West Shore This Week – Embracing change

A note from your West Shore reporter

Spring signals so many things. The days get longer, flowers stretch towards the sunshine and the whole world transforms before our eyes. I feel like we’re collectively inhaling, allowing the fresh air to breathe new life and renewed hope into us.

Spring also signifies change and I think the team at The Discourse is really feeling that right now. We’ve been having a lot of conversations about who we are as an organization and how our work can better serve you. We’re thinking hard about what makes a story worth telling and what value our work can add to the community. We want to hold power to account, complicate narratives and build bridges between issues and solutions. 

In the spirit of change, this newsletter may start to look a little different in the coming weeks as well. Let me know what you think works and what doesn’t. Your feedback is always welcome.

In these uncertain times, I find I’ve been grounding myself in our community even more. I am so grateful to be able to connect with you in this way. Thank you for being here.

Story highlights from The Discourse and IndigiNews

In photos: Langford students craft Coast Salish drums

A long awaited drum-making project at Belmont Secondary School in Langford is teaching students about Coast Salish culture through music and art, IndigiNews reports. IndigiNews is a sister publication to The Discourse, covering Indigenous stories on Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.

A boy walks through new trails that wind through the Eden Grove.

Analysis: What’s really on the cutting block at Fairy Creek?

On April 3, The Discourse Nanaimo reporter Julie Chadwick took a road trip with her 11-year-old son to the Fairy Creek blockades. On April 1, an injunction was granted against protesters, who have multiple blockades on roads leading into the old-growth watershed. Read Julie’s analysis.

Threshold Housing

New substance use recovery program welcomes Greater Victoria youth

Greater Victoria youth who are battling substance use issues now have access to a recovery program that aims to meet them where they are at and support them on their wellness journey, The Discourse reports.

Little Zimbabwe Farm offers a cultural exchange through food and music

Amy and Tafadzwa Matamba of Little Zimbabwe Farm hope to give Cowichan Valley residents a space to hold a cultural exchange through food and music. This story is part of The Discourse Cowichan’s Food for Thought series. Read it and others here.

News and announcements

  • A pharmacy in Sooke and other pharmacies on the West Shore now have the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people born between 1956 and 1966. You can book your appointment directly with the pharmacy if you fall in that age group, though you may encounter wait lists. Check out this link to see what pharmacies are offering the vaccine. Are you wondering what’s up with AstraZeneca? CBC News has a great explainer about the vaccine, and why it is being offered only to people between the ages of 55 and 65.
  • People who are eligible to make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment can use B.C.’s new online system. You can also register by phone or at a Service BC office. People who are born in or before 1966, Indigenous people aged 18 and over and those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable are eligible to book appointments right now. For more information, visit the Island Health website.
  • There is one new COVID-19 exposure at a West Shore school. Island Health says there was an exposure at Edward Milne Community School on April 7. There were also exposures at Belmont Secondary School in the last two weeks. Dunsmuir Middle School is experiencing a cluster, meaning there were two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period, with evidence of transmission occurring within the school. Public health is investigating the cases and is contact tracing.
  • Funding from the province to the tune of $150,000 will help Camosun College explore opportunities for students in the B.C. film industry, as well as the potential for an on-campus film studio. 
  • Students attending post-secondary school have access to emergency assistance funding to help cope with the financial implications of COVID-19. The non-repayable emergency assistance can be used to help with living expenses, food, travel, computers and other supports for students who are returning to campus for the 2021/2022 school year.
  • On June 1, B.C. liquor servers will see a wage increase, the province says. The lower liquor server minimum wage will be replaced with the increased general minimum wage of $15.20. Minimum wage rates will also increase for live-in camp leaders and resident caretakers.
  • A statement signed by Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and Chief Councillor Jeff Jones says the Pacheedaht First Nation does not support “third party activism” taking place in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew, the Times Colonist reports. The First Nation has the constitutional right to decide how forestry occurs on its territory, the letter says. On April 13, Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones released a statement imploring “people to continue to stand with [him]” to protect forests “from destruction and colonialism.” He says allies are needed to “stop old growth logging in [his] home territory” and for future generations and relatives.
  • Capital Regional District staff will bring the final draft of the Solid Waste Management Plan and next steps to the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Environmental Services Committee and CRD Board this spring. The plan was formed after two phases of public engagement. You can learn more about it here.
  • The West Shore RCMP is reminding drivers to be cautious around school zones. A 30 kilometre per hour speed limit is in effect in school zones on every school day (unless otherwise posted) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Metchosin residents created a petition to ask for improved cell phone service in the municipality. Metchosin residents and the fire chief are also calling for a change to how 911 calls in the area are handled, the Times Colonist reports.
  • Infrastructure for cell phone service on Highway 14 between Sooke and Port Renfrew should be in place by the end of October, the Times Colonist reports. This will improve connectivity for more than 1,200 households, emergency responders and travellers.
  • The City of Langford is offering park space use to group fitness organizations for up to 10 people. The city received the go-ahead from Island Health and there is no fee for this use. The application and details can be found here.
  • The District of Sooke is inviting vendors to apply for its Food Trucks in Parks pilot program starting April 15. Vendors may begin operating in assigned parks starting May 1.
  • Two young women are leading the charge to change how Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) is run, the Times Colonist reports.
  • Highway 14 and Otter Point Road improvements in Sooke are nearly complete, the Goldstream News Gazette reports. The projects are the last of Highway 14 corridor improvements.
  • The City of Colwood is creating a Waterfront Improvement Plan and is looking for your feedback. You can learn more about the plan and complete the related survey here.
  • At its April 12 council meeting, City of Colwood council voted to reaffirm the use of Right of Way permits to allow for restaurants to expand seating into on-street parking areas, sidewalks and boulevards. Restaurants can also use up to 50 per cent of their private parking spaces for temporary outdoor seating until Oct. 31, 2022. No fees or deposits will be charged for the 2021 and 2022 year.

