Metchosin Foundation AGM – Sept 7, 2022

by Valerie Jaeger

Water Always Wins was the title of the keynote presentation at the Metchosin Foundation’s AGM on September 7th. Erica Gies, author of the bestselling book by the same name, gave a talk at once sobering yet hopeful, spiritual yet practical and always enthralling. While the vision of the Metchosin Foundation is ‘Healthy lands and waters – the foundation for a healthy community’, the work of the foundation has focused to a great extent on land.

The introduction to what Gies calls the ‘Slow Water movement’ was well received by the 33 members and supporters in attendance. Surviving in a time of drought and deluge will require less push to control water and more understanding of what it is that water really wants, because water always wins. Examples of finding ways to slow down the movement of water and thereby increase the time during which water is available downstream were discussed: improving the hyporheic zones of urban streams forced underground, reintroducing beavers whose activity raises water tables and decreases downstream flooding, learning from indigenous people in Peru who enable water to more effectively enter the underground aquifer.

Erica divides her time between Victoria and San Francisco and was happy to connect with a local group such as the Metchosin Foundation which is passionate about conservation. Promises were made to continue the exchange of ideas and Erica’s website is now linked here. To listen to the audio recording of Erica’s keynote speech given at the Metchosin Foundation AGM click here .

Every registered charity has a lifecycle and the Metchosin Foundation is no exception. This year the Metchosin Foundation said good-bye to Nicole Lalonde as treasurer. It was with sadness that we accepted the fact that she had completed her term! Nicole has supported the Metchosin Foundation since its inception in many capacities – bookkeeper, supporter, director, treasurer, and mentor. After working alongside Nicole for a year, Mairi McKinnon has agreed to take on many of the bookkeeping responsibilities for the Metchosin Foundation and we are most grateful. At the invitation of VP Morgan Yates, each director gave a summary of projects for which he/she had been responsible. As part of this, Heloise Nicholl was invited to bring comments from the perspective of a new director. In February, we had welcomed Heloise to the board. She has been a wonderful addition and her appointment was formally ratified at this AGM. Heloise gave her perspective on not just being part of the Metchosin Foundation, but on why she is part of such a small demographic – people her age who volunteer. Challenges facing her generation make it almost impossible for its members to volunteer at all, anywhere. What we heard was profound and moving. Her words echoed in the very souls of those who were listening and were a resounding call to us in Metchosin as a community.

The Foundation has had a wonderful year. Our welcome task of working for healthy lands and waters, has perhaps never been harder because of external forces and yet, somehow, has never been more fruitful. 2021 saw the historic signing of the Standstill Agreement by Sc’ianew First Nation and other parties to explore the possible creation of an Indigenous Protected Area at Mary Hill. The Metchosin Foundation had provided consistent support for background work leading to this point and was honored to speak at the signing ceremony. 2021 was also a successful year financially which allowed for increased money for our scholarship recipients, continuance of existing programs such as Flying Insect Biomass study and Moralea Milne Meadow Restoration project, and participation in new projects such as Garry Oak Mycorrhizal Study and Butterfly Flyway projects involving school children and native plants.

The work of the Metchosin Foundation is a test of design thinking – balancing seeming opposites within an environment whose external changing parameters are beyond our control. All of our projects, small and large, have within them the tension of time; our actions now are the basis for contributing to a better ‘later’. Thanks to the foundation’s amazing group of directors, members, and supporters, even while working within our statutory requirement as a registered charity to be apolitical, we have found results in a social landscape where ethics and science themselves are sometimes viewed as political.

Just because something is priceless, does not mean that it is ethically devalued by putting a price on it! And so, we raise money; that is what foundations do. To every donor this year – Thank you! If anyone would like to learn more or contribute to our work, please go to

Mushroom Art Cards Release – May 15

The Metchosin Foundation and the Metchosin ArtPod have collaborated again to produce the latest in our series of nature-inspired art cards, this one featuring common local mushrooms! The 2022 Mushroom Art Card set features the artwork of local artists and field guide descriptions by our local authors of the new book Mushrooms of British Columbia — Kem Luther and Andy MacKinnon!

The Mushroom Art Card set will be released at a deck “unveiling” and artist appreciation event to be held at Bilston Creek Farm on Sunday, May 15th, 12:00 – 2:30pm.

Please visit the Metchosin Biodiversity page for more information about the cards, how to order yours, and details on attending the event at Bilston Creek Farm, where the cards will also be available for sale. Card sales proceeds will go to support the Metchosin Foundation and the Metchosin ArtPod. Big thanks to Bilston Creek Farm for generously hosting another arty nature card event, and for firing up their outdoor woodfired pizza oven for the season on the very same day! Online pizza pre-orders can be made here.

