On August 15 of this year, the Conservancy held its annual general meeting in Miners’ Bay Park. In spite of the sunny weather, the meeting was fairly sparsely attended compared to the previous year, presumably mainly due to the fatigue on the ongoing pandemic. We reported on the previous year’s activities, elected three new directors, and made some bylaw changes.
Minutes from the AGM can be viewed here (please log in as a Society member.)
President’s Report 2020
COVID did make 2020 a difficult year for us in many ways. We had limited attendance at the Farmers’ Market, which is where we get many membership signups and a fair number of donations. The membership numbers in our annual reports tell the story: the 2019 report cites 428 members, the 2020 report 362; we’re currently at 260. As well, donations are currently about half of what we expected at this time of year; when Alison presents the financial report, she can translate this into an actual number.
However, not all is doom and gloom and we found other ways to reach out to members and the public. We got good at Zoom presentations and continue doing that, and our monthly Oystercatcher electronic newsletter to members continues to publish wonderful articles. And I hope you’ve seen our Tread Lightly articles in the Mayneliner. We started these in 2020, mainly in light of the large number of newcomers to Mayne, intending to convey ideas on how to live, build and work in an ecologically sensitive manner on an island.
And our staff kept working at full capacity right through 2020.
Here are some highlights of last year’s project accomplishments
- Expanded our long-term monitoring program for bull kelp in partnership with Conservancies on Galiano, Saturna and the Penders. This expanded regional program looks like it’s got its own legs now and the Valdes Island Conservancy joined this year.
- For the first time we mapped regionally significant eelgrass beds throughout the southern gulf islands from Valdes to Saturna. The data is used by government agencies, academic researchers, environmental non-profits, and First Nations.
- It was a record year for our landowner consultation program. To date we have now provided on-site consultations to land stewards on more than 110 properties covering about 20% of Mayne Island. The program continues to increase in popularity as many new land owners move to Mayne Island.
- Completed the installation of the weir at Hedgerow Farm, resulting in the restoration of flooded spring and summer conditions to more than 8 acres of historic wetland.
- Installed two new fenced restoration sites at St. John Point.
- Planted 441 native trees and shrubs in public parks grown in our native plant nursery.
Another big win for 2020 was the completion of the longstanding land assembly for Mt. Parke Regional Park with our contribution to the purchase of 46 ha, or 114 acres, of the Glen Echo valley. This was particularly sweet because it was this vision that led to the creation of the Friends of Mt Parke in 2000, which then became our Conservancy Society in 2003. Now that vision is finally achieved. We received a plaque of appreciation from the CRD Parks for our contribution, which is sitting on the stand over there.
Challenges going forward
On the short term
- Adjusting youth and public education programs to COVID. Maintaining staff workplace safety protocols during pandemic, which also affected last year’s volunteer restoration events
Looking further ahead
- Meeting the challenges of increased development pressures on Mayne Island through private land stewardship.
- Providing resources to assist private land stewards conserve and restore natural habitats.
- Expanding our native plant nursery to meet growing demand for native plants.
- Keeping momentum on leading regional marine monitoring programs.
- Keeping up with the increasing demand for youth education programming.
- Maintaining a growing number of habitat restoration projects without getting spread too thin.
- Returning to public education delivery in a post-pandemic world. Volunteer turnover and connecting with new community members.
- And finally, the big one: Climate change is with us and is accelerating. We need to start creating programs that demonstrate ecologically based adaptation action, for instance preparing for wildfire, drought, extreme heat and water conservation. We believe this to be an imperative now, not a nice to have.
I’m very pleased to report that three very capable new directors were elected at this AGM, while the terms for some others were renewed. Conservancy bylaws state that directors are elected for two-years terms, and may be re-elected to subsequent terms. There is currently no limit to the number of terms a director may serve.
Following some retirements and resignations in 2020, the board was down to six directors. The Conservancy is a very ambitious and busy organization, supported by a very active and engaged board. This was quite a challenge for a board of six directors! We now number nine very effective directors, one of the strongest boards in the past few years. Following are our new directors. You can find profiles for them and all of our directors here (link).
- Doug Aberley (new director)
- Don Enright (returning director)
- Peter Robinson (new director)
Not so many years ago, we changed our bylaws to allow for family and child memberships. This, we believed would be more cost-effective for families with several children, while also encouraging youth engagement. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an administrative impossibility for us to manage all the individuals in those families without resorting to much more expensive software than our small organization can reasonably afford. (It’s important for us to be able to trace the actual numbers for all of our members, both for our own communication purposes and for reporting to granting agencies.) Consequently, we proposed to the gathered members that we return to the original individual membership for a princely $5 annual fee. The proposal was passed.
That’s it for 2021. Until 2022,
President, Mayne Island Conservancy Society