COLWOOD – Breaking News

COLWOOD – Breaking News

            


Regional News:  BC & NATIONAL | VANCOUVER ISLAND (island-wide impact) | LANGFORD | COLWOOD | VIEW ROYAL | METCHOSIN | SOOKE | JUAN de FUCA | REGIONAL EVENTS


 

Bahamas rock band plays to full crowd at Rock the Shores, July 15 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, July 15 ~ COLWOOD. Concert event review,by Mary P Brooke [see this article on its own page]

The rock band Bahamas teased the crowd and organizers that ‘Rock the Shores’ might have been better named ‘Rock the Forest’ (because they couldn’t see the ocean from the stage and venue behind West Shore Parks & Recreation in central Colwood). But even with that, Sunday evening at the weekend-long Rock the Shores event was a rockin’ good time for music festival goers of all ages.

That diversity of people attending the three-day festival July 13 to 15 could have possibly been the highest achievement of the event put on by Victoria-based Atomique Productions.

Atomique built a suitable pop-up venue and people did come. Games and sprinklers for the kids, deck chair seating for older folks, VIP section under shade, a variety of food and games for everyone, water refilling stations, lots of bins for recycling and garbage, and ample parking that was well organized — Atomique set themselves up right for success. That included a wide selection of musical genres throughout the weekend, and scheduling their biggest-name act for the last performance on Sunday evening.

Brian Wilson live at Rock the Shores, July 15, 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Following the popular Toronto-based Bahamas, Brian Wilson and his backup band of 10 musicians and vocalists took the stage for 8:30 pm. It was still a warm night — about 25°C as the icon of Beach Boys fame got rolling. A mostly younger adult crowd pressed up to the stage area, swinging to the beat and enjoying the music. Older folks in the crowd and the lawn chairs probably better connected with the memories of the California-band that produced such greats as California Girls, Good Vibrations, and Surfer Girl.

Brian Wilson had come off back surgery only three weeks ago, and needed help getting to the white grand piano at center stage. But as a consummate pro, he fluidly delivered the old hits as well as new, giving shout-outs to various key members of the band.

Wooden deck chairs were popular at Rock the Shores this year [West Shore Voice News photo]

One of the challenges of the lower-field venue behind West Shore rec centre was that long walk back up the hill for some of the older folks, or families with young kids. Maybe some golf cart transportation next year would be beneficial for more folks.

Many people had arrived on bicycles, that could be parked securely under the watchful eye of Mountain Equipment Coop personnel. There was venue security and a few members of West Shore RCMP on hand to round out site security amidst the thousands of people on site.

Overall, the event was pretty tame compared to legends of musical festivals of days gone by. But there was still a bit of beer/pop tossing over unsuspecting people in the crowd. Beach balls got tossed around. Kids on parents’ shoulders, friends dancing and hugging, old folks reminiscing together — a nice time for all.

You know you’ve experienced good quality rock music when the loud bass absorbed up at the front of the stage is in synch with your body rhythms, not jarring. And, when everyone in the crowd seemed to relax and have a really good time.

It looks good on Colwood and West Shore Parks & Rec for having a facility able to support an activity with such broad scope.


Rock the Shores stage and crowd, July 13 in Colwood [West Shore Voice News photo by Sophia Romanchuk]

Friday, July 13 ~ COLWOOD. Colwood is a rock and roll mecca this weekend July 13-15, as the first day of Rock the Shores came to a close Friday night. Music lovers from across the West Shore and the broader Victoria region have been looking forward to the return of the 3-day-long music festival, after its hiatus last year.

Rock the Shores attracts a diverse music festival audience. The crowd included children, retirees, and college youth alike. With the festival grounds sporting different areas, one could choose if they wanted to be in the heat of things right up by the stage or relaxing on a picnic blanket or lawn chairs further back. Something for everyone.

The back field area behind West Shore Parks & Rec offers ample area for a positive approach for a festival venue, something that people can sometimes find overly compressed or crowded.

The lineup, featuring some of the greats like ‘Juliette And The Licks’ and ‘X Ambassadors’, set up a good tempo and pack of memories for the rest of the weekend. By late Friday evening, the crowd seemed to leave even more excited for the next two days then when they had arrived.

Coming up, another two days — Saturday and Sunday — packed with amazing artists. Audiences can get excited for Corb Lund, Jesse Roper, The Sheepdogs (8pm), and Social Distortion (9:30 pm) and others on Saturday night. The Sunday lineup starting at 12:40 pm includes Fox Glove, Frazey Ford, and Bahamas, and closing at 8:30 pm with Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame. Schedule: www.rocktheshores.com/schedule


 

Juan de Fuca Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library [July 2018] – West Shore Voice News photo

Sunday, July 8 ~ COLWOOD.  Libraries & recreation help support youth & community.

Coming up to the end of his two-year term as Chair of the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) board, Colwood Councillor Rob Martin expresses pride about two new branches opened within the 12-branch GVPL system (the Westhills branch in Langford and the new building for the branch in James Bay), but says the main branch in downtown Victoria “is bursting at the seams”.

Library buildings must be built by the municipality, with GVPL providing all collections, fixtures and operations. “A library is a strong pillar of a community,” says Martin. “It says a lot about who and what you are as a community”.

As the Internet makes information more widely available and pushing that traditional book-lending function into other roles and modes of availability (including online), libraries are growing into providing a broader community role.

Colwood Councillor Rob Martin [West Shore Voice News photo 2018]

Libraries are a place to meet, including for families to explore books and play or for parents to take a break and read outside of smaller accommodations that many families live in nowadays. “The library turns into the community living room and a community hub,” says Martin.

In 2017, about 6.6 million visits were made to GVPL branches. Of those, about 2.4 million were in person and about 4.1 million online.

