Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sustainable. Affordable. Student Housing

Exciting times for our University – and for the region.
Last week Premier Horgan and Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training were at UVic to break ground on long-awaited – and needed – new student housing and dining hall.
This is part of B.C.'s first-ever student housing initiative - developed to help meet a significant and long-standing need of students – while relieving some of the pressure on rental housing throughout the region. Nearly 800 UVic students will be able to make themselves at home on-campus by 2022.
Why now? What’s changed?
For many years public post-secondary institutions were asking for the ability to borrow to construct student housing; the previous government never approved the request. Our government saw the good sense in what post-secondary institutions were asking and created a $450M student housing loan program.  This enables public post-secondary institutions to borrow funds directly from the Provincial Treasury and construct student housing. 
Allowing institutions to borrow directly from the Province keeps borrowing costs low and that translates into lower, more affordable rental rates for students. The loans are repaid over time to the Province with interest. This is a win for students, a win for our public institutions, and a win for British Columbians.
Our government has made this long sought-after solution happen!
The project includes two new buildings with 783 student homes plus a dining hall and multipurpose space that can be used for conferences. While the project replaces some existing beds, it represents a net increase of 621 homes – a 25% increase in housing on the UVic campus. The first building is scheduled to start construction in late summer 2020 with completion in spring 2022.
This groundbreaking is an important milestone in fulfilling our government's commitment to build 5,000 new student housing spaces across the province. The UVic project is state-of-the-art sustainable housing – the first on-campus housing to use the Passive House construction standard, the primary aim of which is to achieve exceptional energy efficiency. Construction meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold and Passive House standards - the most rigorous global building standards for sustainability and energy efficiency – supporting government's CleanBC initiative.
This project represents a 25% increase of student housing on campus. It will include a rejuvenated outdoor area that connects the new housing and dining hall to the centre of campus, student group and study spaces, communal social spaces, laundry facilities and secure indoor bicycle storage. Plus a 600-seat dining hall, commercial kitchen, small grocery and new coffee shop to replace Cadboro Commons and provide more food offerings with healthy options (it’s all about the food for me!)
This is the first major capital project at UVic since a new Campus Plan was completed in January 2016.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Saanich South Update

Dear Saanich South,

The last few days have seen an uptick in new cases of COVID-19. This is not a reason to panic, but it is a good reminder that our work to flatten the curve is not done. While we enjoy summer and return to some of our favourite activities, we need to heed the advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry.
  • Keep groups and gatherings small, and avoid crowded indoor spaces
  • Maintain 2m (6ft) distance between yourself and those outside your bubble
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Wear a mask when you can’t maintain physical distance – such as in stores or on transit
  • Stay home and self-isolate whenever you feel sick – even if your symptoms are mild
Remember that the more people you socialize with, the higher your risk of being exposed to and spreading COVID-19. Be responsible and socialize safety.

As we near the end of the summer legislative session, your BC New Democrat government has made a lot of progress on planning our economic recovery. We are working to build our economy, and our province, back even better than it was before, so that everyone will have a good job and a more secure future. But that recovery can only keep moving forward if we all continue to be safe and follow Dr. Henry’s advice.

Yesterday we announced more support for local governments and transit systems, with up to one billion dollars available from the Province to match a contribution by the federal government. This funding will ensure people can access the important services they need throughout our restart and recovery.

This past week, we announced even more new child care spaces across the province, bringing the total number of spaces our government has created to 16,800. These spaces will be vital as parents return to work or school.

We also announced new funding for search and rescue groups, recognizing the important role they play in keeping British Columbians safe.

In the last week we’ve announced that construction or planning is underway for new or expanded schools in Smithers, West Sechelt, Vernon and Langford. We also implemented our vaping action plan, to protect kids and teen from the risks of vaping and nicotine addiction.

We have accomplished a lot together, and there is still so much more to do.

As always, if you have any questions or need any assistance with provincial supports, please reach out. My office is currently open via phone and email to support you. You can reach us at 250-479-4154 or 

Stay well,

COVID Resources:
  • For medical info, visit or call 811
  • For provincial supports and BC’s Restart Plan, visit, call 1-888-COVID-19 (1-888-268-4319) or text 604-630-0300
  • For employer guidelines on returning to work safely, visit WorkSafeBC
  • Take the self-assessment at
  • For seniors looking for additional support, or for those looking to support seniors, call 2-1-1 or visit

Monday, July 27, 2020

Digital Marketing Bootcamp

Did you know that Saanich’s top occupations are health care, social assistance, and public administration? This sets Saanich South apart from the rest of the province where retail plays the leading role as a job creator. Saanich also enjoys a higher-than-average number of young workers. But sadly we’re learning now that the 18-29 year-old workforce has been the hardest hit with job losses and changes due to COVID-19.

