Our Community: It’s amazing what a little can do

Large sculptures, constructed from cans of food, are on display at Hillside mall this week to raise money for the Mustard Seed Food Bank.

The event, Canstruction, hosted by Victoria’s Dahlia Society, invites teams from local organizations, including this year Farmer Construction, Knappet Projects and Seafirst Insurance, to build sculpture pieces on a single theme from canned food.

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This year’s theme is: “You are what you eat.”

Visitors are requested to bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to the Mustard Seed to assist the organization during the summer months, a time when donations drop off but needs don’t.

A special donation of two food items or $2 will allow visitors to vote for the People’s Choice for their favourite Canstruction sculpture.

This year marks the fourth Canstruction Event for Victoria, which all told have gathered 89,000 tins of food for the Mustard Seed.

Worldwide, Canstruction events have been held in 150 cities, collecting 21 million food items since 1992.

The Hillside event began on Friday and runs to Monday, June 12. Saturday, June 10, will be Family Can Day, with mascots, a scavenger hunt and face-painting.


Bring your love of literature to Sidney

For all those lovers of literature and those who would like some literary success of their own, the Sidney and Peninsula Literary Society is hosting a special fundraiser in support of its annual festival.

The society is hosting a fundraiser on Monday, June 12, at the Star Cinema in Sidney with a special screening of A Quiet Passion, a film about American poet Emily Dickenson.

The show is at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available in advance at Tanner’s Books and online at Eventbrite.ca.

The Sidney and Peninsula Literary Festival’s annual festival is on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22, 23 and 24. It’s a weekend of readings, panel discussions and writing workshops with authors and journalists from B.C. and Canada.


Ocean Sciences facility opens its doors

Today is the last day to tour the facilities and chat to oceanographers at the Institute of Ocean Sciences on West Saanich Road.

As part of the 175th anniversary of the Geological Survey of Canada and Canada’s own 150th birthday, scientists, sailors and a Canadian Coast Guard research vessel are welcoming the public.

School children from the South Island were scheduled to be led through Thursday and Friday. A public open house was to begin on Saturday and continue today.

The open house runs 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, 9860 West Saanich Rd.


Leadership Victoria gets new directors

Leadership Victoria, a group started by the Victoria Foundation and Volunteer Victoria to assist with the development of community leaders, has announced three new board members.

Leadership’s board of directors welcomes:

• Brad Buie, a University of Victoria alumnus and employee, who looks forward to developing new leaders in the region;

• Don Evans, executive director of Our Place Society, brings a perspective born of working with not-for-profit organizations and business;

• Nicole Huk, a recent returnee to Victoria after several years in Vancouver, works for Modo, the car co-op, and looks forward to assisting with building relationships in the region.

Leadership Victoria was formed in 2008 to steward the Community Leadership Development Program. To learn more, go online to leadershipvictoria.ca.


Hotel managers pitch in for Our Place

Victoria hotel managers were preparing to hoist trays and help serve lunch last week at an event to support Our Place.

The Hotel Association of Greater Victoria continued its ongoing support for Our Place on Thursday with a $7,800 donation.

Hotel managers were helping to serve lunch at Our Place, the downtown soup kitchen and centre at 919 Pandora Ave., on Thursday.

The Hotel Association of Greater Victoria has 48 member hotels and regularly supports festivals, scholarships and community-outreach programs.

For the past two years, the hotel association has been providing monthly support to Our Place for the hundreds of people it feeds each day.


Fill your tummy with mac and cheese

When it comes to home cooking, nothing says comfort food better than a plate of good macaroni and cheese.

To prove it and compete for kitchen bragging rights, Victoria chefs, restaurants, food stores and students from Camosun College Culinary Arts will compete in a Mac & Cheese Cook Off on Saturday at Mount St. Mary Hospital’s Spring Fair.

The fair will feature fun for kids, a silent auction of items donated by local businesses, art displays, jewelry sale, live music, raffles, a barbecue and cake.

While admission to the fair is free, a chance to taste and cast a vote for the best Mac & Cheese in town will cost you $5 for a tasting card. Awards will be presented for the People’s Choice, and a panel of expert judges will also declare a winner.

Money raised by the fair and the Mac & Cheese competition will assist Mount St. Mary in its mission to provide complex care for about 250 people in a home-style setting.

