Hands-on learning welcomes Nature As Teacher

Hands-on learning welcomes Nature As Teacher

Cortes Island School just started its new twice weekly program called Nature As Teacher, providing unique experiential learning to the students, and is enthusiastically seeking guest presenters. Dayna Davis, teacher and program facilitator, told CKTZ News the new program is possible thanks to special funding from the Campbell River School District. The funding is partially in response to parental requests to better address multiple-age classroom needs, which are typical of a rural school. The program draws on inspiration from artists such as Andy Goldsworthy. Photo courtesy of Dayna Davis.Davis and the groups of children she is guiding have selected areas of adjacent forest where each student will observe their own tree within the larger ecosystem for the duration of the school year, among other outdoor projects. “Everything that I do takes us outdoors and is hands-on and experiential,” said Davis, who was a classroom teacher at the school for 10 years prior to this role. She is also weaving in Indigenous stories and teachings alongside the BC school curriculum. Already set to partner with the Cortes Island Museum, Davis is open to any community members wishing to share their naturalist kills and knowledge, collections of feathers or nests, outdoor games or art ideas, and will help set up the lesson plans. She can be reached at dayna.davis@sd72.bc.ca. The older students will be doing projects related to their biology and earth sciences curriculum. Photo courtesy of Dayna Davis.   Photos courtesy of Dayna...
Fish will return to the Dillon Creek wetland restoration

Fish will return to the Dillon Creek wetland restoration

It has been more than 130 years since the land was drained, but fish may soon return to what is now called the Dillon Creek wetland restoration on Cortes Island. Image credit: Cutthroat Trout – Timothy Knepp, NCTC Image Library, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Public Domain) They won’t be salmon, which cannot make it past the falls at Mansons Lagoon, but other species of fish. “There are coastal cutthroat trout, which are a blue listed species at risk, and we also found sculpins,” explained Project Manager Miranda Cross. They won’t be spawning, because the size of gravel needed for spawning is found in the stream channel, not the wetlands. Cross explained that the fish will probably use the wetlands as a nursery where they will have plenty to eat. She does not expect a lot of fish. The wetlands are not connected to Dillon Creek, but they will have access during flood conditions. “It will be a nursery ground for fish and then when we see high waters and intense rain events, they’ll be able to leave and reconnect back to the creek and the lake,” Cross explained. She has already seen cutthroat trout in Dillon Creek below the Cortes Bay culvert. “We expect to see them, however, fish eat frogs eggs and little frogs, so it would be great to not have too many fish — so we can have successful amphibian breeding.” Top photo credit: The rain arrives on Cortes Island, flooding the areas where fish are expected to enter when the waters of Dillon Creek rise higher. Photo by Roy L Hales. This program was funded by a...
Groundwater registration deadline looming for British Columbians

Groundwater registration deadline looming for British Columbians

The government of BC issued a reminder on Saturday that users of groundwater from wells or dugouts for commercial purposes must register by March 1, 2022 to maintain access rights. Photo credit: Glass Of Water by Sue Thompson via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License) A primer called Licensing Groundwater in B.C. answers exactly how and why to proceed through the registration. It outlines three types of possible registration of groundwater use: Domestic – registration is optional but encouraged, and free of charge New commercial – use began on or after March 1, 2016 and a license is obligatory Existing commercial – use began on or before February 29, 2016 and a license is obligatory Domestic use includes water for private dwellings, lawns and gardens, pets and animals kept for household use. Photo via the Government of BC. The Water Sustainability Act (WSA), which came into effect on February 29, 2016, seeks to establish equity in use and fees levied on commercial use of both surface water and groundwater. The first six years were designated as a transition period culminating next spring, and according to Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, a mere 1 in 5 small business owners and farmers who rely on groundwater have applied for a licence.” CKTZ News spoke with Red Williams Well Drilling Ltd. for an industry perspective on the origin of the WSA legislation and how it benefits groundwater users. Top photo credit: If BC residents using groundwater from wells or dugouts for commercial purposes register by next spring’s deadline, they will benefit from a waived application fee. Otherwise a one-time payment, stated as a minimum of $250, will apply.Photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash This program was funded...
What the Dillon Creek Wetlands restoration means to Linnaea farm

