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Fundraising walk set for one of the coldest nights of the year

With continuing low temperatures and a chance of snow, Saturday’s Coldest Night of the Year walks could literally be on one of the coldest nights of the year.
From left, volunteer Penny Tennenhause with Steven Seltzer, Pauline Powell and Melissa Mouat of Our Place Society at the First Metropolitan United Church with toques to be handed out to participants in Saturday's Coldest Night of the Year walks. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

With continuing low temp­eratures and a chance of snow, Saturday’s Coldest Night of the Year walks could literally be on one of the coldest nights of the year.

The wintry weather drives home the need for the annual events, said Steve Seltzer, ­special-events and corporate-giving manager at Our Place.

The two local fundraising walks are among more than 160 being held across the country.

Proceeds from the local walks, which will take place in downtown Victoria and the West Shore, will help keep Our Place’s Pandora Avenue drop-in centre open for more hours to ensure the region’s most vulnerable are warm and fed.

“No matter what the weather is we’re going to be out there because, of course, it’s all about letting the public know that this is what it’s like out there — times 100 for those in need.”

Environment Canada ­meteorologist Armel Castellan expects snow or mixed rain and snow along with the ­possibility of wind Saturday afternoon and evening, an unpleasant ­combination for those living ­outdoors.

“There’s nothing worse than being at two degrees with chunky rain falling down,” he said.

This is the seventh year that Our Place has held the Coldest Night of the Year Walk downtown, with the West Shore event now in its fourth year.

Our Place oversees the downtown walk and partners with Pacific Centre Family Services Association for the West Shore walk, Seltzer said.

Participants are invited to show up for the walk of their choice at 4:15 p.m. for Starbucks coffee and other refreshments, along with children’s activities, followed by speeches by mayors and other dignitaries at 4:30 p.m.

The downtown walk begins at Our Place’s 919 Pandora Ave. location while the West Shore walk starts at 1089 Langford Parkway. F45 Fitness will lead warm-ups at both sites at 4:45 p.m., with the walks following two- and five-kilometre routes at 5 p.m.

Victoria walkers will get chili-to-go at the end, while West Shore walkers will be treated with food from MOD Pizza.

The 2023 turnout is expected to exceed last year’s total of more than 800, Seltzer said.

“We’re already looking at over 500 people downtown and over 300 people on the West Shore,” he said Thursday, a combined total that would make it the biggest such event in Canada so far.

Our Place is hoping the total reaches 1,000, and raises $150,000 for both Our Place’s Pandora Avenue facility and its New Roads Therapeutic Recovery Centre in View Royal, as well as counselling programs at Pacific Centre Family Services.

Last year’s events raised $140,000.

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