Past Projects

MABRRI's research and community engagement coordinators, project coordinators, VIU students, and faculty associates work with community partners to create and conduct research projects that advance our understanding of people and nature--and the interaction between these--within and outside the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region. These are the past projects that MABRRI has worked on both outside and inside the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region.

The District of Lantzville approached MABBRI to work together on a project aimed at providing concept designs for two main beach road ends in Lantzville (Lavender Road and Harper Road). Similar to many coastal communities, the District of Lantzville has a number of 20m wide road dedication accesses to their beaches. They are essentially unconstructed areas, some of which have limited amenities. The District Council has a strategic objective to "green up" their beach road ends.

For this project, MABBRI’s role included preparing a survey for the purpose of seeking community input on the 12 beach road ends, compilation and analysis of the survey data, and preparation of an engagement summary report. Additionally, MABRRI prepared management/improvement policies for each of the 12 beach road ends that could include types of amenities and features to be included at each. Finally, the Team created two concept designs for two of the most important beach road ends to the District of Lantzville.

MABRRI student researchers worked with Geraldine Manson and elders from the Snuneymuxw first nation to identify, research and map native species, sites, and soils occurring on the Nanaimo, Vancouver Island University Campus in order to determine suitable locations to plant native plants traditionally used by Snuneymuxw First Nations for medicinal purposes. Once sites were determined we planted species among the campus, and have signage and mapping associated with each species in an effort to help preserve the traditional medicinal values, language, and knowledge pertaining to each species. With the initial portion of this research completed, we can then develop programs and courses that can be offered at Vancouver Island University at the Aboriginal Gathering Place, and have Snuneymuxw traditional knowledge holders teach others about the important values, uses, and cultural significance related to native plants.

The Timing Windows project aimed to educate the public and protect species throughout the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN). Western painted turtles (Chysemys picta bellii) are a native turtle species that have populations across Canada. With increasing development and presence of introduced predators, the population has suffered and is listed as threatened through the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The Western screech owl, kennicottii subspecies (Megascops kennicotti kennicotti), is a small native owl residing on the Pacific coast of British Columbia. As a non-migratory bird, this population faces threats from habitat loss year round on the coast.

The goal was to protect and enhance turtle nesting sites to minimize disturbance and predation on hatchlings, as well as construct owl nest boxes to increase habitat availability. MABRRI installed signage at restoration sites to inform and educate the public on the species itself, their known threats, and the work being done to minimize the threats. We also installed similar signage throughout the RDN, focusing on each municipality and the species that are locally and ecologically important to the region and local Indigenous communities. We hope that raising awareness to these additional species will reduce the risk of them becoming a conservation concern in the future. Lastly, a document was generated outlining work windows of least risk. This document was provided to the local municipalities to be used as a tool for planning policy and development activities at times of least risk throughout the year, thereby protecting already threatened species and preventing others from becoming a conservation concern.

MABRRI worked with the Canadian Mountain Network to highlight the significance of collaboration between Indigenous and Western knowledge systems in research, knowledge mobilization, and supporting the health and resilience of mountain systems and communities. Braiding these knowledge systems together acts as a critical step in working towards the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). In the first stage of this work, the CMN and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) project, MABRRI reported on the connections between CMN research, knowledge mobilization, and the UN SDGs. Braiding United Nations Global Agendas will expand upon this by promoting the importance of braiding knowledge in advancing the SDGs, emphasizing the significance of an UNDRIP-aligned approach. The outcome of this project informed the Government of Canada of the important and necessary work of CMN, highlighting the Network’s approach to paving a path to a more sustainable and inclusive future.

MABRRI’s work was guided by a Technical Advisory Committee, made up of a diverse panel of experts in sustainable development, Indigenous rights, and governmental processes. From January – March 2022, the team interviewed Network members to gain an understanding of how CMN braids knowledge to support UNDRIP and the SDGs. The objective of this project was to present the important work of CMN to leading decision makers in Canada to inform and advance holistic sustainable development.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, the MABRRI team investigated how VIU is meeting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Established in 2015, the SDGs act as a blue print that all world nations can follow to achieve social, economic, and cultural prosperity while simultaneously caring for and protecting the earth. The cooperation of many different sectors, including academic institutions, is necessary in order to achieve all 17 SDGs by the year 2030. Through an extensive literature review, over 80 meetings with VIU faculty and staff, and three community engagement events, the MABRRI team researched not only how VIU is meeting the SDGs, but what VIU can do moving forward to continue to meet them in the future. With this data, MABRRI was able to provide a list of recommendations to the Office of the President in January 2020. 

