunday May 1st at 3pm on Zoom.  It will be a very interesting event, with speakers Paul Manly – former MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, and Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen sharing the virtual stage. To attend, click here.  You do not need to be a member to attend the AGM.

BC Greens Update

We are only nine days away from the end of the Vancouver Quilchena By-Election. Our candidate Wendy Hayko has been hitting the ground running in this short by-election, but we need your help to reach as many voters between now and April 30th.

You can join a call party to help make calls to voters to encourage them to vote Green!  Or come out to an in-person event if you are in the area.  For more information about events, or to join a call party and learn about making calls, check out the events here.

Hooray! It’s Earth Day and there’s a lot going on this weekend in our EDA!

Amplifying Youth Voices in the Fight Against Climate Change

Friday, April 22 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

This special Earth Day program features five young Canadian changemakers who are working in creative ways to help amplify youth voices in the fight against climate change with research, policy, community building, education and environmental activism.

They will discuss the transformative change that is coming about through youth activism and intergenerational equity. The conversation will be directed to include all generations and highlight ways for older generations to support youth climate activism. The final half hour of the webinar will be dedicated to audience Q+A. Register for free HERE!


Saturday, April 23, 2022, 10:00 am

Garry Oak Ecosystem Nature Walk with Wylie Thomas

Head to Cattle Point Marine Kiosk at 10am on Saturday for this event, sponsored by the Gordon Head/Oak Bay Greens and followed by an optional session of pulling invasive species in the area. No registration required.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Saanich Municipal Hall

Free Admission

Enjoy a variety of free family activities in the Saanich Hall parking lot. This year’s event will showcase the expansion of the Saanich cycling network and investment in active transportation, raise awareness of our natural ecosystems and show how you can get involved in taking climate action in your community.

Guests who cycle to the festival can register to win a variety of prizes including a $1000 gift certificate towards an E-Bike from a local cycling shop.

For more information on this fun celebration of everything green, go to Saanich Earth Day. If you’d like to volunteer at this year’s event, register HERE.


Surfrider Earth Day Power Hour:

Or why not take the kids to the beach and do a bit of cleanup? Surfrider has piloted a worldwide “Earth Day Power Hour” campaign that you can get involved with your friends, family, community, business… or even solo! They invite everyone to commit to cleaning up their communities for just one hour on Earth Day, registering for either a solo or group cleanup. Head out to any environment of your choosing – be it the city, neighbourhood park, beach, lake, or trail – and take the pledge to remove plastic pollution endangering plants and wildlife. By registering your clean-up data, you have the chance to win a prize for collecting a) the most trash, b) the biggest trash, c) the weirdest trash, and more. Get your group together, and rake in those Trash Awards this year!


Bateman Gallery:

Feeling more like an indoor activity? The Bateman Gallery is celebrating Earth Day all weekend long with free admission for kids and family-friendly activities like trivia and art creation to engage with the powerful exhibition: Environmental Impact II. They’ll be promoting environmental awareness through the gallery, through learning programs and community partnerships and featuring over 20 artists with a powerful theme that critically examines how human actions and inactions impact our planet.

Free prizes and NatureSketch colouring books.

A children’s book reading of Benjamin’s Blue Feet by acclaimed local author and illustrator Sue Macartney at 11 AM on Friday, April 22 and 10:30 AM on Saturday, April 23


West Coast Food Gardening with Gary and Nancy

Gardening is so much more than planting seeds, watching them grow and then harvesting the produce. It is a spiritual journey — our connection with nature is the very essence of life. Non-gardeners see “dirt”.  We see soil in 3D, the living, breathing, life-giving part of our earth. We know how complex the interactions of the soil, plant life, detritus and soil organisms are and by respecting that complexity we are allowed to grow our gardens each year, over and over again, and even improve on the growth and health of the plants. And heck, we haven’t even planted anything in that soil yet and it is already rewarding us with its rich, sweet smell and the soft, lovely texture of its mix of organic and inorganic material.

