Thursday, August 18, 2016

Saanich News: Action needed to preserve Saanich lakes

OPINION/MLA Report: by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, August 17 2016


Did you know that Elk and Beaver lakes are dying?

The danger is already evident: blooms of noxious cyanobacteria are now common. The resulting algae is poisonous to humans. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in recent years the lakes have been regularly closed to swimmers because of high levels of toxins. This water can make people very sick and is potentially lethal for dogs. In fact, a water advisory by the Capital Regional District has been in place for weeks warning the public not to swim in Beaver Lake. The health of fish and other organisms in the lake is decreasing and harmful aquatic weeds are spreading rapidly.

If we don’t act, the lakes will eventually become a slimy, weed-infested swamp unfit for human contact.

Elk and Beaver lakes, as we know them today, were created in the 1870s by the construction of a dam in order to provide drinking water to Victoria. The nutrient-rich marsh land which was flooded in the process, as well as pollution in the years that followed, has led to a severe excess of phosphorous in the water. Although the pollution has mostly stopped, there is now enough phosphorous concentrated in the lakes to eventually choke out almost all life.

And yet right now this is the most popular natural place in the region. I don’t need to convince you how wonderful this spot is. Every year hundreds of thousands of us visit these lakes and the surrounding regional park. The lakes are used extensively by swimmers, rowers and fishers. Many of us also love to relax on the beach, picnic in the park or attend events like Saanich’s annual Strawberry Festival. Other popular activities include wind-surfing, canoeing, radio yacht racing, water-skiing and sailing. The surrounding trails are also used by walkers, runners, cyclists and horse-riders.

We all share a responsibility to protect these lakes for our children and future generations.

I am pleased to write that excellent work is already underway. As the MLA for Saanich South, I want to publicly acknowledge the remarkable contributions made by members of the Victoria Golden Rods and Reels Fishing and Social Club, Peninsula Streams Society and the Colquitz Coalition, the Environmental Law Centre at UVic, the BC Lake Stewardship Society and the rowing community. Special mention is needed for the herculean efforts made by Mick Collins, Robert McConnell, Rick Nordin. Thank you all. You have our enduring gratitude.

The CRD is also strengthening their efforts to address this issue. They’ve hired a project co-ordinator and are working intensively to develop an action plan in the next year. Options under consideration at this early stage include: adding a binding agent to capture the phosphorous, aeration and/or dredging. The CRD has also recently purchased a weed harvester to manage the aquatic vegetation.

Can the lakes be saved? Yes. The question now under intense study is how that can best be accomplished. Excellent background information is available at colquitzcoalition.com. I am confident we will have remediation options to consider by mid 2017.

I look forward to working with community groups and all levels of government to make sure appropriate actions are taken in a timely, cost-effective and efficient manner. The public expects and deserves no less than that.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Source: http://www.saanichnews.com/opinion/390237351.html

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Summer Star Parties!

What happens at a Star Party? 

My favourite part is that super-keen and knowledgeable volunteers with the Royal Astronomical Society set up their telescopes and share the stars with you. 


On most nights there are also tours of the awesome Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. 


There are also Astronomy lectures and presentations and displays from the Centre of the Universe. 


Some nights there is even music! 


And thanks to the hard work of volunteers with the Royal Astronomical Society and the great folks at the National Research Council, it is free! 


Tickets are limited and are reserved well in advance so you need to be on the ball to go!


Tickets are available for reservation eight days before the event, starting at 1pm on Fridays. They seem to be all snapped up within a few days. (The August 6th date is already sold out) But there are two more opportunities, the 13th and 20th. 


Tickets for August 13 are available starting at 1pm on August 5.

Tickets for August 20 are available starting at 1pm on August 12.

Click here for more information and to reserve tickets.

A huge THANK YOU to the many RASC-Victoria volunteers and the National Research Council for sharing with us the wonder and science of the cosmos!


Hope to see you there!!! -Lana


PS. These events are very close to my heart as I worked all out to restore public access to the Saanich Observatory in 2013 and 2014. More info on that is here: http://saanichobservatory.blogspot.ca

Saanich News: Reaching out to constituents on the doorstep

OPINION/MLA Report: by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, July 31 2016

Over the last two months I’ve devoted a significant amount of my time to one of my favourite jobs as an MLA – reaching out to constituents.

Armed with newsletters and aided by many dedicated volunteers, my team and I have been door knocking all over Saanich South. Door knocking is something that I love doing throughout my term as MLA and particularly in the summer (the Legislature isn’t usually in session and as a result I have more time to spend in my constituency).

Many people ask me what the goal of an outreach project like this is. The answer is simple: it’s about connecting with people and hearing what issues matter most to them.

For this outreach project my office created a survey about provincial affairs – such as affordable housing and climate change – in order to gain insight about the most pressing issues for residents.

There were variations among neighbourhoods. For example, in Glanford, 90 per cent of the people we spoke with identified weaknesses in public education as a top concern. In Cordova Bay, 79 per cent of people raised issues with our health care system as what most requires action, and in Broadmead improving food security was cited by 86 per cent as a key issue they wanted improved.

We knocked on over 3,500 doors and spoke to hundreds of people. I am so pleased to share with you all that there was a recurring theme holding together almost every opinion and perspective we heard: the importance of our shared well-being. Issues such as climate change and housing unaffordability came up over and over again and in every corner of the constituency. People want change that improves our shared quality of life.

One final thought: although I’ve talked to lots of you already and I plan to do more door-knocking in August, I know many of you will be away or unable to chat when I arrive unannounced. So feel free to contact me with any feedback you may have whatsoever. I set my priorities by what I hear from constituents. You could even answer our survey over the phone if you like. My number is 250-479-4154 and my office is at 4085 Quadra St., just north of McKenzie Avenue. My website is www.saanichsouth.ca. I look forward to hearing from you soon.



Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Source: http://www.saanichnews.com/opinion/388705481.html