In early 2021, VIU received funding from the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Funding Program to continue promoting and advancing the SDGs at VIU and its surrounding communities. This funding focused on community outreach and raising awareness on the SDGs through several activities such as, SDG training sessions for VIU students and local organizations, social media engagement, various workshops, and student surveys. The primary outcome of the community outreach was to increase exposure and knowledge of the SDGs at VIU and surrounding communities. Ideally, increased knowledge of the SDGs will foster future collaborative projects amongst VIU and local organizations to further address the SDGs regionally.

This project aimed to increase awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR). Introduced globally in 2015 by the United Nations, the SDGs are comprised of 17 goals which call all world nations to action in order to achieve a more sustainable future for all. The SDGs address social, economic, and cultural prosperity while simultaneously caring for and protecting the earth. Successfully achieving the SDGs requires increasing awareness of them and promoting local and global change.

MABRRI received funding through Colleges and Institutes Canada’s (CICan) Career-Launcher Internship program to hire an SDG Ambassador in 2020 and 2021. The SDG Ambassadors lead the project and engaged the MABR community in the SDGs through social media campaigns, virtual presentations and workshops, and by discussions with local businesses and organizations. The final deliverables were a series of short videos that further increase awareness of the SDGs in the MABR and a final report. 

Throughout 2019 to 2022, VIU joined the University of Alberta and a handful of other universities across Canada as part of the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN). Established in 2016, the CMN aims to engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary research to address issues and relationships between mountain environments, economies, and society. Since it was established, approximately 40 reports, all focusing on various topics, have been published and made publicaly available. In 2019, the CMN was funded by the Networks of Centres of Excellence to continue research within mountain regions.

As part of the CMN, VIU’s and MABRRI’s research project titled The View from 2117: Human Actions, Consequences, and Perspectives on Mountain Regions examined the ways in which individuals and collective behaviour, population growth, regulatory regimes, and societal change have affected and will affect First Nations, mountain communities, and mountain environments over the next century. The project focussed on the MABR, examining the human nature connection associated with the region. The methodology for this project was multi-modal and included demographic analyses, indicator development, field research, surveys, focus groups, and psychological assessments. Lead researchers for this project included: Pam Shaw (MABRRI and Geography), Geraldine Manson (Elder in Residence), Sylvie Lafreniere (Sociology), Lindsay McCunn (Psychology), Maureen Reed (UNESCO), Lindsay Chase (University of Victoria), and Maria Ines Paez Ferriera (Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia Fluminense, Brazil). Project partners include representatives from Qualicum, K’omoks, and Snaw-naw-as First Nations, industry partners, and local government representatives. With an interdisciplinary team and partners leading the research, the project produced knowledge and products that will influence policies and regulatory frameworks to help reduce human/nature impacts in the MABR.

In collaboration with the Nanoose Economic Development Corporation (NEDC), this project aimed to determine whether recreational and commercial clam harvesting pressures could be impacting clam populations and habitat in the public use area at the Nanoose Bay Recreational Shellfish Reserve. This study aimed to provide a comprehensive look at the current harvesting practices in the study area and provide recommendations to improve the sustainability of harvesting practices. 

The first phase of this project occurred in 2020, which included writing a literature review to provide relevant background context to the impacts associated with harvesting and of sustainable harvesting practices in coastal BC; field observations on-site during the clam harvesting season to identify the extent of harvesting activity, as well as characteristics and patterns of harvesting in the study area; and interviews were conducted to provide insight into historical patterns and the significance of clam harvesting to supplement the study.

The second phase of this project, which was initiated in March 2021 looked to collect additional on-site observations, particularly during the peak harvesting season and dive into more of the limitations identified in the first phase of the project, including conducting clam abundance surveys before and after the peak harvesting season.

