Two Events Celebrated

Good Weather Brings Out Good Crowd For Parks
Good weather was the backdrop to this weekend's North Saanich Parks Commission Open House at Municipal Hall. Taking the opportunity to showcase the new Parks Plan, Commission members and North Saanich staff members went to a lot of work to set up displays of all kinds, including live plant demonstrations (compliments of Russell Nursery), maps, questionnaires, planning displays and, of course, refreshments. Held between 1:00 and 4:00 PM, the Open House was, in my opinion, well attended and generated a lot of interaction between the public and Parks Commission members, North Saanich staff and Councilors Scoones (Parks Commission Liaison), Chandler and Green.

Joan Gibb staffed the Dominion Brook Park display and is such a keen spokesperson on behalf of the Board that anyone would want to join the Society and certainly spend time at the Park. In fact, we have some great ambassadors who work tirelessly on behalf of North Saanich parks and the Commission. I am impressed with their dedication and commitment, given that they are all volunteers and I am also impressed with the help and support of North Saanich staffers such as Kelly Albucz, Lisa Coburn, Dawn Gould, Brian Robinson and others, who gave up their Saturday to lend a hand to the Open House. Forgive me if I have missed anyone.

The buzz while I attended was that the Open House was a big success, as was public participation in a questionnaire designed to elicit feedback on ranking which parks' projects deserve first priority over the next 4 and a half years. Beach accesses, trails, viewpoints and related projects are explored in the questionnaire, with an additional section asking respondents to list their own suggestions for neighbourhood or community projects. Neighbourhoods identified in the questionnaire include Ardmore, Central, Cloake Hill/Horth Hill, Curteis Point/McDonald Park, Dean Park, Deep Cove and the Southeast.

A big THANKS to everyone who worked behind the scenes to make the Parks Commission Open House so successful and to the public who took the time to attend and find out what the Parks Commission, with your support and input, has planned for the future.

Councilor Anny Scoones and Dawn Gould

Joan Gibb of Dominion Brook Park

Center Parks Plan Display

Parks Commission Member Talking to Resident

Parks Commission Chair Farrell Boyce

Segment of Wall Display on Parks Plan

Staffer and Admin Support to Commission, Kelly Albucz

Lieutenant-Governor Point Opens Commemorative Firefighters' Park
Chief Gary Wilton and our North Saanich Volunteer Firefighters Association scored a major honour when they managed to book Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point to attend and open the ceremony to recognize long service firefighters and a commemorative park recently established at the corner of Wain and West Saanich Roads, on the grounds of the Wain Rd. Firehall. Councilor Ruby Commandeur, as Acting Mayor, made remarks on behalf of the District of North Saanich and Mayor Alice Finall and Councilors Chandler, Scoones, Shaw and I also attended. Other dignitaries included MLA Murray Coell and MP Gary Lunn, along with BC's Fire Commissioner Rebecca Denlinger.

It was a warm sunny afternoon as firefighters, their families and friends and members of the public gathered at the new park site for the ceremony. The park is a wonderful commemoration to the dedication and sacrifice made by our volunteer firefighters on behalf of North Saanich. Our volunteers routinely put themselves in harm's way to protect the health and well-being of over 11,000 local residents. They also work with other communities when required and are a testament to the commitment of volunteer firefighters serving on the Saanich Peninsula. In fact, His Honour Steven Point reminded us about the importance of volunteerism and how giving back to our communities is truly an honourable achievement. In my opinion, North Saanich is particularly fortunate to have a long and impressive history of volunteerism by those whose tremendous efforts support our community at so many levels.

The ceremony went on to recognize individual firefighters Greg Smith and Ray Halsall for Provincial Exemplary Service Medals, Ken Herlinveaux, Russell Flower, Alex Bonare, Monte Taylor, George Hartshorne, Ed Banas, Pat Phillips and Gary Wilton for Park Dedication and Life Membership and a host of "rookies," newly recruited volunteers who have just completed over 700 hours of training to qualify as firefighters.

