Sandra Richardson: Now's the time to explore your own town

We’re in the back nine of summer now, a summer unlike any we have ever seen in living memory. The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, for businesses, for our tourism sector, for individuals and families, and for local charities.

That said, as comes with most challenges, there are also some opportunities. For instance, with the border closed and limited numbers of tourists visiting our region, perhaps this is the time to be a tourist in your own town and support some local charities at the same time. Sights and attractions that can often be crowded this time of year are perhaps more accommodating to locals this summer than ever before. And what many people often miss is that these attractions are also vital local charities.

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The British Columbia Aviation Museum out in North Saanich, for instance, has reopened and is now welcoming visitors Thursdays through Sundays. This hidden gem, which displays dozens of aircraft from early flying machines to modern mechanical wonders, is a celebration of aviation in Canada and a must-visit for any aviation enthusiast. Never been before? Now’s your chance.

Art more your thing? Did you know that the Robert Bateman Gallery of Nature in the Inner Harbour is a charity? The gallery, which is open to visitors from Tuesdays to Saturdays, hosts the largest collection of original works by the world-renowned nature artist and is also one of the only charities in Canada using artwork to “promote a connection to nature and the environment.” Like any other charity, they accept donations, but one of the simplest ways to offer support is to visit and enjoy the gallery.

These are just a couple of examples of attractions that enrich our region and our residents, and exist because they work on the charitable model. Supporting them helps ensure their survival and also helps strengthen the local economy. These charitable attractions provide jobs, draw tourists and help keep money in our community. We know from our own Civil Society Impact report that charities generate over $7 billion of annual economic activity in our region and these attractions are a big part of that.

To help bring more attention to these organizations, and other events and fundraisers supporting the civil society sector, the Victoria Foundation has recently partnered with CHEK TV to sponsor their Community Calendar. Each week, the calendar brings to viewers’ attentions a handful of opportunities for people to get out in our community, have some fun, and support worthy causes. It’s been a pleasure introducing the segment and I hope it’s inspiring some of you to get out and see what our community has to offer, even during these trying times.

Sandra Richardson is CEO of the Victoria Foundation.

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