GVPL has 5.4 million items in their collection, with 88% of that still on paper, the rest being e-materials.
An initiative that really shows the reach of GVPL to serve their member communities is their venue partnership program. Passes for free admission can be checked out by adults, youth and families to visit the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Craigdarroch Castle, the Maritime Museum, the Royal BC Museum, Robert Bateman Centre, and the Saanich Recreation Centre. “This helps citizens engage back into our community as much as possible,” says Martin.

Martin is also pleased that the GVPL provides book-loans to inmates at the William Head Institution in Metchosin, something that was complex to set up in terms of security. The program is run by a GVPL staffer on his own volunteer time.

Martin also served as chair of the West Shore Parks & Recreation board (2012-2016). He is most proud of bringing the Rock because I’m truly passionate about things in the community,” he told West Shore Voice News.

“If we spend time with kids when they’re young, it helps them stay connected with community and out of the corrections system,” Martin says.


Crowd at the 4th Annual Eats& Beats at Esquimalt Lagoon in Colwood, July 7, 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, July 7 ~ COLWOOD. There was a huge turnout for the 4th annual Eats & Beats outdoor beach gathering at Esquimalt Lagoon in #Colwood today July 7. 

Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) dropped by to check out the lively long walk of food vendors, market, displays, and live music that ran 1 to 8 pm.

Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) at Eats & Beats, July 7 [West Shore Voice News photo]

There were thousands of people, most of whom arrived in the hundreds of cars parked for kilometres. There was also bus service, and other people were dropped off and walked down to the oceanfront.

People lined up at the food trucks for a variety of treats including hot foods (including poutine and burgers) and of course ice cream.

Tables under cover of sun umbrellas were provided and others ventured onto the sand to enjoy treats and family time by the water.

The live music was catchy.

There were crews to direct traffic, and West Shore RCMP had a presence in their vehicles.

Some vendors tried out Eats & Beats for the first time, including Oak Bay Bicycles (West Shore) who had bicycles people could try out for a quick spin on site.


 

Premier John Horgan and Education Minister Rob Fleming shared reading time with kids at the library in James Bay, July 3 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Tuesday, July 3 ~ VICTORIA. Premier John Horgan and Education Minister Rob Fleming read stories to young children and chatted about how fun it is to read over the summer months while school is out.

The small gathering took place at the James Bay Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library this afternoon, July 3.

Premier Horgan clearly enjoyed the interactive time with his very young audience. He joked that after reading a fun story to the kids he would be going back to his office to do more reading as part of his job.

People who just happened to be at the library today and the parents of today’s group of kids had this spontaneous opportunity to chat briefly with the Premier. One older woman clearly expressed her gratitude to Horgan for “all he is doing” for people in BC.

While this event was held in downtown Victoria, the Greater Victoria Public Library system includes libraries in the west shore including the Westhills and Goudy branches in Langford, and the Juan de Fuca branch in Colwood.

Colwood Councillor Rob Martin is chair of the Greater Victoria Public Library board.


 

Tuesday, July 3 ~ VICTORIA AREA / West Shore focus. The Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) said that in June the uncertainty of the real estate market has produced predictability, i.e. lower overall volume of sales. Their news release this month concentrated almost entirely on inventory levels and government pressures on the market.

But the elephant in the room is the ever-increasing housing prices in the Greater Victoria area. Last month the single family home average sale price was $889,097.

In the West Shore, which is considered affordable, in June the average house sale price was creeping closer to $600,000 in Sooke, was nearly $700,000 in Langford, and is creeping up toward $800,000 in Colwood. Condo prices are holding under the $400,000 price point in Langford. Here are the June 2018 prices for Langford, Colwood and Sooke (compared to the Greater Victoria average):

Single Family Homes:
Langford 60 sales     $694,169
Colwood 12 sales     $787,575
Sooke 26 sales         $578,646
GV 317 sales            $889,097

Condos:
Langford 40 sales     $378,655
Colwood 4 sales       $428,250
Sooke                       no sales
GV 229 sales            $485,158

Townhomes:
Langford 14 sales     $608,900
Colwood 6 sales       $723,250
Sooke 6 sales           $425,767
GV 77 sales              $615,919

A total of 708 properties sold in the Victoria region region this June, which is 29.8% fewer than the 1,008 properties sold in June last year, and a 6.2% drop from May 2018. The condominium sales tally was down 25.1% compared to June 2017 with 230 units sold, while the single family home sales volume was down 34.7% from 2017 with 357 sold this June.

Kyle Kerr, VREB President points to the mortgage stress test as a key impact on sales declines: “Because of decelerating growth due to aggressive government implementation of policies to reduce demand, Victoria’s real estate market has been hobbled since the start of the year when federal restrictions around mortgage qualifications were rolled out. Even demand side measures that are not yet live,” said Kerr, referring to the BC Speculation Tax that is specific to the Vancouver/Kelowna/Nanaimo/Capital Region which he says are dragging the market down as many consumers stand aside to watch what happens.”

No mention that the biggest brunt of cooling the housing market hits people least able to afford it — entry level buyers and the owners of homes at the lower-end price point. When gainfully employed people can’t buy a home, they end up near the top end of the rental market which is expensive and also displaces other renters.

There were 2,595 active listings for sale on the VREB MLS at the end of June 2018. That’s up 8.4% compared to the previous month, and 35.5% more than the 1,915 active listings for sale at the end of June 2017. Last year with the specter of rising interest rates and the pending stress test, housing inventory was rapidly depleted.

Listed properties are lingering longer on the market than usual, Kerr said. “The slower pace of the market has created more time for buyers who may have been hesitant to jump in during the high pressure market conditions of recent years.”