Congratulations to Chief Gary Wilton and our North Saanich Volunteer Firefighters! And thank you for the beautiful park space (all done by volunteers and local sponsors), space that not only serves to recognize firefighters but also provides a place of public respite and enjoyment for anyone who passes by.

Members Piped and Escorted into Ceremony

Left to Right: Councilor Ruby Commandeur, MLA Murray Coell, MP Gary Lunn, North Saanich Fire Chief Gary Wilton and His Honour Steven Point, Lieutenant-Governor of B.C.

The Plaque Waiting to be Unveiled

North Saanich Fire Fighters

Councilor and Acting Mayor Ruby Commandeur Shaking Hands with His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor

Chief Gary Wilton and BC Fire Commissioner Rebecca Denlinger

Happiness and Well-Being Survey Released

Greater Victoria Happiness and Well-Being Survey Released

Implemented by a partnership of eight organizations in Greater Victoria such as the United Way, the University of Victoria, City of Victoria, Community Council, CRD and VIHA, among others, the Greater Victoria Well-being Survey report on health was released this month. Some of the elements measured include:
• environmental vitality
• governance quality
• social and community vitality
• time balance
• cultural vitality
• physical and mental health

The survey was mailed in November 2008 to a random sample of Capital Region residents and 2,400 responses were returned by January 2009. Highlights of the results include the following data:
• income level is the most important aspect of health but goes beyond just the "rich" vs. "poor" comparison
• health and well-being are strongly connected (known as 'satisfaction with life')
• beyond income level, social support, family and friends and community involvement/participation in cultural, educational and recreational events were also significant factors to a sense of well-being

In my view, these results, while not necessarily surprising, do confirm for all of us that income levels and socialization seem to be important contributors to one's self assessment of his/her quality of life. For a more complete summary of the report, please visit the website of the Victoria Foundation at

North Saanich Farm Market Opens for Business!

North Saanich Farm Market Opening and Sunshine Bring Out Good Crowd

What better combination is there than warm sunshine, friendly crowds and fresh market fare? That's exactly what greeted me at the grand opening of North Saanich's Farm Market, behind St. John's Church on West Saanich Rd. Marking its third year, the market was officially opened on June 5 by Mayor Alice Finall, one of the driving forces behind the first farm market. While browsing the market, I happily bumped into provincial MLA Lana Popham (agriculture advocate and Saanich farmer), Councilors Chandler and Commandeur (local blueberry farmer) and School Board Trustee Allan Collier. The market was also flooded with residents from all over the Peninsula, many carrying bags of fresh produce from a variety of stands.

Local artist Jo Hadfield could hardly lift her large black bag overflowing with fresh lettuces, complaining that the veggies seemed heavier this year. Writer M.A.C. Farrant and husband Terry were enjoying fresh toast and jam while Christine Richards, NSRA Board member and her husband Hugh, greeted everyone with a warm smile and big hug. Susan Chandler, Penny Gibbs and Diana Chown of the North Saanich Food for the Future Society (the Farm Market organizer and sponsor), were on duty ensuring that growers and sellers were well looked after. Mayor Alice Finall also pointed out Barbara Brennan in the crowd, Chair of North Saanich's Agricultural Advisory Commission and owner of Bailiwick Farm. Former North Saanich Councilor Heather Goulet also attended, herself an accomplished gardener and pottery artist.

A bustling morning was punctuated with some great music and vocals by the band Water in the Crawl Space, with one of the band members Farrell Boyce front and center. Besides being a local musician, Farrell is also Chair of the North Saanich Parks Commission. Yes, it was a perfect opening, with great people, great weather and great produce, flowers and baking galore.

Please support the North Saanich Farm Market and make its third season the best ever! By the way, did you know that over half of the arable land in North Saanich is actively farmed? So please get out and support our local growers and suppliers and do your part to enhance agriculture in North Saanich and on the Saanich Peninsula.

And don't forget, the market runs every Saturday morning from 9:30 to noon, right behind St. John's Church across from Deep Cove Elementary School on West Saanich Road. Once again, we owe our thanks to Janet Silman and the Church for providing market space and helping to keep the dream of a local farm market alive.