BC Liberal appointee or Defender of Local Food Systems?

Leonardby Michele Murphy

Defeated Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard has landed an appointment as the new chair of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

Leonard’s appointment comes on the heals of the controversial firing of Richard Bullock as the Agricultural Land Commission board chair and CEO with seven months left to go on his contract.

Leonard will take up duties at the ALC immediately combining duties as board chair and CEO for a period of five months while he leads the search for a new CEO of the commission.

Bullock has been a vocal critic of recent changes to the ALC act. The changes saw the creation of regional boards, as well as separating the province’s ALR land into two separate zones opening up non-agricultural use of farmland for over 90% of the province’s ALR farmland.

Bullock has most recently been on the offensive as concerns are being raised about the province’s farmland being bought up by foreign companies to grow forests for carbon credits. These carbon sinks include imposing a restrictive 100-year covenant on the ALR land.

Lana Popham, Saanich South MLA and Opposition Critic for agriculture, said of Bullock’s firing, “Bullock is a true champion for agriculture, who is respected by all sectors of the agriculture industry for his expertise and fair-mindedness.”

While Saanich has a rich history of farming with almost 20% of the municipality located within the ALR, Leonard’s background and interests show no obvious connection to the agriculture. The long-time municipal politician comes from a background of managing several family-owned tires stores. While in business, Leonard served as a director of the BC Chamber of Commerce, president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, and on the boards of local tourism and economic development groups and served as a director of the BC Investment Management Corporation.

While in public office, Leonard chaired the Municipal Finance Authority of BC, was president of the Union of BC Municipalities and a director of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He has also chaired the Capital Regional District, the Hospital District, the region’s Housing Corporation, the Saanich Police Board, and has served on the Regional Transit Commission. He has also served on numerous recreation, arts, and community boards.



Leonard was past co-chair of the Farm Assessment Review Panel, which looked at the farm classification process and regulations for municipal tax purposes.

In contrast, Bullock’s background includes serving as president of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association, BC Tree Fruits Ltd., and Sun-Rype Products Ltd., and as Director of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. According to the ALC website Bullock has extensive experience in international consulting including the production and processing of agricultural crops. He is a former member of the BC Marketing Board and the past Chair of the BC Farm Industry Review Board. And now, past chair and CEO of the BC Agricultural Land Commission.

“This is a critical time for B.C. agriculture, as the Liberals prepare to release new regulations stemming from Bill 24, which weakened farmland protections on 90 per cent of ALR land. By replacing B.C.’s agricultural watchdog with someone with no background in agriculture, the B.C. Liberals are making it clear that their attack on the ALR has only just begun,” adds Popham.

Time will tell if Leonard’s skills in business are transferable to preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming in British Columbia.


Check out Peninsula Video’s coverage of Richard Bullock providing some insights for local agrologists on the affairs of the ALC in BC HERE


Amalgamation Study to Hit Saanich Council

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen journalist


Saanich Councillor Colin Plant

The issue of a provincial government-funded study of amalgamation/governance on southern Vancouver Island will hit Saanich council at its next meeting on May 25.

Coun. Colin Plant tabled a notice of motion “regarding provincially-funded amalgamation study” at council on Monday night (May 11, 2015). Coun. Fred Haynes has agreed to second Plant’s motion when it reaches council.

Plant’s motion calls on council to “write a letter to (Community) Minister Coralee Oakes indicating our willingness to participate in the study.” The letter will be developed by Mayor and Council with the assistance of staff.

“Prior to drafting the letter, residents will be invited to a public meeting to provide feedback for Mayor and Council as to what should be included in our letter.”


Plant’s motion states that the BC government “has agreed to do an amalgamation study for interested municipalities in the Capital Regional District” and that Saanich residents voted in favour of a “governance review.”

Saanich Councillor Fred Haynes

Saanich Councillor Fred Haynes

Last November, Saanich residents were polled in a question that specifically avoided the word “amalgamation.” It asked: “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?” It passed 21,437 votes to 2,780 votes. There were 80,986 eligible voters.

Minister Oakes, in her most recent comment to Saanich Voice Online on April 24, 2015, also avoided using the word “amalgamation” in favour of “governance and service integration.”

She said: “The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is in the process of considering how best to proceed regarding the results of the referenda in the Capital Region.

“The Ministry sees an opportunity to support a conversation on governance and service integration and has heard from some Mayors and Councils but needs to hear from others to gauge interest and better understand how to collaborate on this goal.

