Earth Day is the most celebrated environmental event around the world and is observed annually on April 22.
This day provides people with the opportunity to reflect on their treatment of our planet, helps promote respect for it and encourages awareness of how our choices affect it. Moreover, it is a chance for people to realize that they have to take responsibility for their actions and to find ways to protect the earth.
Celebrating this important event is not new in Summerland. In fact, this year marks the 10th anniversary of Earth Day celebrations in our community.
In 2007, the first event was initiated by the Summerland Environmental Science Group who joined forces with the Summerland Parks and Recreation Department.
Approximately 30 Summerland residents participated.
These volunteers collected garbage from Eneas Creek and the surrounding natural habitat, removed invasive plants and planted approximately 170 native plants.
A third partner, Summerland Asset Development Initiative, joined the organizing committee in 2008.
A very successful second annual event was held with 70 Summerland residents in attendance. These volunteers pulled and dug out invasive plants from the Adam’s Bird Sanctuary, planted 130 native plants and painted 66 storm drains.
The third event boasted 100 Summerland residents in attendance. These volunteers helped restore a section of Prairie Creek located within Dale Meadows Sports Complex, planted over 200 native plants and painted 100 storm drains. Displays were also set up, providing information on invasive plants, wildlife trees, species and habitats at risk and waste reduction.
In 2010, additional partners joined the planning committee and the concept expanded from a one day celebration to a week of activities including documentary films, garden tours, workshops, street festivals, children’s events and hands-on enhancement projects. Summerland’s week-long celebration represents one of Canada’s largest Earth Week celebrations per capita.
Preparations have been underway since the fall for this year’s Earth Week and residents will not be disappointed with the wide variety of activities and events that are fun, educational, hands-on and thought-provoking.
This year’s theme, Water… A Drop in the Bucket, addresses the importance of understanding, protecting and conserving our scarce freshwater resource.
Earth Week activities are from April 16 to 24 this year, with some events occurring over multiple days.
Be sure to check out the colourful locally crafted wheelbarrow displays in downtown Summerland.
Visit the staff at True Grain Bread who will be celebrating all week with educational and interactive fun.
Drop off your old electronics in the bins located in the Municipal Parking lot for recycling from April 18 to 22.
And consider entering one of two contests. For youth, a photography contest entitled “Walk Softly on the Earth” is being sponsored by the Summerland Museum, with an online submission deadline of April 21. Submissions can be viewed on Saturday April 23 at the museum with awards at 1 p.m.
All residents are encouraged to enter the contest to guess the date and time of when Thirsk Dam stops spilling. Contest entry forms are available at all Earth Week events.
Earth Week kicks off on Saturday, April 16 with the first annual Neighbourhood Garage Sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a Neighbourhood Clean-Up Challenge from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, April 17.
Also taking place on Sunday is a Waterfront Tour, hosted by three South Okanagan experts who will discuss protection of shoreline habitat and wetlands from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
On Tuesday, April 19 there will be a tour of Summerland’s Level 4 Water Treatment Plant at 10 a.m.
In the evening, the will be a film and presentation highlighting the Wetland Daylighting Project at 7 p.m. in the lower level of the old public library building.
The Philosophers’ Café presents Syilx Water Perspectives with Dr. Jeannette Armstrong and Dr. Marlowe Sam on Wednesday April 20 at 7 p.m. at the IOOF Hall.
Thursday, April 21 at 10 a.m. is a Rain Garden Tour at the Summerland Ornamental Gardens.
This year’s feature film is Fractured Land, an award-winning documentary about one man’s struggle in defending his territory from fracking operations. The film is being shown at the United Church on Friday April 22 at 6:30 p.m.
The weekend is filled with family events.
On Saturday, Earth Day Fun at the library from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. provides youth with an opportunity to learn about the importance of water, read stories and participate in awesome activities. In the afternoon, head over to Imagination Station at the Summerland Arts Centre where children can make a family friendly craft.
The nine-day event ends with the 10th annual Earth Day Celebration on Sunday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at a new location this year, at Peach Orchard Park boat launch. Everyone is welcome to help enhance the natural riparian habitat that borders Okanagan Lake. There will be planting of native trees and shrubs that would naturally be found in the area. Display areas will provide information on endangered species and habitats, invasive plants, landscaping with native plants and more.
All events are free; however registration is required for some events. For details on all the Earth Week activities, go to facebook.com/SummerlandEarthweek or contact Barbara Thorburn at 778-516-4314.
Lisa Scott is a member of the Summerland Earth Week Organizing Committee.