Raising the village in Saanichton

Saanichton Village Association about to change direction after a decade of boosting interest in the local hub.

Saanichton Village Association board members Dan Oliver (clockwise from front)

Saanichton Village Association board members Dan Oliver (clockwise from front)

For a decade, the Saanichton Village Association (SVA) has been working to enhance the Central Saanich community hub’s sense of place and culture.

On the eve of their annual general meeting next week, they are putting a call out for more members to help ease the workload of a very successful organization.

Current board president Jim Townley says the group got its start with a community garden in Saanichton —made possible by the work of past president Jan Carroll and a group of ‘gardening grannies’. Since that time, the SVA has expanded its roster of community events to include a spaghetti supper (which sold out last November),  annual Community Christmas event and a partnership with the Peninsula Country Market for a Central Saanich Family Day in August.

As well, Townley said the SVA is about to cap off its long-term project of adding welcoming totem poles to the four main entrances to Saanichton. The final totem is planned to go up this year in the Mount Newton Valley.

“We have come a long way since the first totem,” Townley said.

On the heels of the success of their community-building events, Townley said they’ve earned the respect of the District of Central Saanich. The municipality recently agreed to provide the SVA a regular funding stream. That means the group is not as dependant upon fundraising as they have been in the past — but at the same time, they must deliver on their annual events.

To that end, the SVA board is looking for more volunteers. They are reaching out to residents and business owners alike to consider getting involved as members of the SVA directly, or as volunteers at their annual events.

Townley emphasized that the SVA is a non-partisan organization. While they work with the municipality on planning in the Saanichton village area, he said they are not a political group.

“We are committed to people’s enjoyment of the Saanichton Village,” added Martine Redman, SVA treasurer. “We have been around for a long time and we’re stable.”

As the SVA’s totem project ends this year, they are looking to start a new long-term campaign, called the Bike N’ Ride.

Townley said they are in the early days of planning and are looking at something like places for people to secure their bikes, with links to transit services.

“It’s an idea to get more people on their bikes and eventually onto transit,” he said.

The SVA is working with the District on potential properties where they can build a place where cyclists can repair their bikes and secure them.

To get involved, the SVA is asking people to turn out to their annual general meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Old Attic on East Saanich Road. People are to RSVP to lynne.parker@shaw.ca.

The guest speaker will be Sandra Bickford Morneau, one of the family members connected with the new ‘Generations’ building under construction in Saanichton.

To learn more, visit saanichtonvillage.ca.