The development community has been hoping to see more supply. “If we see more listings over the next few months we may be heading back into a more balanced market situation,” Kerr said in the VREB news release.


 

SD62, West Shore Voice

SD62 board meeting June 26 — last of the 2017-2018 academic year, and the last for Superintendent Jim Cambridge who retires July 31, 2018. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, June 30 ~ WEST SHORE. SD62 hears from 58% of their employees. [Read this article on its own page]

At their June 26 board meeting, the Sooke School District (SD62) board heard the preliminary results of a workforce engagement (employment satisfaction) survey done by the BC Government.

As reported out with stats and display graphics by Public Sector Research and Evaluation Manager Angela Matheson, it was shown that about 58% of SD62 employees participated.

Some key findings included — as might be expected within the teaching profession — that ‘organizational commitment’ was high, while overall organizational satisfaction showed a range of results.

A hybrid analysis found some things that appeared to be red flags for senior administration: 8% of respondents were pegged as ‘minimally engaged’, with another 6% as ‘disengaged’. Some interesting categories of ‘happily detached’ (8%) and also ‘unhappily dedicated’ (7%) were considered to be anomalies.

Generally speaking, job stability and pay levels were not contentious issues, as compared to the general base of public sector employees.

The survey was thought to be important at this time, as a significant number of new teachers have joined SD62 in the past year or two, and are therefore at the start of their employment curve with SD62 which is one of the largest employers in the west shore.

As might be expected, participation rates in the survey were lowest (23%) for teachers were are on-call (i.e. not full time). Those who work within SD62’s Westshore Centre for Learning and Training who work extensively with online technology and deal more directly with the workforce and a range of learning scenarios, showed the highest survey participation rate (90%).

The last survey of a similar nature was done by the school board back in 2003. Trustee Margot Swinburnson said she hoped this sort of information would be acquired more regularly. Trustee Denise Riley said the survey idea was initiated by senior administrative staff, to which Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull responded with a comment that the “morale and health” of the organization required some quantification with a baseline. Superintendent Jim Cambridge said that “engaged, happy, satisfied employees” are the goal.

:::: This article first published in the June 29, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

The BC Government grad scholarship announcement at Royal Roads University (RRU) on Tuesday June 26 was hosted by Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin), with speeches by Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark, and RRU President and Vice Chancellor Allan Cahoon [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, June 27 ~ COLWOOD. Royal Roads grad scholarships topped up by $180,000.

A good-sized crowd of Royal Roads University (RRU) staff and students gathered on the third floor of the Learning and Innovative Centre on Tuesday afternoon, June 26, to hear an announcement from the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark about $180,000 coming to RRU for more grad-level student scholarships.

It’s part of a $12 million investment announced last month by Premier John Horgan, providing $15,000 each for students pursuing graduate degrees in research-intensive or professional graduate-degree programs.

Mark addressed the crowd of about 80 people with motivational remarks about “pushing the envelope for change” and having “room in her canoe” for everyone who wants to paddle together toward advancements in social, economic and environmental justice. Minister Mark said she is “proud to be part of a progressive government that wants to lift people up”.

The upbeat formal announcement event was hosted by MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) who is also the Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. Dean remarked about women leaders being advocates for all and how the current NDP government is helping people who’ve been left behind.

Royal Roads University President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Cahoon [West Shore Voice News photo – June 2018]

RRU president and vice-chancellor Allan Cahoon said that 70% of students at the RRU campus are at the graduate level, with research focussed on applied and professional areas. He was pleased for Mark to be able to meet directly with recipients of grad-level scholarships that day. The additional scholarship funding support will provide further grad student accessibilty, he said.

Cahoon emphasized that RRU education is “different” in that it focusses on making a difference in the community. The university is pleased to attract professionals and experts in various fields who are “brought back in terms of learning and teaching”, notably through attentive assessment to the work-world background and life experience of applicants
in addition to academic training.

After the formal presentation, Cahoon said that a three-way conversation with local school board SD62 and the City of Langford is going well, bringing together shared interests and benefits to the community. One of the goals is to offer new post-secondary opportunities to west shore high school graduates as they transition into post-secondary. This could help SD62 bump up its below-provincial-average Grade 12 graduate transfer rate and Langford can pitch in with a business innovation support network and access to their nearby recreational facilities.

The west shore campus idea was not originally part of the RRU long-term plan, Cahoon told West Shore Voice News, but says RRU is responding to the labour market needs of BC and a call-out from Langford and the west shore. “This plan is not necessarily for our business development (at the campus) but to respond to the community,” Cahoon said.

A mid-July meeting will develop things further amongst the three parties along with BC government input. Discussions will include a review of preliminary results from a survey of SD62 parents and students about their post-secondary wants and needs and what some of the barriers to transferrability might be (survey done in schools and online in May and June, including some passive outreach to the broader community). Cahoon says there will be cooperation with UVic and Camosun. All undergrad courses at RRU will be transferable to other post-secondary institutions, he said.

Supporting grad-level education is part of an education continuum, Minister Mark told West Shore Voice News, noting the increase of the grad scholarship level from $10,000 to $15,000. She also spoke excitedly about STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-the Arts-Mathematics) in which she emphasizes the ‘A’, beyond STEM. “We’re investing in students, we’re on their side.”


 

Four of Colwood’s six councillors showed up with Mayor Carol Hamilton, to hear public input at the official OCP Public Hearing, June 18. (From left): Councillor Lilja Chong, Councillor Jason Nault, Mayor Carol Hamilton, Councillor Terry Trace, and Councillor Cynthia Day. Not there Monday evening were Councillors Rob Martin and Gordie Logan. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, June 22 ~ COLWOOD.  It was a light crowd on Monday night, June 18 — maybe 40 people in the audience at most, engulfed by the spaciousness and rows of empty seats in the Colwood Pentecostal Church hall. And most had nothing to contribute. Three or four speakers took up about 15 minutes at the podium. No Q&A with council. The public hearing about Colwood’s Official Community Plan (OCP) Bylaw 1700 was done by 7:20 pm.