While raising plants from seeds is rewarding too, if we plant those seeds in sterile potting soil, they start life in a sterile environment. We prefer to use compost as our seed-starting medium because it is more like the earth that they need to provide them with health and nourishment throughout their growing life. The growth of plants in the soil is faster, heartier and healthier than that of plants confined to pots, provided of course that you have cared for your soil even more than that of your plants. Nevertheless, parenting your seedlings gives you a connection to each and every plant that will eventually fledge into your garden and mature into a respectable adult plant (if you don’t eat it first). Taking your plants from seed, to seedling, then repotting them as needed and finally hardening them off and transplanting them into the garden is very much like how we raise our kids, but without the diapers, tantrums, rebellions and financial outlay. Mind you, cuddling up with your tomato plant just isn’t the same as when your 2-year-old snuggles into your lap for a story. But who knows, maybe we are missing out on something by not reading to our plants  – after all, they respond well to music so why not the spoken word?

Our connection with nature through gardening grows stronger as our planted-out garden grows and we check each plant to determine how they are doing. Are those foreign pests such as slugs and the imported cabbage white (butterfly) taking too large a toll on the crop and need some hand-picking? Have we placed row covers over the carrots, parsnips and celery to reduce the damage from carrot flies? Are aphids or whiteflies being a problem? Do our plants need a pick-me-up fertilization mid-season? Are they getting enough or too much water? Are they ready to harvest? A daily stroll through the garden with an eye to seeing what is really going on gives us an insight into the interaction of plants and soil, plants and insects, plants and the weather, and plants and other plants. Those interconnections are what ecology is all about and tending our garden either puts us in the middle as part of this web of life or as an intruder who disrupts and destroys the way of the garden. We now know how destructive tilling is to the health and well-being of the soil. We have known for a long time how chemical pesticides and fertilizers not only destroy the life of the garden, they end up destroying our health and the health of all animals that find our garden as a hoped-for place of refuge. We don’t know if there is a word for growing plants without respecting the entire web of life that surrounds us and them, but we don’t want that approach of “growing” to be part of our “gardening” journey. And it doesn’t have to be — because healthy, little disturbed soil which is growing plants most of the year and to which we return organic matter each year ends up providing us with few weeds, few pests, and abundant harvests with little input other than compost. Now that is the “joy” of gardening and the enrichment of our spirit as well as the soil.

On a more immediate note, this year seems to be an unusually cold spring. But from the gardening perspective, it has actually been quite an average spring. Since the beginning of March until 11 April, we have had 183  5° growing-degree hours (GDH)[1] (but only 1.4  10° GDH). On average since 2014 during that period we get 178  5° GDH and nine 10° GDH. So this year has been pretty normal even if we have had some very cold nights. Compare this with 2021 (95  5° GDH and zero 10° GDH) and 2020 (87  5° GDH and zero 10° GDH) and we actually had more hours of favourable growing temperatures this year than during the same period in the last 2 years. We guess being “farmers”, even on a small scale, we get to complain about the weather. We hope it warms up, but not too much like last year.

Given that May is only a few days away, there isn’t much that you can’t start indoors now and even lots you could start outdoors if you prefer to direct seed. We like starting most things in our greenhouse and then setting young plants out exactly where we want them to grow. That way we can replace what we harvest with a new crop that is already partly grown thus getting more plantings in the same bed. We will be starting corn and sunflowers in six-packs by the time you read this and squash towards the end of the month as well as directly sowing dill throughout the garden. That said, we are already on our 4th crop of lettuce and have done two or three plantings of many other crops so it feels like we are already into the middle of the garden season. But don’t panic if you haven’t planted much yet, there is still lots of time left for later harvests. We just love our early salads direct from the garden.

Until next month, get your hands dirty! And feel free to come by to visit us in our garden – we love garden visits with you.

Nancy & Gary Searing

Honeysuckle Cottage

9655 Ardmore Drive, North Saanich

778-678-1889 or 250-857-5133

[1] 5° GDH is suitable for growing cold-hardy plants like spinach, lettuce, peas, the cole crops, etc. 10° GDH is needed for warm weather crops like tomatoes, beans, squash, corn, etc.


