Central Saanich endorses right to a health environment

Victoria, Saanich, Vancouver and Montreal already on board.

  • Feb. 26, 2015 12:00 p.m.

The District of Central Saanich has unanimously approved a proposed resolution for the right to a healthy environment.

“It’s good to see how progressive our councils are,” said Alexis White, a Central Saanich resident who gathered a slew of community support for the resolution.

White attended Monday’s meeting and urged council to officially declare support for the resolution, calling up examples of pollution and environmental degradation in her hometown of Hamilton, Ontario as warnings if steps are not taken now to protect the environment on the Peninsula.

More than 20 letters of support were presented, from a handwritten note from a local seven-year-old that simply stated “Find a better way to build houses that won’t hurt the environment,” to a note from Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell, encouraging the District to follow municipalities like Saanich, Victoria, Vancouver and Montreal in endorsing its own Declaration of the Right to a Healthy Environment.

Eleven-year-old Rafa Snider took the microphone to read out his well-articulated plea to council to ensure that his own children and grandchildren have a healthy and vibrant environment.

“It is not too late,” he read out to council, “it is time for adults, big company managers and politicians to take our future seriously.

“Who cares about wealth and economy if we can’t breathe or feed ourselves in a healthy way … in your hands my future lies. Please allow my kids and grandkids to have the quality of life that I have enjoyed so far.”

“We watched a video, The Blue Dot, and that really inspired the words he wrote,” said his mother, Ximena Londono, who was cheering him on at the meeting. “I’ve always been involved in environmental causes, and he’s been building up his awareness through his little 11-year-old eyes.”

The declaration, based on David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour, included the District’s recognition that a healthy environment is “inextricably linked to the wellbeing of our community.”

Mayor Ryan Windsor called it a “highly laudable goal,” and fully supported the declaration, but offered “significant caution” in reminding council and the attendees that Central Saanich is a smaller municipality, with limited resources for the “full cost accounting” called for in the document.

“I want to recognize the letter writers,” said Coun. Zeb King. “I really want to salute them on that. It’s good to have a vision and something to strive for, and a clean environment is so important.”

“It’s encouraging to see the seats full and people so engaged,” added Coun. Alicia Cormier.

“We were absolutely thrilled,” said White of council’s support. “It was heartening, and especially to see a unanimous vote. We’re hoping that the District of North Saanich and the Town of Sidney will feel inspired to follow suit.”

For more on David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour, visit bluedot.ca.