New pollinator garden to increase biodiversity around Victoria International Airport

New pollinator garden to increase biodiversity around Victoria International Airport

Things are a buzz in North Saanich with the installation of a new plant pollinator garden now underway at Victoria International Airport, in a push to increase the area’s biodiversity by next spring.

The garden comes in a partnership between the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) and Pollinator Partnership Canada and will be located along Willingdon Road, where a Garry oak meadow featuring grasslands, woodlands and cama wildflowers formerly sat. 

“This land holds high significance to the W̱SÁNEĆ People’s culture and history,” according to the VAA in a news release. “The new garden will increase the biodiversity of the area, bring awareness to the importance of native plant species, and honour our original ecosystem.”

With over 450 native bee species in B.C. alone, the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific says the insects are beneficial because they pollinate flowering plants by transferring pollen from one flower to another. 

“Without pollinators, many plant life cycles would be unsuccessful, affecting everything from food production, and local wildlife, to overall ecosystem health,” the VAA said in the release.

“Pollinator gardens are most impactful when they are planted with native species to support native pollinators. Native species have evolved to their landscape and climate over thousands of years which also means they required little care and maintenance to thrive.”

The garden space will measure about 11,840 square feet and feature over 2,000 plants, though many will sit dormant until springtime before they can flourish, according to the airport authority. 

“The mixture of local plants and shrubs will provide various cycles of plants for the pollinators including habitat during dormant periods,” it said.

Ken Gallant, the VAA’s vice-president of operations, says the garden stems from the authority’s 2021 sustainability plan that highlighted initiatives to work toward biodiversity targets adopted by the United Nations. 

“We have worked with non-profit, government, industry, business, and First Nations partners to develop projects that will enhance and align with the rest of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Goals,” Gallant said.

Staff from W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council also incorporated SENĆOŦEN language and traditional plants, and the VAA says it acknowledges their input and guidance to help lead the project to fruition.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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