All the public engagement, deep desk work by planners, assessment and wrangling by Council, and intense counterpoint from the development community had all been done in various phases over the past year and half. Having the officially-required public hearing (the next step under the Local Government Act after council has given third reading to a bylaw), sounds like something where a lot is discussed. At least that’s what the public might think.

But unless some glaring omission surfaces, or there is something completely off in left field, the public hearing is effectively a polite nod to the public before a major vote is taken by council. In a discussion afterward with Mayor Carol Hamilton and a few councillors it was clear that public input was taken very seriously at the front end of the OCP revision process (2016-2017).“But there are never substantive changes as a result of a public hearing (toward the end of the process). It’s slanted toward government to get business done,” said Councillor Cynthia Day.

Given the nearly empty church hall (at taxpayer’s expense) how did the municipality misjudge the expected level of input at this late stage of the game? Public engagement from mid-2016 to late 2017 was extensive; anyone with general or even specific thoughts or contributions had already said their piece. And some key players of the development community — despite their valiant efforts for the first half of 2018 to see changes made to aspects of Bylaw 1700 that they feel will push up housing prices too much in Colwood — also did not come to the microphone Monday night with any attempt to still see changes made.

Nowadays few people expect any success with ‘fighting city hall’ (as the saying goes) on large projects that have a momentum all their own. Mayor Hamilton and her council seemed pretty determined to get this OCP bylaw passed ahead of breaking for summer and of course ahead of the fall election. Had they really wanted significant public input on the various drafts, they might have hoped to encourage more input at the various council meetings of recent months. The fact that some members of the general public showed up expecting an educational-style presentation about the near-ready OCP or at least to hear debate, shows a lack of explaining the process.

Some land use bylaws and supporting regulations still need to be dealt with at Council, but residents can likely expect the current OCP draft (dated May 28) to see final approval relatively soon.


Fox Glove on tour, spring 2018.

Friday, June 15 ~ COLWOOD. A unique and ethereal sound will take over at Rock the Shores on the afternoon of Sunday July 15, when Fox Glove takes the stage at the outdoor music festival.

It’s a busy year for the Victoria-based band, as they transition from touring to playing the festival in Colwood next month, while also gearing up to release their first full-length album.

Rock the Shores is produced by Atomique Productions, first bringing local, national, and global talent to the west shore in 2012. After a hiatus in 2017 (acts grabbed up by Canada Day festivities), this year the festival is back to transform the Westshore Parks and Recreation lower fields into a celebration of the many voices of rock n’ roll for the July 13-15 weekend.

Fox Glove is an all-woman band. Renn Madeleine Bibeau, Claire Butterfield, and Chelsea Kanstrup each have their own unique voice. In their collaboration they’ve blended their styles together into a unified sound-print. Somewhere between whimsical folk and indie rock, their distinct style is immediately recognizable. It carries hints of The Staves, Iron and Wine, Florence + The Machine, and Bon Iver.

Individually these musicians have a wide range of individual preference, but as a group their vision is cohesive. They each have a musical background, meeting by chance six years ago at a musical jazz ensemble. Fox Glove was born out of their shared passion to create music. The name blooms from the cathartic and complex notes in their music — like the flower, poisonous yet also medicinal.

The Fox Glove style was something that the group wasn’t sure would play to their advantage, as it might not fit with the vibe of the festival. Ultimately though, “the melding, intermixing of many genres is what makes Rock the Shores so impressive,” says Renn. She adds that Atomique Productions has taken specific risks with this lineup, but that the outpour of support after the lineup was released is a testament to what the festival brings to the island.

Renn says that it’s really awesome that so many of the bands are female-fronted at Rock the Shores this year, and adds “hats off to Atomique for making that decision.” The three agree that “it’s sad that we even have to think about that, but we’re glad that they are.” They say that Victoria has an especially abundant scene of talented female musicians, and they’re proud to be part of it.

Bringing women’s voices in the music industry to the big stage: “We take the responsibility of that quite seriously”, the group says, adding that they are always trying to find opportunities to be role models for other women who are interested in being musicians but might not see the opportunity.

Chelsea says the group loves seeing younger girls at their all-ages shows, and that it’s always inspiring to be told that they have helped other young women see their own potential as musicians. “Hopefully that’s something that becomes normal, but until that point we make an effort to do what we can and to give other people the opportunity that we have and that we have created for ourselves,” she told West Shore Voice News this week.

The Fox Glove gals are excited to also see the other acts lined up for the festival including headliners Brian Wilson, Social Distortion, and X Ambassadors.

So, what can we expect to see from Fox Glove on stage next month? “We’re bringing out the big guns,” indicating a number of guests will be invited to take part on stage.

Their new single Universe, Be Damned will be released July 13 as part of their Rock the Shores weekend experience. www.foxglovemusic.ca | Rock the Shores tickets/info: www.rocktheshores.com

>> Article by Sophia Romanchuk, for West Shore Voice News | First published in the June 8, 2018 issue of West Shore Voice News


 

Five mayors of the West Shore Parks & Recreation Society owner municipalities at their June 14, 2018 AGM (far row from left): Ken Williams (Highlands), Carol Hamilton (Colwood), David Screech (View Royal); and (back to camera): Councillor Denise Blackwell (Langford), and John Ranns (Metchosin). [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, June 14 ~ WEST SHORE. Tonight the five municipalities that own the West Shore Parks & Recreation facility disbanded their board. [View this article on its own page]

While mayors (or their reps) around the table for the 2018 Annual General Meeting gave assurances that the West Shore Parks & Recreation Society board and staff were not the problem, the boom came down.

