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Make way for skinks

Make way for skinks

When the project to build a patient care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital began, a process of stakeholder engagement went with it. Groups of invested and impacted individuals including local residents, First Nations communities, and elected officials became part of a consultation process lasting several years.

Despite the epic task at hand, a group of passionate environmentalists wanted to ensure the project considered the interests of even the tiniest of stakeholders. They championed a cause over three years to restore and protect the habitat of a small lizard known as the western skink.

The western skink has made its home in many parts of B.C. including the area surrounding Penticton Regional Hospital. It has been identified as a species-at-risk due to its dependency on dry rocky slopes, silt embankments and rocky creek banks to make its home.

A young western skink is recognizable by its bright cobalt blue tail

Alongside the monumental task of enhancing patient care through the building of a brand new patient care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital, this small group of environmental stewards worked to ensure the project would protect the smallest of local residents.

The work paid off. Thanks to their advocacy and fundraising efforts, the new landscape of the hospital grounds now includes artificial dens which provide critical shelter for winter and the careful placement of flat cover rocks.

In recent months as the skinks have returned to the area, staff and visitors around the hospital are reminded to tread lightly, thanks to a series of skink crossing signs.