What the Dillon Creek Wetlands restoration means to Linnaea farm

As the Dillon Creek wetlands project enters a new phase, Linnaea Farm’s executive director Tamara McPhail describes what this project means to her. “I got to see the farm through a wetland restoration guru’s eyes and that was really eye opening for me,” she said. The need to purify the water emptying into Gunflint and Hague Lakes became apparent during the algae bloom of 2014. The logical place to start was Cortes Island’s oldest farm (preempted in 1887). A pasture at Dillon Creek before the wetland restoration began. Photo by Roy L Hales In the spring of 2018, wetland restoration specialist Tom Biebighauser took McPhail and Adam Schick, resident stewards of Linnaea Farm, on a walk through the future restoration site. Biebighauser led them to where the land clearing stopped during the 1970s and the erosion started. He described what the wetland probably looked like prior to being transformed into an agricultural field. Dillon creek was actually a ditch created to drain the land. “I started to hear running water as erosion,” said McPhail. This project is being undertaken as a partnership project between Friends of Cortes Island Society (FOCI) and the Linnaea Farm Society (LFS). McPhail spoke about the conversations that she had with Shick, and Linnaea Farm VP Kirsten Vidulich, had about this project. She describes the process of deep learning as they began to think of the farm in relationship of the larger ecosystem. She said the people who created what is now known as Linnaea Farm were carrying out the best agricultural practises known at that time. “We don’t know when we do some things, how the land will respond,” admitted...
Playschool program on hold due to lack of staff

Playschool program on hold due to lack of staff

The Cortes Island playschool is still seeking to fill two vacancies and has a lot of support and flexibility for the right candidates. Image credit: Kids playing with their dog during sunset – Photo by Rene Bernal via Unsplash CKTZ News spoke with Mary Lavelle, Manager of Care, and Manager of Manson’s Hall, which is where the playschool is located, falling under the umbrella of the Southern Cortes Community Association (SCCA). She explains that the playschool has been running for over 30 years, and having no program this fall is a highly unusual situation, exacerbated by changed COVID-19 protocols, as well as needing skilled employees for a job able to only offer part-time hours on an island with a housing crisis. Image credits: (top) The playground next to the playschool stands empty during traditional program hours. Photo by Anastasia Avvakumova. (podcast) Kids playing with their dog during sunset - Photo by Rene Bernal via Unsplash This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local...
New UBC tool aims to bridge gap between housing needs and availability

New UBC tool aims to bridge gap between housing needs and availability

UBC has developed a new Housing Assessment Resource Tool (HART) to identify sites that can be used to bridge the gap between housing needs and potential building sites in specific communities. According to data from the 2016 census, the UBC research estimates that 1.7 million Canadian households need core housing. The Housing Research Collaborative’s first glimpse of Cortes Island: properties that might be of interest but further research is needed. Image courtesy of Housing Research Collaborative. The vast majority are low and very low-income households that cannot pay more than $375-$750 a month for rent. Dr. Penny Gurstein, director of UBC’s Housing Research Collaborative, identified 157/520 households on Cortes Island paying more for accommodation than they could comfortably afford (based on the 2016 data). She also identified parcels of federal, provincial and municipal properties on Cortes Island that might be available as housing sites. “We did this in two minutes,” she explained. “We’re using GIS mapping to actually find out what land is available.” The housing collaborative published a more detailed study on Kelowna last month. They identified 230 well-located government or non-profit land parcels that could be used for up to 34,620 affordable housing units. This was just the first stage of the program’s development. During the next phase, Gurstein hopes to develop a land acquisition strategy. “In a place like Cortes, I suspect this would be very useful,” she said. The Housing Research Collaborative also plans to develop a training program for communities and individuals that want to use HART.“We are hoping that this will be a way for policy makers and councils and others to start making more effective and...