The 2023 Environmental Awards recipients were recently honoured at the June 19 City Council meeting. The awards recognize people and organizations that make exceptional contributions to the health and well-being of Burnaby’s air, land and water.
This year featured two Environmental Award winners and four Environmental Stars. Congratulations to all of our winners and thank you for your incredible dedication to preserving our environment!
Environmental Award Winners
Burnaby And Region Allotment Gardens Association (BARAGA), in the category of Green Choices
BARAGA is a not-for-profit association that has managed and maintained a community garden in the Big Bend neighbourhood for 40 years. The City has partnered with BARAGA to maintain a publicly accessible community garden to encourage residents to grow and process food. The continuous commitment from BARAGA and its members to create an environmentally sustainable community garden has resulted in community-wide interest in growing food and rich social interaction among the residents.
Caio Conradt, in the category of Youth
Caio Conradt has been President of Earthwise Club for two years spreading awareness on topics like soil degradation, fast fashion, pollution and ocean acidification. He has organized games, and activities like nature walks, water testing, clean ups, creating a pollinator garden and more.
In addition, Mr. Conradt generously volunteers his time to manage the greenhouse at Burnaby Mountain Secondary School (BMSS), acts as the Youth Committee Head for Sprouting Chefs Society, and volunteers as an animal care worker with the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC and the Vancouver Avian Research Centre.
Maureen Templeton, in the category of Community Stewardship
Maureen Templeton is a member of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee (SCEC), a dedicated group of volunteers committed to protecting, preserving and enhancing Burnaby's urban forest and salmon-bearing streams through streamkeeping activities. Ms. Templeton handles the accounting preparations and the financial statements for the group, prepares grant applications to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and oversees corporate donations. She’s been honoured for her work leading the fundraising and organizing committee of the annual Great Salmon Send Off. She also finds time to contribute outdoors, where she engages directly with the public on invasive plant removal, replanting of native plants, fish trapping and bird counts.
Matthew Syvenky, in the category of Community Stewardship
Matthew Syvenky is the youngest Director of the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society (CHFPS) and has held his seat since 2020. He spearheaded a community stewardship project, Rubus Restoration, in the Cariboo Heights Forest in 2021. In coordination with the Invasive Species Council of BC, CHFPS, and the City of Burnaby's Planning and Solid Waste and Recycling staff, the project gathered volunteers from Burnaby and across the Lower Mainland, which resulted in the removal of an estimated 500 kilograms of invasive species from a fragile creek ecosystem and restored the site with over 30 diverse
native plants. Since its completion, Mr. Syvenky has partnered up with other local stewardship groups to host garbage cleanups in Burnaby, most of which have taken place along the Brunette River, where he and fellow volunteers work to clean out abandoned camps and garbage along the trails.
Cheney Creamer, in the category of Green Choices
Cheney Creamer demonstrates an exemplary commitment to environmental sustainability in the home, garden and community through her work in various projects and programs. Ms. Creamer helps design community gardens and educates residents on native species, removal of invasive species, food producing techniques and is also a local gardening expert. She designed a 400 feet community garden for a Burnaby strata that outgrew residents’ needs, resulting in food being donated to the community. Through her innovative pioneering of garden boxes used from reclaimed local wood, she’s helped create community gardens, raise awareness of the importance of local flora and fauna and natural wildlife corridors and traditional Indigenous food sources.
Ziya Merchant, in the category of Youth
Ziya Merchant is a grade 11 student at Burnaby South Secondary School with a long-standing interest in environmentalism. Ms. Merchant's interest in reducing single-use plastics inspired her to launch an educational campaign to spread awareness about the social, ethical and environmental consequences of plastic water bottles at her school. The campaign, Phase Out Plastic Bottles, grew into a grassroots organization reaching over 15 schools across Canada, including the Lower Mainland and Ontario, and even branching into the United States.
Environmental Awards Program