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New documentary raises environmental concerns over Englishman River

Project looks at risks of developing delicate ecosystem in Parksville
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A new documentary aims to inform people about the sensitive ecosystem at 1465 Greig Rd. in Parksville. (Taryn Pickard photo)

A new, locally shot documentary aims to inform people about the sensitive ecosystem at 1465 Greig Rd. in Parksville.

It highlights the area’s different ecosystems, along with resident plant and animal species.

The film also includes local experts and members of the Greig Greenway Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the land.

Taryn Pickard said she has enjoyed the area for approximately 12 years, using it for dog walking, photography and simply experiencing nature.

She filmed Saving Englishman River Lands: A Jewel in the City over a week last spring.

“When I heard they were trying to rezone,” Pickard said. “My heart sank because it’s an important piece of land for us as individuals, but this is such an important piece of the ecosystem and the river system.”

She and other members of the society are concerned about issues such as flooding, drought and spawning fish such as salmon and trout.

The property at 1465 Greig Rd. was slated for an 800-unit residential development before Parksville city council voted down a third reading of bylaws that would have permitted the development. More than 300 people turned out, mainly opposed to the development, for a public hearing in February 2023.

Pickard was introduced to the society while its members were doing regular public outreach and education. She decided to use her skills as a professional photographer and videographer to help the cause.

“It was my gift to this piece of land that had given so much to me,” she said. “And also to the people that were working hard to stop it from being developed, to create a documentary that was going to be able to be presented to people with as much information as we could get.”

READ MORE: Residents voice opposition to proposed 800-unit Parksville development at public hearing

She finished filming in May and was fortunate to complete the project shortly before the privately-owned property was fenced off from the public.

The society hopes to some day work with an organization such as BC Parks or The Nature Trust of BC to acquire and preserve the land, which connects Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park with Top Bridge Regional Park, according to Linda Harbo, president.

“We’ve been able to try to partner up with our Indigenous Nations, with our government officials and our city councillors to have some really meaningful conversations,” Harbo said.

The society has spoken with both George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Fin Donnelly, Parliamentary Secretary for Watershed Restoration.

“We’ve had some really good conversations at a higher level about our concerns,” Harbo said. “We’re getting higher density in Parksville and people are utilizing parks more than they’ve ever been, so it would be nice to extend that piece of property into parkland because it’s sandwiched between the two parks already.”

The documentary debuted at a well-attended screening in Parksville on Jan. 26, along with two short films by the Hamilton Wetlands and Forest Preservation Society and Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute.

A second viewing is scheduled for Feb. 20 at the Parksville Community Centre (223 Mills St.) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

The film is also available on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BXAvHH_c3U.





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