In the fall of 2021, I was interviewing some farmers for the Metchosin Muse for the Farmers and Farms section that I created in response to the pandemic in early 2020. A farmer at Eweview farm (MMuse_Sept2021.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca), Metchosin Muse, September 2021, p.12) mentioned that he had helped organise a “Agriculture Forum” years ago to connect farmers and help educate young farmers. I visited Bilston Creek Farm in October, 2021 to try and raise the profile of the farm as I had done for the past 1.5 years for other farms and farmers. Andrew and Melanie Penn at Bilston Creek farm were intrigued by the idea of an Agricultural Forum in Metchosin, and they generously offered their home and farm as a venue for the Agricultural Forum. Metchosin Muse, December 2021, p.13. 12_2021_MMuse.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca). Over 50 farmers participated in the day of networking. Various presentations were given by young and older farmers and guests from the province. Jackie Larkin, an adult educator and friend of the earth, facilitated the discussion. There were sessions on the challenges facing Metchosin farmers and ways that farms and farmers enhance our community and our lifestyle. It was agreed that the Metchosin Agricultural Advisory Committee would move forward on creating a Metchosin Agricultural Plan to be used as a roadmap/ guide to a sustainable agricultural sector in Metchosin and a tool to secure provincial and federal dollars. Metchosin Muse, June, 2021, p.4 MCM2206.indd (metchosinmuse.ca).
At the request of the neighbours along the road, the Parks and Trails Advisory Select Committee and I created the road-side trail along Pears Road. This trail was created to allow safe passage along a particularly dangerous section of the road. The cost of the trail was $12,000. and the trail was completed mostly by volunteers and the project was under budget and finished in record time.
Metchosin Muse, June, 2021, p. 8-9. MMuse_June2021.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca)
After the trees were cut on private land to serve private interests, the trail that the local community loved needed to be re-positioned and remediated. A plan and a budget for the trail was completed and presented to the community in a public forum that I organised so that the community could decide on Blaney trail's future. Council endorsed the recommendations by the community and the plans were implemented by me and a group of volunteers. Through much hard work, the trail was remediated. The Province was petitioned to allow the Blaney trail to obtain Park status which would ensure its protection in the long-run. A community celebration for the new Blaney Trail Park was held in 2021 to celebrate the new Park Status and to thank the volunteers. Almost four years on, Volunteers continue to water the new plantings and care for the Blaney Trail Park. Metchosin Muse, September 2021, p.10-11, MMuse_Sept2021.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca) see also https://metchosin.civicweb.net/document/3242/; and Metchosin Muse, February 2019, p.1 -MMuse-02-February2019 FIRST EDIT.indd (metchosinmuse.ca)
In early 2019, a group of individuals who were friends and colleagues with Moralea Milne approached me to advocate on their behalf for the restoration of a small, but significant Garry Oak Meadow on the District of Metchosin Lands. It was proposed that the meadow be restored to its former glory to honour the legacy of Moralea Milne, a Councillor with the District of Metchosin who was tragically killed in the final months of her term on Council. I was happy to work with the group of dedicated volunteers because I knew of their relationship to Moralea and their incredible collective work at Devonian Park removing invasive species. I advocated through my Parks Committee and at the Council table for the restoration of Moralea’s meadow, the offer of in-kind work from the District, and its naming, and for the signage that was proposed (KM_C368-20211015091249 (civicweb.net) and approved by Moralea’s family. I would like to acknowledge The Metchosin Foundation for donating the seed money used for restoration. This is a true testament to the effort to build a better community through volunteerism to honour a beloved friend, colleague, neighbour, Councillor, mother, sister, wife, and true friend of the earth. Metchosin Muse, February 2019, p.3 -MMuse-02-February2019 FIRST EDIT.indd (metchosinmuse.ca) and Metchosin Muse, May, 2021, p.1 MMuse_May2021.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca) and 12_2021_MMuse.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca) p.9.
With new provincial regulations coming soon to play, and many farmers and residents asking me questions about regulations, I organised an information session for farmers who were concerned about groundwater licensing. On December 2, a virtual meeting was held to discuss Groundwater licensing issues with Mr. Andrew Petersen, P.Eng, Water Management Specialist. All Metchosin residents who divert or use ground water for non-domestic purposes, needed to obtain a water license and pay water fees and rentals. This change came into effect with the Water Sustainability Act on February 29, 2016. All non-domestic groundwater users (most farmers), were told that they must apply within the six-year transition period to maintain the date of precedence. They were also told that if they submitted their application on or before March 1, 2022, the one-time application fee will be waived. Domestic water users on wells did not need a license but they were encouraged to register their well. Tips were shared about how to complete the application, and why, were discussed. I also helped many farmers fill out the registration forms and connect them to provincial employees to answer their specific questions. Metchosin Muse, December 2021 p. 5 12_2021_MMuse.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca)
Due to conflicts between domestic dogs and sheep at the Sea Bluff Trail, a Dogs-in-Metchosin Working group was formed by the Parks Committee. The mandate of the volunteer working group was to identify issues related to dogs and conflict (with humans, wildlife, or livestock) and to make recommendations to the Parks Committee on steps that the District can take to resolve the issues. A comprehensive review of the Metchosin Animal Control Bylaw no. 421 was done and recommendations for amendaments were made to the Parks committee in the form of a review. As the Parks Chair, I was the Council liaison to this group of motivated and thoughtful community members.
In May 2018, BCEHS implemented a new process for dispatching ambulances, paramedics, and firefighters. This new Clinical Response Model dictated that some of the calls were removed that were previously received by our highly-trained and valued volunteer fire department. A group of nine women from various societies and volunteer groups assembled to “Bring Back Our calls”. I was proud to be one of the nine in this group. I wrote about this issue in the Metchosin Muse in September of 2020 (p.4).
MMuse-SEPT20.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca) Over a two-year period we were able to convince the province and the BCEHS that rural Metchosin is a unique community; currently, most of the calls to the fire department have been returned. We are grateful to the province and BCEHS for listening to our community and understanding that our skilled and competent (and loved) fire department needs to be aware of every medical incident that the BCEHS is responding to in our community, from stubbed toe to heart attacks.>
I was honoured to be chosen as one of two Master of Ceremonies for a celebration of life for my friend Bob Mitchell. It was a glorious cool day and everyone, it seemed, was in the mood for a celebration. Bob-fest was a huge success and it was an honour to pay tribute and celebrate this icon in the community. I wrote about the event in the Metchosin Muse, in March 2022 (p. 9) MCM220225_Web.pdf (metchosinmuse.ca)
In the early days of the pandemic, I became worried for the farmers in our community and I wondered
how they were managing during such frightening times. In the Spring of 2020, I began a series of articles
in the Metchosin Muse designed to raise the profile and highlight some of our long-standing farmers
and young agrarians. I published over 25 articles in the Metchosin Muse- a public education program to
promote shopping and eating locally with the intent to promote farming in our rural community, to help
connect the dots between farming, sheep in the green fields, and our rural lifestyle and hopefully assist
with our long-term food security.