Image: Parliament Buildings in Victoria (Ryan Kelm Photography)

The City of Victoria has $50,000 to spend, and for the first time ever, they’re offering the citizens a chance to decide how to use it.

Back in fall 2017, twenty eight project proposals were submitted by individuals and organizations. The council considered each concept, put them through a vetting process, and has now presented the 8 most viable options for the city of Victoria.

There are some great ideas in here, so don’t wait too long to cast your votes! Voting closes on January 20th.

The top selections as voted upon will receive funding from the $50,000 pot.

You can participate in the survey online or vote in person at City Hall from 8am – 4:30pm on weekdays. Look for the voting box in the Pandora entrance!

We’ve summarized the initiatives below, but a full description of each project can be found here.

1. Urban Alive Pop-Up Native Bee Apiary

A native bee apiary will provide bees in the area a network of tunnels for nesting, and offer education on bees, pollination, and food security. The neat part is that the design is completely portable, meaning it can be transported to new communities each year.

The installation would be a fusion of art and science, offering adults and children a chance to get educated on the impact bees have on natural ecosystems. Multiple communities would benefit from the pollination of urban gardens, with over 400 bee species that are native to British Columbia.

  • Project Champions: Pollinator Partnership Canada, Border Free Bees and Emily Carr University
  • Location: Community Garden in Victoria
  • Amount requested: $11,500

2. Closing the Loop on the Aquaponics system at the Compost Education Centre

The Compost Education Centre offers a great example of the efficiency of closed loop systems. As it stands, fish poop in the water is pumped into the garden soil where plants such as kale and lettuce filter out the nitrates as they extract the useful resources from the water. The plant filtered water is then cycled back into the fish tank.

An awesome final step for the Compost Education Centre – which sees 10,000 visits annually – would be to complete the loop with a solar panel and battery. This would keep the pump circulating and would be a great demonstration of how Victoria residents can use renewable energy in their own home and gardens.

  • Project Champion: Victoria Compost Education Centre
  • Location: The Compost Education Centre, 1216 North Park Street
  • Amount requested: $2,000

3. Arts & Alzheimer’s

Arts and Alzheimer’s is a music and art program designed for seniors with Alzheimer’s who are still living in their own home. It offers support for caregivers, and most importantly stimulates the brains of those who experience Alzheimer’s. Certified art therapists, with a specialty in working with seniors and those with dementia, are used for the program

Put simply, those who feel like a part of the community generally have better health and higher levels of happiness. This program builds community, engages the mind, supports socializing, encourages independence, and lifts people’s spirits while combating isolation and loneliness.

  • Project Champion: We Rage We Weep Alzheimer Foundation
  • Location: Silver Threads, 2340 Richmond Rd.
  • Amount requested: $1,500

4. Next Steps Employment Program

The Empowering Employment program offers a unique bridge between vulnerable people and socially minded employers who are interested in making a difference. Starting with the complete basics – such as communication and professional behaviour – the program aims to prepare participants for a job placement. Other useful skills such as food service and data entry are a part of the program, while supporting both the employer and participant.

This project will work with three professional staff, a dozen volunteer trainers, participant support volunteers, and willing employers, giving their time to accommodate vulnerable employees. A similar project in Winnipeg, Manitoba saw great success, which is where this program gets its inspiration.

  • Project Champion: Our Place Society
  • Location: Our Place – 919 Pandora Avenue
  • Amount requested: $25,000

5. Arts Project for Marginalized People

The Victoria Arts Council (VAC) will expand Patrick Smith’s successful Arts for Marginalized People Program in the Victoria area. VAC continues on that program with interactive, healing arts designed for people with disabilities, poverty, or advanced age. Singing and playing instruments, theatre, puppetry, dance, and visual arts are all a part of this great program that will see Victoria take care of its most isolated population. In James Bay alone, 800 seniors have been designated as isolated.

The project will increase community connections, build social bonds, and give participants an opportunity for self-expression, learning, and mental stimulation.

  • Project Champion: Victoria Arts Council
  • Location: Multiple locations: James Bay New Horizons, Cook St. Activity Centre, Wellspring Support,Victoria Arts Council, & Beacon Community Services
  • Amount requested: $20,000

6. One Vital Sign

One Vital Sign will upgrade the Victoria High Shool’s (VHS) existing information sign to a digital community resource board. The sign will be shared by both the school and community as a means for relaying important information, events, emergencies, and community resources.

The primary focus behind One Vital Sign is the enabling of citizens to expand their knowledge and participation in the community. It will allow groups both large and small to reach out to their fellow Victorians.

  • Project Champion: Vining Street Party Society, Victoria High School, Greater Victoria School District
  • Location: Victoria High School
  • Amount requested: $22,055

7. Victoria Bicycle Music Festival

In July 2017, five Victoria-based musicians, along with community organizers and a crew of volunteers started the Victoria Bicycle Music Festival. Bringing the community together through cycling and music, this festival is a free, family friendly event that was completely powered by bicycles.

The festival will take place on July 29th in three outdoor venues with group rides linking each location. Since this is a new collection of organizers, access to funding would provide them a unique opportunity to make these events long-term additions to Victoria community culture.

  • Project Champion: Victoria Bicycle Music Festival organizing team
  • Location: Various outdoor public spaces
  • Amount requested: $4,350

8. FED Learning Garden

The Learning Garden will be a beautiful community space that would double as an outdoor classroom focused on growing food in urban spaces, identifying plant varieties, and how to save seeds. Given that the Library is already home to the Seed Garden, they would work hand-in-hand to provide citizens with the opportunity to learn about saving seeds at an excellent demonstration site.

This project would serve as a learning space for the community, contribute to food security in the region, and re-energize a community space that sees a tremendous amount of foot traffic.

  • Project Champion: Food Eco District and LifeCycles
  • Location: 735 Broughton St. (courtyard at Greater Victoria Library downtown)
  • Amount requested: $16,000

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