Saanich recognizes environmental champions in 18th annual Saanich Environmental Awards

June 13, 2017

Saanich, BC – Last night, Councillor Leif Wergeland, Chair of the Saanich Environment and Natural Areas Advisory Committee, presented Saanich Environmental Awards to several well-deserving members of the community.

“Saanich appreciates the community's assistance in submitting nominations for the 18th year of the Saanich Environmental Awards,” said Councillor Wergeland. “This is a great opportunity to recognize valuable projects and the outstanding stewards who work hard to protect the environment.”   

Awards were presented in the following categories:

Individual environmental achievement - Winona Pugh

Winona received the award in honour of her leadership and participation in community environmental stewardship and education initiatives. At her home and in the community, she has worked to promote sustainability and the protection of natural areas and aquatic ecosystems, including as an active member of the Friends of Tod Creek Watershed. Winona is tireless as she continues to inspire and share with others: leading tours of natural areas, aquatic plant surveys, invasive species removal and community events as well as promoting environmental stewardship through writing and as an artist.

Volunteer organization - Greater Victoria Green Team

The Greater Victoria Green Team was honoured for its achievements in coordinating an environmental volunteer program helping to restore local ecosystems. Founded August 2014, the Greater Victoria Green Team now has over 1,500 members and has since that time engaged 2500 volunteers with up to 4 to 6 events per month in the CRD, including in Saanich Parks and natural areas. As a coordinating organization, volunteers are provided the opportunity to learn about and experience natural areas and stewardship in the region through planting native species, invasive plant removal and shoreline clean-up. 

Business - Mike Geric Construction Ltd.

Mike Geric Construction Ltd received this award to honour their achievements developing sustainable multifamily homes in Saanich. With a mission to leave a lasting legacy of responsible development, the latest projects of Mike Geric Construction have included features such as preserving and restoring natural spaces, providing community gardens and walking trails, using building materials with longer lifespan, solar assisted hot water, transportation alternatives including electric vehicle charging stations, 100 per cent on-site rainwater treatment and recycling of building materials. The Geric family aim to lead and inspire green building in the region.

Youth - Ocean Han

Ocean Han was honoured for his achievements in Garry Oak ecosystem restoration and leadership in student research projects. Since Grade 7, Ocean has been a very active volunteer with Garry Oak ecosystem and invasive plant projects in Saanich and Victoria. Ocean is a leader for the Mt. Douglas Secondary Environment Club and provided significant leadership for a major Grade 10 Science team project studying effectiveness of invasive plant treatment methods and native plant regrowth. We look forward to many more years of Ocean’s leadership. 

Biodiversity conservation - Beckwith Park Pulling Together Volunteer Team

The Beckwith Park Pulling Together Volunteer Team was honoured for their achievements in restoring sensitive Garry Oak and riparian ecosystems at Beckwith Park. Under the leadership of Eylin Gilbart and Don Mills, this team has made significant strides in restoring ecosystems at Beckwith Park with their work including developing restoration plans, supporting ecological research, engaging neighbours, acquiring grants, installing nest boxes, removing a “stunning” volume of invasive plants and hosting school and University groups. Beckwith Park is now described as an “island of nature much loved by neighbours.” 

Sustainability - Natalie & David Chambers

Natalie and David Chambers were honoured for their achievements in promoting local food security, organic food growing as well as habitat and soil preservation. After inheriting Madrona Farm in the Blenkinsop Valley from David’s family, they worked with the Land Conservancy to preserve the farm. These and other efforts raise awareness of sustainably grown food, including hosting the annual Chef’s Survival Challenge. Through their farm practices and community involvement, they continue to advocate for and provide a sustainable example of organic and local food production hand in hand with ecological stewardship. 

Long-term achievement - Vic Derman

The award for Long Term Achievement was provided posthumously in honour of Vic Derman’s long-term leadership in environmental stewardship and advocacy for climate change action. Vic’s earlier legacies included being a founding Director and Vice President of the Land Conservancy of British Columbia and President of the North Quadra Community Association where he fought for the preservation of Christmas Hill.  From 2002 he served five terms on Saanich Council where his work included efforts to improve Saanich’s pedestrian and cycling network. In 2004, Vic initiated and chaired the international conference “Water in the City.” Vic Derman passed away earlier this year but will be remembered as an environmental champion who fought tirelessly for the natural environment and climate. His legacy is an inspiration for all Saanich residents.

Past winners have been involved in projects such as invasive species removal, environmental education, native plant propagation, waste reduction and conservation on private property. Business awards have been given for sustainable developments and energy efficiency programs, among others.

More information about this year’s recipients is available at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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Media contact:

Leif Wergeland, Chair
Environment and Natural Areas Advisory Committee