Community: New bike and skate facility in Saanich

Community: New bike and skate facility in Saanich

Celebration on Aug. 20 for opening of new skate and bike facilities at Topaz Park

The City of Victoria will host a community celebration to mark the opening of the new skate and bike parks in Topaz Park on Saturday.

The new 6,000 square metre bike park has an asphalt pump track, while the 3,000 square metre all-wheels skate park — the largest skate bowl in Greater Victoria — has street and flow zones.

Both bike and skate parks are suitable for all skill levels, with beginner and advanced areas.

The new park areas also include artwork by artist Germaine Koh in the form of interactive sculptures inspired by native plants. The landscaping includes new trees, shared pathways, social spaces and a sustainable approach to storm water management.

The grand opening event will feature demonstrations by some of Canada’s top professional bike riders and skaters.

“There is a lot of excitement and anticipation about this amazing new infrastructure,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.

“Recreational activities are critical for the health of our community and skate, scooter and bike features like these will help residents of all ages stay active. I invite everyone to join us to celebrate these new additions to Topaz Park together as a community.”

The event will include tours to introduce the various park features to the community, as well as food trucks, community booths and a live DJ.

The skate and bike parks, along with the ongoing replacement and expansion of the turf sports field, are part of an initial $10-million investment in improvements under the Topaz Park Improvement Plan. Design work for the next phase of improvements, planned for 2023, include pickleball courts, ball diamond upgrades and an improved leash-optional dog area.

The community celebration is free to attend. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The schedule for the day includes an all-wheels beginner session with mentors, from 9 to 11 a.m.; ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m.; bike park tour and pro demos, noon to 1 p.m.; skate park tour and pro demos, 1 to 2 p.m. and an open jam session from 2 to 4 p.m.

The park is bounded by Blanshard Street, Finlayson Street and Topaz Avenue.

Deadline for submissions approaches in art contest

The deadline for artists to sign up for a competition to create a piece based on their interpretation of a poem for a future art show, called Ekphrastic Reversed, is fast approaching.

This year, Cowichan Valley Arts Council invited 12 poets living on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands to compose poems on themes of interruption, isolation and invigoration.

They are now calling on artists to pick a poem, then paint, sculpt or draw their interpretation.

Ekphrastic is Greek for “a description.” An ekphrastic poem is a written description of a piece of art. For this show, the process is reversed — instead of words describing art, art will describe words.

Only 48 art pieces will be chosen to be included in a printed catalogue and also displayed in a show slated for April 3 to May 1 next year.

Artists can sign up for a maximum of two poems at $30 each. Any two-dimensional medium is accepted (including photography and mixed media). The maximum size of the piece is 24 by 36 inches. The sign-up deadline is Aug. 31, with the art submission deadline Jan. 15, 2023.

For more information, go to the

Lieutenant governor hands out arts and music awards

Individuals and organizations based on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands were well represented as the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia announced the recipients of this year’s Lieutenant Governor’s Arts and Music Awards.

The awards, made with support from the Government House Foundation, recognizes individuals, groups and organizations in B.C. who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, creativity, community engagement, passion or commitment to fostering and mentoring others in the fields of visual arts, music or performance.

The one-time awards to 11 individuals and 17 organizations, were a part of celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

“I am delighted to congratulate the recipients of these special awards,” said Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

“It is a great privilege to support such talented creators in our province, particularly those who make a big impact at so many levels. In honour of the 70 years of service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, it’s very important to recognize the service of these artists to their communities through the Lieutenant Governor’s Arts and Music Awards.”

Individual recipients from Vancouver Island included Joelle Rabu of Nanaimo and Timothy Vernon of Victoria.

Organization recipients included Belfry Theatre, Canadian Heritage Arts Society/Canadian College of Performing Arts, Victoria Arts Council and the Victoria Conservatory of Music in Victoria, the Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill and the Ptarmigan Arts Society Music on Pender Island.

The selection committee included community leaders in visual arts, music and performing arts. Each award recipient received a certificate of acknowledgment and a monetary gift recognizing their achievement.

For a full list of the recipients, go to

Saanich honours its arts, culture and heritage contributors

The Municipality of Saanich announced the recipients of its Arts, Culture and Heritage Awards at a council meeting this week.

The awards recognize and celebrate contributions made by individuals, groups, organizations and businesses to arts, culture and heritage that impact the municipality.

The Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory was recognized with the Cultural Steward award as an organization. Individual awards went to Parminder Virk, Ashley Howe, Teresa Ranson and Olivia Hahn. Lifetime achievement awards were given to Pulchérie Mboussi and Steven Baileys.

The awards are an initiative of the Saanich Arts, Culture and Heritage advisory committee, a group of appointed volunteers whose duties include reviewing the nominations received from community members and selecting the winners.

“Thank you to our award winners for making a positive impact on the cultural fabric of Saanich and a heartfelt congratulations,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes.

In addition to being honoured at the council meeting, award recipients received a framed certificate and recognition on the Saanich website.

Learn more about the recipients and the awards at

Charity opens satellite operation at technology park

The Garth Homer Society has opened a new satellite operation for most of its learning and employment programs at the Vancouver Island Technology Park in Saanich.

The new location will be home to three of the Garth Homer Society’s learning and employment programs: The Options Day program which focuses on community involvement and volunteering tied to learning; LifeStreams, which supports clients in reaching their personal goals and to thrive as individuals; and employment services.

“Being located in the tech park is a real opportunity for our clients,” said Mikaela Masiuk, the society’s manager of learning and employment services. “The area is home to innovative tech companies and academics, and there will be opportunities to support that and be a part of it.”

The society provides services and opportunities that enable people with disabilities to make a life, a home and a place in the world. It is searching for additional program space as many of its community inclusion programs have to be temporarily relocated during the construction of a new Centre for Belonging in the Nigel Valley Redevelopment Project.

For more information, go to

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