MABRRI worked with Matt Bowes, VIU Geography Professor, to look at the economic impact of mountain bike tourism for the Nanaimo Region. The overarching goals of this study were to provide support for economic diversification in the growing mountain bike tourism sector; and strengthen and build new relationships among and between stakeholders. Strategic planning that meets visitor expectations, addresses stakeholder concerns and reflects community values is critical for mountain bike tourism development. The objectives of this study were to: assess the economic impact of visitors to Nanaimo’s trails; identify the management preferences of local users and visitors; and understand trail user motivations. 

MABRRI will be working with K’ómoks First Nation to develop a Community Pulse document, which provides a snapshot of the community, outlining demographic, economic, social, and environmental indicators. The document will showcase the current strengths and challenges that the community is facing. By outlining these aspects of the community, it is anticipated that K’ómoks First Nation will have a greater understanding of where resources should be allocated to most benefit their member’s needs effectively and efficiently. Between March and September 2020, the MABRRI team will develop the Community Pulse document, as well as a handover package with a template for the document that K’ómoks First Nation can update each year. Ultimately, the document will be shared with the K’ómoks First Nation members and surrounding communities, identifying the current state of the community, the work they are doing, and what they would like to work toward in the future.

In 2015, the United Nations established the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda to call all nations to action to increase efforts towards social, economic, and cultural prosperity while simultaneously caring for and protecting the earth. Mountain systems are of critical global importance – they make up a quarter of the world’s land surface, over a quarter of the world’s human population lives within or near mountain regions, and almost all of the world’s major rivers originate in mountains. While several of the SDGs speak to mountains, achieving global sustainable development requires increased awareness and understanding of the importance and vulnerability of mountain systems.  

The Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) aims to engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary research to address issues and relationships between mountain environments, economies, and society. The CMN has also committed to advancing the SDGs in mountain research. MABRRI was funded by the CMN in 2020 to conduct the Canadian Mountain Network and UN Sustainable Development Goals project. To demonstrate the importance of collaborative mountain research in meeting the SDGs, the project aimed to highlight and report on linkages from the work currently being undertaken by the Network of Centres of Excellence agreement between the CMN and Network members in order to determine how CMN researchers are contributing to and advancing the Global Agenda.

Diana Krall Plaza is situated at a key location in the heart of downtown Nanaimo. It has significant potential as one of Nanaimo’s premier public sites. However, it suffers from a lack of appropriate connectedness to other key parts of the downtown and remains isolated and unused. The Diana Krall Plaza Redevelopment Plan was initiated in order to identify priorities and design concepts that will reinvigorate the Plaza.    In collaboration with the City of Nanaimo, VIU, and the Master of Community Planning Program, this project will engage students in research and community events, in order to collect information and feedback with regards to improving Diana Krall Plaza. This will occur during three local events, including a drop-in Diana Krall Plaza event, Community Idea Forum, and a design charrette. All of the collected information from the events, as well as new design concepts brought forth from the team will be compiled and included in the plan. The project is set to wrap up in November 2020.

This pilot project involved the installation of one bull kelp seeded line planted at two different locations, one of which is within the MABR. The general purpose of the project was to attempt to re-establish bull kelp populations in the lower regions of the Strait of Georgia. Unfortunately, over the past few decades there has been a significant loss of bull kelp in this region. Bull kelp, when dense, forms forests that are rich in diversity, providing food and security. Since biodiversity within and surrounding bull kelp forests has been so well documented, MABRRI will also conducted underwater surveys where species richness will be documented. This aided MABRRI in determining how quickly this type of ecosystem can be re-established and to what capacity.

MABRRI would like to thank the following individuals and organizations that have helped them along the way, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, Project Watershed, Sundown Diving, Hornby Island Diving, Green Sea Kelp Co., and our volunteer divers. Their advice and services have enabled this project to be a success!

MABRRI Bull Kelp Monitoring & Enhancement Video

MABRRI partnered with VIU’s Workplace Essential Skills and Training (WEST) Program and Nanaimo Foodshare Society to complete an environmental inventory and assessment on a 48 acre farm. The farm resides within the East Wellington area of Nanaimo that is home to a myriad of flora and fauna year round. With minimal disturbance, the farm and its surroundings are a haven for many species during critical periods of their lives such as breeding, mating, and migration season. A portion of the land is being utilized for agricultural purposes by Nanaimo Foodshare for their Good Food Box program, providing healthy, locally grown products to the Nanaimo community at a cost effective price.