That’s why this new initiative is particularly exciting for the residents of Saanich South.
The BC Government in partnership with Alacrity Canada has developed a new virtual Digital Marketing Bootcamp that will give people and businesses the tools they need to move online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This innovative and timely boot camp will provide participants with a foundation in digital marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, analytics, content marketing and more. With this knowledge, they will have the opportunity to work in a range of digital marketing positions that are important for businesses that sell online.

Digital commerce is becoming more common for businesses of all sizes as well as for not-for-profits. The skills participants gain will benefit small and medium-sized businesses as they expand their sales strategies to include a larger online presence.

This course is based on a pilot program that took place in late 2019 and early 2020. Almost 45 people participated in the pilot program, with a job placement rate of 85%. It will provide people with the training they need to get jobs  and businesses with the skilled employees they need to adjust and grow as our world shifts to a new normal.

There are up to 500 spaces available in the Digital Marketing Bootcamp. The boot camp is open to businesses and employed and unemployed British Columbians of any age, with priority given to employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19.

The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness is contributing $250,000 to cover the tuition costs for up to 250 participants from registered B.C.-based small- and medium-sized businesses, with a limit of one participant per business.

The Digital Marketing Bootcamp has an educational value of $6,000. The course cost has been reduced to approximately $1,200, which may be further reduced as more participants register.
For eligible individuals who are underemployed or unemployed British Columbians, additional financial support may be available to reduce the cost of participation.

Registration is open until July 31, 2020, with the course starting on Aug. 4, 2020. The course will run for six weeks. To register, visit:

The Digital Market Bootcamp is one way that the B.C. government is making sure people and businesses have the support they need to restart and rebuild an economy that works for everyone.

To register for the Digital Marketing Bootcamp, ask questions or get more information on possible financial support, visit Alacrity Canada:

(cover photo by Igor Miske)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Canada’s first Chinese Canadian Museum

 (photo attribution: MARELBU)
What a delight it is to have the oldest Chinatown in Canada right here in Victoria and know that our government is honouring and preserving the knowledge of the contributions of Chinese Canadians – contributions that are essential to our province – past and present. I am very pleased to be able to announce this during Chinese Cultural Heritage Week, July 20-27.

The B.C. government announced this week that they have invested $10 million to establish the Chinese Canadian Museum – the first in Canada. This investment includes $2 million to complete the planning and development and $8 million for an endowment to provide ongoing support. The museum includes a provincial hub in Vancouver Chinatown, multiple regional hubs and spokes throughout B.C. – including Victoria, and an online portal and digital experiences for historical locations throughout the province.

At at a critical point in history for conversations about race, inequality and injustice in this province. As Premier John Horgan said, “There really couldn’t be a better time to come together to share the stories about how our province got to where it is – and to have conversations about where we want it to go.”

The newly formed, independent, non-profit Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia will lead development and operation of the museum. The inaugural board has 20 members with a range of expertise, skills and experience and includes representatives from both the provincial government and the City of Vancouver. Grace Wong, former senior advisor international, University of British Columbia Office of Provost and Vice‐President Academic, is the chair of the society.

To kick-off the museum experience, the Chinese Canadian Museum Society is launching a temporary exhibit in Vancouver Chinatown at 27 E Pender St. in August. A Seat at the Table explores the history of Chinese immigration and how the communities were able to stay vibrant and resilient through the food and restaurant culture they brought to British Columbia. The exhibit is a partnership with the City of Vancouver, University of British Columbia and Museum of Vancouver.

The society has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the newly formed Victoria Chinatown Museum Society to be the first regional hub and launch a pocket gallery in Fan Tan Alley with the support of the Royal BC Museum. The pocket gallery is anticipated to open in time for the recognition of Chinese Cultural Heritage Week, July 20-27, 2020.

The funding delivers on the B.C. government’s commitment to establish a Chinese Canadian museum. It also reflects the memorandum of understanding signed between the Province and the City of Vancouver to pursue United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site Designation for Vancouver Chinatown and recognizes its global significance as a site of ongoing cultural and historic value. Following a public engagement in 2019, the Province provided a $1-million grant to the City of Vancouver to support planning, including opening a project office and pocket gallery in Vancouver Chinatown.

Looking for something new to do this summer? Visit Victoria Chinatown and learn more about the history of the Chinese Canadian community - where it happened!

You can find out more about Chinese Canadian Museum HERE (video) and HERE.

Find out more about Victoria’s amazing Chinatown HERE.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Community Safety & Crime Prevention Awards

(cover image by Joey Nicrotra)
Hey Saanich South,

We’re looking for some local heroes!

