More than a hundred guests, dignitaries and speakers recognized Earth Day with a tribute to both the Georgia Strait ecosystem and one of its greatest champions Sunday on the Qualicum Beach Waterfront.
With the backdrop of a construction project that will become a pavilion and interpretive/gathering centre, speakers took turns praising the work of the late Faye Smith Rosenblatt, for whom the pavilion will be dedicated.
The roofed pavilion, with 10 planned interpretive signs and a separate gathering circle with a 180-degree panorama display, is being contstructed on the space formerly occupied by an aging Brant viewing platform.
“In Faye’s memory, we thought it was appropriate to do something that reflected her values, and at the same time this Brant outlook platform was basically at the end of its life,” said David James, part of the all-volunteer project team headed by fellow streamkeeper Pat Jacobson. “So we combined the two; let’s do something in memory of Faye, and lets do something that will rejuvenate and bring to the waterfront a new and exciting interpretive enterprise.”
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The event was attended by Qualicum First Nation Chief Michael Recalma, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell, Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek and councillors Barry Avis, Neil Horner, Bill Luchtemeijer and Anne Skipsey, and Parksville city councillors Mary Beil and Teresa Patterson. Joe Rosenblatt, Faye’s husband, joined the dignitaries at the side of the stage.
Numerous booths were set up and staffed by members of the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers, Arrowsmith Naturalists, Friends of French Creek, the Mid-Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve, the Nature Trust of BC, Communities Protecting our Coast, the Arrowsmith Watersheds Coalition Society, the Brant Wildlife Festival, local broombusters, Friends of Hamilton Marsh and the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.
“Change starts here, on the ground, in the grassroots of the community,” Johns told the assembled participants. “I tabled a motion in house of commons to combat ocean plastics and marine debris, and that started here. It started with conversations with Mayor Westbroek, with legislation put forward by their council, from groups from Denman Island to Tofino, they made me and helped me understand how serious the threat is to our oceans.”
Jacobson took to the microphone to recognize the other members of the project committee, along with the more than 120 individuals, organizations and governments who have contributed to the $90,000 raised so far. The group is seeking an additional $20,000 for cost increases, she said.
“We’ve assembled a terrific group of people, both donors and volunteers, who share a common goal of providing a lasting memorial to a best friend of the earth,” said Jacobson.