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Our Community: Hi Neighbour program wants your ideas

United Way Greater Victoria last week launched their Hi Neighbour Program with a ceremony in Esquimalt.
VICTORIA, B.C.: JUNE 25, 2020-left to right, Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins, UWGV CEO Mark Breslauer (top) and Seaspan Victoria Shipyards VP Joe O'Rourke Joe O

United Way Greater Victoria last week launched their Hi Neighbour Program with a ceremony in Esquimalt. The community-builder program provides support and services to seniors, people living with disabilites, those living in poverty, single parents and people with mental-health concerns.

Funding for the program comes from a $600,000 donation to the United Way from Seaspan and Southern Railway of British Columbia, with the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.

The program will support eight neighbourhoods, including Esquimalt, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will incorporate residents’ ideas on projects they believe will have the most impact on their community. Residents can expect to see a postcard in their mailboxes over the upcoming week giving details about the program.

“Esquimalt residents value their neighbours and community and this project is a natural extension of the connectedness we already feel,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins.

“It is wonderful to see this emphasis on collecting ideas from our residents and businesses directly for a unique approach that is tailored to the township.”

United Way Greater Victoria will fund up to 15 micro-grants by Sept. 30, for community projects that show “local love” to support and strengthen the neighbourhood.

Residents have until July 15 to submit their ideas to

• For more information, go to

Retired Mountie giving lift to Cops for Cancer tour

Norm Smith, a retired RCMP officer, has been living on a nine-metre scissor lift since Friday to raise funds for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.

The two-week, 1,000-kilometre bike ride sees a team of police officers raise money to fight childhood cancer.

It is the biggest community event on Vancouver Island, with communities from Victoria to Port Alice coming together to support children who are battling cancer.

All funds raised by Smith will benefit Pediatric Cancer Research and Camp Good Times.

• For more information, go to

Have your say on issues related to pandemic in Vital Signs survey

July 1 is the deadline for capital region residents to weigh in on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, part of this year’s Victoria Vital Signs survey.

This is the 15th year of the Victoria Foundation’s annual survey, which asks residents to give their opinions on issues critical to the region’s well-being. The collected information will be incorporated into the foundation’s Vital Signs report, due to be released in the fall.

“Although the global pandemic has brought a lot of challenges to our region, it has also brought a chance to see our community in a new light,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO of Victoria Foundation.

“Vital Signs is all about taking a step back and reflecting on our region. Perhaps more than ever we’re in a prime position to do this, when the strengths and shortcomings of our community are more clearly exposed.”

The final report will be a combination of public opinion and statistics that provides a snapshot of livability and well-being in Greater Victoria.

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

Habitat for Humanity targeting $200,000 in 100 days

Habitat for Humanity Victoria has just launched its latest fundraising campaign — with a goal of $200,000 in 100 days — to provide 11 families a hand up into affordable homeownership.

Construction is underway and the partner families have already started their 500 hours of volunteering with the charity. But additional funding is needed to complete these homes.

With a minimum donation of $1,000 per person, Habitat’s goal is to raise $200,000 by Sept. 30.

“This campaign is about reaching out to our wonderful community in Greater Victoria and asking those who are in a position to do so, to come together to help provide these families with not only an affordable home, but one they own and have autonomy over,” said Yolanda Meijer, CEO of Habitat Victoria.

“When I think about how the uncertainties of the past few months have made us all feel, I can’t imagine what it’s like to also live with the stress of housing instability and the lack of affordable alternatives in the local area each and every day. This crisis has highlighted just how important it is to have somewhere to call home.”

Habitat has two projects underway — a 10-unit townhome project in North Saanich and a small single-family home in the Timber Ridge project in Central Saanich. Both were made possible through land donations by local developers.

• To donate or to find out more about the families who will benefit, go to To learn more about the Habitat build projects underway, go to