Each year the Ministry of Public Safety & Emergency Services recognizes individuals, groups and programs that have made outstanding contributions to crime prevention and community safety with the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards. Saanich is one of the safest communities in North America, so clearly somebody is doing something pretty amazing here in Saanich South!

Each year the awards go to crime prevention practitioners that have gone above and beyond, making a lasting difference in our communities. They have made the effort to understand the community’s needs, brought people and resources together to tackle problems, and followed through until results were achieved.

The award categories are:
  • Award of Distinction: honours the extraordinary lifetime contribution and commitment.
  • Youth Leadership Award: recognizes police officers, youth, and others who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to working with youth or youth themselves who work, in their communities.
  • Restorative Justice Memorial Award: recognizes a community-based restorative justice group or individual that has demonstrated a commitment to innovated partnerships that have advanced the work of restorative justice and brought caring and respectful service to victims, offenders and their communities.
  • Crime Prevention & Community Safety Award: recognizes exemplary leadership through developing innovative projects and key activities or initiatives to promote safe communities.
  • Services to Victims Award: recognizes exemplary leadership in providing services and supports to victims.
Last year’s recipients included the manager of a Community Safety organization, a victims’ rights advocate, a community justice trainer and facilitator, a community resource office that works with youths that are at-risk of or involved in criminal and gang activity, and a RCMP officer that specializes in crime prevention, and drug enforcement at the neighbourhood level.

The nominations for the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards are reviewed by representatives from the provincial Safe Communities Working Group (SCWG) – a coalition of provincial partners together with the common goal of keeping the Province’s communities safe.
The nomination process is simple. You’re asked to speak to the individual or organization’s dedication, commitment, perseverance and contribution. It’s not a writing contest – just let them know how amazing you feel your nominee is and why. Go online to complete the form HERE.

Nominations close on July 31

The award-winners are announced during Crime Prevention Week, held during the first week of November.

If you know of a person, or an organization in Saanich South that you feel is making a valuable contribution to the safety of our community – consider nominating them for the award! The community will be better for the recognition!

Stay safe Saanich South!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Fire at Strawberry Vale Elementary

I am writing to acknowledge the concerns of many regarding the recent fire at the Strawberry Vale Elementary School. The good news is that no-one was hurt!

This school is an important part of our community. It is understandable that students, parents, teachers and everyone who is part of the school community will have questions about what happens next.

It will take time to assess the damage and develop a plan for the upcoming school year but please know that I have reached out to my colleague Rob Fleming, the Minister of Education, to make sure that the Ministry is engaged and a plan is developed as quickly as possible.

I can confirm that the Ministry of Education and the School District are working on short-term measures to support students and educators until the repairs are complete.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

I want to take a moment to thank the Saanich Fire Department for their brave and quick work on containing this fire, and for their ongoing commitment to keep our community safe.

Warm Regards,

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Royal BC Museum

Although this photo is a few years old, it’s one of my favourites!

My son and I attended a fundraiser for the Royal BC Museum and we had the great pleasure of visiting with CEO Jack Lohman.

I absolutely love this Museum and so I was very excited when we heard from Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare today that it’s going to be 1/2 price all Summer!

Here is the announcement:

People from around British Columbia will be able to enjoy the wonders of the Royal BC Museum for less this summer.

“Now that we’re into Phase 3, I am encouraging British Columbians to explore the sights and attractions our province has to offer,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “To give people a safe, affordable, family-centred experience, we’re providing half-price entry to the Royal BC Museum all summer.”

Beare announced the extension of half-price admission through Sept. 7, 2020, while visiting with her family. She said she was impressed with the many safety measures in place to protect visitors while they enjoy the museum’s galleries.

“We’re pleased to welcome visitors back as we continue to reopen in stages in the coming months,” said Jack Lohman, CEO, Royal BC Museum. “As British Columbians explore their province this summer, they can feel confident the Royal BC Museum will provide them with an engaging, safe museum experience.”

The Royal BC Museum is reopening in phases to ensure people’s health and safety:
June 19: Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Natural History gallery opened
Aug. 1: The First Peoples gallery also opens
Sept. 7: Becoming BC gallery (full museum) opens
Since reopening to the public on June 19, 2020, more than 3,500 people have visited the Royal BC Museum.
Quick Facts:
The Royal BC Museum has taken steps to protect people’s health, including:
changing its hours of operation, including closing on Wednesdays, for enhanced cleaning;
reserving the first hour daily (10 to 11 a.m.) for visits by seniors, vulnerable people and first responders;
booking tickets with timed entries to space out people in the galleries; and
installing new signage and pathways to allow for physical distancing and flow.

Learn more about the museum’s new protocols and how to get a timed ticket: