Eliza Olson of Delta, British Columbia is the winner of the 2006 Earth Day Canada Hometown Hero Award.
A former schoolteacher and mother of two, Eliza Olson has well earned her title of Hometown Hero. Having become aware of the integral relationship of the Burns Bog to the local ecosystem in the late 1980s, Eliza began a tireless journey through bureaucratic red tape and the onslaught of industrial developers in an effort to preserve the ecological integrity of this unique landscape – the largest undeveloped urban landmass on the west coast of the Americas.
Nearly twenty years later, Eliza is still the heart and soul of the Burns Bog Conservation Society in Delta, British Columbia. As a founding member of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, Eliza has resided as its President since its inception and has become a full-time volunteer for the society since her retirement.
The Burns Bog Conservation Society believes that successful conservation requires a concerted effort towards environmental education. Eliza has been integral to the development of the Society’s educational materials and programs that include field trips and tours, resource materials, workshops and the construction of a boardwalk. Having been an educator herself, Eliza saw the need to engage the younger generation and sought support from teachers in the Delta area to instill an understanding about the ecology and importance of a bog landscape.
At every opportunity, Eliza rallied on behalf of this vital landscape, raising enough public awareness and support to convince four levels of government to purchase the majority of Burns Bog (over 5000 acres) in 2004. Over the years, she collaborated with other bog groups in British Columbia, as well as in Ireland, in areas of restoration, education and outreach. She is said to have led the way for other bog protection groups in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
As a result of Eliza’s passion and dedication, the quality of life for people, plants, and animals species living in, near, or migrating through the bog, has been enhanced for generations to come.