A big thank you to Megan MacDonald of Silver Lark Photography for sharing this beautiful photo of Fiona MacDonald in the forest. It’s such a great reminder to love and be loved! Send your photos to shalu@thediscourse.ca
West Shore

West Shore This Week – Choose love

Shalu Mehta May 19, 2021

Welcome to West Shore This Week, your cheat sheet to what’s up on the West Shore, by reporter Shalu Mehta. In this weekly newsletter you’ll find the latest news and events, highlights from The Discourse’s in-depth coverage and more. Sign up to get this in your inbox every Wednesday.


A note from your West Shore reporter

What does it mean to you when I say “choose love?”

Recently, the West Shore community rallied together in support of Royal Bay Secondary School students after a new rainbow crosswalk was vandalized with anti-LGBTQ2S+ slurs. 

Despite feeling heartbroken and angry, student leaders at Royal Bay Secondary School showed the community what happens when you rise up and combat hate with empathy and kindness. I think they taught the community — youth and adults alike — a valuable lesson.

Oskar Wood, a Grade 12 student at Royal Bay who helped bring the crosswalk to life, taught me that kindness can go a long way. In a recent Q&A for The Discourse, I ask him what he has to say to the person or people who vandalized the crosswalk. This was his answer:

“Honestly, I would say, ‘I’m sorry.’ I feel sorry for them that in their life, they felt the need to put up so much hate. But I also have a lot of compassion and empathy towards them. On social media I was seeing a lot of heat directed towards the vandals. And this is exactly the opposite of what I want to come out of this project. Because it’s meant to be cultivating this inclusive, empathetic and —  just mutual respect. And that’s what I want these vandals to be shown, with just empathy and compassion.”

I think we could all benefit from being a little more like Oskar, don’t you?


Story highlights from The Discourse

Royal Bay

Q&A: This Royal Bay student is responding to anti-LGBTQ2S+ hate with love

After a rainbow crosswalk promoting inclusivity at Royal Bay Secondary School was vandalized, the community came together to support each other and spread love and kindness. The Discourse caught up with Oskar Wood, a Grade 12 student at Royal Bay who helped envision the crosswalk and bring it to life. Read what he had to say here.

Indigenous food ‘so much more than bannock tacos’ says Top Chef Canada’s youngest competitor

Cowichan’s Siobhan Detkavic is the youngest-ever competitor on Top Chef Canada. The 21-year-old is competing on the ninth season of the Food Network Canada show. IndigiNews sat down with her to ask what motivates her, what she’s dreaming of and what advice she has for young Indigenous people. Read the story here.

Older adults gather outside under trees in sunlight and large brimmed hats in from of people playing live music

At one of Nanaimo’s most affordable seniors’ homes, residents find belonging

Family members of residents at Oak Tree Manor in Nanaimo say the staff are “outstandingly supportive” and that the founder aims to put affordability over profit. Read more about this independent supportive living facility here. This story is part of The Discourse Nanaimo’s solutions series on rental affordability, Making Rent.

Station Avenue

Downtown Langford development aims to boost local arts

Residents are applauding the recently-announced revitalization plans for part of Station Avenue in downtown Langford. But they also hope they’ll get a say in the plans and that their concerns over neighbourhood safety will be addressed. Read more here. This story is part of The Discourse West Shore’s solutions series, Delving Into Development.


COVID-19 news

  • Everyone in B.C. who is 18-years-old and up can now register and book their COVID-19 vaccine. The province encourages people to book their appointment as soon as possible, and notes that the vaccines take three weeks to be fully effective. Register for your vaccine here.
  • Masks are now required to be worn at all times in fitness facilities, including during workouts, the province says. Police and other officials will be able to enforce this new guidance at their discretion. Read more about the updated enforcement here.
  • All pregnant people in B.C. who are over the age of 16 are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a priority population, the province says
  • Health Canada has approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for youth aged 12 to 17. The province says B.C. is expanding its immunization plan to include this age group. People in this group are asked to not register for a vaccine at this time. Registration details will be updated as soon as information is available.

