Welcome to the Saanich-Gulf Islands Newsletter for May! In here you will find a note from Elizabeth, and news from the EDA and the BC Greens. Also, we have enjoyed highlighting various non-profits in our community and local community events and hope that you have enjoyed that also. Last but definitely not least we present our ever-enlightening gardening article courtesy of Gary and Nancy Searing, local events coming up in Saanich, and Sidney, and information about a new virtual reality climate change course.
Notes from Elizabeth
Thanks so much to all the SGI Greens who participated in Amita Kuttner’s Reconnection tour visit to Sidney. Amita has been doing a great job in getting out and meeting grassroots Greens. In Saskatchewan with Saskatchewan Green leader Naomi Hunter, they received excellent media coverage in many local papers in exposing the false claims about Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs.
It is very hard to get the media to cover the Green Party these days and to have our voices heard. I am really pleased to see the impact of Amita’s tour.
Our best chance to turn things around is in the Ontario election on June 2nd. I am doing as much as I can to help the Ontario Greens. Their campaign writ period is so short- less than 4 weeks! I am making phone calls into Parry Sound-Muskoka for Green candidate Matt Richter. In 2018, he got over 20% of the vote, so he has a good chance. Mike Schreiner is very popular in his own riding of Guelph, but as you know from working to help me get re-elected, we can never take anything for granted.
I will be going to Toronto right after the Victoria Day long weekend to campaign for GPO Deputy leader and former Ontario Environment Commissioner Dianne Saxe, up to Parry Sound Muskoka to help Matt. Squeezing in one event for Bonnie North in Barrie by zoom. Then back to Ottawa to do an Ottawa area rally for all of the local Green provincial candidates there. We cannot make donations from BC, but we can help out with phone canvassing. Go to https://gpo.ca/ if you can spare a few hours. If you have relatives and friends in Ontario, see if you can encourage them to take a lawn sign – and, of course, tell them how much Green wins in Ontario will make a huge difference for all of Canada.
For the national party, the Ontario election is another challenge. We cannot do any fundraising in Ontario until after June 2nd. I know everyone getting this newsletter already gives in money and time and energy. But if you can increase your monthly donation or send a one-time boost, it would be much appreciated!
I promise the next newsletter will not be all about Green campaigning!! 🙂
Saanich-Gulf Islands & local Greens updates:
BC Greens: Province-Wide Day of Action on Healthcare
Save the date!! Join our BC Greens friends on Saturday, May 28th at the Province-Wide Day of Action on Healthcare. There will be events engaging the public in various communities, and the opportunity to hear from Leader Sonia Furstenau and MLA Adam Olsen via Zoom. Click here to find out what is happening in your area, and check back if you don’t see a listing in your area – new events are posted frequently.
The BC Greens have a healthcare petition which you might want to consider signing:
In addition, the community-led group BC Healthcare Matters is holding a rally at the BC Legislature from 11-1 on May 19, official BC Doctors’ Day. Wear a white shirt if you’ve got a GP or a black one if you do not.
Green Party of Canada Knowledge Clusters and Policy Table
Do you have expertise, lived experience or interest in a specific policy area that matches a federal ministry such as Health, Housing, Climate Change, International Trade, Infrastructure etc.? The GPC Shadow Cabinet is looking for volunteers to join a knowledge cluster or policy table to assist our critics in their roles. No degree necessary.
If you are interested, please fill out this application form, being specific about the policy area you are interested in.
BC Green Party Policy Committee
The BC Greens are now welcoming applications to join the BC Green Party Policy Committee! BC Green Party policies are developed in a collaborative fashion with support from the policy development team, led by the Policy Chair. To learn more about our policy development process, including how you can be involved, click here.
Gardening with Gary and Nancy
May in the Garden
Wow, May is half over and it still feels like March! If you are getting quite tired of the cool, no – cold — temperatures, I only hope you planted lots of spinach and peas. At least we will have an extended harvest of the cool weather crops.
With yet another outbreak of avian influenza, we all have been asked to take down our backyard bird feeders. While birds probably feel a lot like we do dealing with COVID, we also have another estrangement in our world – no birds to enjoy at our feeders. Do we have to start making little masks to protect our avian friends?
