Georgia Strait Alliance is the only citizens' group focused on protecting the marine environment in and around the whole Strait of Georgia – Canada's most at-risk natural environment, and the place where 70% of British Columbians live, work and play. We are committed to a future for our region that includes clean water and air, healthy wild salmon runs, rich marine life and natural areas, and sustainable communities.

August 31, 2012

A Whirlwind Summer Draws to a Close

A giant shark cruises through Snug Cove
during the BowFest parade!
We are sad to say that this is our final blog of the season. After a summer of exciting outreach and coastal adventures, we are trading our GSA t-shirts for thinking caps, and heading back to our respective studies.

Our last weekend of events was a busy one. Deanna had the pleasure of attending BowFest, Bowen Island’s community festival on Saturday. The theme of this year’s event was “prehistoric”, and Bowen Islanders did not disappoint. The parade which opens the festival every year was packed with polka-dotted Wooly Mammoths, giant prehistoric birds and fish, roaring T-Rexes, and rock star cave-people. The festival itself was lively as well! Island residents and visitors sampled delicious food, enjoyed great live music, and browsed the booths of local artisans and community groups. The kids had a great time enjoying the carnival rides, checking out the live reptile exhibit, and urging on their favorite slugs in the slug races. Deanna had several conversations with well informed, passionate individuals and spread the word about our Communities Atlas Project. As per usual, the Trans-Mountain pipeline and oil tankers were the hot topics of the day, though many individuals were interested in knowing more about the health of Howe Sound.  All in all, it was one of the most enjoyable events of the summer, and as such, a big thank you is owed to Ellen White and the rest of the BowFest team for welcoming GSA to the Festival!

Isabelle adds some GSA decor to
the Kitsilano Farmers Market.
On Sunday, Isabelle grabbed a bag of brochures, a petition against the oil tanker increase in the Strait, and a GSA tablecloth, and headed to Kitsilano’s Farmers Market. Her small booth was set right in the center of the Market between two rows of tents filled with fresh produce and other local goods. With the sun shining, the market was busy from start to end.  Many market goers holding bags filled with luscious fruits from the Okanagan Valley took the time to stop by Isabelle’s booth to sign the petition and discuss issues such as the oil tanker increase and salmon farming in the Strait of Georgia.

On Tuesday, we rounded off our summer outreach tour by returning to Parksville’s Summer by the Sea Market for a second time. It was the market’s final night of the summer, and though ominous clouds loomed, Oceansiders and visitors alike came out in droves to indulge in one last local treat, and check out the artisan craft displays.

We would like to thank everyone who came to talk to us and buy raffle tickets at the market, and at all of our events this summer! We both have truly enjoyed our summer of outreach with GSA. We managed to attend 25 different events in Georgia Strait of all shapes and sizes, from Victoria to Powell River. Thank you to our GSA buddies for their warm welcome and helping hands! We hope that their passion will continue to be contagious as our coastal waters need such heroes!

Bonne chance and stay wild!
                           -Deanna and Isabelle

August 23, 2012

Beaches and Blackberries: A Powell River Adventure

Blackberry Fest Street Party in full swing!
 Isabelle and I visited Powell River last weekend.  As neither of us had had the pleasure of seeing the area before, it was a really interesting trip for both of us! We hopped on the ferry from Little River, on Friday morning, and as the weather was gorgeous, we enjoyed the sun on the upper deck, and the views of Texada, Lesqueti, and Powell River. We spent the afternoon doing a little exploring of Willingdon Beach, and the town, before heading down to Marine Ave. to set up for the Blackberry Festival Street Party.

It was evident from the atmosphere and sheer numbers of people that came out to the event that Powell River is a very community-oriented place. There were activities for people of all ages, from live music, a mountain biking exhibition, delicious food, and local craft vendors, to kids activities. As for our booth, many people came over to say “Hi” to our charismatic mermaid, and to find out what our organization was about. Unsurprisingly, pipelines and oil tanker traffic were the hot topics of the evening, and we had many lively discussions with individuals on both sides of the debate. After the event finished, we headed to our campsite at Willingdon Beach, and enjoyed watching the town’s magnificent fireworks display just steps from our campsite. Powell River really knows how to throw a party!

On Saturday morning, we rolled up our sleeping bags, packed up the car and headed to the Powell River Open Air Market. The market is beautifully set up, with permanent vendor stalls, a performance stage, and a concession stand. We enjoyed sampling the local fare (including luscious strawberries, juicy tomatoes, and delicious, delicious croissants). We had several valuable conversations about marine conservation, and the importance of protecting wild salmon populations with market patrons, and showed off our Community Atlas Project.
Eager to squeeze the most out of our visit, and see more of the surrounding area, Isabelle and I went for a hike along part of the Sunshine Coast Trail, took a refreshing dip in Powell Lake before catching the ferry. Dark, thundery clouds gathered as we hiked back to the car, but the rain never came, and it was smooth sailing all the way back to Comox!

We’d like to send a shout-out to Cathy McDonald of the Marine Area Business Association, and the folks from the Open Air Market for welcoming us to Powell River, and their respective events. Also, a big thank-you to everyone who came to buy raffle tickets and chat with us!

Cheers until next time!

