Enviro-Fest gets dirty 

Wetland planting just one of many events scheduled to bring attention to environment

For years, David Williamson has wanted to hold a community wetland-planting event.

The idea has been with him since the mid-1990s, when his company, Cascade Environmental Resource Group, worked on Barnfield Farms and held an informal community-landscaping event with friends and members from the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group.

About 30 people showed up, and Williamson said, "It was a big success, and I always thought if we got a chance, we should do that again."

Fortunately for Williamson, an opportunity presented itself this year when the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) awarded a contract to re-plant the wetland at the entrance to the day parking lots in Whistler Village.

"I asked (the architect from Another View), 'Would you mind?' because obviously it complicates his job, and he jumped on board," said Williamson.

Now, the RMOW, Another View, Kerr Wood Leidal Associates and Cascade are gearing up to hold the wetland planting event Sunday, May 31, as part of Enviro-Fest. The event is free, and anyone who wants to get their hands dirty is invited to participate, as long as they bring their rubber boots. Another View and Cascade will provide all the tools and plants.

"The whole objective is to get people out there so they can see a constructed wetland and get a chance to plant some plants and learn about the type of plants we are planting," Williamson said.

"The idea is to give it a jump start with planted species, introduce some aquatics that wouldn't have been there before, and then let nature take over."

Williamson said the plants that will be used to construct the wetland will range from terrestrial to riparian and aquatic.

The community wetland planting is just one of the events on the agenda for the eighth annual Enviro-Fest, which runs from May 25 to 31 this year. Other events include showcasing at least eight films that tackle different environmental issues, discussions about the environment and a nature walk through Lost Lake.

The big event, though, is the Enviro-Fair, which will take place in the Upper Village Market from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 31.

According to Envirofest organizer Marie-LN Fortin, about 30 exhibitors will be on hand throughout the afternoon to reiterate the festival's theme of "Think Global; Act Local," including AWARE, 1 Step, The Council of Canadians, Whistler Blackcomb, and Whistler Community Services Society.

A Community Garden Box Project will also be presented during the fair, to show people how to plant and grow their own garden boxes at home.

And another event worth marking on your calendar is the Whistler Forum discussion on Tuesday, May 26, said Fortin.

The topic is the role of local faith communities in a global, sustainable world. The discussion panel will be composed of William Roberts from Whistler Forum, Monsignore Jerry Desmond from Our Lady of the Mountains, Reverend Chad Chomlack from Church on the Mountain, and Chris Hill from The Planet Art Network.

"Enviro-Fest is a good way to learn about Mother Nature and how we can interact with her better and resort our connection with her," said Fortin, who has helped grow the festival from a one-day event into a week-long festival over the past three years.

"I am really excited. I think it is going to turn out really well."

The full schedule of events is at www.enviro-fest.ca .

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