The goal of our project was to identify the species that use the farmland, and the surrounding ecosystems that influence the farm, including Cathers Lake. Cathers Lake is a manmade lake which feeds into the Millstone River by way of Sabiston Creek on the Westwood Farm property. Initially used as an irrigation system for the farm decades ago, the lake is now surrounded by a neighbourhood who all enjoy what the lake has to offer. Here, you can find the threatened and native Western Painted Turtle. MABRRI wrapped up the project by producing a report outlining the importance of these ecosystems and the recommended steps to ensure the protection and enhancement to benefit both the wildlife and the community utilizing said areas.

In the spring of 2019, when the District of Lantzville was in the process of updating their Zoning Bylaw, the District approached VIU to assist in developing illustrations for their Zoning Bylaw. Illustrations are used to help convey to readers many of the important concepts within the bylaw. MABRRI staff worked alongside staff at the District for the duration of the project to create approximately 30 illustrations.

MABRRI partnered with the Village of Gold River to create a Parks and Trails Master Plan that will help guide the Village’s parks and trails development over the next 10 years. The project consisted of three major parts: 1) conducting a parks and trails inventory, 2) community comment collection and, 3) a community BBQ and open house. Completing a parks and trails inventory highlighted the current amenities in Gold River and their condition. Through community comment collection MABRRI was able to determine how the amenities are being utilized and the community’s vision for their parks and trails. Lastly, the BBQ and open house provided an outlet for the community to continue providing input and discuss their vision in a park setting. Following these three stages of the project, a Master Plan was developed and presented to the Village of Gold River.

In the summer of 2019, MABRRI, in partnership with Snaw-naw-as Nation and Island Health, created the Garden Café. Featuring six weeks of culinary teachings, the Garden Café ran from August to October at the Snaw-naw-as Heath Centre. Each week, the leading instructor offered several simple ways to prepare vegetables. For example, the first week the instructor focused on zucchini and provided recipes and cooking instructions on how to prepare zucchini Provençal, zucchini sage and brown butter, and zucchini and herbs.

MABRRI worked with the City of Campbell River to draft a Tree Protection Bylaw. The focus of the project was to analyze a variety of tree protection approaches in other communities, and provide the City with well-researched options and background research, leading to the creation of a draft bylaw.

In 2015, the City developed an Urban Forest Management Plan, which communicates how trees contribute to a high quality of life, and establishes a target of 40% canopy cover in Campbell River’s urban areas. Within this document, the City also set an objective to develop a bylaw for the protection and replacement of trees. 

The MABRRI planning team worked with the City over the course of summer 2019 to draft a bylaw to help conserve trees within the city.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, the MABRRI team investigated how Vancouver Island University is meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Established in 2015, the "Global Goals" outline steps that nations can take towards social, economic, and cultural prosperity while simultaneously caring for and protecting the earth. The cooperation of many different sectors, including academic institutions, is necessary in order to achieve these 17 ambitious goals by the year 2030. Universities can play a major role in assisting nations in meeting these goals. Through an extensive literature review, over 80 meetings with VIU faculty and staff, and three community engagement events, the MABRRI team researched not only how VIU is meeting the SDGs, but what VIU can do moving forward to continue to meet them in the future.

The results of the work done can be found in an extensive report and a highlight report

We wish to thank VIU's Office of the President for the funding to complete this project throughout 2018 - 2020. 

MABRRI partnered with Dr. Max Bothwell, an Emeritus Research Scientist at the Pacific Biological Station who works for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, on a recent mapping project. MABRRI generated an updated bathymetric map of Cameron Lake; prior to this map, the most recent was produced in 1951. The bathymetric map was created following the Ministry of Environment’s Bathymetric Standards for Lake Inventories, which required the student research assistants to conduct transects back and forth across the lake, recording the depth along the transects. All of the data collected will be brought back to the GIS specialists at MABRRI to input and analyze in order to produce the final map that showcases the lake’s profile.

