VIU Beecomes B.C’s First Bee Campus

A bee gathers pollen from a rhododendron bush. Photo Credit: Vancouver Island University
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VIU’s Nanaimo campus has been designated as a Bee Campus, the first of its kind in BC.

VIU’s Master of Community Planning (MCP) program is working with the VIU Peace Garden Educational Ecosystem student club to spread awareness of the impact pollinators have on a healthy ecosystem. Being acknowledged with the title of Bee Campus by Bee City Canada commits the Nanaimo campus to creating, maintaining, and improving pollinator habitats. Along with these duties, VIU has the responsibility to educate the community about the significance of pollinators and celebrate pollinators during National Pollinator Week. While VIU is the seventh post-secondary in Canada to receive this designation, it is the first in BC.

Dr. Pam Shaw, Director of VIU’s Master of Community Planning program said, “one of the MCP program’s goals is to create urban planners who are able to help shape communities encountering climate change and other environmental issues. Pollinator health is one of these important issues.”

Bee City is an organization running along Canada and the United States. According to Bee City Canada, their mission is to “inspire cities, towns, First Nations, schools, businesses and other organizations to take action to protect pollinators.” Bee City does so by offering programs that recognize communities and organizations that are making attempts or are committed to future initiatives to help pollinators. 

Businesses and organizations can apply for Bee City designation through the Bee City Business program, however this does come at the cost of an annual fee. 

However designation is received, all participants must commit to creating, maintaining, and improving pollinator habitats; as well as educating their community, employees, and customers about the importance of pollinators, and celebrating pollinators.

“This designation gives our students a chance to get involved in an important issue on the world stage right now – we’re talking about what some have argued is the most important species on Earth,” Shaw said.

Margot Thomaidis, an MCP student and member of the VIU Peace Garden Educational Ecosystem club, said club members, with support from the MCP program, plan to host regular workshops on pollinator-friendly plants and habitats. The club is also making attempts at diversifying the assortment of plants growing in VIU’s community garden and plans to create an edible forest that includes pollinator-friendly plants. VIU’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and Faculty of Education each provided $1,000 to help with this work.

Moreover, the MCP program plans to host colloquiums on the topic of food planning and community planning that pollinator health would factor predominantly in.

“Being part of Bee City Canada helps us to think more deeply about how we can do better to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators and support habitats on campus,” Thomaidissaid. “This designation recognizes that this is a place and space that is occupied by more than humans – that we have an opportunity through curriculum development and education to raise the level of knowledge. We are now tied to a wider community of cities, towns, First Nations and educational institutions focused on this issue.”

Shelly Candel, Director of Bee City Canada, said the organization is excited to have VIU sign on as the first Bee Campus in BC.

“There is commitment from the administration, employees, and students to make VIU the buzz of BC and a role model for others to take action and regenerate our landscapes to ensure a healthy ecosystem for the pollinators and the people of this beautiful province,” Candel said.