Winners and presenters of the 2022 Saanich Environmental Awards stand outside the municipal hall June 20. (Courtesy District of Saanich)

Winners and presenters of the 2022 Saanich Environmental Awards stand outside the municipal hall June 20. (Courtesy District of Saanich)

Saanich environmental champions honoured with awards

Winners recognized in multiple categories for environmental stewardship

To say that Heather Coey is an environmental champion would be an understatement.

The Reynolds secondary teacher has for decades encouraged her students and facilitated environmental and sustainability initiatives involving the greater community. That dedication to growing current and future champions led the District of Saanich to give her the Long Term Achievement Award.

Coey was one of six Saanich Environmental Awards recipients honoured by council at its June 20 meeting. Individuals, businesses, organizations and youth are recognized annually for making significant contributions to stewarding the environment.

“I’m honoured to be recognized with so many other outstanding environmental leaders in Saanich,” Coey stated in a release. “As I approach retirement after 33 years of teaching, I hope to continue to have a positive impact on my community.”

The winners were selected from nominee submissions by members of Saanich’s environment and natural areas advisory committee, chaired by Coun. Karen Harper.

This year’s recipients were recognized for ecological restoration and stewardship, ecological protection on private lands, fundraising and community leadership, climate action-related leadership and youth environmental leadership.

Coey’s accomplishments include helping Reynolds win 10 straight B.C. Green Games for its sustainability curriculum, leading the school and students to be active participants in the One Planet Saanich program, and connecting students with community partners in numerous environmental stewardship initiatives.

Among other award recipients, Sharon Stangeland was honoured for individual environmental achievement for her stewardship, restoration and community leadership centred in South Valley Park between Wilkinson and Interurban roads over the past 10 years.

The Kings Community Nature Space fundraising group was recognized in the volunteer organization category for their three decades of work to protect this urban green space and former BC Hydro property near Royal Jubilee Hospital.

ALSO READ: Saanich to begin conservation in Kings Park greenspace sooner than later

Youth winner Matthias Spalteholz has engaged in environmental initiatives since elementary school and is now an active participant in Claremont secondary’s Institute for Global Solutions. His focuses have ranged from sustainable transportation to natural area stewardship and he recently won a One Planet School Challenge for his video, Change That Can Be Seen From Space, about the Bamberton Beach cleanup.

Barry Andrushuk got the nod for biodiversity conservation, for continuing to preserve a federally listed species at risk on his private property, bearded owl clover, after building on his lot. He worked with Saanich to fence off the plants on private and public lands and create an interpretive sign for trail users accessing the nearby beach.

Sustainability category winner Jim Church has worked with his and other strata buildings to increase electric vehicle readiness through comprehensive infrastructure retrofits, and has become a champion for this previously unheard-of process.

“I’m so proud to recognize these environmental stewards and all they have achieved,” Harper said. “Congratulations to our well-deserved winners and thank you to their nominators. Your stewardship makes our community an even greater place.”

Recipients received a framed certificate and recognition on a commemorative plaque at municipal hall. Learn more at

ALSO READ: The final countdown to banning some single-use plastics in Canada begins today


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