Adam Olsen is slated to speak during the Sidney Summit, Nov. 10 at the Mary Winspear Centre. (Peninsula News Review/File photo)

Sidney Summit to forge path to sustainability ‘one backyard at a time’

Day-long event brings together advocates, community and leaders to discuss improving local spaces

In the spirit of togetherness, education and environmental action, a group of local advocates hold a one-day Sidney Summit to “build a better planet one backyard at a time.”

The day-long event, Nov. 10 at the Mary Winspear Centre, is open to the public and will feature speakers Robert Bateman, Bob McDonald of the CBC, Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May and local Green MLA Adam Olsen.

More than 20 “habitat-caring” organizations will meet with participants to discuss how to best support and sustain the Saanich Peninsula.

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Bill Collins, co-chair of the Summit, said the idea was born from a handful of conversations between locals who felt more support on projects like the Residents of Reay Creek – which he manages – could result in a bigger impact, environmentally.

“We could do a more timely job in getting it done if there was a bigger voice in the community,” he says of the Reay Creek clean-up. “The voices exist, they’re just not collective enough.”

Collins sees the Summit as a way to bring local advocacy groups like his, Peninsula Streams Society and Friends of John Dean Park together and “maybe influence policy makers at all levels of government.”

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There is a challenge to the enormity of a concept like climate change, where the average person wonders what their contribution can do, Collins explains.

But, it can be as simple as planting species in your own backyard that are better for the native habitat, reducing waste by simply buying less, or buying local, cutting down on greenhouse gases that vehicles can emit.

“Monarch butterflies are an endangered species,” he points out. “Why not plant some flowers that the monarch likes?”

The goal of the Summit is to help inspire the general public into taking action by connecting them with local organizations and municipal leaders to brainstorm collaborative efforts, Collins says.

Throughout the day, speakers will touch on a variety of subjects including the ways in which local First Nations first lived in the area, how communities can better exist along natural spaces in shared habitats and insight from McDonald’s findings as a science journalist.

RELATED: Climate change likely to cause more sewage leaks, says environment minister

The evening ends with a long table dinner featuring local chefs preparing food sourced from local producers, followed by a performance from local pop-jazz quartet, Mildly Wild.

Everybody wants to have a clean healthy environment, says Collins, who believes the community is “really hungry for the conversation.”

“We hope everybody leaves with a small internal resolve to do at least one thing to do their part.”

For more information, visit SidneySummit.ca


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