“Decisions about potential next steps will come out of the Province’s considerations and future discussions between local governments and the provincial government.”

Last December, Saanich council voted unanimously “That a governance review, in accordance

BC Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Coralee Oakes

BC Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Coralee Oakes

with the motion on the ballot, be initiated as soon as possible, within a 90-day period.” Council also requested municipal staff “to

prepare a report, as soon as possible within a 90-day period, indicating how such a review might be structured and carried out in accordance with the motion on the ballot.”

Council is awaiting the staff report on the Saanich governance review.

Coun. Colin Plant told SVO, “The intent behind my motion is to take advantage of the fact the province is willing to fund an amalgamation study. It is not to determine Saanich’s own governance review. I fully support the municipality continuing to develop its own governance review as per our Nov. 15 plebiscite. It just seemed like common sense to me that we would participate given that there is no binding component to the study.

“Given that the report will be non-binding and at no direct cost to Saanich, I see no harm in us contributing information and learning from the study. I liken this to getting a quote from a business; just because one gets a quote, it doesn’t mean you have to act on it.

“The motion also requires council to have a public meeting where residents can tell council what they think should be in the letter we send to the province indicating our interest in participating in the study. The reason for this public meeting is that unlike other municipalities who put an amalgamation question on the ballot, Saanich did not. As such, I think the public should be afforded an opportunity to provide feedback before the municipality sends any comments to the province.

“I look forward to residents providing feedback to council on May 25.”

Coun. Fred Haynes replied to SVO, “Amalgamation study? What does it mean for Saanich? I look forward to hearing from the public on May 25 (in the new public participation format at start of council meetings) and our following discussion at council to explore the benefits of the information to be gained by the province-led study. I understand this study will examine options for service integration and the potentials possible from reorganization of our regional government – this includes a better understanding of our cost effectiveness and service efficiencies at the CRD and between and within our municipalities. This study would be in addition to our own community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and partnerships within the region. Presumably, joining the regional conversation (study) would let Saanich residents and council have some say in its format and the type of information collected and reviewed. Let’s find out.”

For earlier information and comments about amalgamation on the Saanich Peninsula and in Greater Victoria, please see:

Amalgamation Study for the Peninsula? April 23, 2015
Regional Collaboration – a work in progress March, 2015
Comment is Free, But Facts are Sacred April, 2015
Moving Amalgamation Forward, or Not January, 2015
Amalgamation – where do we go from here? December, 2014



Stalking the White Robin

A rare glimpse of the white robin on the Peninsula

photo and story by Ed Johnson

whitebirdImagine my surprise when friends called me up to tell me about a white robin they had seen on the peninsula.  At first they thought it must be a dove, but on closer examination it became evident that this was the rare partial albino form of the North American robin.

Before heading out with a camera, a brief research was in order.  

Not being a full albino which would be even rarer, the partial albino has pigment in its eyes rather than the pink colour which eventually renders the animal blind with a shorter lifespan than the usual 11 or more years. In fact, it appears, the partial albino robin is the predominate form, but both forms are only found in one in 30,000 robins.  While other birds, and indeed some animals, exhibit forms of albinism, as a common yard bird, the robin is the most reported species of bird.  In Native American mythology, the robin is known as the ‘can-do’ bird for its industrious nature.  Its caring parental nature is considered by some as good luck for a pregnant woman to see robins feeding their young.  Others saw them as a symbol of peace.

Birds lacking pigmentation are becoming a more usual sight on Vancouver Island. Well known Nanoose photographer, Mike Yip, has photographed white ravens in Qualicum over the past six years.  These blue eyed birds are also partial albinos or more correctly described as leucistic, a reduction of all types of pigmentation rather than just melanin.



And now we have our own local celebrity.  Knowing that robins prefer earthworms – I had fed a mother robin and her brood one spring by placing a pile of worms on a dirt pile and watching her snatch them up and fly off to her nest – I knew a bit about habitat and where to look for this particular robin.  But, of course, the first time out is never lucky and all I found in the area were the normal red breasted variety.  

Considering it to be a warm day and not conducive to mid day worm gathering, I decided that near evening would be both cooler and perhaps more of a stimulant to the appetite.

That hunch proved prescient.  As I approached the area where this bird is usually seen, I immediately spotted her on the lawn.  The picture here is my effort to get as close as possible with a 180mm lens before she took flight.  Maybe I will pack a few worms next time!

