One of Oak Bay’s longest serving employees reflects on his career – Oak Bay News

Caring for the environment isn’t always popular, but for Chris Hyde-Lay, it’s been a lifelong passion.

Hyde-Lay has been with the Oak Bay district for nearly 30 years, making him one of the longest-tenured employees on the roster. He has worked in horticulture for years, as a farmer and for the past 11 years as a park service manager.

“I’ve always loved the beauty of growing things,” he says.

Heide-Lay studied horticulture at Bee Dinter Nursery in Duncan with a diploma and a Red Seal in Horticulture from BCIT. He has a Diploma in Supervision from the University of Malaspena.

He began working with the Oak Bay District in 1988 and has worked independently for seven years since.

“It’s the sense of community that brought me back, without a doubt,” he said. “The staff at the district are great, and the volunteers are amazing.”

He also noted that some volunteers have outlived their time with the district.

Over the years things have changed, as things have gone digital communication through text is obvious. Other uses of technology have also expanded, including the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology to map parks. Plans are underway to create an online tree inventory.

But the biggest change is the public interest in the area.

“Since the 90s, people are more interested in ecology, trees and flowers. They are more intertwined with society, especially now with a focus on climate change.

Many of the projects the district is working on are government-led, and residents want to preserve the vibrancy and beauty of Oak Bay.

One project that has been implemented in the last five years is the district-wide urban forest strategy, which aims to have 40 percent canopy cover in the municipality by 2045. Currently, the district is 33 percent.

Another project is partnering with the University of British Columbia’s Community Coolkit to host a series of workshops and resources to learn about ways to make your home more environmentally friendly.

With various projects, from the creation of a bird sanctuary, to the maintenance of seven kilometers of fences, 29 parks and 27 kilometers of boulevards, Heide-Lai says his proudest moments are his achievements in environmental regeneration.

“I’m very proud of Upland Park because it’s special,” he said. “It’s precious to me because it’s a rare ecosystem with an unusually high number of rare plants … It’s probably one of the best in any park in Canada.”

In the year In 2020, the Government of Canada recognized Upland Park as a National Conservation Area.

At the end of the day, Hyde-Lay says the reason he’s worked with Oak Bay for so long is simple.

“It’s a great place to work.”

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