Along with food and water, shelter is a necessity for all living things, so today I am launching my Homes for Birds initiative. It is in direct response to the provincial housing targets that were announced this past week. Saanich is starting with 440 units and increasing each year to reach a total of 4610 – at the end of five years, an average of just over 900 units per year will have been constructed. Homes for Living and its new Homes for People action plan will do this by using increased density through upzoning and blanket zoning, all at a time when Saanich is completely without any adequate environmental protection policies or plans in place, and without public participation.
Livable communities is a phrase that needs to include everything that inhabits the region. Protecting and restoring our incredible indigenous flora and fauna is the ultimate act of reconciliation on this national day for truth and reconciliation! We need to make it a priority
There are many people living in the District of Saanich who greatly value the unique ecosystem we are fortunate to live in, and rightfully so! Saanich is a biodiversity hotspot, located in the imperiled Coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone. We live in the most temperate climate in the country and are the stewards of rare ecosystems like Garry oak meadows. But since 2018, when the legal protections for sensitive ecosystems were rescinded in Saanich due to a small but vocal minority, no remaining habitats that nature relies on have been safe. Even bylaw-protected trees that live within the footprint of development can be cut.
If we want the region to be livable, we need to protect and restore habitat for nature. I hope to do this through my Homes for Birds initiative. Southern Vancouver Island is a haven for birds, both those that nest here and those using us as a stopover on their arduous migratory journeys, as well as those that migrate to here to spend the winter in our mild climate. The significance of habitat in this region cannot be overstated; it serves as a lifeline for more than 400 bird species, from songbirds to shorebirds.
We live in a crucial flyway for migratory birds, offering them essential rest stops during their long voyages. Bird enthusiast Geoffrey Newell has told me that Victoria is one of the premier birding sites in all of Canada, with thousands of migratory birds coming through the region in both spring and fall migrations. These migrating birds have to settle to rest and refuel before or after they make the trek across the Juan de Fuca Strait.
Saanich is not merely a transient haven though; it is a vital stronghold for native ecosystems and endangered species. The diversity of native plants in our region plays a pivotal role in sustaining bird populations by supporting a food web that includes an abundance of invertebrates, particularly caterpillars. For birds – even hummingbirds! – insects are a vital source of nourishment, especially when they are raising their young. The interconnectedness of habitat and native vegetation becomes clear as you watch a nesting pair of chickadees feeding their young as many as 9000 caterpillars!
Protecting and preserving these habitats is not just an environmental responsibility; it is a moral imperative. It ensures the survival of these fragile ecosystems, safeguards endangered species, and offers a beacon of hope for the countless resident and migratory birds that depend on this haven as they journey to, through, or if they live in this remarkable landscape year round.
So let’s live, AND let live by protecting the incredible biodiversity of the region to ensure it is livable for ALL its residents. In preserving Saanich’s habitats and native vegetation, we are not only conserving nature’s beauty but also nurturing the next generation of birds for the enjoyment of current and future residents.
Please help by supporting my Homes for Birds initiative…