Engaging the Community Early, and Often

Developer of former Trio site says they are looking for input

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen journalist

The owner of one of the last significant developable properties within the Urban Containment Boundary in Saanich, the 26-acre former Trio site in Cordova Bay, is asking the community first – what do you want? – before coming up with and presenting a plan.

 It is becoming less so (but it still happens) that property developers come up with plans first and then go to the community to present them. This procedure puts the community in the position of having to be reactive rather than being able to be pro-active – expressing their views before the plan is developed.

 “We prefer to engage the community we work in early and often,” David Roppel, Director of Planning and Development for Aragon Properties of Vancouver, told Saanich Voice Online.

“We are interested in what the community’s needs and expectations are. We don’t find the present-and-defend approach successful. We prefer to get community input early and have it inform and support the planning process.”

Aragon Properties held its first community workshop in Cordova Bay on Feb. 21 and more than 100 people attended. A second community input meeting is expected in May.

 “We learned the community has a desire for affordable housing in the neighbourhood so adult children of current residents can afford to live here,” said Roppel of the first workshop

“We also learned the neighbours expect a well-considered approach to inter-connected open space. Community members thought it important that the new community fit well with the existing community and build on, not draw away from, Mattick’s Farm.”

Anthony Minniti, president of the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs, told SVO that “many more developers are approaching projects” the way Aragon is. His executive has not discussed Aragon’s process in particular but speaking personally, “I applaud the developer for the community consultation process.”

 The CBA has had an introductory meeting with Aragon Properties.

John Schmuck, chair of the Saanich Community Association Network, said his association, Quadra-Cedar Hill, likes proponents “to come to us for discussion before they develop their hard plans. This allows us to provide input and get some of our ideas into the original plans. We generally meet with them at the beginning of the process.”

Schmuck said Quadra-Cedar Hill helps proponents hold a meeting with neighbours and other interested persons “who want to have a say in the project. After that is complete we then write our letter to Saanich Planning stating our position on the project before the planners write their report to council.”

 Other community associations in Saanich follow a similar procedure. It is Saanich policy to encourage developers to meet and work with community associations.

The former Trio site is at the corner of Cordova Bay Road and Fowler Road and below Alderley Road. For many years it was a gravel quarry and, along with rock crushing, it also had a concrete-making facility. More recently, after those uses ceased, Trio Gravel Mart sold soil mix and mulch and concrete products. The property was sold by the McLaren family to Aragon Properties for $6.1 million last year.

The property, which is within the Sewer Service Area, is being called Triangle Hill by Aragon Properties. It is across Cordova Bay Road from the 37-acre Sayward Hill condos, townhouses and nine-hole golf course that were developed by the Jawl family of Cordova Bay, owner of Mattick’s Farm and the 18-hole Cordova Bay Golf Course. The Triangle Hill architect is Franc D’Ambrosio. With his former partnership, deHoog D’Ambrosio, he was master planner for Mattick’s Farm and Sayward Hill. That firm was architect for Mattick’s Farm, Mattick’s Green and Mattick’s Wood and Phase One of Sayward Hill (the masterplan, rezoning and design guidelines, a six-storey condo and five townhouses). DeHoog proceeded with remaining phases of Sayward Hill after D’Ambrosio formed his own company, D’Ambrosio Architecture and Urbanism in 2003.


 While the site was rezoned in 1999 into three areas in anticipation of development, it did not happen. The southeast corner, for example, is zoned for townhouses and condos with a six-storey height limit and a maximum 110 dwelling units. But Roppel says Aragon is restarting the planning process. He said it is too early to determine uses and densities but he appeared to drop one hint when asked about the 9.7-acre mini-storage zone for recreational vehicles in the north part of the property – “Aragon has not built mini-storage in the past.”

Roppel said he welcomes public input and he can be reached at


Marvelling at the Options

A look at Camosun’s Comics & Graphic Novels program

by Judy Barlow, photos by Ken Steacy © 2015

Comics. They’re not just for kids. They’re not always comical. They can entertain, educate, and inspire They’re serious business.

Just ask industry experts Ken and Joan Steacy and the students in the Comics and Graphic Novels Program at Camosun College.