All of the mapping that was produced was provided to Dr. Max Bothwell and his team, allowing them to confirm which sites they would choose to collect core samples from. The samples were collected in July 2018 and will provide archival data regarding the past climate of the region, as well as historical changes in land cover. Dr. Bothwell is focusing on Cameron Lake because it is the largest surface water body in the Little Qualicum watershed, as well as in the MABR.

Cameron Lake Bathymetry Aerial Imagery Map

In partnership with Dr. Hannah Wilson from VIU’s Geography Department, MABRRI completed the Garry Oak Ecosystem Mapping Project throughout 2018. This study aimed to use remote sensing techniques and geographic information systems to map the location and extent of vulnerable Garry oak ecosystems within the MABR on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Due to limited resources, we were unable to purchase finer resolution imagery to use for the remote sensing aspect of this study and instead used freely-sourced Landsat 8 satellite imagery. This resulted in a coarse representation of the extent of these vulnerable ecosystems within the biosphere region. Although spatial scale restrictions imposed mapping inaccuracies, we did establish a methodology that can be used in the future when finer imagery becomes available. An extensive report was developed outlining this methodology, as well as the characteristics that define Garry oak ecosystems, their importance and vulnerability, and current conservation practices and resources on Vancouver Island. Given recent advances in methodological development, with further funding we hope to continue this research project to produce a more precise map in the future.

We wish to thank Vancouver Island University for the funding provided by the Research Awards Committee to complete this study. We would also like to thank VIU Biology professor, Dr. Caroline Josefsson, for her assistance in identifying and delineating Garry Oak Ecosystems for our predictive mapping and for her plant identification assistance in the field, as well as Kent Anders for his assistance in the field work and ground-truthing component of this project.

Lake Monitoring in the Little Qualicum Water Region began in 2016 as a trial-monitoring program funded by Vancouver Island University’s Research Awards Committee. The main goal of the project was to train VIU students on monitoring lake health following the BC Lake Stewardship Society’s standards (BCLSS).  Student researchers began data collection in Cameron Lake and Spider Lake during the first year of the project and continued to monitor these lakes for three years (through 2018). Research Assistants measured and recorded water clarity, surface temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and turbidity. All data collected will contribute to the BC Lake Stewardship Society’s (BCLSS) lake monitoring program to help gauge the current health of our the lakes.

The final lake reports were produced by the BCLSS:

MABRRI conducted a project in collaboration with Nanaimo Foodshare Society and VIU's Workplace Essential Skills and Training (WEST) program. These organizations worked together to gather information regarding one of Nanaimo's last remaining historical five acre farm parcels. MABRRI's primary goal was to collect historical and current data on the wetland and water sources that drain in and out of it; the stream that passes through the property, which at the time was lacking a name, has been heavily impacted by human development. A large portion of the stream, that ultimately flows into the Chase River, has been buried, which has resulted in the loss of important aquatic habitat. MABRRI's student research assistants mapped all publicly accessible properties that the stream passes through, as well as reached out to private land owners in order to gain access to map the stream where it meanders through their properties. Mapping this stream provided the team with a better understanding of how impacted it was by human development, as well as identify areas that would benefit from daylighting and stream remediation efforts.

In 2017, the City of Parksville’s Mayor and Council contracted MABRRI to produce a new Community Park Master Plan. Residents of Parksville consider the Community Park to be the “jewel” of their City. As such, the project team has felt a strong responsibility to develop a community engagement strategy that would inform a Master Plan to be used to support the Community’s vision for the Park and ensure that residents can enjoy the Park for years to come. Consultation events gave students and staff the opportunity to engage with almost 1500 people at a series of events, including: Parks on the Street day, where students canvassed community members to generate ideas to inform the direction for subsequent consultation; World Cafe, an event where students facilitated 20 minute discussions on the themes identified at Parks on the Street day; the Resident's Survey, which provided each resident in the City with an opportunity to share their vision for the Community Park on an electronic or paper survey; Gazebo Talks, which served to update park goers about the project to date and to introduce the “Guiding Principles” for the Master Plan; the Tourist Survey, which gave visitors the opportunity to share their ideas for the Park; Picnic Table Talks, where key stakeholders in the Park gave their input for how the Park could be developed to support their specific needs; and a final Open House, where residents were invited to comment on the draft Master Plan in order to identify changes to improve the document.

