Vancouver Sun

Neigh­bours bond as they help pro­tect pol­li­na­tors

Point Grey neigh­bours bond as they plant na­tive shrubs to help pro­tect pol­li­na­tors

- GOR­DON MCIN­TYRE gordm­cin­tyre@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/gordm­cin­tyre Climate Change · Ecology · Vancouver · Oklahoma · David Suzuki · Bruce Smith

It's an idea that's taken root across the Lower Main­land — plant­ing na­tive shrubs and flow­ers to help birds, bees and but­ter­flies that pol­li­nate but are strug­gling to­day be­cause of pes­ti­cides and cli­mate change.

The Van­cou­ver But­ter­fly­way Project brought to­gether two dozen Point Grey neigh­bours on the last week­end in Septem­ber, some of them for the first time.

“We thought we're help­ing en­dan­gered na­tive pol­li­na­tors, but with COVID it turns out we're help­ing hu­mans, too,” said or­ga­nizer Melissa Haynes, a vol­un­teer but­ter­fly ranger with the David Suzuki Foun­da­tion's pol­li­na­tion project. “Most of these neigh­bours have never met, de­spite liv­ing only two doors apart for 30 years.”

Anna's hum­ming­birds, honey bees, western tiger swal­low­tails, the western monarch and other pol­li­na­tors ben­e­fit from the pro­gram. It's be­lieved the same fac­tors caus­ing the de­cline in bee pop­u­la­tions are be­hind the fall in but­ter­fly num­bers as well: Wild­fires, drought, flood­ing and chem­i­cals.

The but­ter­fly­way project cre­ates pol­li­na­tion patches in yards, low-ly­ing bal­conies, green spa­ces and schools.

The idea to plant flow­er­ing na­tive veg­e­ta­tion for pol­li­na­tors along a two-block strip of Crown Street in Point Grey ger­mi­nated af­ter neigh­bours in a nearby house on an­other street dis­cov­ered groundnest bees in their yard. Groundnest bees are harm­less — the males don't even have stingers — but the folks whose yard they made their home in were scared.

Haynes and oth­ers of­fered to build an en­clo­sure, but, by the time they showed up, the home­own­ers al­ready had killed the nest with in­sec­ti­cide.

“My friend Bruce Smith and I were talk­ing and he said in­stead of mop­ing about it, let's ed­u­cate peo­ple and get the com­mu­nity in­volved,” Haynes said.

The na­tive pol­li­na­tor gar­dens that were planted sit across the street from Lord Byng Sec­ondary and Ecole Jules Ques­nel, which draw 800 fam­i­lies a day to the strip of Crown land. The gar­dens are planted on front boule­vards, a prac­tice the City of Van­cou­ver en­cour­ages as long as guide­lines are fol­lowed, Haynes said.

Be­sides the plants all be­ing na­tive, ev­ery­thing else used in build­ing the lit­tle plots was up­cy­cled ma­te­rial from na­ture — wood from a nearby tree the city cut into logs af­ter it fell and smashed a parked car, beau­ti­ful twisted branches, drainage tiles and horse ma­nure, etc.

“Our kids col­lected seashells and rocks all sum­mer, ever since we men­tioned this to them,” Rob Thom­son said of his four- and eight-year-olds as they and other neigh­bour­hood kids gave out yips of de­light and joy.

“They had a lot of say in where the stuff goes, it's been a lot of fun for them.”

Added Al­li­son Barnes, a master gar­dener who min­gled with the planters to give them tips and an­swer any ques­tions they had: “I've never seen a block of such happy peo­ple.”

The street is home to wid­ows, young fam­i­lies such as the Thom­sons, peo­ple from five con­ti­nents, univer­sity stu­dents and from all sorts of cul­tural back­grounds, ac­cord­ing to Haynes.

The Thom­sons are the most re­cent res­i­dents, hav­ing moved in a few months ago from a small city in Ok­la­homa, af­ter COVID-19 hit, so they hadn't met a lot of their neigh­bours be­fore Sun­day.

“This has brought ev­ery­one to­gether,” Rob Thom­son said, “es­pe­cially dur­ing COVID times as we all avoid each other for health rea­sons. It's a great story. There's a sense of com­mu­nity. It would be a cool idea any­time, but es­pe­cially now.”

This (project) has brought ev­ery­one to­gether, es­pe­cially dur­ing COVID times as we all avoid each other for health rea­sons. It's a great story. There's a sense of com­mu­nity.

 ?? ARLEN REDEKOP ?? Melissa Haynes of the Van­cou­ver But­ter­fly­way Project works with neigh­bours Jake Shirley and Sara McGil­lvray on Crown Street. Neigh­bours who've never met de­spite liv­ing just two doors apart for decades are now com­ing to­gether to build a “high­way for en­dan­gered na­tive pol­li­na­tors.”
ARLEN REDEKOP Melissa Haynes of the Van­cou­ver But­ter­fly­way Project works with neigh­bours Jake Shirley and Sara McGil­lvray on Crown Street. Neigh­bours who've never met de­spite liv­ing just two doors apart for decades are now com­ing to­gether to build a “high­way for en­dan­gered na­tive pol­li­na­tors.”

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