“Visual storytelling is a language comprised of words and pictures working together, inextricably linked. These are not just illustrated stories; it’s a whole new language,” says Ken, adding, “I’ve spent forty years playing in other people’s sand boxes. I’ve worked for Marvel and DC comics and done film – Astro Boy, Iron Man, Star Wars – you name it. And when you’re in the business you spend a lot of time at conventions asking people, ‘Where did you go to school?’ There was really no answer. So Joan and I put together the dream program, if we were young people wanting to learn the language of visual storytelling.” 

What they came up with after some tweaking is an intense eight month program (“Kind of a boot camp”, says Joan.) with six visual art and four creative writing courses. 

“There’s room for everybody,” says Joan. “There’s no age or gender barrier… A lot of our students are female – quite a departure from Ken’s early experience in a male-dominated industry.”

The program has attracted a host of unique and sometimes weirdly interesting students who view life through a lens that Joe Average can’t imagine. With varied backgrounds and wide-ranging experience, there’s a sense of belonging within thisCOGR07 creative cocoon.

After ten years in Vancouver, picking up illustration work, and distributing self-published ‘zines of his work, Jesse Blanchard wondered if this program had anything to offer him.

“At first I really scoffed at it,” says Jesse. “I wasn’t prepared to go to post-secondary, but I sent Ken my portfolio and he was very excited to have me, so I moved over here from Vancouver.”

The program has helped him grow as an artist.

“It’s very different coming to an environment where we have instructors telling us what we’re doing right or wrong,” says Jesse, “and we have our peers’ support and critiques. It expedites the learning process and my
development just being around everyone else.”

Evelyna Torttier loves turning her stories into visuals. “It’s fun to actually make the visual that you were seeing in your head as you were writing the story,” says Evelyna. “Anyone that’s really into telling stories and drawing – comics is definitely the way to go.”

Luc Chiasson had tried painting, and drawing, and even scriptwriting – but never forgot that he had always loved creating comics. “It never mattered whether they were good or not,” says Luc. “It was just fun to create this world and live in it with my friends.”

For Luc the best part of the program has been the people. 

“It’s nice to know that there are other people that have a separate world from this one,” says Luc. “I love comics better than any other art form. You can create –get past that barrier between us and pictures. You can bring your audience into the story, make them feel things; anger, happiness, sadness – just feel.”

COGR06Luc cautions upcoming artists, “If you’re coming to this program, prepare to work your ass off. Because if you go into anything half-hearted, you’re going to get torn apart. It’s work – you’ve gotta be prepared. Even God took seven days to make the world, so if you’re trying to make a world that people can accept it’s going to take a lot more than seven days.”

Former UVic student Liz  Sakowsky needed a creative outlet. Camosun’s Comics and Graphic Novels program seemed like a pretty good fit – practical and cartoony, with a strong writing and storytelling aspect. The program is fun for Liz. She agrees that it’s all about the people. “The best part is meeting a lot of people who have similar interests,” says Liz; “We’re a tight-knit group; a kind of community.” Liz too has advice for would-be artists.

“If you’re thinking about getting into comics but you don’t think you’re a good enough artist – you are. If you’re thinking about taking the program and you’re hesitant, just go for it. There’s people of all levels here, and there’s so much support and so much learning that can be done. You’ll amaze yourself.”

In today’s visually-oriented world the illustrator wields tremendous power. So to the graduate students venturing out into life and careers after college – use it well. 

Bonne chance. “Vous êtes Charlie”.

Characters © 2015 by their creators: Anya Alldritt, Hanan Alyousif, Kailyn Barlow, Jesse Blanchard, Katherine Crane, Georgia Hewitt, Raphael Pirenne, Kay Prosser, Richard Quay, Megan Rowe, Liz Sakowsky, Evelyna Trottier, Luc Chiasson

Central Saanich Planning & Development Committee Hears from the Public

An extraordinary planning committee meeting of Central Saanich mayor and council is called to hear from the public regarding plans to address future growth areas in the coming years.



For the complete meeting, go to


 Amalgamation Study for the Peninsula?  

 by Roger Stonebanks, citizen journalist

Central Saanich council has called on North Saanich and Sidney councils and Community Minister Coralee Oakes to attend a “joint committee meeting” on provincial funding for a study or cost-benefit analysis of amalgamation of the peninsula municipalities.

“Council has resolved to invite the mayors and councils of the three municipalities and their citizens to attend and provide input at a joint meeting,” said Mayor Ryan Windsor of Central Saanich in a letter this month to Oakes who was invited to attend the joint meeting.

