Outside Recreation Scholar Works Towards a Sustainable Future in Tourism |

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Working with the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society and the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals, Cheshire aims to partner to raise awareness about sustainable business practices

Bridget Stringer-Holden (she/they) // News Editor
Valeriya Kim (she/they) // illustrator

Sophie Cheshire (she/she) has taken on an ambitious project for her freshman year at Capilano University (CapU).

The Outdoor Recreation Management student works with the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society to bring sustainable tourism practices to Howe Sound. “I was very attracted to work with [the society] in any form,” Cheshire said. “When I spoke to Ruth [Simons]she introduced me to this project, which immediately sounded like something I wanted to do.”

Cheshire met Simons, the coordinator and president of the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society, last fall at an EarthWorks event hosted by instructor Roy Jantzen.

Jantzen helped Cheshire design a self-paced degree program for Spring 2022, marking the start of a year-long project to create partnerships between society and outdoor leisure companies operating in Howe Sound.

Cheshire began her research in January by looking at UNESCO’s global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “I didn’t know much about the SDGs at all, so I had to do a lot of research – what do they mean, what are we looking for, which ones do we want to focus on?”

Eventually, she settled on Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals, as her primary focus. Cheshire has also examined goals related to life on land, life below water, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequality and sustainable cities and communities.”

During her research, Cheshire noticed a lack of proper frameworks or government mandated requirements — things needed to create sustainable tourism businesses. “There is still a lot of work to be done on this aspect, but I want to set a framework with this particular project that companies could aspire to, particularly for the Howe Sound region.”

Before Cheshire can interview companies in the area, she needs approval of the project from CapU’s Research Ethics Board — something the first-year student described as an “interesting” process. “It’s a very formal, academic way of putting things […] You have to be very specific about the questions you ask them and the way you ask them,” Cheshire said. “That was a challenge for me.”

She hopes the project will give marginalized people more access within the community. “Actually, we need to find out where the opportunities are and give these companies resources to work with,” Cheshire said.

She spoke with Federal Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault on March 11 about her ideas for the project, including a possible partnership between Inclusion BC – which supports and advocates for people with disabilities – and Power To Be, a local nonprofit promoting outdoor recreation offers for people living with disabilities.

Cheshire hopes to begin phase two of their project this summer as part of their collaboration. Since she would be the organization’s first employee, the process involved a lot of paperwork in order for her to become an employer. However, Cheshire has a job description and is simply waiting to sign the deal once third-party funding is secured.

During their collaboration, Cheshire hopes to build a community through the Society’s website. “The goal is to have [businesses with identified best practices] offering workshops and building partnerships with other companies,” she said, citing sustainable mountain bike companies as an example.

The workshop idea was sparked by another class at CapU that is currently collaborating with the Society. Once this class completes their project in April, it will be turned over to Cheshire, who can work on implementing the ideas.

The International Coordinating Council approved the nomination of Howe Sound as Canada’s 19th UNESCO Biosphere Region on September 15, 2021. This new biosphere stretches from West Vancouver up the Sea to Sky Corridor – almost as far as Whistler – and includes parts of Bowen Island and then the Sunshine Coast.