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Our Community: Explore Esquimalt's Urban Arts Tour; Victoria revamps busker program; Easter Seals camp gets a makeover

This is the fifth anniversary of the Urban Arts Tour, which features paintings, pottery, glasswork, fibre art and more displayed in neighbourhood gardens.
Paintings adorn the front yard of a house at last year’s Urban Arts Tour. This is the fifth year of the annual ­art-filled walking and cycling tour through Esquimalt, featuring paintings, pottery, glasswork and fibre art made by local artists displayed in neighbourhood gardens. PHOTO VIA ECAH

Artists and gardeners pair to create a tour of Esquimalt

Begun as a work-around to crowded art markets ­during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Urban Arts Tour pairs Esquimalt artists with gardeners for an art-filled ­walking and cycling tour through the municipality on Saturday.

This is the fifth anniversary of the event, which ­features paintings, pottery, glasswork, fibre art and more displayed in neighbourhood gardens.

“It’s been amazing to watch the event grow over the years,” said Luca Jesse Apel executive ­director of ECAH (formerly the Esquimalt Community Arts Hub). “Our first year, we had 13 artists and ­hand-painted signs. Now we have 45 artists, an interactive online map and a community that looks forward to it all year.”

Participants use the tour map to design routes based on what they want to see and how far they want to go.

The tour is produced by ECAH, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to creating accessible and ­low-barrier arts opportunities.

The event is free. It runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 6 at various locales in the municipality. Printed tour maps can also be picked up at the Eccentric Artist Studio and Gallery, Esquimalt Recreation Centre and Bunny’s Kitchen.

• For more information on participating gardens, ­artists or the tour map, go to

Victoria launches program for better busking downtown

The City of Victoria is asking for public input as it considers changes in its Street Entertainment Bylaw, introducing busking locations along Government Street and other areas downtown in a pilot project, starting in July.

The review is part of the city’s OUR DWTN revitalization program’s vision for a refreshed and improved downtown experience.

There will be five designated busking locations on Government Street between Yates and Wharf Streets where licensed buskers may perform. There will also be eight “elevated” locations — at the Upper Causeway near the Visitor Centre, Ship Point, two spots in Bastion Square (the plaza area near Wharf Street and the southwest corner of Langley and Bastion streets), Johnson Street plaza, the northwest corner of Broad and Fort streets, and the northeast corners of Broad and Yates streets and Douglas and Broughton streets.

These “elevated” locations will feature curated performances by licensed, auditioned/juried buskers on specific dates and times. These buskers will be paid $50 on top of any tips, for each scheduled performance.

“This review is designed to improve the quality and variety of busking performances downtown,” said Mayor Marianne Alto. “Whether you’re a new or seasoned busker, downtown business owner or resident, or part of the broader community, your feedback is important to us. We want busking to enrich the experience and vibrancy of our downtown.”

The online survey will measure the community’s support for specific types of busking locations, sound amplification at specific sites, as well as the types of busking and related amenities buskers and the public would like to see.

If the recommendations are adopted, the city will develop an interim update to the bylaw and test additional busking approaches next summer.

Look for Busking in Victoria pavement decals featuring a QR code to find the online survey, which closes Aug. 31. The busking pilot program ends Sept. 19.

A busking showcase will take place on Canada Day. The event features an information booth for buskers and the public to learn more about the busking pilot and the online survey. The event takes place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 1 at Ship Point.

• For more information or to take the survey, go to

Co-op backs Easter Seals’ ambitious camp renovation

Peninsula Co-op has made a $100,000 contribution to the Easter Seals British Columbia and Yukon to go toward their $25 million transformation of Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan.

The revitalization of the camp will create North America’s first year-round, purpose-built multi-functional retreat destination for children, youth and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. It will also serve the needs of their families and caregivers.

“The new Camp Shawnigan is a visionary project that will allow us to deliver life-changing programs for people with disabilities, in a fully inclusive and accessible space,” says Mike Leland with Easter Seals BC/Yukon. “This will no longer just be a camp for kids for six weeks of the year. The new space will allow us to run year-round programming, serve more people and meet the needs of the disability community in ways we’ve only dreamed. It will also become a space for leading edge research and education for industry professionals.”

Peninsula Co-op has supported Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan since 2008.

• For more information, or to donate to the campaign, go to

Library has summer programs for kids of all ages

The Greater Victoria Public Library is helping make reading cool for children this summer, with a range of activities for all ages, with Baby Time, B.C. Summer Reading Club and Summer Challenge, with events starting in July and lasting until September.

The B.C. Summer Reading Club provides children aged 12 and under with an opportunity to discover the joy of reading while strengthening their literacy skills. The program encourages children to read, or be read to, for at least 20 minutes each day.

Last year more than 9,650 children participated in the program.

Other programs include Read and Write Reviews, for ages 10 to 18, Summer Challenge, for ages 13 and above, Summer Baby Times, Family Storytimes and a series of StoryWalks, which start in July.

• For more information, go to

Release your inner actor at improv workshops

Seniors 55 years and better can open their minds to learning at an Intro to Performative Improv workshop at the Silver Threads Service Victoria Centre, July 17 to Aug. 7.

Participants will learn the basic foundations of performative improvised theatre in a series of play-based workshops with improv games and exercises. The classes are also an opportunity for participants to reconnect with themselves and others.

The four-session workshop is facilitated by Brett Macdonald, who holds a Bachelor of Education degree and a diploma in theatre. She has been training, performing and teaching improv for over a decade.

Silver Threads Service has been serving the community for 67 years.

The program is $44 for Silver Threads Service members or $60 non-members. The sessions run 10 to 11:30 a.m. every Wednesday, July 17 to Aug. 7 at the Silver Threads Service Victoria Centre, 1911 Quadra St. (at Caledonia and Quadra streets, near the Victoria Police station).

• For more information, call 250 388-4268 or go to

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