News and announcements

  • RCMP is now enforcing a court injunction that bans logging blockades in the Fairy Creek watershed area. On May 17, police say they established a checkpoint at the McClure Forest Service Road to block access to what they refer to as a “temporary access control area.”. Ricochet Media reports that “the RCMP tried to impose chaperones on journalists and limit reporters to a designated area.” Reporters with Ricochet refused RCMP impositions and are now inside police lines. The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is calling on courts to limit powers of RCMP and other police agencies when enforcing injunctions. The CAJ is monitoring press freedom on the ground in the Fairy Creek area.
  • The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria released a report on racism in the region. According to the report, 71 per cent of Indigenous, Black, Asian and other persons of colour reported they personally experienced racism in the past five years. Read more about the report and its findings here.
  • On May 13, City of Colwood council unanimously passed the city’s financial plan and tax rate bylaws, resulting in an overall property tax increase of five per cent compared with 2020 rates. The average residential household in Colwood will pay approximately $115 more than they paid last year, the city says. Property tax notices will be mailed to property owners by the end of the month. Taxes are due July 2, 2021.
  • A fenced dog park is coming to Pond’s Park Corridor in Sooke and the district is seeking input on site enhancements and park design. Residents can provide input until June 4, 2021 online or on the phone. Learn more here.
  • The City of Langford is connecting Massie Drive to Thomasset Place to improve connectivity in the downtown core and provide more free parking. The connector project includes enhancements like completing a gravel path from the new connector through Danbrook Park to the Danbrook Road parking lot, construction of three new parking lots and more. The existing dog park will remain intact. Find more information here.
  • The Capital Regional District acquired two parcels of land totalling 13.8 hectares adjacent to Mount Work Regional Park. Combined with a previous acquisition of 12.1 hectares in December, the CRD has added almost 26 hectares of forested land to Mount Work Regional Park in the last six months. Planning for the new property will be determined through the ongoing Mount Work management planning process
  • Transportation priorities for the region like safety, active transportation, parking and access upgrades and more have been confirmed by the Capital Regional District Board. Other priorities include highway improvements that deliver multi-modal infrastructure, improving local transit in rural areas and more. The board also acknowledged that two long-term priorities are the West Shore passenger ferry and a rail link on the Island Rail Corridor. Learn more about the board’s directives and decisions here.
  • The Capital Regional District Board approved the region’s final Solid Waste Management Plan. The plan will be submitted to the province in June and staff will begin work on actions and strategies to reduce the region’s current waste-per-capita rate of 395 kilograms per year to 250 kilograms per year by 2030.

The Discourse in your community

Recently, reporters involved in The Discourse Cowichan’s Food For Thought series got together on Zoom to discuss the inspiring stories that demonstrate how innovation, community and determination might lead us to a more sustainable food future in the Cowichan Valley. Reporters Jared Qwustenuxun Williams, David Minkow, Zach Kiedaisch, myself and managing editor Jacqueline Ronson took part in the conversation.

I had such a blast participating in this talk and hearing about the incredible stories we were able to put together for this series. The response to this project has been phenomenal, and that’s thanks to our awesome readers and supporters. You can watch the event here


Community events

  • Now through Wednesday, May 26: 🍪Southern Vancouver Island Area Girl Guides are sending cookie grams on your behalf as a thank you to health care workers in Greater Victoria. For every $5, one box of cookies will be gifted. To send your gift, e-transfer your chosen amount to svigirlguides@shaw.ca. More details here.
  • 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.
  • Wednesday, May 19 and Friday, May 28: 🎥 Join Threshold Housing Society for a virtual screening of the documentary 19 & Homeless. The film captures two years in the lives of a group of former foster youth as they age out of care and transition into adulthood.
  • Friday, May 21 to Thursday, June 10: 🎭 In lieu of putting on a traditional musical this year, Royal Bay Secondary students have produced a documentary-style musical film called “Generation Next.” Tickets to view the performance are $15. You can watch a trailer for the film here.
  • Saturdays and Sundays until June 27: 🖼 Check out Metchosin ArtPod’s latest show: Feathers, Fur and Fauna. The show is a celebration of the diversity of our natural world. More details here.
  • Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13: 🛍 Westshore Shopping Centre and Pacific Coast Market Collective will host a Westshore Summer Market. Those who want to apply to be a vendor can do so here.
  • Saturdays through Oct. 9: 🍎 The Sooke Country Market has returned to John Phillips Memorial Park for the 2021 season. Visit the market rain or shine between 10 a.m and 2 p.m.

If you’re planning an event that I should consider for an upcoming list, send me an email and let me know.


In your words

John sent me an email last week after reading The Discourse’s recent stories about the District of Highlands and the community’s fight for agency: 

“Just moved to Victoria from Nanaimo and your article on the Highlands and their fight with OK [Industries] over the quarry was completely new to me. Thanks,” John wrote.

Thank you for reaching out, John! I’m so glad you found those stories to be of value. I definitely learned a lot while reporting them.

With gratitude,

Shalu