The growing demographic of young families is just one of the recent transformations within our community.
The stage is set: Dinner Bay Park has become the open ocean, and the roles of herring, salmon and orca are played out by the young participants of the Family Nature Exploration program. Guided by Conservancy staff, the kids are playing a modified version of tag where they act out a marine food chain, learning about biomagnification of marine toxins in the process. Once the game is through, the group gathers on the beach to gaze out over an eelgrass bed where real herring and salmon make their homes. While summer sun streams through long, emerald blades of eelgrass, the group discusses the importance of this habitat for the health of our ocean and community. It’s a joy to share in the children’s sense of discovery, reminding me what an amazing place Mayne Island is to grow up. Not long ago there were very few young children on Mayne, and the growing demographic of young families is just one of the recent transformations within our community.
As with the rest of the world, the social and ecological landscapes on Mayne Island are in a period of change. In recent years, the idea of a rural life, beautiful views and wildlife sightings are not the only draw for new residents. Rising housing costs in urban centres, and more recently the global pandemic, have driven an increase in full and part-time residents of all ages. These social changes provide opportunities as well as challenges. An increase in young families gives us a stronger, more vibrant school system, and many new residents bring enthusiastic energy for volunteering with our community’s many valued societies. However, having more people also presents challenges. Increased demand for residential housing results in the clearing of forests, increased habitat fragmentation, and increased pressure on our natural resources such as fresh water. These escalating pressures add to existing issues such as deer overpopulation, invasive species, and increasingly severe summer droughts.
The dedicated volunteers and staff from the Conservancy are committed to meeting these new and existing challenges, and to working together with all community members to care for the place we call home. We are actively working to restore the diversity and function of our local ecosystems in partnership with public and private land stewards. Demand for the great variety of programs we offer has substantially increased in recent years, often exceeding our funding capacity. As a small, community-based organization, local donations have a huge impact on our ability to deliver programs.