Earth Day has always been a chance for the environmental movement to reflect on and to celebrate its successes, plus build momentum for the issues of the here and now. Here in the capital, we have a lot to celebrate: the recent victory over developer Ender Ilkay who sought to turn parts of the Juan de Fuca trail into a sprawling backyard for luxury vacation homes; the steady collapse of the Bear Mountain development in the face of massive local opposition, and numerous purchases of wilderness and agricultural land throughout the region by local governments and non-profits.
Bolstered by a resurgence in environmental activism both here on the southern island and beyond, local activist Zoe Blunt says now is the time to press on and fight to protect our coast from threats like salmon farming, oil tankers, and the looming Enbridge pipeline proposal.
“There’s a real sense of urgency right now. People are feeling like it’s absolutely crucial to get involved,” says Blunt.
She adds this year’s Earth Day celebration could be the catalyst for all the local non-activists who value our region’s wild spaces to take action. “We still have beautiful unspolied places, we still have a connection to the land, and this is why people are not willing to just lay down, people aren’t willing to be bullied.”
She says the current wild west approach to development in outlying areas, along with the Conservative government’s habit of equating environmentalists with terrorists has galvanized people who otherwise wouldn’t get involved.
“I think people have had enough of being bullied. It’s great to have a relationship where you can negotiate, where there’s give and take, where there’s compromise — that doesn’t happen anymore.”
The protest movement is dead. It died in 1972 when Richard Nixon took his second oath of office, and has been flogged like a dead horse with increasing fervor in each passing decade. But Earth Day is not a protest. It is a celebration — an opportunity to rejoice in the power of community and search for new ways to move forward.
Earth Day celebrations including street theatre, speakers, and giant salmon puppets will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday April 21 at the legislature, ending up at 12:30 p.m. in Centennial Square. Visit earthwalkvictoria.ca for more information. M