Effective immediately, the five municipal owners (Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands) will run the show. ‘Time to push the reset button’, was a phrase used often this evening, June 14. The five mayors will be represented by the Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) of their municipalities.

It’s a rather unique setup, an interim board to — in part — carry the WSPR entity relatively intact through the fall municipal election period (during which mayors will be otherwise occupied) and into the 2019 home stretch of the current agreement. The current West Shore Parks & Recreation ownership agreement expires in April 2019.

Rumblings for change began in the last few years and intensified this year, as Langford with its seven new recreational facilities in seven years began to feel as though its annual contribution to WSPR was becoming out of balance with the benefits gained for Langford residents. At tonight’s WSPR AGM Langford Councillor Denise Blackwell said: “Langford pays a great deal and we also fund our own facilities. We’ve felt an inequity in the amount that Langford is paying for recreation,” she said. And joining the chorus of similar statements around the table: “It’s not about the members of the board or staff – it’s owners with the most issues,” said Blackwell.

When WSPR began, there were few recreational amenities in Langford. After how long it took to get the Q Centre (behind the main Juan de Fuca Rec Centre building at 1767 Island Highway) up and running, Langford’s Mayor Stew Young took recreational initiatives in Langford under the control of his municipality. Langford now has sports fields, ice rink and arena, a bowling alley, and access to the pool within the Langford YM-YWCA.

The five mayors running this show are Stew Young (Langford), Carol Hamilton (Colwood), David Screech (View Royal), John Ranns (Metchosin), and Ken Williams (Highlands). Until last year the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) was also a member, but JDFEA Mike Hicks managed to get his area out of the deal over evidence of minimal usage by JDFEA residents.

The Juan de Fuca Parks & Rec fieldhouse, on the lower fields behind the main rec centre [West Shore Voice News photo – June 2018]

The current five mayors met mid-May to discuss the findings and recommendations in a report known as ‘the Huggett report’ (by consultant Jonathan Huggett) which was commissioned for $25,000 to review the terms of reference and find a way forward for recreation in the west shore that is presumably more equitably contributed to.

“The Huggett Report takes us one step forward,” said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns during the AGM. “It’s a preliminary report and we’re following the footsteps. It’s nothing against the board and good works that people have done.” Ranns said that the interim board is “the only means we could find” to break the current impasse of budget and funding issues.

In part, those issues are underscored by staff that may have been left rudderless for vision and direction – perhaps by a combination of ownership being one-step-removed (mayors were not members of the WSPR board), extended absence of a senior staff person away for health reasons, and perhaps a lack of organization around ‘moving forward’ in various levels of business development.

For Ranns to say this evening that “we fired ourselves” was a bit of humble pie, as mayors now fully hold the reins through their CAOs.

Highlands Mayor Ken Williams said “the board did the best they could do with the tools given to them”. He said the new arrangement was a way for achieving “maximum potential for this facility”.

The Juan de Fuca Parks & Rec fieldhouse, on the lower fields behind the main rec centre [West Shore Voice News photo – June 2018]

At tonight’s WSPR AGM — held in the Fieldhouse behind the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre – board chair Ed Watson clearly stated that he felt that collapsing the current board was “about money”. Indeed, Langford in particular has been looking for a new formula for a couple of years now, one that will see its annual contribution (requisition) to WSPR be more representative of how much benefit Langford residents get from the facility. Now it sounds like all five member municipalities are on board for something equitable.

Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton tonight said “it’s about the ownership and productivity, and how we support this facility to see it thrive”, adding her support for CAOs to run the ship while mayors are busy during the election period.

The other aspect about money has been a revenue shortfall, which municipalities flagged as a problem and essentially (through objection by member councils) froze the WSPR budget at 2016 levels. Staffing costs have gone up, so have (or soon will be) some of the admission and facility fees. A little revenue burst was seen in the last year or so from adjusting the rental arrangements of the LED display sign at the roadside. But use of the curling rink and Q Centre and many of the field areas have been underutilized, perhaps through a lack of leadership, vision or operational know-how.

It now seems long ago (though it was only March 1) that Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton issued a surprisingly forthright statement including that “Colwood is fighting for West Shore Parks and Recreation’s survival by advocating for a sustainable financial plan. We risk losing West Shore Parks and Recreation if owner municipalities act in their own interests rather than honouring their contractual obligations.” Much of that seemed targeted toward Langford.

But at tonight’s WSPR AGM it was pretty much ‘smiles all around’, with all five municipalities on board – if not actually excited – to be going into a transitional phase in which they feel they will have an opportunity to rethink the financial model for delivery of recreation services in their five west shore areas.

Recreation is understood among most of the WSPR community leadership as well as users as more than just the facilities themselves. The rec centre, arenas, pool, golf course, seniors centre and other amenities are the ways and means for community groups, sports teams, and many sectors of the community to gather, be active, recreate and learn.

Outgoing chair of the West Shore Parks & Recreation Society board, Ed Watson (left) and Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, at the June 14 AGM [West Shore Voice News photo]

That the problems suffered by WSPR facilities and budget mishaps has been “about money” is the nugget of it all. With 2018 fee-based revenues being only about half of the expenditures lined out in the budget, for some municipalities it has felt as through their per-resident requisition payments have somehow been increasingly pitched into a black hole.

While disbanding of the WSPR volunteer board of 14 people (elected reps from each municipality plus non-elected appointees) was done as graciously as could be hoped for, it was a clear reclaiming of power by the top levels of municipal government. The CAOs (the most senior staff person of each municipalities) have already rolled up their sleeves and begun the necessary processes for discussions and moving forward. There’s no moss on this rolling stone that will see new decisions for recreation in the west shore being made by new councils after the October 2018 election.

