From the community

First Nations art installations honour Westhills’ vision of sustainability

Posted May 08, 2014, at 5:23 a.m.

From the earliest days, water, sun and earth have been sustainers of life. For the developers of Westhills, a sustainable, master planned community in Langford, they are also the foundation upon which the development is based.

Westhills welcomes residents, officials and local First Nations last September 2012 to celebrate these core elements of sustainability with the unveiling of the first three installations in its First Nations Art Tour.

The stunning, handcrafted works of First Nations art by the Amber Yayahkeekoot Artists were commissioned for the inauguration of Sustainable Services Ltd. (SSL). SSL provides the delivery of water and, through its Community Energy System (CES), heating and cooling energy to Westhills homes. The artistic message is one of respect for these sustaining elements and all they provide, a message reflected throughout the Westhills project, currently building homes to a Built Green Platinum level.

By using renewable, geo-exchange technology – literally, harnessing the natural temperature of the earth – and a water-based distribution network to provide nearly all of energy needed for heating, hot water and air conditioning, homes connected to the Westhills CES typically use about 35-per-cent-less electricity than a conventional home.

“The installations reflect Westhills’ goal of community sustainability through environmental stewardship that includes the ommunity’s relationship to the land, water and air,” explains Kyle Taylor, Assistant Manager of SSL. “Our relationship with First Nations and their art beautifully explores this historical and traditional concept of harmony with mother earth.”

The first stop on the First Nations art tour is the Community Energy master plant near the Goudy Field, where the carving “Thermal Comfort” represents Westhills’ geo-exchange heating and cooling system. With a warm sun shining over a frog depicted inside a home, the carving reflects how the frog uses the earth’s heat, burying herself in the mud to hibernate through winter. The story is representative of every home in Westhills, heated and cooled with a sustainable source of energy.

The story of the trickster Raven and Black Bear inspired the carving on the Water Pump Station, “Shared Energy.” According to the legend, Raven befriended Black Bear only to trick him into handing over his salmon lake. But as Raven flew away with the lake, he dropped it, scattering the salmon in waters around the world for all to enjoy. Frog also played a key role, both as witness and storyteller. For Westhills, this scattering of the salmon represents the sharing of water and energy throughout the development for the benefit of the community and the environment.

The third artwork, “The Vision for the Land,” is mounted at the Transfer Station, in memory of Henry Eng, the previous owner of this portion of the Westhills land. The painting surrounding this third carving represents Mr. Eng’s continuing presence on the land. The carving inside reflects his desire for people to enjoy his land in harmony, neighbour to neighbour – represented here by the raven,eagle, trout and frog.

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