Following this joint municipal meeting, Windsor requested a meeting with Oakes “to discuss next steps including development of the Terms of Reference for the study. The mayors and chief administrative officers of the 3 municipalities will be invited to the follow-up meeting. In order to move forward, we ask that your staff provide us with dates and times you are available to attend the meeting.”

In a separate letter to Oakes, Windsor noted that Central Saanich voters approved the following question at the Nov. 15 election – “Should the District of Central Saanich petition the Province to fund a cost/benefit analysis of an amalgamation of Central Saanich, North Saanich and Sidney?”

North Saanich voters answered “yes” to this question – “Are you in favour of a study, provincially funded, to investigate the feasibility, costs and implications of amalgamating  the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula of Sidney, Central Saanich and North Saanich?”

Sidney voters approved this question – “Are you in favour of a provincially funded study to investigate the feasibility, costs and implications of amalgamating the three municipalities of the Saanich Peninsula?

Asked for comment, Oakes told SVO: “The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is in the process of considering how best to proceed regarding the results of the referenda in the Capital Region.

“The Ministry sees an opportunity to support a conversation on governance and service integration and has heard from some Mayors and Councils but needs to hear from others to gauge interest and better understand how to collaborate on this goal.

“Decisions about potential next steps will come out of the Province’s considerations and future discussions between local governments and the provincial government.”

Mayor Alice Finall of North Saanich said, “The note from Central Saanich reflects the position of North Saanich. We have requested financing from the province so that the municipality can conduct a study.” (updated May 1, ’15)

Mayor Steve Price of Sidney was asked by SVO to comment on the Central Saanich letters but has not replied.

Meanwhile, Saanich council is waiting for a staff report before beginning its “governance review.” Voters said “yes” to this question last Nov. 15 – “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?”

For earlier information and comments about amalgamation/governance on the Saanich Peninsula and in Greater Victoria generally, please see:
Regional Collaboration – a work in progress March, 2015
Comment is Free, But Facts are Sacred April, 2015
Moving Amalgamation Forward, or Not January, 2015
Amalgamation – where do we go from here? December, 2014

Comment is Free, but Facts are Sacred


Facts and Comments – by Roger Stonebanks, citizen journalist

Last November, most of us in the Capital Region chose not to vote at all in the municipal elections for mayors and councillors and that included seven of the eight out of 13 municipalities in the Region that held referenda on amalgamation or governance or other such wording. Only in North Saanich did a majority – barely – go to the polls. Still, in a democracy, decisions are made by those who vote.

Since the Nov 15th election there has been much commentary and some over-simplification about the amalgamation/governance referenda results. As a noted British journalist, C.P. Scott, once said, “Comment is free but facts are sacred.”

Community Development Minister Coralee Oakes has commented that the referenda questions were “quite mixed” in the eight municipalities. So too were the answers. What did we do when we voted? To refresh ourselves as the debate continues, here’s how we voted last November – and on what (plus some comments):

SIDNEY – “Are you in
favour of a provincially funded study to investigate the feasibility, costs and implications of amalgamating the three municipalities of the Saanich Peninsula?”

YES, 2,566; NO, 1,232; eligible voters 9,100.

NORTH SAANICH – “Are you in favour of a study, provincially funded, to investigate the feasibility, costs and implications of amalgamating the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula of Sidney, Central Saanich and North Saanich?”

YES, 2,881; NO, 1,727; Eligible voters 9,055.

“Should the District of Central Saanich petition the Province to fund a cost/benefit analysis of an amalgamation of Central Saanich, North Saanich and Sidney?

YES, 3,588; NO, 1,489; eligible voters 14,242. 

Commentary: These three referenda are clear and so are the results – a study or cost/benefit analysis, funded by the province, of amalgamation of the three peninsula municipalities. 

SAANICH – “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?”

YES, 21,437; NO, 2,780; eligible voters 80,986. 

Commentary: Saanich council held out against pressure for some sort of referendum – then decided, unanimously, on the question above. It carefully – and deliberately – avoided the word “amalgamation.” This resulted in those who favoured amalgamation voting for it (perhaps because it was as good as it was going to get), those who opposed amalgamation voting for it (perhaps because “amalgamation” wasn’t mentioned), as well as those who simply thought that a community-based review was a good idea, and may not have had an opinion on amalgamation at all.

