More than a hundred people gathered on the waterfront in Qualicum Beach Sunday to mark the community’s annual celebration of Earth Day.
Perhaps ironically, the bulk of that crowd was made up of the Parksville-Qualicum Beach residents least likely to need a special day to commemorate the planet on which all of us live.
The Earth Day celebration, held for the past several years at the Qualicum Beach town hall, relocated last weekend to the site of the new, interpretive wildlife viewing platform currently under construction at the site of the former Brant viewing platform.
The new, covered pavilion, complete with a panoramic view of the Georgia Strait and an array of interpretive panels, will also serve as a memorial to Faye Smith Rosenblatt. She was co-founder of the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers and a member of the Mid-Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES), among other environmental causes, and Sunday’s attendees were a who’s who of those who shared Smith Rosenblatt’s passion or who were pulled into her orbit during her decades of advocacy.
The stage drew a parade of dignitaries, from Qualicum First Nation Chief Michael Recalma to MP Gord Johns to MLA Michelle Stilwell to Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek and most of the town council, as well as a pair of Parksville city councillors.
But the bulk of the crowd was made up of those who labour in anonymity, in the woods, the streams, the beaches and the estuaries of the mid-Island, well away from the spotlight.
Along with the aformentioned Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers and MVIHES members, they included VIU students with the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve, the Friends of French Creek, Communities Protecting Our Coast, Broombusters, the Arrowsmith Watersheds Coalition Society, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the Nature Trust of B.C.
For these folks, Earth Day is not a once-a-year event, but a year-round lifesytyle.
“Faye was dedicated to what we’re celebrating, so we’re dedicating this to her,” Westbroek said in his remarks to Sunday’s beachfront audience.
For one day, at least, everyone was Faye Smith. Why not carry her torch every day?
— Parksville Qualicum Beach News