Hundreds of elementary-school children invaded Portage Park in View Royal last week, but it was all for a good cause.
Roughly 300 students, teachers and some parents pulled on yellow gloves and strapped on their boots to help remove invasive English Ivy from a section of the local park on Thursday and Friday.
“It’s been an amazing day, a lot of work has happened already. The energy is very high,” said Amanda Evans, program manager of the Greater Victoria Green Team, who, in collaboration with the Town of View Royal, and with funding from the Victoria Foundation, put on the two-day event.
“It’s a great opportunity for local schools because they can take pride in the park that they visit and really think of themselves as stewards of this park … It was hard to get them [the kids] to stop working.”
In the first few hours of day one, students removed close to six cubic metres of invasive plants from the area. Organizers hoped to remove the species from at least 100 square metres of the park by Friday.
But this isn’t the first time View Royal students have been involved in an initiative like this. In 2016, students helped clear English Ivy from another section of the park, and in 2017, students from Shoreline Middle School continued that work.
“We’re hoping that we’re creating future volunteers and that they’re going to take ownership of the park and care for it and look after it – see it as their park,” said Chris Junck, co-ordinator of habitat restoration volunteers with the Town.
“Long-term what we see in other areas is that it [keeping the park clean] seems to cut down on things like vandalism and litter, and people start really looking after and caring for their park.”
Grade 5 student Max Williams said the initiative has taught him a lot about English Ivy.
“I learned that ivy invades trees and stuff way more than I thought,” he said. “It was fun pulling out ivy.”
Ten-year-old Madyson agreed and hopes to continue removing the species from other areas, beginning with the English Ivy in her backyard.
“I have some in my backyard so I can do that,” she said.