VICTORIA - “Are you in favour of reducing the number of municipalities in Greater Victoria through amalgamation?”

YES, 18,351; NO, 4,601; eligible voters 69,624. 

OAK BAY – “Are you in favour of the District of Oak Bay being amalgamated into a larger regional municipality?”

YES, 2,184; NO, 3,594; eligible voters 14,107. 

ESQUIMALT - two referenda, (1) “Are you in favour of the Township of Esquimalt exploring options to achieve efficiencies by further sharing some services with other municipalities?” YES, 3,731; NO, 578; eligible voters 14,545; (2) “Are you in favour of exploring the reduction of the number of municipalities within Greater Victoria through amalgamation?”

YES, 2,905; NO, 1,404; eligible voters 14,545. 

Commentary: The first question is about shared services – not amalgamation. The second question only sought to explore amalgamation but note how support for it drops and opposition grows compared with the shared services referendum. 

LANGFORD - “Are you in favour of the City of Langford being amalgamated into a larger regional municipality?”

YES, 2,222 (9%); NO, 2,209; eligible voters 23,864. 

Commentary: Clear question, clear answer – but it passed by only 13 votes. 

View Royal, Highlands, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke – councils did not hold referenda. Eligible voters 34,505. 

Commentary – because these voters were never asked – we can never know what they thought. 

Overall the percentage of eligible voters that voted yes – on whatever their question was – was just 21%

Election results source – Civic Information BC/Elections BC –
For news updates on amalgamation/governance – Saanich Voice Online –


Fool-Tipping for Good

2015 seems to be the Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre’s year. The little powerhouse of an agency that sees over 1,200 people each year from the Greater Victoria area is just about to host its seventh annual gala fundraiser Tip a Fool –and has just been chosen to receive a complete building make-over through HeroWork this coming June.

“The year is starting out very well,” says long-time executive director Brenda Wilson. “We’re always very grateful for the support of the community, but this year it seems that it’s over the top.”

This hasn’t always been the case for this Centre – or many other community counselling agencies in the Capital Region. Not long ago people were able to find affordable counselling services within their own community. Sidney and the Peninsula were serviced by volunteer counsellors through Beacon Community Services, and while they still provide some service on the Peninsula, the number of available counselling spots has diminished greatly over the last ten years.

“When the community was most able there were several agencies that were offering the kind of support that we do, here at the Centre,” says Wilson. Through a series of Vancouver Island Health
Authority (VIHA) cuts the community’s capacity to provide this kind of support dwindled steadily, while the need for it grew.

In 2010, after a couple reprieves, the Centre’s VIHA funding was cut with the Authority saying that it needed to focus its limited resources on higher acuity clients. Wilson says that since that time they have had to rely on their fees for service, grants from the United Way and Victoria Foundation, gaming money, and their own fundraising.  And it hasn’t always covered the bills.

Citizens’ Counselling Centre has been serving Greater Victoria since 1969, with a mandate to provide quality, affordable counselling to all those who request it of them. The Centre provides all its counselling through trained volunteer counselors. The counselling Centre runs a 10-month intensive counselor training program every year (funding permitting) that has created over 750 counselors since its humble beginnings. In exchange for the training the newly-minted counselors are then required to provide 250 counselling sessions to the Centre’s clients over the coming months and sometimes years.  Many volunteers provide much more than the required 250 sessions. Volunteer counsellors as well as UVic and City University Master’s level practicum students provide the Centre with more than 100 active volunteer counselors at any given time.

But even with all that amazing counselling capacity, the demand is greater.

“Right now our waiting list is about six weeks long,” says Wilson. “Certain times of the year are worse than others, but for the most part we’re backlogged over a month at any given time.” Wilson says that over 30 per cent of their clientele are youth, and a growing number are seniors.

“We’re finding that today’s 18-29 year-olds and the over 65s have some very specific issues that they are faced with and are needing a little extra help making sense of it all,” explains Wilson, adding, “We’re just glad that they are reaching out and asking for help, and that we can be here when they do. Our fundraising efforts are vital to keeping that a reality.”

Enter Tip a Fool, the agency’s annual major fundraiser. “Our Tip a Fool event has been a life-ring for the agency,” says Wilson. “And it is really starting to make a name for itself as seen in our repeat table buyers. It’s a crazy-fun event, and people love it.”