Metchosin Foundation Fundraiser at Bilston Creek Farm

The first guests arrive - previewing auction items

The Foundation Board thanks Andrew & Melanie Penn, Calum Oliver and the rest of the outstanding Bilston Creek Farm team, for their generosity in hosting an amazing evening fund-raiser on December 16.  


The unequalled ambiance of Bilston Creek Farm was the perfect setting for a covid-safe year-end event.  With outdoor lighting complemented by a cool, clear sky and nearly full moon, oysters and champagne and lots of other tempting treats were served up by Bramble, inside the Bilston Barn.  Outside seating set up around fire pits and propane heaters welcomed small groups of guests, while inside the barn, diners had a great view of the big screen (courtesy of Legacy Drive-in) and an opportunity to get their bids in on dozens of great silent auction offerings.

A sample from the silent auction table
The bidding heats up

Our sincere thanks to each of the many donors of the silent auction offerings, and to the Bilston team for procuring such a compelling selection of goods & services, to tempt generous bids.  Thanks also to Brian Domney, for his very fine job as auctioneer.  Our sincere gratitude, as well, to all of the folks who attended, making the evening such a success.  


Thank you to everyone involved in this fund-raiser to support healthy lands and waters – the foundation for a healthy Metchosin community!  We look forward to directing the proceeds toward local environmental stewardship and educational initiatives. 


The Metchosin Foundation Board

Keeping warm outside
Many thanks to Bilston Creek Farm!

Conserve the Dark

We are very fortunate in Metchosin to have relatively dark night skies. People from around the CRD come here to take advantage of this increasingly rare situation (especially so close to an urban area). The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s star parties, hosted on the Metchosin Municipal grounds, have been very popular over the years as a way members of the public can have a chance to peek through a telescope at distant celestial objects.

One notable recent celestial event that many Metchosinites witnessed was The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in December 2020, which was followed by the addition of Mercury to make it a triple conjunction on January 7. In March we will see the moon make conjunctions with Jupiter (March 9th), then Saturn (March 10), and finally Mars (March 19). On April 21-22 we will have the Lyrid meteor shower, an annual event that has been witnessed by humans for at least 2,700 years, produced when the Earth passes through the tail of the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.

Clear, dark skies are essential to good star gazing – a source of wonder and enjoyment for many. Darkness in general is essential to human health, as well as that for wildlife and ecosystems.

For humans, researchers have shown that darkness helps our creativity and mood. Too much artificial light at night, specifically during our “circadian trough” between midnight to 6am, over the long term is harmful to us, and is even considered a probable carcinogen. It can lead to higher incidences of diabetes, cardiovascular problems, depression, substance abuse, obesity, breast cancer and prostate cancer (melatonin production in the body is believed to help ward off these cancers, which is disrupted by artificial light at night).

As for nature, the impacts of light pollution were recently surveyed in a meta-analysis (a study that compiles the state-of-the-art in scientific knowledge on a subject) by the University of Exeter, which showed that activity patterns, breeding cycles, vulnerability to predators, and hormone levels are being affected across a broad range of species. The effects were found everywhere – among microbes, invertebrates, animals and plants. This manifests as reduced pollination by insects, insect deaths on lamps, and trees budding earlier in spring, to name just a few known ways that artificial light disrupts nature.

The ever-growing urban footprint of the CRD is rapidly reducing where dark night skies can be enjoyed in the region. This is not only a shame for people who are deprived of this fascinating experience, but it is a threat to our local flora and fauna. Light pollution is a growing problem, but fortunately one that we have easy solutions for. Limiting urban sprawl is one, for which Metchosin has done a great job thus far. Another is to limit the amount of light that is able to shine in directions it’s not needed. This means shades over lanterns intended for lighting roads, parking lots, and sidewalks, reducing light and energy wasted shining skyward. Some municipalities have bylaws requiring this. Limiting outdoor lighting in residential settings is also important, particularly for the localised effect it has on rural and urban wildlife. Turning off non-essential lights (or using motion sensors if security is your concern) goes a long way to doing your part to reduce the harmful effects of light pollution to both your neighbours and nature.

Like our parks, trails, forests and beaches, Metchosin’s dark night skies are a special part of our community’s natural capital. They allow us to step beyond our nighttime doorways and appreciate celestial phenomena that are timeless – and increasingly difficult to experience elsewhere.

To learn more about this subject, the TEDx talk Why We Need Darkness by Paul Bogard is very informative, and this brochure published by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has practical tips on reducing light pollution.

April 5 – 12 is International Dark Sky Week. Take some moments to enjoy our precious dark skies in these fine clear spring nights.