The hospital was founded in 1941 by the Sisters of St. Ann and has never lost faith in its belief that good care supports an individual’s independence, dignity and quality of life.

Mount St. Mary’s Annual Spring Fair is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturday, June 10, at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital at 861 Fairfield Rd.


A day of play raises $200,000

Thirty-five teams from Victoria’s business community ran, climbed and paddled for charity last Sunday over 10 kilometres in a race designed to test their co-operation and communication skills.

The Power to Play, presented by TD and held at Elk/Beaver Lake Park, raised a total of $223,000 to support Power to Be and its two areas:

• Adaptive Recreation, inclusive nature-based adventures for people ages seven and up who face barriers or live with disabilities;

• Wilderness School, a three-year program for youth, Grades 8-10, who live with financial or social barriers to building confidence.

ScotiaWealth earned the Act-of-Kindness Award for raising $16,040 for Power to Be.

Meanwhile, Latitude Geographics had the fastest time with 1 hour, 50 minutes and 33 seconds.


Young girl gets help from War Amps

One Langford girl, 10 1/2 years old and brimming with confidence and achievement, was granted a space in last weekend’s Victoria Day Parade on the War Amps float to warn all young people to “PlaySafe!”

Marin Piasentin was born missing her right arm below the elbow. But between therapists at Queen Alexandra Centre and the devices and help from the War Amps, Marin has barely known she is missing anything.

“Right from the get-go, she has had all these people saying: ‘You can do this’ or ‘let’s try it this way,’ ” said mother Chantelle Piasentin, a teacher.

Chantelle said Marin’s therapy at Queen Alexandra began as a baby. But War Amps have always been there, too, with different devices that allow her to do anything she wants, from fastening buttons to playing a guitar and even performing gymnastics.

A highlight for Marin and her family (she has four siblings and another on the way) is always War Amps seminars. She gets to meet other War Amps kids, or CHAMPS, for child amputee.

“You get hundreds of kids coming forward with the various devices they use to do everything like playing hockey and stuff,” said Chantelle. “It’s really cool.”

The War Amps receives no government grants. To find out more, go online to waramps.ca.


Playgrounds compete for a makeover

Three Island communities have made the top 10 finalists in the BCAA Play Here Competition, a chance to win a playground makeover worth up to $100,000.

Now the online voting begins and must be completed by noon on June 18.

Island finalists are:

• Eric J. Dunn Elementary School, Port Alberni.

• Sahtlam Park, Lake Cowichan.

• Galiano Community School, Galiano Island.

To vote and learn more about the three Island entrants, and the seven others from British Columbia, go online to bcaaplayhere.com.


Two honoured with Duke of Edinburgh Awards

Two students from Claremont Secondary have been awarded the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards:

• Arjun Niranjanan, 17, is a Grade 12 student already accepted at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, who walked the West Coast Trail and developed his classical piano skills to earn his gold.

• Ford Smith, 18, has been accepted at the University of British Columbia in the department of health sciences and kinesiology, and has volunteered hundreds of hours with search and rescue, and ski patrol.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston was scheduled to present the Gold Award to Niranjanan and Smith at a ceremony on Friday in Burnaby at the Ismaili Centre.


Sidney wants ‘clean’ skate park

The Town of Sidney wants to try something really radical for its skateboarders, a skatepark free of all graffiti.

It’s not as if Sidney dislikes urban art or wants to stifle free expression. Skateboarders and skatepark designers have told the town graffiti paint on the concrete does damage to the quality of the skating, especially when landing after performing a jump.

“I have to say I would love to skate in a clean park,” Zac Fair, owner of Artavi Skateboard Collective, said in a telephone interview.

Fair said paint can create a sheen that makes it more difficult for the hard, narrow wheels of a skateboard to grip properly.

He also said it also gets tricky when various graffiti artists use different paints, so the grip of the wheels shifts from art to art across a ramp or a bowl.

It’s true, Fair said, some parks that host top-notch, professional-level skaters are painted. But their paint is selected for its grip and it is applied with a consistent surface in mind.

Sidney officially opens its new skatepark on July 2, part of the town’s 150th Anniversary Canada Day celebration. Town engineers are considering blank walls to provide surfaces for free-ranging artists and graffiti taggers.

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