In the absence of feeders, the cool weather presents a double whammy to local songbirds. While not a short-term fix, we would like to suggest a gardening solution to the problem if the flu hangs on through the summer. Why not plant a garden for the birds? As well, you will be providing nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies.
In these articles, we have stayed away from talking about flower gardens and focused on vegetables. However, as well as the beauty and joy that flower gardens bring us, they also contribute far more than vegetable gardens for birds and bees. The one thing we can do in our vegetable garden, which goes against our advice of keeping the soil planted and growing, is to leave small spaces empty so Robins can hunt worms and other invertebrates in the bare soil. But let’s turn our attention to the flowers that are most beneficial for birds. A great flower to plant in your veggie garden is Marigold. Not only do they provide a bit more colour than your green vegetable plants, they attract insects and, importantly, all the critters that eat insects. Insect populations have been declining rapidly and birds and other animals that feed on insects are having a hard time. Except perhaps the green glass lizard, which is a plague on the peninsula and devours insects including the many beneficial bees we need for pollination.
One plant to get started early is Joe Pye Weed which not only is a favourite food of chickadees, wrens and juncos, it also provides nesting material which can be in short supply.
Coreopsis will provide repeated yellow blooms in your garden all summer long and provide seed for songbirds when seed is in short supply. Globe Thistle is another plant that provides seed for finches and adds a beautiful blue hue to your garden. While Goldenrod is not everyone’s cup of tea and doesn’t fit into most arranged gardens, if you have a more wild spot it is a magnet for bees and butterflies and its seeds are enjoyed by sparrows, finches and juncos. A favourite of ours is Zinnia which can provide lots of seed for sparrows and goldfinches if the flower heads are left on the plant rather than plucked off when they are done flowering.
Although we have not grown and are not really familiar with Blanket Flowers and Liatris, we hear they are a great seed source for finches, sparrows, quail and Mourning Doves, and they are pretty too.
Although late-season bloomers, Asters will attract chickadees, goldfinches, nuthatches, sparrows and Spotted Towhees when they go to seed after providing us with a colourful bloom later in the season. Other late-season flowers are Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) and Coneflowers, which provide a splash of colour in the fall and a feast for goldfinches, Pine Siskins, chickadees and nuthatches. And don’t forget to grow a patch of Sunflowers either in your flower garden or vegetable patch because the seeds produced are highly nutritious for birds fueling up for migration.
If avian flu continues into winter, Sedum can be a significant food source if you leave the flower heads on. In fact, don’t be too quick to clean up your flower garden in the fall because there is lots there for birds to feed on as the weather deteriorates.
While we can continue to feed hummingbirds, we can’t help but think that natural nectar is way better for them than refined sugar water. We have lots of Honeysuckle and Hardy Fuchsia, which they are simply crazy for. But there are lots of other flowers that you can plant for hummingbirds and bees too. Columbine, Monarda (Bee Balm), Penstemons, and Salvia are just a few of the flowers that attract and sustain hummingbirds as well as bees and butterflies.
Although we focused on domestic plants, don’t ignore native plants, which are of greater value to our native birds. Volumes have been written on native plantings for birds, bees and butterflies so we will not expound on this. Suffice it to say that you make the world a better place every time you grow or protect an indigenous native plant on your property. If you want to explore this further, Dr. Jaret Daniel’s book entitled Native Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees & Butterflies is probably the holy grail on this subject. He has books of the same title on a regional level, but we are not aware of one for the Pacific Northwest.
We all are delighted observers of the avian world. By lending a helping hand when they are going through their pandemic, they will help us through ours by entertaining us during our next lockdown. Happy gardening everyone!
Nancy & Gary Searing
Focus on Community:
Sidney Rotary – World Environment Day
All are welcome at this Rotary-facilitated World Environment Day event on June 5, 2022, at the Mary Winspear Centre. This important event will feature inspiring speakers including our own Elizabeth May, Seth Klein, and Dr. Courtney Howard.
To learn more, and to register, go here.
