Our History of Sustainability

One of my workmates recently suggested that I share the story with others about the initial push I felt to learn to build homes more sustainably.  So here goes, just in case you like “fish stories”!

Ken Connolly – Owner/General Manager

A LITTLE HISTORY

I moved to gorgeous Nanaimo in the mid-1980’s and my dad, an avid fisherman, soon had me out on warm spring evenings trolling around Neck Point and the Five Fingers group of islands. With my keen powers of observation, I noted two things. First, it was easy to catch fish!!  We consistently pulled fresh, gyrating, family meal-size Coho salmon into the boat with relatively little effort.  Secondly, I fell in  love with the beauty of the strait. Snow capped coastal mountains set the backdrop for our evenings, and warm pink and violet hues of mist and cloud shrouded the sun as it lowered itself onto the rippling water west of us. The air was fresh and the water was calming. I was so happy I had moved to Vancouver Island!

A GROWING ISSUE

Another less exciting observation was the dull green-brown smudge hovering over downtown Vancouver, when I glanced in that direction.  Smog!!!   Floating around in my dad’s little fiberglass runabout at this safe distance, my resolve to never live in the lower mainland definitely strengthened!

Now here’s the rub.  Fast forward a few years and the “smudge” expanded.  First, I noticed it drifting up towards Howe Sound, a couple of years later completely straddling it.  Next it inched its way towards Sechelt.  To my dismay, it eventually passed the Thormanby Islands and tickled Upwood Point at the SE tip of Texada Island.  What is happening to this beautiful strait, I wondered?

IMPACT ON FISHERIES

Also, about that time, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) dictated a moratorium on salmon fishing in our favourite fishing grounds.  It seemed that, due to various largely man-made pressures, our salmon stocks were in serious decline!  Yikes!!  So much to love here in this beautiful place, but our own impacts were clearly putting it in peril.  Naturally, I reluctantly supported the DFO’s edict.

While the local recreational salmon fishery did reopen for several years subsequent to this closure, just last year it became necessary to restrict fishermen in Georgia Strait once again.  And now this year salmon fishing here is again closed from April 1st until some unknown date later in the year.  It is clear we have to be ever vigilant about how our actions affect our environment.

A STEP TOWARDS CHANGE

So, what has all this to do with Passive Houses, Net Zero Energy Homes, added insulation, more efficient heating equipment, and being a sustainable builder?

The connection is this:  While credible data and scientists on both sides of the climate change debate offer swaying arguments, I don’t need to know which of them is (the most) correct.  The evidence is clear: the impact of human habitation has been forcefully demonstrated to me in the environment I love.  I know I can’t change the world, so to speak, but I can take my small place as a joint steward of this gorgeous place, and do my bit to see that our children and grandchildren can all enjoy something of what I have come to love about living here.

What a tragedy if we – you and I and our contemporaries – carelessly tarnish and even despoil all this, thereby robbing future generations of the quality of life and pleasure we have derived from it?

AN OPPORTUNITY TO ACT!

For more than a dozen years now I have been so, so fortunate to come to know and work with others in our industry who see the same things going on in our ecosystem.  Some of them have actually come to work here at Pheasant Hill. Together we have done what we could to encourage ways of building that are just plain better for the people who live in them, and better for our environment.  And we will keep on doing it!

I won’t preach, but neither will I apologize for loving this place and wanting the coming generations to love it too.  We have an opportunity to act in ways today that will gift our descendants with an environment made in heaven, just for them!