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North Shore groups stress climate action and old growth preservation on Earth Day 2021

Central Lonsdale cedar tree saved, North Van School District launches community clean-up campaign
This Earth Day, groups across Canada are demonstrating their commitment to environmental protection with a simple message aimed at provincial and federal governments: don’t blow it.

This morning (April 22), the local affiliate of For Our Kids hung a banner outside North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma's constituency office, proclaiming: NDP: Don’t Blow It. Save Old Growth!

The organization is a network of parents and grandparents in Canada fighting for a better world for everyone’s kids and grandkids.

The message was meant to be locally relevant to the tree-dense North Shore community, and called on the B.C. government to end old-growth logging and overhaul forestry practices more generally, said Marian Hakze, the local co-ordinator of For Our Kids North Shore.

“The concerns are the planet is heating and the weather is becoming more extreme and that will have an impact on whatever we do – our food supply, water, drought, forest fires, you name it. And this is only what we’re seeing now,” said Hakze.

To keep in-person participants to a minimum due to the pandemic, only three For Our Kids North Shore members congregated in front of Ma's constituency office on Esplanade this morning.

The group then mobilized to the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale, the site of an old cedar tree at the centre of a saga between a developer and residents determined to save the giant conifer from destruction.

A few days ago, the group hung a large banner that read: Save Our Cedar And B.C. Old Growth Forests.

Hakze said the group, along with countless others who petitioned to save the tree, were delighted to learn yesterday that Darwin Properties had redesigned a building slated for the site, part of the redevelopment of the Harry Jerome Neighbourhood Lands project, to preserve the beloved cedar.

“I’m happy, but I’m sad it takes 23,000 signatures of people to get there. That is still an indication to me that not everyone has understood how urgent this is,” she said.

In a statement, North Vancouver MP and federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has reminded people that our health is collectively linked to the health of our natural environment.

“Earth Day is a chance for us all to reflect on our relationship with nature, its biodiversity and the many ways our environment is facing challenges due to climate change,” stated Wilkinson.

A For Our Kids main goal is the passing of Bill C-12, a piece of legislation that is currently before Parliament.

If passed, the bill would mean the federal environment minister would have to set five-year targets for cutting carbon emissions starting in 2030 and ending in 2050.

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada is increasing its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 to 45 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. The previous commitment was 30 per cent.

Hakze said she was encouraged to form the local chapter of For Our Kids last year after giving birth to her second child.

“I cannot have two children in the world and turn a blind eye on what is happening. I cannot do that,” she said. “Climate action is a 21st century parenting skill.”

Students embark on cleanup challenge

Students across North Vancouver School District are taking part in a cleanup challenge just in time for Earth Day.

Led by Windsor Secondary’s Green Team, environmental clubs across the school district are being invited to pick up and track pieces of litter they clean up using an app from now until May 31.  

All secondary students and their households are invited to take part in achieving the cleanup goal of 6,000 pieces of litter – with top contributors set to receive a prize.

Those interested are invited to download the Litterati app and use the code “SD44CLEAN” to participate, according to the school district.

A kickoff cleanup event for Windsor students is set for today.

Take three for the sea

North Shore-based Ocean Ambassadors Canada also released a call to action this week, suggesting three actions for its supporters to undertake in the next month: 

1 - Pick up three pieces of garbage every time one visits a beach. Recycle what you can. 

2 - Pick up a more sustainable habit – maybe replace getting plastic take-out cutlery with reusable bamboo cutlery or use reusable produce bags. 

3 - Spend time at the beach. "Schedule time for bird watching, sitting quietly, making forts, digging holes in the sand, skipping rocks or exploring the intertidal zone. We're pretty sure you won't stop at  one trip and that you'll be inspired to care for our ocean!"

Cleanup efforts make 'West Van sparkle'

In West Vancouver, Mayor Mary-Ann Booth is encouraging residents to join a community cleanup challenge to coincide with Earth Day this week.

Earth Day was first held in April 1970, with a focus on raising awareness about the urgency of taking action for the environment.