Transition Salt Spring by Dan Kells
I recently came to know about an amazing local group called Transition Salt Spring. I found them through the Salish Sea webinar series which was well presented and highly informative regarding our beautiful inner sea. I highly recommend this series; the presentations are available on the TSS Youtube channel.
The Chair of Transition Salt Spring, Bryan Young, and I had a chance to speak recently. He is a very strong advocate for a formidable group of Salt Spring residents who aim to advance the protection and enhancement of Salt Spring Island and the surrounding environment. Their deliberate intention is to facilitate conversation and engagement of their island community leading to consensus and action.
The TSS has produced a Climate Action Plan for their community, a very comprehensive document of 102 pages. Issues affecting the Gulf Islands are not unique to them and this document examines the local effects of our changing climate and provides potential solutions for a variety of issues. When it comes to climate change, a wide variety of knowledge needs to be passed onto our communities so that sound decisions can be made to reduce or ameliorate the effects on our environment. TSS is well aware that the best way forward with this climate crisis is to educate people about the issues and to strengthen the community while doing that.
Transition Salt Spring is a registered charity based on Salt Spring Island, BC. Their exclusive focus is to create a consensus amongst residents, organizations and government for strong, decisive, coordinated action to address the multiplying impacts of climate change. To learn more and to contribute to their efforts, go to transitionsaltspring.com.
Dan Kells, SGI Greens
Regional information: Saanich
Native Plant Study Group
The Native Plant Study Group (NPSG) is dedicated to learning about BC native plants as wild populations and in garden settings, and supporting the conservation and their habitats. Their focus is on the protection of, conservation of and education about BC’s habitats and their work is entirely guided by volunteers. Pssst! They’re looking for an archivist.
If you would like to get involved, send a quick email to: email@example.com
People, Pets and Parks Strategy Planning Process
The District of Saanich is about to review policies and/or regulations relating to pet management in parks. If you’d like to provide input on this issue, you can register for updates by visiting the project webpage or by going directly to the signup form.
The Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society
For more than 30 years, The Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society has worked to maintain, enhance, and protect Mount Douglas Park in Saanich. The park includes many distinct and diverse ecosystems including a coastal zone, salmon stream and riparian area, fir and cedar forests, Garry oak forest, rocky outcrops, camas meadows, seasonal marshes and ponds, and more, all competing for space and resources with human visitors and urban development.
Exhibitions at Saanich Municipal Hall
Saanich Municipal Hall’s Second Floor Gallery is hosting “Into the Natural World”, an exhibition featuring the work of local contemporary artist Arabella Young, currently living and working in Sidney, BC. Arabella’s landscapes capture the natural world in a style likened to Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. Arabella’s love of nature glows from her canvases, creating a connection between her art, her viewers and their own experiences or nature. Here’s her website.
While you’re at the Municipal Hall, you can also check out the display of quilts from the Silver Swans Quilters Group – 13 fabric artists, crafters and quilters who come together in fun and friendship to create fabric art and quilted items for Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Society. The results of their labours are sold in the gift shop at Swan Lake and money raised supports the mission of SLCHNS.
Pierogies for Ukraine
Online event, Sunday, May 29, 2022
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM PDT
Learn how to make Ukrainian Traditional Pierogies from an 1863 family recipe. Join Baba Bella online as she shares stories from her Ukrainian upbringing in the Canadian Prairies while teaching you how to make this iconic dish. All funds raised will go to Soroptimist International – Europe division for their efforts in Ukraine Relief. This would make a fun group activity that combines good fellowship, good food and good works.
Climate Change taught via Virtual Reality!
Dr. Michael Mehta from Thompson Rivers University is teaching a unique course about climate change, using an emerging technology. The VictoryXR company offers online immersive and augmented reality courses to allow students a greater depth of understanding of a subject through virtual reality (VR). The course will begin on May 30th, with further classes on June 6, 13, 20 & 27, all at 3 pm PST at a cost of $25.
To participate in an immersive or augmented classroom, a VR headset is required. There are many options available for purchase locally and online. Course content is described here and registration is here for this exciting and innovative program.