Oak Bay council will make 2021-2030 the decade of ecosystem restoration, following a similar declaration made by the UN.
The main change is that shoreline and riparian-adjacent properties doing any development work will have to take steps to revert the land to its natural state, or at least to do no further harm.
Rock walls on the shore are no longer allowed, said Mayor Kevin Murdoch. They don’t have to all be removed, but new ones won’t be permitted. Those structures interfere with the natural way the land filter nutrients, which is critical for the shoreline flora and fauna, he said.
The declaration doesn’t change a lot since Oak Bay is already focused on ecological restoration, but it will highlight the work being done and help embed ecological restoration requirements into its development zoning bylaws.
“The parks department already had a tremendous amount of money and man-hours going into that protection of some of the more vulnerable flora. The work is slow, because you take out invasive species and have to go back for three to four years,” Murdoch said.
“It’s nice to recognize all the huge amount of work that’s done from volunteers and members of the community.”
Those include the Friends of Brighton Walkway and Friends of Uplands Park Society. Volunteers also cleared out a several tonnes of invasive English ivy from Kitty Islet, a popular view point in Oak Bay. The removal started in 2019 and has made a dramatic difference to the park.
The UN declaration is aimed at “preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.” It starts officially on June 5, but Murdoch didn’t see a reason to wait.
“It’s in alignment with what we’ve been trying to do already. It’s already embedded in our official community plan.”