Colwood community gardens grow

Plus, thermal energy research, creek health, spring fling derby, and more

Good morning! 

With summer on the way, it’s the perfect time to get in the garden and get your green thumb on. Colwood has a variety of community gardens led by the Colwood Garden Society, and the group is hoping residents will take the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of gardening. Read all about it and more in today’s edition of the Westshore.


Know someone who should get local news in our Westshore community? Forward this to them so they can subscribe for free.


Colwood Garden Society leads greener community

As the City of Colwood grows, a group of residents are shining a spotlight on community gardens and their importance in an expanding area. The Colwood Garden Society is a group of local volunteer gardeners who have been making a mark on the community with their ideas and executions of community gardens. 

Formed in 2017 after locals spent years conceptualizing a community garden, the group executed its plan in 2018, creating 16 garden plots. Over the years, volunteers have dug 64 garden plots; 62 of the 64 plots are being rented out, while two are tended to by the Colwood Garden Society itself. Two plots are maintained by volunteers and the harvest is sent to Living Edge in Langford, a market style food bank for those in need. 

“It's been amazing, our community garden has continuously had a waiting list of over 20 people,” said Barbara Sibbald, the vice president of the Colwood Garden Society. “[The gardens] have been very well received, we've had Wishart Elementary keep a couple of boxes for a few years, and Dunsmuir Elementary Middle School also came in to do a bunch of boxes for us when we did our expansion a couple years ago.” 

By providing a communal space for gardening, locals have been able to reap the benefits. Community gardens allow for the growth of not only indigenous plants but also produce to help feed locals. New gardeners also have the chance to learn more about the benefits of gardening, with educational opportunities about soil health, rainwater collecting, compost, and more. On top of this, gardening is a great social activity and allows residents to connect with each other. 

This is why Mark Salter, a master organic gardener and member of the Colwood Garden Society, is hoping to add another communal garden into Royal Bay. Salter has done a number of gardening projects in the area; with experience creating an urban farm for his master’s degree, cities like Esquimalt and Saanich tasked Salter to help them create spaces for education, opportunity, and of course, gardening. Now, Salter has taken the lead on planning the city-endorsed communal garden in Royal Bay. 

“This is my proposal to the City of Colwood, let’s determine an allotment space and exercise the opportunity to enhance their food security by growing plants,” says Salter. “That's a good way to teach people to get excited, but it's also a catalyst for me as an educator of permaculture to make people aware of what's also possible.” 

While the plan is still in its infancy, Salter and the society are hoping for more people to join in and give their input on ideas. Hosting a booth at the Ideas Fair at Royal Bay Secondary School this April 27, Salter and Sibbald are hoping to see locals come out. 

“In order to make a community garden work, people need to be willing to volunteer because there's a lot of things outside of planting your own plants that need to be taken care of,” says Sibbald. “Put a little more of yourself out there… and it grows into a big community.” 

Are you a fan of gardening?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.


A boost for deep thermal energy research at Royal Roads University aids Canada on path to net zero

Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon (left) and Dr. Rebecca Pearce (right) in front of the Cascade Institute building. Photo: Royal Roads University

Lawmakers, environmentalists, researchers and funders are working together to do more to decarbonize energy so that Canada can achieve its net zero emissions goals for 2050. Ultra-deep geothermal is one energy source that can help it get there but has been largely overlooked, until recently, by conventional funding efforts. 

Deep geothermal energy involves using a turbine to extract heat from great depths for the generation of electric power generation.

Researchers at the Cascade Institute are working to make the technology more mainstream with the help of $3 million in funding from Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, Founders Pledge’s Climate Change Fund and Rethink Charity Foundation’s RC Forward Climate Change Fund.

The Cascade Institute research centre is housed at Royal Roads University where researchers engage in high-leverage (collaborative, evidence-based) interventions that promise to make big impacts within short amounts of time.

Historically, access to geothermal power has been limited by logistical, regulatory, and financial challenges in locations that have high subsurface heat gradients. Heat gradients refer to the rate of change in temperature with respect to increasing depth towards the Earth’s core. The Cascade Institute’s program will focus on deep geothermal systems in hot, dry rock between five and 10 kilometres below Earth’s surface.

Because deep geothermal plants generate non-intermittent baseload (or minimum) power, unlike other energy alternatives such as solar and wind, they are more resilient, cause less ecological damage and do not generate emissions once they are operational.