While the faces of the five councils are likely to be refreshed in October 2018, few if any of the current five mayors as incumbents are expected to fail at re-election. So this period where senior municipal staff are effectively in charge of the region’s largest recreational facility for at least the next six months, it’s likely that the mayors chose this method of disbanding their volunteer board as a way to maintain control, until the agreement can be rewritten ahead of April 2019 with a rebalancing of the financial requirements that will be expected of each municipality after that.

At present, requisitions into WSPR are paid strictly on population count. Langford is growing fast but can likely profess that fewer uses of the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre and adjoining facilities are by Langford residents, many of whom are staying closer to home using newer and a different range of facilities. In the 2017 WSPR annual report it shows a total population for the five-municipality region being just under 70,000. Of that, Langford has 50.7% of that count, with Colwood at 24.2%, View Royal 14.9%, Metchosin 6.8% and Highlands 3.2% (JDFEA had 0.2% population count in that formula until leaving the arrangement). Population growth for that combined group of municipalities was 32.2% over 10 years (2006 to 2016).

The Juan de Fuca Parks & Rec fieldhouse, on the lower fields behind the main rec centre [West Shore Voice News photo – June 2018]

For 2018, the required requisitions (based on the 2016 “approved amounts”) is listed in the annual report as totalling $4,947,539. That is comprised of $2,511,736 from Langford, $1,110,077 from Colwood, $725,839 from View Royal, $422,583 from Metchosin, and $177,304 from Highlands. This makes up 48.1% of required revenues to keep things running.

Expenditures based on the 2016 (most recently approved) budget were $11,643,688. So that leaves a difference (after incoming municipal requisitions, and depending on which year’s figures are crunched) of about $6,696,149. That’s where fee-based services come in, to provide the rest.

The biggest fee-based revenue generators in terms of percentage contribution to the revenues, are aquatics (7.89%), food and beverage services (6.55%), licensed care (6.55%), fitness and wellness (5.84%), and the Q Centre mostly anchored by The Shamrocks and The Grizzlies sports teams (4.93%). That’s followed by sports and curling, JdF Arena, Preschool to Youth, Arts & Culture, golf, seniors centre, and community recreation/development.

Earlier this year a projected transfer of $721,455 was expected to be needed this year from the capital surplus (a fund generally used for larger maintenance projects and new initiatives). The WSPR sees value in continuing to subsidize areas of its operations, including a subsidy in 2018 of $347,135 to operate the JdF arena ($4.26 per user/year), $289,462 to operate the swimming pool ($2.07 per usage/year), the Q Centre with a subsidy of $164,974 ($2.10 per usage/year), and the curling rink ice with a subsidy of $103,866 ($20.61 per usage/year).

The meeting wrapped up with a relatively tense debate about whether one of the five CAOs would represent the WSPR Society at the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association (GVLRA) public sector employer’s bargaining agency. WSPR board chair Ed Watson did remind the gathered mayors that an elected official is to participate at GVLRA meetings. Mayor Ranns said “leave it to the CAOs to figure it out”, in that they would check with GVLRA to see if one of the interim reps (CAOs) could attend GVLRA meetings instead of one of the mayors. Mayor Screech said he felt it could be a conflict for a CAO (staff) to participate in labour negotiation discussions.


 

Former Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders addresses OCP issues at Colwood Council May 28, 2018. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, June 8 ~ COLWOOD.  Colwood Council gave 2nd reading to the revised 2nd draft, i.e. 3rd draft, of their municipality’s Official Community Plan (OCP), presented under Bylaw 1700. That happened at a special council meeting on June 4.

Now they want further public input on a process of OCP revision that has unfolded since mid-2016. That public meeting is on Monday, June 18 at Colwood Pentecostal Church, 7 pm. Consideration of final approval would follow at a future council meeting.

At the June 4 council meeting, Director of Planning Iain Bourhill went through the latest revisions line by line. Some sections were rewritten and some new graphics inserted, all of it to “avoid creating misconceptions”. For the better part of a year, planner Katherine Lesyshen has also worked on the OCP documentation.

Changes included a revision to the definition of Site Adaptive Planning including that development be ‘sensitive to the landscape’; a new exemption was added for land that is less than 30% in slope but still within the Steep Slope DP area. This is, in part, to get around the building-cost concerns about saving existing trees. Green Shores certification was removed as a requirement under one item and “must use a site adapative approach” was deleted in another section. Structures other than boardwalks, roads and utility corridors must not be located in marsh or wetland areas.

Bourhill said that two detailed presentations by development consultant Mark Holland “lacked specifications” and were “repetitive on issues of process”. Input was “not in a substantive way for us to address it”.

Holland’s presentations to council included a lengthy but itemized treasure trove of broad insights into planning and developing the growth of communities, including the importance of urban ecosystem management that includes introducing new trees and landscaping. Direct use of the material would require a great deal of work.

Colwood’s communications manager Sandra Russell addressed council June 4 with an overview of the entire two-year public engagement piece. “Council has needed to hear all points of view. Each person’s input has been important,” said Russell, saying all stakeholder groups had been heard from (in the public that included developers, businesses, seniors and school PACs), and that event speakers had addressed urban planning, design and architecture.


 

Hatley Castle on the Royal Roads University Campus in Colwood, BC [West Shore Voice News photo – May 2018]

Sunday, June 3 ~ WEST SHORE. Post-secondary options for the west shore: have your say. Does the west shore need post-secondary options for new high school grads, so they can remain in their home community and still continue with their education affordably?

