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Saanich, college partnership helps beautify park

A trio of massive rocks on Rogers Avenue resurfaced this week as volunteers ripped, sawed and stripped away the invasive plants that grew around them at Bruce Hutchison Park.

“At the beginning of the day you couldn’t see any of the rocks behind us. It was covered in complete bushes,” said Keegen Payne, one of five Pearson International College students who volunteered for the intense clean-up.

The five students from the Metchosin international school hail from the Northwest Territories, Botswana, Venezuela, Senegal and Vanuatu. They were completing their mandated “project week” in partnership with the North Quadra Residents' Association and Saanich parks department to help restore the Quadra-area park's Garry oak ecosystem.

“We’ve organized a week of volunteering every day … that’s our service project for the year,” Payne said.

Bruce Hutchison Park, between Rogers and Lily avenues, is a small remnant Garry Oak area overgrown with invasive species such as English ivy, Daphne laureolas and Scotch broom.

“It’s totally enveloped with invasive species,” said resident’s association member Lauraine Derman, as her husband, Coun. Vic Derman, sweatily fought with a root system nearby. “(This partnership with Pearson College) is a one-off, but we’re hoping to repeat this each year.”

The neighbourhood volunteers were also joined earlier in the day by members of the 1st Cedar Hill and 1st Douglas Cub scouts.

“Pearson students are trained in environmental stewardship. They come sort of certified,” Lauraine said.

“It’s a lot of work; some of these weeds don’t want to come out so it’s a struggle, but it’s definitely good work and it’s good exercise,” Payne said. “We’re having a great time.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

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