Heads up

Our first solutions journalism series on the West Shore, Delving Into Development, will launch on Friday! I’ll send our stories out as a newsletter so keep an eye on your inbox to be the first to read them. If you know someone who would be interested in receiving series updates as well as a West Shore news and events roundup, tell them to sign up for our newsletter.

The development series will roll out over the coming weeks and we’ve informed our stories with your input. Thank you, again, for your guidance as we navigate such a vast and important topic. 

The Discourse’s supporters make this work possible, and you can be part of it, too. The series will also be paid for in part by partner organizations that understand the value of high-impact, community-led journalism. Your organization can join our existing partners, the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia and Journalists for Human Rights, by contacting Terri Potratz
For those of you who have questions, I’ll be hosting an “Ask Me Anything” Facebook Live event on Friday from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Like and follow us on Facebook to be notified when the event starts. You can adjust your notification settings (the three dots at the top of the page, next to the “message” and search buttons) to make sure you know when we go live, post new stories and more. I look forward to hearing from you and chatting about the series and our work.

Community events

  • Friday, April 16: 🎶 Show off your musical knowledge and play some Zoom Music Bingo with the WestShore Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $25 for two games and proceeds go to the Rotary Club of the West Shore. Register online for the event.
  • Weekends until September: 🍦 Colwood Beach Food is back with food trucks at the Esquimalt Lagoon every weekend. Check out the City of Colwood’s website for dates and the vendor schedule.
  • Saturday, April 17 and 24: 🚲 Get a free bike safety check and basic tune up at Colwood City Hall. Local community volunteers and members of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition will be in the front parking lot between 9 a.m. and noon.
  • Now until Sunday, May 2: 📸  Dive into the world of photograph-based art at Metchosin ArtPod’s latest exhibit: ReVision
  • Tuesday, April 20:🍎 Join the Citizens’ Environment Network in Colwood for part two of its speaker series: Grow Local, Eat Local. The Zoom event takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. Register by emailing ColwoodCENiC@gmail.com.

In your words

Ecole Poirer shared a video of students singing “The Kindness Song” (to the tune of Matisyahu’s “One Day”) with their own quotes and artwork and I thought it definitely needed to be featured this week. 

“We rise by lifting others,” one piece of art in the video reads.

I couldn’t agree more.

With gratitude,

Shalu [end]

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