This week a survey with that very line of questioning was sent out by email to parents of students in grades 9 to 12 in the SD62 school system. That’s secondary schools in Langford (Belmont Secondary), Colwood (Royal Bay Secondary) and Sooke (Edward Milne Community School), as well as the Westshore Centre for Learning & Training which serves the full region.

Students will also be asked to complete a survey too (in class time), ahead of departing for the summer.
And now the broader community has an opportunity for input. A survey has been posted on the SD62 website at www.sd62.bc.ca (scroll down to the “We want your opinion” section). Or visit: https://www.academicasurveys.com/c/a/6AMQ4bVZlgMFN4yXK2BBC8

The public input is sought from people in business and community, as students do interact with and are employed by the local community.

Another important target audience is parents of recent high school grads, and grads who’ve gone on to post-secondary. They’ve experienced the lack of post-secondary in the west shore and may have important observations on the barriers to post-secondary. The transfer rates of students from SD62 schools into post-secondary is below the provincial average.

Steve Grundy, VP Academic, RRU

“We’re a changemaker campus, committed to curriculum that causes social change,” says Royal Roads University’s VP Academic, Steve Grundy. If first and second-year courses were offered “we would do it differently (from other university styles),” Grundy told West Shore Voice News this week.

“If we do whatever the right thing is for the community, good things can come from that,” he said. “We have some ideas, Langford’s mayor Stew Young has some ideas, and there’s good collaboration with the SD62 school board. But so far we don’t have the data to make good decisions.” Hence the rush to catch students and parents with a questionnaire before school breaks for the summer. “So, when and if we do anything, we hit the target,” says Grundy.

The idea is that transition to university be “much cleaner and easier for everybody involved”. There have been massive changes in the K-12 curriculum in BC. “Changes in 9-12 curriculum are much more closely aligned with our teaching model at Royal Roads,” said Grundy. It’s a model of collaboration, active learning, and integrated learning.”

Having the city involved brings the possibility of access to recreational facilities in Langford. As well, there is an idea of putting together an ‘innovative city’ business incubator jointly with businesses in the community.

The three partners to the exploratory program have the same objectives to make education more accessible to local residents in the west shore area. RRU, City of Langford, and SD62 all expect that there are financial barriers to grads going on to post-secondary (not just tuition but also travel and accommodation costs). Also, smaller communities are close-knit, and heading off to a far-away university or college may not be a desired option for many students.
Having first- and second-year courses available at Royal Roads in Colwood could be a highly suitable alternative. Course transferability would be given careful attention, says Grundy, so that students can further their education at other post-secondary institutions as desired.

If anything develops out of this initial exploratory (funded with $250,000 from the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training back in April), the earliest course offerings could come by September 2020, says Grundy.
Having taught at RRU since 1995, Grundy is particularly interested in the directions of post-secondary education, the evolution and development of online learning, and new models of university governance and leadership.
Public survey about post-secondary in the west shore: www.sd62.bc.ca (or direct link)


 

Thursday, May 31 ~ COLWOOD. Early this morning, May 31, West Shore RCMP received a call of a woman having been injured following an argument at a residence in Colwood. West Shore RCMP and BC Ambulance attended the home to find a woman with multiple serious stab wounds. The woman was transported to hospital in stable condition.

A woman at the residence was quickly identified as the suspect, and arrested on scene.

“Our serious crime investigators are gathering evidence at the scene and interviewing witnesses. A female suspect was arrested for aggravated assault. The victim remains in hospital in stable condition with serious but non-life threatening injuries,” says Cpl. Chris Dovell.

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online www.victoriacrimestoppers.ca .


 

Monday, May 28 ~ COLWOOD. Getting it right for the next 10 years in Colwood [Editorial]

Getting stuck. We’re all familiar with that feeling. Something digs in and you just can’t seem to get past it.
When that happens on a political level the slowdown can impact an entire community. Such has been the case in Colwood this year where a long drawn out tangled struggle between staff, some members of council, and various stakeholders (particularly developers) appears to still be hobbling the process of Official Community Plan (OCP) approval.

Most of us don’t think about OCPs every day. They are usually bulky, detailed documents that offer lofty ideas about community mission and use jargon about things like zoning bylaws, and are mostly found sitting on the bookshelves of administrators and politicians.

But as a vision statement by which infrastructure, housing and neighbourhood amenities are guided, an OCP looms large in all of our lives. All the more reason for elected leaders to want to get it right. And in the subtext: do they want to do this ahead of the fall 2018 municipal election, or leave an opportunity open for a new council with a four-year term into 2022?

The public in Colwood has had ample opportunity for input (the extensive ‘Making Waves’ public input process in 2016-2017). That input falls within the realm of ideas, hopes, and suggestions. In the hands of the city staff and council that information gets shaped with the goals and vision of the elected leaders. Reminder, this is where the rubber hits the road when you vote (next municipal election across BC is on October 20, 2018). Sometimes singular decisions at the council table will affect you as a resident and taxpayers for years, even decades.

As Vancouver Island-based planning and development consultant Mark Holland said recently, an OCP “done incorrectly” can set a road map to “increased taxes, unachievable goals, cynicism, politicization, infrastructure problems, safety hazards and loss of economic development”.

When it comes to developers — the ones who have the money and verve to build big things like apartment buildings and community amenities, well too bad there is a taint of toxicity in Canadian thought that translates into distrust of this distinct sector of the economy. These new housing units that everyone wants don’t go up by magic. Many people get their hands dirty to build them, and developers take a financial risk for which they should not be begrudged the profit (that’s their paycheque for the undertaking the stress of politics, construction management, and answering to the big banks).

Whatever Colwood council ultimately decides is beyond anyone’s control. What matters is the process ahead of that, which should not be effectively dismissing qualified advice (offered free) by the west shore development community.
Developers are sounding the alarm that new proposed OCP as it presently stands would push up the cost of housing in Colwood in ways that can still be avoided. That should matter to everyone.