Students from many different programs had the opportunity to work on the project and gain first hand experience in parks planning, research, consultation, engagement, survey writing, and report writing. The final document that we produced will guide the development of Parksville’s Community Park for the next 20 years. We are grateful to have been a part of the process and look forward to our next projects with the City!

The City of Nanaimo has identified property in its recent “Harewood Neighborhood Plan (2013) that is to be kept as “open space” in the Harewood community. ACP’s WEST program has a vested interest in this land through its partnership with Nanaimo Food Share, an organization that is seeking land to continue it’s not for project community food sustainability program. WEST works closely with Nanaimo Food Share and will be employing two students who will be responsible for examining one of the last five-acre parcels of land in Harewood, Nanaimo for the purpose of doing research to determine potential use for Nanaimo Food Share’s Community Food Security Project. Upon examining and researching the land, the two students will present recommendations for land use that is consistent with Nanaimo’s Food Share Principles of sustainability. Based on the research students will create an Environmental Planning Report that identifies agricultural, ecological and heritage values.  Additionally, the report will be used to determine the potential community uses of the property as part of the Nanaimo Foodshare Community Food Security Project.

Over time, due to development of the surrounding area, the Shelly Creek watershed’s health has degraded. The development and installation of increasingly more impermeable surfaces has resulted in a greater amount of surface runoff flowing directly into Shelly Creek. The greater volume of water surges into the creek has caused significant erosion, which has led to sediment build up in some of the lower sections of the creek, negatively impacting the quality of salmon spawning habitat. Additionally, the changes in surrounding land use have resulted in less water being retained in higher sections later in the year, which is impacting the resident cutthroat trout population. In the summer of 2017, the Mid-Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES) had a Water Infrastructure Engineer conduct a water balance and sediment reduction plan for the Shelly Creek watershed. In this report, the engineer identified the major issues that were causing the erosion and the decline in the extent of water in the summer. Further, the engineer determined and explained six mitigation strategies that could be implemented to improve the health of the watershed.

In September 2017 Peter Law, from MVIHES, approached MABRRI with a potential project that would complement their current restoration efforts in the Shelly Creek watershed. He asked MABRRI to come up with a community engagement strategy that would effectively communicate the issues and mitigation strategies to the communities that neighbour the Shelly Creek watershed, Parksville and Errington. Ultimately, MVIHES would like to disseminate this information to increase interest in their restoration efforts and build capacity to restore more of the watershed to a healthier state, with a specific focus on the lower reaches where Pacific salmon are known to spawn. In addition to developing a community engagement strategy for MVIHES to approach knowledge dissemination in these areas, we also created hand-out materials that will aid MVIHES in the initial stages of gaining interest from the communities.

The Linley Valley Park Planning Project aims to have VIU students, from a variety of disciplines, work closely with the City of Nanaimo Parks staff from May 2017 through September 2017 to complete two projects that will inform the creation of a Park Plan. The two projects will run simultaneously through the five months of the project starting in May. First, students will work with the City's Parks and Open Space Planner to design and implement a public engagement process. The intent of this portion of the project is to collect input on existing uses and to identify opportunities to improve recreational use, access and wayfinding while respecting the environmentally sensitive areas of the ark. Students will research and design engagement strategies, facilitate community engagement events and work with other stakeholder groups to host events through tout the project. 

The second part of the e project will involve students completing a Linley Valley trails assessment. A current trail use assessment will be conducted by installing trail "beam break" counters, which record the number of people using the existing trails. Students will work with the Trails Supervisor and Park Planner to identify the locations for the counters and will be a part of downloading and interpreting the results. This data will be assessed to determine the current use of the existing trail network and make recommendations for creating a complete park trail network.

