Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers showcase project on Earth Day

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Viewing platform, gathering circle dedicated to environmental champion

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.

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.”

Johns said a petition on the motion recently topped 70,000 signatures in less than a week, and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was grilled about the issue Thursday.

“He was asked if he was going to support my motion, and he said he’s looking at it,” said Johns. “That’s not my motion; that’s our motion.”

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.

Westbroek also cited the more than two decades Faye Smith Rosenblatt spent fighting on behalf of salmon-bearing streams and the environment, and said that work will serve as her legacy every bit as much as the new pavilion.

“Faye Smith taught us not to take living around the strait of Georgia for granted,” Westbroek said. “She also showed us what one person can do to make a difference in issues threatening this habitat. Faye was dedicated to what we’re celebrating, so we’re dedicating this to her.”

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