Good Neighbours: Competitors get down and dirty for Earth Day

King Neptune, the Green Queen and their helpers were out in force Friday to pick up garbage and raise awareness about Earth Day on Monday.

This is the second year teams from the Laurel Point Inn, Harbour Air Seaplanes, Eagle Wing Tours and Helijet have picked up refuse, competing for the coveted Golden Garbage Award.

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In one hour last year, Eagle Wing Tours collected 9,400 pieces of garbage — including an automotive tire — to walk away with the award.

“It’s all about getting dirty, having fun and being corny,” said Brett Soberg, co-owner of the whale-watching tour company.

Soberg was dressed up as King Neptune for the event, in a nod to the nautical nature of his business. A Green Queen, complete with crown and full regalia, picked up garbage around the Inn at Laurel Point.

Refuse and recyclables collected during the challenge will be separated for recycling and disposal by Ellice Recycle.

The four carbon-neutral businesses have formed ViSTA (Victoria Sustainable Tourism Alliance) and hope to inspire more businesses to join the group.

Earth Day is the world’s largest environmental event. Each year, more than six million Canadians join one billion people in more than 170 countries in staging events and projects that address environmental issues.

In Canada, Earth Day grew into Earth Week and now Earth Month to accommodate the growing number of environmental-related events and projects.

For more information on the cleanup, go to facebook.com/VictoriaEarthDayShowdown. For more information on Earth Day Canada, go to earthday.ca.

Pacifica’s gardens get a helping hand

Staff from Coast Capital Savings, Investors Group and Raymond James will get dirt under their nails today as they weed, spread soil and compost, turn dirt and plant seeds at four community gardens during the start of National Volunteer week, which runs until Saturday.

The volunteers are helping Pacifica Housing, which manages affordable family and supportive housing complexes, get their residents’ gardens ready for the growing season.

In the shared gardens, tenants are taught basic gardening skills and provided with one or two plots to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers.

“The garden has helped me be a more social person and I love being able to grow my own food,” says Kevin St. Clare, a tenant at the organization’s Medewiwin site.

“I grew up in the country and learned to garden as a kid. When I heard Medewiwin was getting a garden, I was all over it.”

St. Clare has been actively involved with the garden since he helped design and construct it in 2009.

Local businesses including Home Depot and reFUSE Resource Recovery have donated soil, seedlings and building material for the garden beds.

Pacifica Housing is looking for experienced gardeners willing to spend one to two hours per week at one or more locations to offer advice, education, assistance and encouragement to tenants.

Tenant gardening experience ranges from beginner to advanced.

For more information, go to pacificahousing.ca.

Golf extravaganza aids hospice

On Saturday, you can help Victoria Hospice by playing a round of golf, complete with cart, and enjoying a buffet dinner.

The 17th annual Teeing It Up for Victoria Hospice Mixed Golf Extravaganza includes Hole-in-One prizes, four-person Texas Scramble competitions, draws and a silent auction.

Entrance fee is $150, dinner only is $50. The event features a Shotgun Start at 1:30 p.m. at Olympic View Golf Club, 643 Latoria Rd. For more information, go to golf4hospice.ca.

Nominees wanted for Eco Star awards

The Capital Regional District is inviting nominations for the 2013 EcoStar Community Environmental Awards. The awards recognize outstanding achievements and contributions by local businesses, groups, non-profits and individuals working to enhance the environment across the region.

Nominations can be made in one of the following seven categories: community environmental leader, youth leader, water stewardship, waste reduction, climate action, land stewardship and integrated watershed management.

Nominations can be made until May 10 through crd.bc.ca/ecostar and at 625 Fisgard St.

The Times Colonist is a EcoStar Awards supporter.

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