Focus on Community: Dominion Brook Park

By Dan Kells, EDA CEO

Imagine, on a hot summer day, walking down a winding path alongside a little stream burbling its way through the lush growth of ferns overhanging the laughing water. An amazing variety of rhododendrons and plant communities are thriving in this cool ravine shaded by the tall trees.

As you pass by the old stone footpath bridge, you exit the sheltered space and move onto a manicured landscape. Vast lawns are dotted with trees, big and small, of varieties from around the world. Nearby, an exquisite Japanese Garden awaits you with its own entrancing beauty and particular sense of calm.

All this and more await you if you should visit the more than one-hundred-year-old hidden gem of Dominion Brook Park. Across from the Panorama Recreation Centre,  it is located adjacent to the Centre for Plant Health, a Canadian government research facility. As you drive by on East Saanich Road, all you see is a sign on a small lawn with some big overhanging Plane trees. This is very deceptive as the park proper is mostly on the hillside below this area.

This park was here when there was a railway running where Lochside Drive is now. There was even a railway station; the station building now being incorporated into the shelter at the picnic area along with the huge picnic tables.

There are many other reminders of the past all around you in the park. Many of the plants and trees were brought in, starting in 1912, to create a demonstration arboretum and ornamental garden for the public. Over the years, the staff of the Federal Department of Agriculture maintained the park until the 1980’s when those efforts were curtailed.

Many years of neglect followed with the park slowly disappearing under blackberries and ivy.

In 2001, concerned locals created the Friends of Dominion Brook Park Society to restore the beauty and usefulness of this incredible park.  In partnership with the District of North Saanich and the Centre for Plant Health, the Society continues to maintain the significant heritage collection of shrubs and trees.

The Society is moving forward with plans to enlighten the park guests as to what species of plant or tree you may encounter in the park. This will be done by creating a QR code system that will allow a smartphone user to query a code at a plant and receive information about that.

This will truly be a meeting of the past and the future.

Of course, all this beauty needs people to bring their energy to the park and assist with the maintenance. Heavy work is carried out by the District of North Saanich and the light work is done by volunteers. The once a week (Wednesdays from March to October) work party is a great opportunity to get together with others who value the charm of this unique spot. If you really enjoy what you experience there, donations may be made to the Society, which exists through volunteer effort and donations.

For further information, please go to Dominion Brook Park

or visit their Facebook page at

Dan Kells, SGI 

Regional information: Saanich

Saanich Community Ambassador Volunteer Program

Greens are passionate people – passionate about the environment, about social justice, and about all issues that affect quality of life. The desire to pitch in to make things better is why we make such great volunteers. If you live in Saanich there are opportunities to make a difference, share and learn new skills and support welcoming environments at the Cedar Hill, Gordon Head, G. R. Pearkes Recreation Centres and at Saanich Commonwealth Place. Check out the wide variety of opportunities available at The Saanich Rec Volunteer Programs website.


Emergency Preparedness

Oops! No matter how many times we proofread our newsletter, there’s always an error or two that slips through. Here is the CORRECT LINK to the wonderful Preparedness 101 and Volunteer Information seminars being offered by the District of Saanich. Learn what to do to make your home as safe as possible in the event of an earthquake, tsunami, fire or electrical outage, what you should pack in a Grab ‘n’ Go bag, and even how to make a dry toilet!

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!


Gordon Head Garden Club:

The mission of the GHGC is “To Stimulate Garden Interest within the Community”. The Club meets monthly at 7 pm on the first Wednesday of the month at the Gordon Head Lawn Bowling Club.  Meetings feature a guest speaker, a plants for sale table, and social time.  The club is delighted to be meeting in person again, but for now, masks are mandatory as is proof of vaccination.

You need not live in Gordon Head to join – all are welcome. Keep your eye out for club events in Coffee News, on Facebook, and on Next Door. Mark your calendars for the annual plant sale on May 14!


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