Deborah Czernecky sketches a landscape outside the Coast Collective Gallery in Colwood. Her en plein air paintings are featured on the new Colwood Community Green Map.

Green map highlights Colwood landscapes

Deborah Czernecky doesn't go far without her sketch pad and keeps an emergency paintbox in her car.

Deborah Czernecky doesn’t go far without her sketch pad and keeps an emergency paintbox in her car.

The Colwood landscape artist paints outdoors, or en plein air, and when she sees a scene she wants to capture she has only about 90 minutes to commit it to paper before the light changes.

She’s travelled the world with her easel and paint brushes in hand, but never tires of the local sights. Czernecky has painted Esquimalt Lagoon, the Royal Roads University forests and Fisgard lighthouse — these paintings are among the dozen from her collection incorporated into Colwood’s new community green map.

“There’s so much beauty all around us,” she says. “It gives me great joy to be able to paint in my own backyard.”

Czernecky is fascinated by changing landscapes and uses her art to record how places once looked.

Her painting of the Havenwood Estate near the Coast Collective Art Gallery show white buildings which have since been covered in murals, and a landscape of the barren Royal Bay lands capture an area yet to be developed.

Even arbutus trees, one of her favourite local subjects, may disappear from the urban landscape because of a defoliating fungus that stressed city trees are particularly susceptible to.

“My paintings become a record of how a place looked, so I can still see it after it’s gone,” she says.

Colwood coun. Judith Cullington sits on the municipal parks and recreation committee that spearheaded creating the green map along with the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, with funding from the Realtors of Greater Victoria.

She hopes to keep the map up to date with changing landscape. “This is the first version of the map, and we hope there will be updates to it every few years or so,” Cullington says.

The multi-year project involved taking a blank satellite map of Colwood out to community events and asking residents to point out favourite places, then refining several drafts.

“There are so many great places, we could have covered every inch of the map,” Cullington says. “We had to cut it down to what we could agree were the most important community highlights.”

Only key roads are named, and icons point to places of ecological or cultural importance or where eco-friendly activities such as composting, recycling or renewable energy generations take place. Hiking trails, parks and rare ecosystems are also identified.

“Even long-time residents will find new places to explore looking at the map,” Cullington says.

The Colwood Community Green Map can be picked up at city hall (3300 Wishart Rd.), the Chamber of Commerce (2830 Aldwynd Rd.) or Coast Collective Gallery (3221 Heatherbell Rd.) for a suggested donation of $3, which will be used to cover the printing costs of future versions of the map.

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