The communities along the Central West Coast of Vancouver Island have been exploring the possibility of constructing and operating a multiuse recreational facility in partnership with the West Coast Multiplex Society. The multiplex has been supported by a memorandum of understanding signed by the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD), Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, Ahousaht First Nation, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government, Hesquiaht First Nation, Toquaht First Nation, the District of Tofino, and the District of Ucluelet. MABRRI was contracted by the ACRD to help develop and facilitate a way to gauge the interests of the community in regards to the multiplex. MABRRI, in collaboration with Dr. Sylvie Lafreniere (Department of Sociology, VIU), developed a survey that was sent to residents of the region to determine their support for the multiplex. Throughout November of 2017, MABRRI student researchers helped to compile and analyze the results from the survey. A final report, outlining the results from the survey, is currently in development.

MABRRI and the District of Ucluelet partnered to revise the municipalities Official Community Plan (OCP). The OCP update process streamlined and improved upon the Vision and Guiding Principles set out in the 2011 OCP, by bringing them in line with best practices in planning and current community thought. The process for the revised OCP included public consultation of issues related to the current OCP. Four events and an online survey were conducted between September and December of 2016. These were conducted by both staff of the District of Ucluelet and students from Vancouver Island University’s Master of Community Planning program. The purpose of the first three events and the online survey was to understand the public’s perspective on the current OCP and on Ucluelet itself. A final event presented these findings to the public. 

Estuaries are a critical intersection between terrestrial and marine ecosystems, both providing vital corridor and nursery sites for a wide variety of bird, fish, and wildlife species as well as functioning as long term carbon storage. In the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) both the native eelgrass, Zostera marina, and the introduced Japanese eelgrass, Zostera japonica, form a major component of these estuarine and foreshore habitats. The growth and distribution of the eelgrass in these areas serves as key indicator of overall estuarine ecosystem health. Updated mapping and monitoring of eelgrass distribution over time contributes to a greater understanding of how estuarine and marine ecosystems are changing in response to numerous environmental pressures, from human activities to climate change. This increased understanding in turn can be harnessed to create conservation and management strategies that seek to improve estuarine environments.

The Englishman and Little Qualicum River estuaries are the largest estuaries in the MABR and, as a result, function as some of the most important sites for birds, fish, and wildlife in the region. Over the summer of 2016, the MABRRI, funded by the Vancouver Island University Research Awards Committee, mapped the current eelgrass distribution in the Englishman and Little Qualicum River estuaries. Results of this survey were compared to previous surveys conducted of the area and with the 2015 Survey of the Nanaimo River Estuary. The overall goal of the project was to expand and update existing eelgrass mapping and to start to investigate possible changes and trends occurring in these estuaries.

Currently available DEM, Bathymetry, and LIDAR datasets do not adequately cover the shoreline area of Lake Cowichan. Due to this and a lack of equipment necessary to obtain such information, the following methodology was conceived. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was flown at the sites, Cottonwood creek, Meade Creek, and Robertson Creek, at such a height as to capture the majority of each site using the UAV’s onboard camera (aimed straight down). In cases where the UAV could not be flown high enough to capture the whole site, a series of images were taken and stitched together in post-processing. The resultant images were then georeferenced in ArcGIS using a series of GPS points captured by a commercial grade GPS unit. These points were both natural and artificial features (stumps, large rocks, campfire rings, wood stakes). After the initial georeferencing, subsequent aerial images were referenced to the previous images.

After all imagery was georeferenced, a shoreline was hand digitized for each site. The shorelines were given dates based on when the photo they were digitized from was taken. A buffer analysis was then performed on the most recent shoreline; August 8th, 2016 at time of writing. This buffer analysis used a 7 meter buffer distance and flat end parameters. These parameters were chosen so that the buffer overlaid all shorelines and so the edge of the buffer was perpendicular to the shoreline. Additionally, August 8, 2016 shorelines were chosen as they were the least geometrically complex of the shorelines captured as well as the shortest. The buffers at each site were then split using the shorelines from each date. The resulting polygons were then grouped based on period of time to show shore area change. June 20 to July 1, 2016 and July 1 to August 8, 2016. The polygons were also grouped based on whether they represented a gain or a loss in shore area.

The polygons show the shore area change for a given time period at each site over a given length of shoreline. The buffer procedure was foregone in the case of Robertson Creek as the differences between shorelines were too great. In this case, a polygon was hand drawn around the regions to be calculated. Robertson Creek also varied as it had pools of water behind sand bars. In this case, the pools were left out of the Shore Area Change calculation as lampreys may be living in the pools.

