In Canada’s southwestern corner, just off the coast of the mainland, sits the rugged and stunning Vancouver Island. At almost 300 miles long and about 50 miles wide, it is large enough to hold urban areas as well as wild, undeveloped landscape. In addition to its beaches and coastline, the island’s glacier-cut terrain has mountains, lakes, forests, and a vast array of wildlife. Some of the wooded areas receive enough precipitation to be classified as temperate rainforests. While much of the island still remains very wild, it has increasingly been targeted for development as more people choose to reside there. Based on data from BC Stats, eight of the ten fastest growing British Columbian cities (based on percentage growth) are on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo, the island’s second largest city, has recently been experiencing extensive development. In addition to condominium buildings that are currently being built, the recently proposed Sandstone Project calls for the development of 726 acres of land within the next 20 years. While the island’s population growth is understandable due to its mild climate and scenic views, I do feel that preserving the wild land on Vancouver Island is important.
One area of Vancouver Island that is being protected is the S’amunu Wildlife Management Area. Established in 2018, the wildlife area spans about 380 acres in the southeastern part of the island. Its land is comprised of wetlands, a lake, agricultural fields, and woodlands. The S’amunu site is designated as an Important Bird Area of Canada, which means many birds are dependent on this land and therefore makes it a critical conservation area. One reason the S’amunu land is a vital bird sanctuary is because Trumpeter Swans migrate to the area for the winter. The swans inhabit the region from November to March, before flying north to Alaska for the warmer months. The S’amunu wildlife area was formed and is managed by the West Coast Conservation Land Management Program. The program is an alliance of multiple Canadian conservation organizations that oversees over 100 managed wildlife sites on Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s western coast.
True Grain Bread is a company that is passionate about conserving the ecology of British Columbia, while maintaining a focus on sustainability and minimizing the impact they have on the environment. True Grain operates three bakery/coffee shops – the Courtenay and Cowichan Bay locations are on Vancouver Island while the Summerland store is on British Columbia’s mainland. Customers are encouraged to bring their own travel mugs, although True Grain’s disposable cups, lids, and sleeves are compostable. For years, the company has donated 25¢ to the Nature Trust of British Columbia (a key partner organization within the West Coast Conservation Land Management Program) for every takeaway cup of coffee sold. “The intent was always about changing behaviour and mindfulness about a disposable cup,” explains Bruce Stewart, president of True Grain. The donations have been halted due to COVID related complications, but True Grain plans to reimplement the program once customers have the choice of using mugs again when the pandemic passes.
True Grain prides itself on its sustainability and quality. All of the grain they bake is organic and grown in British Columbia. An environmental benefit of using grain grown within the province is the reduction in the transportation of this crop. True Grain has estimated they have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by a net amount of 11 metric tonnes each year due to their limited shipping needs. The company operates its own stone mills, which allows them to control the quality of their products. Their efforts have paid off – True Grain was on the Huffington Post’s list of Top 20 Bakeries in Canada. Dani Brown wrote about her experience at the Summerland location on the Her Okanagan blog and recounted that upon arriving at the café, she knew she had found something very special. She described the café as “cozy” and even declared it to be the “best-kept secret in Summerland (read Dani’s full post about True Grain, including her favorites from the menu). For those who do not visit a physical location, True Grain will mail its bagged organic products (other than bread), including its flour, pasta, cookies, pancake mix, and other ingredients (visit shop page).
True Grain’s sustainable approach and support of conservation shows that the company greatly cares for Vancouver Island and the environment.
Vancouver Island – newworldencyclopedia.org
Sandstone development plan a ‘game changer for south Nanaimo’ – timescolonist.com
Nanaimo a pivot city for Vancouver Island growth – westerninvestor.com
Langford, Tofino and Tahsis are fastest growing island communities: BC Stats – vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca
Sandstone development – south Nanaimo – vibrantvictoria.ca
Trumpeter Swan – borealbirds.org
Trumpeter Swan – geog.uvic.ca
S’amunu Wildlife Management Area – gov.bc.ca
Celebrating Somenos Partnership – naturetrust.bc.ca
Natural Legacy Issue #46 – naturetrust.bc.ca
Family Owned True Grain Bread Celebrates 15 Years and 1,000,000 Loaves – scoutmagazine.ca
Vancouver Island image by Pat Josse from Pixabay
Trumpeter Swans image by Tom Koerner, USFWS on Public Domain Files