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How Saanich, Canada created a thriving hub of One Planet Living activity
In 2018, Saanich, BC was one of four international cities chosen to participate in the One Planet Cities pilot project. The process, led by a local team of sustainability practitioners from NGO One Earth with support from Bioregional, engages organisations and individuals in the pursuit of a happy, healthy future within the natural limits of the planet.
The project is known as One Planet Saanich and uses Bioregional’s One Planet Living® framework to create an approach that addresses the need for place-based action in the face of the climate emergency.
Located on Vancouver Island, Saanich is a mix of rural and urban areas with a population of just over 114,000. Its name comes from the Saanich First Nation.
One Planet Saanich is funded by the KR Foundation and locally by Vancity Credit Union and the District of Saanich.
Bioregional and One Earth worked together to advance sustainability through an action-oriented, stakeholder engagement process by:
- conducting a ‘sustainability scan’ of what was already happening in the area using the ten principles of One Planet Living
- promoting Saanich’s ecological footprint to help engage local people with the concept
- providing training to help organisations create their own action plans
- achieving behaviour change by building understanding and interest in the idea of One Planet Living.
One Planet Saanich is engaging 17 businesses, schools and community groups to develop, implement and evaluate their own ‘One Planet’ action plans, and enhance their ability to collaborate. These plans are structured using Bioregional’s One Planet Living® framework which provides a common language to talk about sustainability and is underpinned by carbon and ecological footprinting.
This cohort includes high schools, a college, a church, the large shopping mall, a local farm, a major cooperative bank, a development project, a social enterprise, and an electric vehicle company.
Working with local government
Through close partnership with the District of Saanich, this process has also informed the development and implementation of Saanich’s new, award-winning Climate Plan and its commitment to 100% renewable energy. This plan employs a One Planet Living lens to ensure key sustainability objectives are considered alongside climate action goals.
The Saanich Climate Plan - 2020 Climate Plan: 100% Renewable & Resilient Saanich - was recognised as the Silver winner for the Excellence in Policy Planning – City and Urban Areas by the Planning Institute of British Columbia (PIBC). The municipality is also being considered for a Community Energy Association Award.
What has One Planet Saanich achieved?
Bringing together local government and stakeholders together means that individuals and organisations can see how their actions contribute to regional and global targets and plans, inspiring greater action and aligned behaviour change.
The One Planet Living network in Saanich have implemented several exciting initiatives across the community, including:
- Creating new connections that didn’t previously exist. For example, Haliburton Farm and Artemis Place School are accessing electric vehicles at an affordable price via support of Bumblebee Electric.
- Deepening the understanding of the relationship between climate action and social justice with the support of the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria
- Launching the First Unitarian Church’s EcoGames, where different neighbourhood compete to win points from a series of environmental challenges
- Expanding Reynolds Secondary School’s food garden initiative in partnership with Topsoil Urban Agriculture
- Increasing public engagement with sustainability including Creatively United’s successful EarthFest Live, featuring a week of events attracting 950 participants, and Conversations for a One Planet Region’s ongoing speaker series aimed at advancing the dialogue to create a one planet region.
A One Planet Island
Building on these successes, One Earth, in partnership with the District of Saanich, Vancity Credit Union and South Island Prosperity Partnership, Conversations for a One Planet Region and others are exploring how this can become a region-wide initiative.
The Mayor of Saanich, Fred Haynes, champions the vision of a One Planet Island where this action-planning approach is picked up across Vancouver Island: it can “encourage [other] municipal governments to engage their citizens in reducing their ecological footprint”. It can also be a way of bouncing back better from COVID-19.