As Robertson Creek has a much more complex shoreline, shoreline measurements and area change are averaged. In the case of Robertson Creek, “South” area, most of the area change pertains to the arguably inland pool. On August h, 2016 in became apparent that this pool became somewhat cut off. For that reason in the August 27, 2016 calculation, the south portion has been left out.

The Carrying Capacity project conducted by student researchers at the MABRRI evaluated current land uses and human impacts within the MABR. Based on current knowledge and literature it was possible to evaluate the various zoning classifications across the region, protected areas, species at risk and potential limitations for growing populations in the region. Through analysis it was determined that only 50 percent of land within the MABR is optimal for agricultural use. These limited agricultural sites are also ideal for local development; unfortunately further build-out phases on agricultural lands will be needed to ensure the regions sustainability as populations continue to grow. Through an ecological and literature analysis it was determined that the MABR contains approximately 40 protected parks and portions of land, providing habitat for over 67 provincially recorded red and blue listed species at risk. these protected regions act to ensure the region reserves its the region preserves its natural biodiversity while encompassing sustainable development. Research also determined that the major limiting factor for future development would be based on water resources, as demand continues to increase, greater stress will be experienced by fresh water systems.

Snaw-naw-as First Nations completed the construction of the Community Health Centre in 2013. The plans to site a Garden of Spiritual Healing adjacent to the Health Centre have been in progress for many years, but have only recently moved forward. As is often the case, shortages in funding, human resources, and project management time to devote to the garden have limited the capacity for carrying out this initiative. However, through new collaborations with the MABRRI and community support, plans to establish the garden have re-emerged and progressed quickly. A garden committee consisting of Snaw-naw-as First Nation community members and Elders has helped guide the development of the garden. Ultimately, the goal of the garden is that it will provide four complementary uses: community education, health and wellness, food security, and a community gathering space.

MABRRI broke ground and began construction of the Snaw-naw-as Garden of Spiritual Healing at the beginning of May 2017. By mid-May there were Snaw-naw-As Elders in the garden planting vegetables in the garden boxes that had been finished and put in place. Each year, MABRRI continues to work with Snaw-naw-as to construct more aspects of the site. To date, MABRRI has made significant progress having built 14 garden boxes, a greenhouse, a toolshed, a pathway, a fence to enclose everything in an attempt to stop deer from getting to the vegetable garden, and a community smokehouse.

One of the MABR's main objectives is to provide support for monitoring and research in hopes of enhancing information sharing at local, national, and international levels. The MABR, along with the Regional District of Nanaimo, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Ministry of Environment, and Island Timberlands, have all collaborated on a project to install a weather station on Mount Arrowsmith. The station will be able to monitor snow pack, wind speed, precipitation, temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and other valuable information related to both weather and climate. The information is recorded in real-time and relayed via satellite to a large network of similar weather stations across British Columbia.

The headwaters of the Englishman River and Arrowsmith Lake are important sources of fresh water to the region. The ability to monitor snow pack will help determine the quantity of stored water and predict flows for the Englishman, Little Qualicum, and Big Qualicum Rivers. Long-term climate data may also assist with climate modelling for climate change and could potentially help with the Global Observation Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) project that the MABR has been working on over the last 8 years. There is a significant gap in weather and climate data in mountainous areas on Vancouver Island (away from the coastline), and this initiative will help to reduce this data gap.

Development along our coasts and water sources can pose risk to fish and wildlife species and habitat. As such, federal, provincial, and municipal governments have developed regional timing windows, which are periods of time during the year where development may be carried out with the lowest risk. Terms and conditions for these timing windows vary based on regional differences in fish and wildlife species, habitat, and geography.

The City of Campbell River has asked MABRRI to conduct background research to determine work windows that pose the least risk to the natural environment, and to develop easy to understand graphics and materials to hand to the public.

Additionally, the City of Campbell River has many groups of dedicated stream-keepers and citizen scientists working within Nunns, Simms, Kingfisher, and Willow Creeks. MABRRI will work with these groups to develop urban stream report cards. These report cards will be used to standardize the data collected and collection methods and to help to determine urban stream health.