Sustainable Gabriola initiatives

Below are many of the local initiatives that have sprung from discussions at our monthly meetings. Some remain under the Sustainable Gabriola umbrella, while others have spun off into their own groups.

Gabriola Climate 12-12-12 project (2022–2023)

GABRIOLA CLIMATE 12-12-12 was initiated in September 2022 as a year-long project. Its objective was culture change — to shift Gabriolans’ climate anxiety from helplessness to local action, springing from local voices and ideas. The project name represents 12 months, 12 wicked problems related to climate change, and 12 (or more) solutions.

Each month focused on one topic, with hands-on learning events and in-person “Climate Cafes,” where locals met to hear what islanders were already doing to adapt and mitigate, and to brainstorm Gabriola-made solutions going forward.

A summary of this project is on the Gabriola Climate 12-12-12 page. The project garnered much interest here on Gabriola, even attracting media attention and inquiries from other communities wishing to replicate its themes and structure.

In the 12th month, August 2023, the project held a wrap-up celebration. At that meeting, priorities for action were identified in each of eight issue areas, and the next phase of the project was launched — more about that on the Climate-12 Action page.

Sustainable Gabriola EV Rides project (2021, ongoing)

Interested in buying an electric car? Several electric vehicle (EV) owners on Gabriola (Fiat 500, LEAF, Tesla, Mini Cooper) have offered to take prospective EV owners for a drive. For more information send an e-mail to and we’ll connect you with the owner of one of those cars.

Gabriola Beyond Recovery research (2020)

The Gabriola Beyond Recovery research was carried out on behalf of Sustainable Gabriola and the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative. Over 360 Gabriolans described their experiences, well-being, and hopes for the future through a survey and interviews. Some lessons learned through this research include: 1) the importance of social connections, connections with nature and exercise for well-being; 2) the importance of addressing increased anxiety and stress; 3) the magnified impact of the pandemic on workers; 4) the need for adaptation strategies for a vulnerable local health care system; 5) the importance of income stability and consideration of UBI; and 6) the necessity of increasing community resilience through local make, grow and buy initiatives. 

Gabriola Talks! (2019, ongoing)

Gabriola Talks was conceived as a series of conversations between fellow islanders about complex issues that affect the community. Members of Sustainable Gabriola hosted the first meeting in May 2019 to ask participants to envision what effective cross-community dialogue could look like, and to help identify topics for future discussion. Read more about Gabriola Talks and come join our next community discussion.

Heat Pump Social Enterprise (operating since 2010)

Based on heat pumps using approximately 1/3 the amount of electricity that baseboard heaters do to produce the same amount of heat, a social enterprise has been established whereby Gabriola homeowners can acquire heat pumps at cost in return for a donation to Sustainable Gabriola. Over 850 have been installed as of August 2021, reducing the amount of electricity imported to the island by some 10 gWh per year. Improving heating efficiency by replacing baseboard heaters with a heat pump has the potential to save the average homeowner who heats (only) with electricity an estimated 1,100 kWh or around $1,200 per year.

If you are interested in purchasing a heat pump send an email to  If you already have one and have questions about operating or servicing it please visit

Katherine Levett of the BC Cooperative Association giving a talk at the Roxy on October 21, 2017 about how we can use co-ops to move Gabriola closer to being a socially, economically and environmentally regenerative community.

Co-ops – Bringing the economy home

Gabriola has a long history of people working together for all, and member-owned and controlled Co-operatives is one way we do that. Ethical by design, co-ops grow local capital, employ local people, and share both the risks and the rewards of the enterprise among members and the community. Our co-ops are:

  • Parent Participation Childcare Co-op,
  • Sustainable Energy Co-op of Gabriola,
  • Gabriola Community Investment Co-op,
  • Gabriola Co-op Network – and
  • branches of Mid-Island Consumer Co-op, Coastal Community Credit Union, and the Vancouver Island Regional Library.

Got a group that is interested in starting a co-op?  For more info, see Gabriola Co-op Network  or visit the Let’s Grow Co-ops Facebook page.

Kill-A-Watt (2017, ongoing)

How much energy do your appliances use? The idea of putting kill a watt meters in the local library so that people could borrow them with their library card came from Bowen Island. There are now three kill-a-watt meters in Gabriola’s library ready to be used. For details on how to use them, click Killawat-instructions. For wattage requirements for appliances click How Many Watts Do You Need.

Thermal Imaging Camera (2018, ongoing)

A FLIR Cx infrared camera is available on loan from the Gabriola Library. Unlike digital cameras that photograph objects, this camera is used to photograph heat. Some practical uses include detecting water and moisture damage, insulation deficiencies and drafts.

Moisture Pen (2018, ongoing)

A FLIR MR 40 moisture pen is available on loan from the Gabriola Library. This small device measures moisture in wood and other common building materials. Many people like to use it together with the infrared camera.

Fix-It Fairs (2016, ongoing 3 times yearly)

Fix-It Fairs have been held three times a year since 2016. Lamps, vacuums, computers, small kitchen appliances, weed whackers and many more items were brought to our volunteer fixers. They either fixed the item, figured out what part was needed, or let the owner know that it wasn’t worth fixing.

Look out for the colouful circular posters on community boards and in all the usual places (Jan, May, Oct).

To volunteer as a fixer contact Kim at

Road Safety (2018, ongoing)

Photo Credit: Victor Anthony

In an effort to make the roads safer, in particular around the ferry terminal, several Gabriolans have put together a proposed rerouting of pedestrian traffic – ferry-village-trail.  This rerouting is being discussed with MOTI and BC Ferries.

Village Visioning (2014, ongoing)

Discussions at a Sustainable Gabriola meeting flowered into the creation of a group focused on creating a more sustainable vision for Gabriola’s village area. You can find out more at:

Community Bus Project (operating since 2013)

For many years, a keen interest in public transit for Gabriola has been evidenced in numerous petitions, surveys and our last two Official Community Plans. From discussion at forums initiated by Sustainable Gabriola, a core community group has emerged committed to carrying this interest forward. In late spring 2013, a 3-year pilot study started and in February 2017 the community voted to keep Gertie on the road. For more info check out

Cyclepaths (2010, ongoing)

A group of Gabriolans starting working on island cycle paths following a Sustainable Gabriola community discussion about transportation priorities. The Cyclepaths group created a report that outlined a proposed cycling route, together with a corresponding Land Use Bylaw. Stretches of the route that have safety risks were identified, together with recommendations regarding addressing those risks. The focus of the report is on side-of-road cycle paths. Pedestrians, young children, people using electric scooters, strollers, and walkers are also users of these paths.

The Islands Trust LTC used the report as the basis for incorporating cycle paths into the Official Community Plan. Work is now underway to make these paths a reality. To view the report: Cyclepaths of Gabriola Report.

Well-being survey (2010)

In 2010 Gabriolans filled out a well-being survey that asked questions ranging from their satisfaction with life to their connection to the environment, to their satisfaction with the health care system. Mike Pennock, who worked on Bhutan’s Happiness indicators helped create the survey questions and provided his analysis at an SG forum.

Here is the November 2010 report: Gabriola Well-Being Survey Results.

And a follow-up presentation May 2011 by Mike Pennock.