The next Regular Meeting of Colwood Council is on Monday, May 28 at 7 pm.

~ This editorial first published in the May 25, 2018 issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Sunday, May 20 ~ COLWOOD. A youth battle of the bands is coming up Saturday June 9. Rock the Rink will take place in the Juan de Fuca curling rink from 7 to 10:30 pm.

Five bands with players up to age 18 will compete for the chance to play a set at the big weekend Rock the Shores outdoor concert July 13-15. The competing bands were shortlisted from auditions: Tuesday’s Roadkill, The Colts, Fairfield, Sugar Castle and The Porter Brothers.

West Shore Parks & Recreation is coordinating the Rock the Rink youth event in partnership with Atomique Productions and the Zone @ 91-3.  Proceeds will support regional youth initiatives in Greater Victoria.

A panel of celebrity judges, including Elli Hart, lead singer from Dirty Mountain, and Rock the Shores 2018 performer, will help crown the winner. All bands selected to play Rock the Rink will receive complimentary tickets to attend Rock the Shores on the Friday night. On top of playing Rock the Shores the winning band will be interviewed on the Zone @ 91-3 and will have a band photo shoot courtesy of “Rocktographers”.

The full community (all ages) is invited to attend and support local youth bands. Prizes include a weekend pass to Rock to the Shores. Doors open at 6:30 pm with a limited number of tickets at the door (admission by donation). Tickets can also be purchased by donation online through https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rock-the-rink-youth-battle-of-the-bands-tickets-44817631743

Several community organizations including the RCMP, Foundry, and Trans Care BC will be on hand to connect youth to community resources in recreation, mental and sexual health, music and more.  More info online at www.westshorerecreation.ca


 

Friday, May 16 ~ COLWOOD. A blood donor clinic will be held on Monday of this long weekend, May 21 at the Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Ave in Colwood. Lots of parking.

The clinic will be open 12 noon to 6:45 pm. Appointments can be made at www.blood.ca or just drop in.

The reception process includes a screening by filling out a questionnaire on one of the mobile computer stations. Questions from a nurse are also part of that process for new donors.


 

Wednesday, May 16 ~ WEST SHORE. A presentation for parents about ‘Raising Digitally Responsible Youth’ will be held this evening, Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm in the theatre at Belmont Secondary School, 3041 Langford Lake Road.

“With society heading in a direction of being constantly connected to technology, what do we need to know as parents to protect our kids and teach them responsible and appropriate use of technology?”, it was pitched to parents by the SD62 school district.

“The parameters of rules and expectations that you put in place at home will undoubtedly guide their behaviour in the years to come.”

  • Social Media Update – The most current apps & trends in their social media lives.
  • Pick Your Battles! – You will have to balance the yin with the yang, promote independence whilst taking a strong stance on certain subjects.
  • Current Research – Brain development & technology, violent video games.
  • Digital Footprint and Reputation – With their future approaching, recruiters and employers are taking note – what will they find?

The presentation will be delivered by Safer Schools Together – an organization focused on promoting a climate and culture of safety in schools through comprehensive education. www.saferschoolstogether.com


 

Long rows of tomato plants at the Colwood Campus plant sale May 12, 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, May 12 ~ COLWOOD. A massive plant sale today May 12 in support of the Garden Project at SD62’s Colwood Campus was a big success!

Under bright sunny skies, thousands of potted plants were purchased and taken home by eager gardeners. About 1,100 tomato plants were among the offerings, as well as peas and beans, herbs, blueberry plants and more.

Some purchasers bought one or two plants, and other plant-sale customers left with carloads of plants.

Organizers say about $5,000 in proceeds will probably be the final tally from today’s hard work. Students learned to grow and tend to the plants in the weeks leading up to the sale, as part of their Grade 11 Sustainable Resources class at the Colwood Campus. That high school is part of the Westshore Centre for Learning and Training.

This year the Garden Project requires funds to make up for a $14,000 funding shortfall (for summer labour and supplies) after repeat-funding from the YMCA became unavailable this year.

Some years ago the Colwood Campus was considered part of ‘alternative’ education but the variety of learning opportunities at that SD62 division at 2139 Sooke Road is fast becoming recognized for how some students are better suited to a more hands-on style of learning.


 

Saturday, May 12 ~ WEST SHORE. Royal Roads & Brookes Westshore team up for teaching & research

Royal Roads University (RRU) and independent school Brookes Westshore (Grades 6 to 12) have signed a 5-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) to foster a relationship between the two educational institutions through mutual cooperation in teaching and research.

Announced May 10, the MOU sets the foundation for future cooperation and collaboration as Brookes Westshore prepares to open to students in Sept 2018 right next door to RRU on Sooke Road in Colwood. They aim to create a hub to benefit students, staff and faculty at both institutions.

“Royal Roads looks forward to collaborating with Brookes Westshore as it offers a high-quality education next to our Hatley Park campus,” says Royal Roads University President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Cahoon. “We share a common vision of the importance of providing our students with an exceptional educational experience, through enhanced global understanding that supports our local community as well as the labour market needs in British Columbia.”

“Brookes is delighted to collaborate with Royal Roads to create a vibrant learning community on the West Shore,” says Jerry Salvador, Director of New School Development and Director of the Americas for Brookes Education Group. “This partnership extends our commitment to innovative education and will create unique learning opportunities for our students and faculty.”

Royal Roads and Brookes Westshore have agreed to cooperate in several areas, including marketing and recruitment, pathways for Brookes students to transition to university learning at Royal Roads, and teacher training.


 

Archive – Colwood news [Jan to April 2018]

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