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Oak Bay group spends $6,000 on groceries for refugees from Ukraine

With second housing option unattanable community association buys grocery cards instead
Community Association of Oak Bay members Jan Mears and Rick Marshall hand off $6,000 worth of groceries to Karmen McNamara of Help Ukraine Vancouver Island to aid refugees this winter. (Courtesy Community Association of Oak Bay)

A spring fundraiser put food on the tables of families living on Vancouver Island as a place of refuge this winter.

The Community Association of Oak Bay donated $6,000 in Fairway Market grocery cards to Help Ukraine Vancouver Island.

This summer, the Community Association of Oak Bay, Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) and the Greater Victoria Housing Society partnered up with each organization bringing its expertise to the table to successfully pitch refugee housing for Oak Bay.

The ICA officially signed a lease for a small home on Hampshire Road

READ ALSO: Oak Bay home opening doors to refugees

They also hoped to use a second district-owned home on Monterey Avenue, a 1908 two-storey home on a double lot bought in 2016 for $1.7 million, later revealed uninhabitable. Late last year, council heard from staff that it needed about $190,000 in basic urgent repairs, just to keep the building. Work to redeem residential occupancy was estimated at $315,000 and to get it to office occupancy requirements at $636,000. Oak Bay staff had suggested moving municipal offices to the site, but to date, council has only agreed to the urgent repairs.

The community association raised funds in the hopes of also using the six-bedroom home to house single moms and kids fleeing Ukraine.

“We’ve decided we can’t wait any longer and continue to hold the funds we raised to support this possibility. The immediate need is too great and urgent, so we are providing the funds to buy much-needed groceries through the local Fairway Markets, who have demonstrated a commitment to their community,” association treasurer Rick Marshall said.

READ ALSO: Groups build relationships to house Ukrainian family in Oak Bay

The community association raised the money through a fundraiser at the Oaks Restaurant last spring.

“We are grateful to the many community supporters and donors who contributed to the fundraiser in May, to musician David Essig, who provided great entertainment and donated, and to Joe Blake, Tasha Medve and Jan Mears who organized the successful event. We feel confident this use of the money raised will fulfill their wishes to support displaced Ukrainians arriving in our community,” Marshall said.

Help Ukraine Vancouver Island has aided 680 individuals arriving on Vancouver Island since February, 2022 – mostly women and children with about half of them coming to Greater Victoria.

Learn more about Help Ukraine Vancouver Island at

Both houses were identified during their purchase as village assets deemed

The District of Oak Bay bought the Hampshire property in 1990. It was considered as a parking lot in 2007 and again in 2012. They’ve always been cited as an asset that will be explored when the district undertakes a Village Area Planning process expected this year.

READ ALSO: Victoria refugee association ends Welcome House program in Oak Bay


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