It may look like they’re pulling weeds, but what the Greater Victoria Green Team actually does across the region, is connect people with volunteer groups looking after our environment.
A small group of international students from Parkland Secondary School in North Saanich joined other volunteers at Lillian Hoffar Park — a small, urban green space close to the community’s border with Sidney. The students — from Germany, China and Japan — met up with Amanda Evans, program manager for the Greater Victoria Green Team, who explained why they were there — to help rid the park of English Ivy.
But more than that, she said in an interview, the Green Team works with municipalities across the region on a variety of projects designed not only to improve the urban environment, but to build up pools of potential volunteers and expose people to green spaces they may not otherwise have been aware of.
“It’s a boost to stewardship,” Evans said. “We try to reach new people, to get them interested in volunteering in this way and attract new demographics.”
At Lillian Hoffar Park, the volunteer students were tasked with pulling out English Ivy, a non-native plant that had taken over large swaths of land in the park. Without any native controls, the ivy was spreading over the ground and into native plants, choking them out. Educating people about these and similar invasive plants, said Evans, is an important part of the process of getting more people interested in keeping local green patches healthy.
This, she added, was the second project of five that the Green Team is working on with the help and support of the District of North Saanich and the Friends of North Saanich — one of those local volunteer groups that she said is always looking for new volunteers.
“We engage with around 1,500 people per year,” Evans said, crediting that with the support of local communities and service groups.
“(The District of North Saanich) has recognized our input. They’ve signed on for five projects this year.”
Community volunteers, with help from students who used the outing as a learning experience, have cleared a lot of ivy out of the small (under two acres) park.
“It’s the people, the volunteers, who are integral to the success of this program,” Evan said.
The Greater Victoria Green Team was established in 2014 by Green Teams Canada and works throughout the Capital Regional District. Evans said they collaborate with more than 50 different groups for almost 60 activities each year, picking weeds, planting native species, cleaning up litter on beaches and helping on educational urban farms.
Evan noted they have another North Saanich project coming up on June 16 at Quarry Park off East Saanich Road from 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. To find out how you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Updated Thurs., April 19 at 10:42 a.m. to correct founding background.)