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Our Community: Little library marks 200, and growing

A repurposed Times Colonist newspaper box became the 200th Little Free Library in the Capital Regional District last week. Victoria’s newest library, at 1495 Shorncliffe Rd.
Homeowner Jean Newton and Teale Phelps Bondaroff, a board member with the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, show off Newton's little library box on Shorncliffe Road in Saanich, the 200th to be installed in Greater Victoria.

A repurposed Times Colonist newspaper box became the 200th Little Free Library in the Capital Regional District last week.

Victoria’s newest library, at 1495 Shorncliffe Rd., was made possible thanks to support by the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network and its Pocket Places Project. The network defines placemaking as the design, management and programming of shared-use spaces.

The project began in 2017 with the support of a City of Victoria My Great Neighbourhood grant. It aims to support members of the community in setting up and maintaining pocket places.

One of the elements of the project has been supporting little free libraries in the city that operate on the principle of leave a book/take a book.

“Little free libraries don’t just promote literacy and sharing — they transform the urban environment, serving as coral reefs for community,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, a board member with the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network. “Little free libraries are an excellent example of how placemaking can help build community. These used newspaper boxes make great little free libraries that people can personalize in creative ways. It is lovely to see objects that might otherwise be thrown away transformed into little community gathering places.”

The Shorncliffe Road little free library was installed by Jean and Tom Newton.

The addition of the 200th library gives Victoria the distinction of having the highest density of little libraries in Canada. For more information, or a map of libraries in Victoria, go to little-free-libraries.

Sooke liquor store an effective fundraiser

Generous patrons of the Sooke B.C. Liquor Store donated more than $10,000 for the Red Cross to assist B.C. residents affected by this year’s devastating wildfires.

Across the province, more than $159,000 in donations was collected to help provide much-needed financial support for people affected by the wildfires. This amount will be matched by the provincial government.

“On behalf of B.C. Liquor Stores employees, we would like to thank our customers for supporting this important campaign,” said Blain Lawson, general manager and CEO of the Liquor Distribution Branch.

The Sooke store was one of the top three locations for donations in the province.

Donations will also support long-term recovery, resiliency and preparedness for future events in British Columbia and the Yukon.

For more information, go to

Saragarhi Ball aids veterans and seniors

Support veterans and seniors who are residents at the Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead, Rest Haven Lodge and Beckley Farm Lodge by attending the Saragarhi Ball, Oct. 21 at the Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney.

Experience food, fashion and dance at the fundraising event for Broadmead Care.

Tickets are $100 each or a table of eight for $720. The event takes place 6 to 11 p.m., Oct. 21 at the Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Ave., Sidney. Tickets available online at or from the donations office at the Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead. Call Shannon at 250-658-3274 or email shannon.donnelly@ to hold your tickets.

For more information go to

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The floating boardwalk at Swan Lake Christmas Hill has reopened after being closed in the summer for renovations. - Submitted

Swan Lake boardwalk opens after reno

The floating boardwalk at Swan Lake Christmas Hill has been re-opened, on time and on budget.

Throughout the summer, the aging boardwalk was temporarily closed as renovations took place on the south section of the boardwalk. Due to the nature of the project, and for the safety of visitors, the north section was also closed.

The public was welcomed back Oct. 5 to walk on the new boardwalk.

“The sanctuary is thrilled to announce a legacy gift to the community. We would not have been able to move forward if it were not for the generous grant of up to $534,000 from the District of Saanich, the many contributions from the general public donated as part of the Give-a-$heet campaign, a $75,225 grant from the Federation of Co-ops and $25,000 from the TD Friends of the Environment Fund,” said Steve Chang, campaign chairman.

The boardwalk replacement had been years in the making, with Phase I, the small north zigzag portion, completed in 2015 and now Phase II in 2018.

An aluminum structure and walking surface with a service life estimated to be between 65 and 75 years replaces the old wooden structure.

People can still donate to support other important renovation projects and education.

For more information, go to

Camosun market rated a success

The first Camosun Farmers Market, held Oct. 3, has been an incredible success, according to organizers. The event was meant to give students a hands-on learning experience and enhance their access to local food.

Local farmers and producers had the opportunity to sell their goods, as well as highlight how they are contributing to a more sustainable future.

The market is a shared project among students, faculty and staff in various departments at the college, with the goal of exploring and developing new relationships with the community.

“We are overjoyed with the response to the first Camosun Farmers Market,” said Maria Bremner, Camosun’s sustainability manager.

“Everyone had a great time. It was great to see our students interact and learn directly from people involved in our local food community. The vendors were extremely happy with the turnout and their interactions with the community. We will definitely be doing this again soon.”

The market featured some new urban farmers, as well as some of Camosun’s own alumni, including: Top Soil, Healing Farm, Silver Rill Corn, Sun Lotus, Babe’s Honey, Ravensong Seeds, Shelbourne Community Kitchen, Mix’t Greens Farm Stand and Camosun’s EARTH gardening program. For more information, go to

Library pass now valid at Butterfly Gardens

The Greater Victoria Public Library has announced a new partnership with the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, where library cardholders can explore the attraction for free by borrowing one of 20 e-passes.

The e-pass provides free general admission for up to five people: Up to two adults and up to a combination of three children (5 to 12 years) or students (13 to 17 years); children under five are free.

The e-passes are valid for seven days and can be redeemed for a single visit.

“Libraries are transformational,” said Maureen Sawa, CEO of the library. “A good metaphor for learning is the life cycle of a butterfly, from caterpillar through chrysalis. We learn in different phases and grow through experience. I’m proud that Greater Victoria residents can expand their minds through this innovative program.”

The library’s Culture and Recreation Pass program currently includes partnerships with Craigdarroch Castle, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Royal B.C. Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Robert Bateman Centre and Saanich Recreation Centres.

Passes to these venues have been checked out 18,000 times since the program launched in 2011.

The e-pass is borrowed the same way an ebook is checked out from the library — on a patron’s mobile device, such as an iPhone or iPad, using the CloudLibrary app. The library patron then takes the mobile device to participating venues and shows the e-pass at the admissions desk.

For more information, go to or

Bay Centre gives grant to United Way

A win for the Bay Centre at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Canadian Maple Leaf Awards has resulted in a $10,000 grant to United Way Greater Victoria to support a community helpline.

The shopping centre received the International Council of Shopping Centers Foundation Community Support Award in recognition of its community partnership with United Way Greater Victoria in their fall 2017 Be United campaign and launch of the new bc211 helpline.

The award will go toward the social agency’s three-year goal of raising $15 million to fund a network of social services, including a bc211 help line for all Islanders.

Bc211 is a non-profit organization offering a confidential telephone, texting and online referral service connecting individuals to hundreds of community, social and government services in B.C., including mental-health support services.

The service, funded mainly by the United Way, offers free information and referral services 24 hours a day in more than 160 languages.

“Through our community partnerships program, the Bay Centre focuses on providing awareness and focus on mental health,” said Darlene Hollstein, general manager of the Bay Centre.

“When the opportunity was presented to partner with United Way and assist in showcasing the bc211 program that enhances mental-health support services, it was a win-win for everyone — especially our community.”

The creative agencies involved in the campaign were Hot House Marketing and Eclipse Creative.

For more information, go to