Newsletter June 2002

Annual General Meeting

       The 2002 Annual General Meeting was held on May 22 in the "Middleton Hall" on Luxton Fairgrounds. First report given was the Treasurers. To summarize, the end result is that we now have NO money.
       Next report was by the Secretary, Ian McKenzie. This report described the "Riffle" project completed last September and outlined a plan to work with a development project in the Happy Valley, Whireshire, Walfred road area in the "Glen Lake Corners" and covering the upper section of Firehall creek.
       The president, Kym Hill gave her report next. Described was the project of the Metchosin Municipal council, the "Bilston Action Team". A great deal of effort was put into this, but in the end it all came to nothing. No consensus could be reached. The creation of a new pamphlet, "How to be a Conservationist by doing Nothing" was explained.
       Talk Given by Andy McKinnon, a director of the "Habitat Acquisition Trust" on the function of the "Trust" and how land may be protected. Karen Hurley followed him with a slide show of a project done on Tod Creek in Saanich with an elementary school class.
       Following a short break, the election of officers was held. The directors for this year will be Kym Hill, David Houseman, Ian McKenzie, and Bernie Morris.

Conservation Connection Forum
|By: Ian McKenzie

The annual "Connecting for Conservation Forum" was held at the Lawn Bowling facility at the "Pearkes" arena on Saturday June 8’th. There was a good turnout of about 60 groups from the Victoria area, including the B.W.H.P.A. Charles Knighton and I set up a display of some of the projects we have done. Primarily held to get the various groups together to meet each other and show what each group does, the forum was open to the Public. One of the common themes we heard was how difficult it is to get volunteers and membership in all the groups. Some groups had made some very impressive mapping displays of their projects, which we can take lessons from. The map of the "Rithits Bog" work was a combined contour/features map with an aerial photo overlay of the bog, very nice and shows off well the area. Other maps and a satellite photo of the Capitol Region showed how many natural areas are shrinking or disappearing. The "Habitat Acquisition Trust" introduced a new program and book in co-operation with the Federal Government called "Green Legacies". This is promoting the donation and preservation of land through legal covenants and wills.

Current and Future Works

       With the present financial state we are not looking to engage in any in stream works for the coming year. However there are some areas we should focus on. One of the lessons learned over the years is the importance of securing some form of permanent protection for improvements we have made to the stream. A glaring example is the project we completed at the corner of Winter road and Happy Valley road. This was an "Undercut Bank" and streamside plantation project designed to provide deep pools and shade which are utilized by the fish as a refuge area during the hot summer months when water levels drop and water temperatures increase. The project took 4 years and many thousands of dollars of public and private funds to complete. This was done on privately owned land with the blessing and encouragement of the owner. However, the land was sold to someone else, and these folks have decided to build a horse pasture and riding area which extends right to the edge of the stream bank. This has removed all trace of any vegetation here and we even see manure and other material extending over the bank. Although this has not completely negated the project, it is now very compromised. Discussion with the new owners is ongoing, and we are hopeful of a mutually beneficial outcome. Clearly all new projects will have to have some kind of legally binding agreement in place. The best system is to only work on improvements which are on public land within protected Parks, or land covered by a legal covenant having binding consequences for contravention.
         In light of the above we are now looking at the extent of parkland within the Bilston waterway. Presently only a small portion of the area is within any park. We have been informed of several owners of property who have indicated they wish to contribute to creating parkland and protected areas both on their own land and assisting others to contribute. We see this as perhaps the most fruitful direction to pursue at the present time. By working with these landowners and the "Habitat Acquisition Trust" we may be able to effect much better conditions for the stream.