August 9, 2012

A celebration of West Coast local goods

On Tuesday July 31st, Deanna and I loaded the car and headed up-Island for the famous Parksville Summer by the Sea Street Market that takes place weekly from 6 to 9PM. As we do not often attend events during the week, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the market was just as busy or busier than our weekend venues. This street market draws huge crowds who come to sample the locally baked goods and browse through the variety of island arts and craft. Artisans spanning many generations were present at the market offering a variety of products, from woven baskets to native jewelry. The up-beat music from the Zumba demonstration made for very lively ambiance. The sign we taped to the side of our booth announcing our petition against oil tanker increase in the Strait drew in a lot of passersby interested in learning more about the Trans Mountain pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s expansion project. We ended up having a queue for our petition, which stimulated lively group discussions. A big thank you to Lynda, the Summer by the Sea Street Market coordinator, for organizing such a dynamic night market.

Always interested to learn more about the BC pipeline issues and seeking to find positive solutions, Deanna and I attended a talk at Vancouver Island University by Dr. Riki Ott, a Marine Toxicologist who monitored the environmental impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The first half of her presentation focused on the ongoing environmental and health impacts of both the Exxon Valdez and BP oil spills and the fact that you can never completely "clean-up" an oil spill. In the second part of her talk, she presented inspiring examples of successful community driven initiatives for change. Thank you to the Nanaimo Sierra Club for organizing this interesting presentation. 

Deanna standing next to our booth at
the West End Farmers Market
On Saturday August 4, our now weekly venture to Vancouver led us to the West End Farmers Market located on Comox Street across from Nelson Park. The West End Market is one of the five summer Farmers Markets in Vancouver. This venue, where most booths were filled with piles of colorful fresh local produce, was quite different from the very craft oriented Parksville Night Market. I was surprised at how many producers were present and at how quickly some of them sold out. This is good news for Vancouver’s local food system! Amidst the booths, we identified known faces, such as the folks from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks that seem to be present at many BC markets. Due to space limitation, we restricted our display to the octopus (obviously!), GSA’s general brochure and newsletter, the oil tanker petition and FAQ brochure, and the Communities Atlas. This smaller display proved very successful. We had a lot of curious market goers browsing through the many icons of GSA’s Communities Atlas displayed on the laptop, and the oil tanker issue was yet again a popular conversation subject. A big joyful MERCI! to the market manager Roberta and the Vancouver Farmers Market team for welcoming us to the West End Farmers Market. In addition, we appreciated them placing our table right in the centre of action between a stack of colorful root vegetables and irresistible berries.

This coming weekend we will be back at the South Cowichan Farmers Market on Sunday. Come check out this blossoming farmers market and learn more about our Communities Atlas. 

À bientôt!


August 2, 2012

Market Fun and the Jog for the Bog

On July 28th, Isabelle and I loaded up the car and travelled up-island to attend the Errington Farmer’s Market. Because we attend so many of them, we have come to see ourselves as market aficionados, and we can safely say that of all the markets we have attended this summer, the Errington Market definitely wins the ribbon for best venue. With vendors’ booths situated along forest winding paths, a beautifully crafted stage featuring great local talent, and a concession shack wafting the smell of freshly-baked cinnamon buns throughout the crowd, it is definitely the place to be on a mid-island Saturday.

We don't travel light!
Unsurprisingly, given the current media buzz surrounding the pipeline controversy, oil tankers and the Trans-Mountain and Enbridge pipelines were on everyone’s minds. We had a number of stimulating conversations on the subject with well informed locals, met some interested tourists, and collected lots of signatures for our oil tanker petition as well.  We also had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Hain, the artist behind Crazy Duck Pottery and the beautiful hand-crafted Garden Lantern featured in our summer raffle! His creations are gorgeous. Isabelle and I were very impressed with a number of the kids who came to visit our resident octopus and mermaid; I think there may be some budding marine biologists among them! A big thanks to Suzanne for welcoming us to the market. It was good fun, and I can personally attest to the tastiness of the cinnamon buns!

After the market, Isabelle and I took a quick, two block detour to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. The centre’s staff and volunteers work hard to care for and rehabilitate ill or injured wildlife from around Vancouver Island. It was interesting to tour the Centre’s grounds and say hello to their many resident unreleasable wildlife rescues. The bald eagles, owls and black bear were especially memorable, and we enjoyed supporting another of the Island’s hard working conservation groups!

On Sunday, we woke up to 4am alarms (Ungh.) and caught the first ferry to Tsawwassen on our way to Delta for International Bog Day. The event, hosted by the Burns Bog Conservation Society featured a 5 and 10km “Jog for the Bog”, a pancake breakfast, kids’ activities, music and more! The race attracted people from all age groups and fitness levels, and many who came for the run, stayed for the fun. Thanks to the Burns Bog Conservation Society for organizing the event and for all the work they do to protect “the lungs of the lower mainland”. Here’s hoping for an even bigger and better event next year! Also, a big thank you to everyone who supported GSA by buying raffle tickets this weekend!

Though Sunday’s event was fun, the highlight of my day occurred as we were nearing the Duke Point Ferry Terminal, when some of the Strait’s resident orcas decided to put on a show! It was a lovely way to end the weekend, and an affirmation of what we’re working for!

Until next time,