The funding gives a serious boost to domestic research and development efforts in geothermal power. “The world needs creative solutions to address the great challenges of our time and these donations will enable Cascade to advance a critically important climate innovation for Canada while supporting our vision of inspiring people with the courage to transform the world,” says Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp.

The focus on ultradeep geothermal energy has the potential to provide an unlimited, renewable supply of net-zero power, nearly anywhere on earth whereas previous efforts have been largely limited to locations with existing water reservoirs accessible within only four kilometres below surface.

“There’s enough energy beneath us to power the entire world thousands of times over indefinitely into the future—enabling any kind of society humanity may want to build,” says Cascade Institute executive director Thomas Homer-Dixon. Cascade Institute “will contribute to the global program to release Earth’s deep energy.”

However, Cascade can’t do this without funding. Without significant investment, institute geophysicist Rebecca Pearce said in a recent op-ed with colleague Ian Graham, that Canada risks falling “to the back of the alternative-energy pack.”

The United States is currently the leading producer of electricity from deep geothermal energy. However, the unique geological characteristics of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, in particular around Meager Creek in BC and Fort Laird in the Northwest Territories hold enormous potential for deep thermal power generation.

Pearce and Graham also point to built-in advantages of partnering with existing fossil-fuel and mining industries in BC  that “have a wealth of expertise in drilling and subsurface resource extraction” and a “ready-made labour force that can be employed in this new industry almost immediately, with little or no retraining required.”

Funders are keen to see the institute “strengthening the energy innovation ecosystem and hedging against worst-case scenarios. We're keen to see where this research leads," says Johannes Ackva, climate lead at Founders Pledge.

Around the 'Shore

🌎 Earth Day cleanup in Colwood: The Greater Victoria Green Team worked hard this past weekend, doing two days of invasive species removal work with over two dozen volunteers; the team revitalized an area of about 280 square metres at Murray’s Pond Park on April 20, removing 11.5 cubic metres of Himalayan blackberry and Scotch broom. The Green Team was presented with an environmental stewardship award by the Citizen’s Environment Network in Colwood for their efforts. [Vancouver Island Free Daily

💧 Royal Roads students monitor creeks: Royal Roads University environmental science students have been taking a closer look at Hatley and Colwood creeks as part of an eight-month environmental consulting project. The project builds upon previous research in 2019, monitoring the water to learn more about historical data and better understand the differences made by climate change. [CHEK

🏢 One year since Langford highrise evacuated: It has been a year since residents of RidgeView Place were told to move out with little notice, and they are still waiting for answers. Around 130 residents were forced out of their homes on April 24, 2023 when the city revoked the building’s occupancy permit; neither the city nor owner Centurion Property Associates Inc. have provided answers. [Times Colonist]

🏡 Discover the elements of living at BELLA PARK. West Coast contemporary 1 and 2 bedroom residences, designed around a unique central wellness concept. Register today.

*Sponsored Listing

Advertise your business, event, or restaurant in front of 13,000+ engaged locals! Contact our team today.

Community Events

🖌️ Multimedia art workshop: This April 27, head to the Langford Station for a multimedia art workshop from OutRAEgeous Designs. Going from 4:30 to 8pm, learn the basics of how to make a simple multimedia art piece using resin pieces, stencils, pastes, acrylic paints and wax. All materials are included with your ticket, which is $65 per person.

🐟 Langford Lake spring fling derby: Join in on a fun event with a good cause on April 28 with the Langford Lake spring fling derby. In partnership with the Canadian Cancer society, participants will fish, do weigh-ins, and have the chance to win prizes. Going from 7:30am to 2:30pm, prizes will be announced at 4:30pm at Langford Lake Beach Park. Check out the spring fling derby Facebook to get full details on requirements, tickets, and rules.  

🎶 Choral Evolution concert: Choral Evolution's concert Unplugged is coming to the Holy Trinity Church this May 3 at 7pm and May 4 at 2pm. Playing classics with a twist, tickets are available at the door or online; Choral Evolution will also be playing at the James Bay United Church on May 5 at 2pm for those in the area. 

What’s Offshore?

No ships today!

Westshore Snaps

Gorge waterway. —Paul Young, Langford

📸 Snapped a photo you’d like to share? Send it with a caption and don’t forget to add where you live.

That’s it!

If you found something useful, consider forwarding this newsletter to another Westshore local.

And before you go, let us know:

What did you think of today's newsletter?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Did a friend share this with you? Sign up for free. 

Want to advertise to 13,000+ other locals? Contact our team. 

Have a crazy or cool story to share? Drop us an email.