The annual gala is held at the Union Club of BC. It sees 12 local celebrities act as waiters and compete for tips by offering the outrageous and the wonderful to their table guests. Past events have seen Pacific Opera’s Timothy Vernon taking advantage of a nearby baby grand and a make-shift tip jar while then-Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe and his trusty side-kick (played by Jack Knox) busk on the corner by the bar.  Knox is back this year along with a whole host of media, political, and business leaders.

“Past waiters’ tips have topped $3200 for the evening [Randy Wilson, 2008], but most range from $400 – $2400,” says Event Chair Kyara Kahakauwila. She says that ticket sales are good this year, but they have more to sell. “We have a great roster of celebrities and we’re working hard to have a sell-out. We like to say that it’s the most fun you’ll have, doing good.”

For more info on Tip a Fool (or to buy a ticket) visit or Facebook

For more information on Citizens’ Counselling Centre: or Facebook

Stay tuned for part two of the Centre’s good year story – featuring their HeroWork Radical Renovation – in July’s issue of SVO. You can follow the progress on Heroworks’ Facebook Page

Hard-Hitting News – Roller Derby in the Capital Region

by Michele Murphy, photo by Bonner Photography

Roller derby divas Eves of Destructions’ ninth season kicks off this month with their all-star A team facing heavy-hitter Abbotsford team the Anarchy Angels. The Eves promise an exciting bout showcasing the skill and the passion of this intense event. Four-year derby veteran Esther Beauregard, or by her derby name, C-3Ph0 (Ho for short), says that this season will be their best yet.

“We’re thinking that his will be a break-out year for the A Team,” says Ho. “We’ll be facing some really tough competition this season which will really showcase our talent. You’re going to see a level derby here on the Island that we haven’t seen before.”

The Eves of Destruction is a club of passionate amateur all-female derbyists from all over the Capital Region. They practice throughout the region, with their bouts taking place in Esquimalt and Langford.

All-female roller derby has been around since the 1930s, with it’s heyday in the 1940s when it was played on a banked track to large audiences in more than 50 cities across the US. The sport eventually evolved (devolved?) into a form of sports entertainment using colourful player names, costumes, developed characters, dramatized rivalries, and somewhat or completely scripted bouts. By the ‘60s it had settled into the sports and entertainment fringes, losing the mass appeal it once enjoyed.

Until 2001.

Derby was reborn just after the turn of this century in Austin, Texas (city motto, “Keep Austin Weird”). The sport of it was back with a new focus on athletics and strategy. Today, modern roller derby is played internationally on a flat track. The slightly slower track makes it possible to play in any community that has a solid gym floor, a hockey or curling rink, and spectator demand. The sport is still dominated by all-female adult amateur teams, but male, co-ed and youth teams are on the rise. Flat-track derby was even considered as a roller sport for the 2020 Olympics. While the colourful names and interesting uniforms remain, strategy and athletic ability have replaced the scripted theatrics.

With the Eves’ focus on skill and safety, hitting the track as a full-on player doesn’t happen overnight.

“There’s a lot to think about in modern derby,” explains Ho, “it’s not just a physical game, it’s a mental one too. Modern derby involves strategy. You need to understand the plays, and your role in the line, and you need to play by the rules. It takes a while to get the hang of it – whether you’re a player or a spectator.”

For the spectators there’s a run-down of how the game is played at the beginning of every game, complete with non-playing players in the audience to answer your questions throughout the bout.

For the players there’s a very structured graduated training process that starts at skating basics and goes right up to the all-star team, appropriately named the A Team. The focus is on safety and skill building and they say that no one is put on the track before they are both physically and mentally ready. Derby is open to all adult females. “We have women from 18 right through to their mid 50s joining,” says Ho. “Derby not a place that you come to get in shape though; you need to be in shape to play.”

But for the players, derby is more than just a sport, it’s personal. “My derby team is family,” said third-year, 46-year-old Saanich player Shannon Pfaffenberger, whose derby name is Pfury S Pfaff. “We’re together a lot – usually two and three times a week. No matter what’s happening in your outside life, it all goes away when you’re at derby. The girls know you, they really get you, you have a shared love and respect for the sport and your team,” she explains. “We rely on each other, on and off the track.

“These are strong, passionate women that I play with. The word inspiring comes to mind,”Pfaffenberger says,. “It’s the best sport that I have ever played.”

Eves’ season opener is at Archie Browning Centre on April 25th at 6 pm.

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