Heather Parker washes lettuce for a veggie box delivery at the City Harvest Cooperative in Saanich. The City Harvest director is also the new president of the Camosun Community Association

Camosun Community Association back on track ‘for now’

All is well for the Camosun Community Association, one of Saanich’s smallest, a month after the past president and board sent out an S.O.S.

All is well for the Camosun Community Association, one of Saanich’s smallest, a month after the past president and board sent out an S.O.S.

But it will take time and a community effort to lurch the association forward from its current existence says new president Heather Parker.

“Our neighbourhood faces a number of challenges but it’s a promising area,” said Parker, who takes over the president role after spending most of the past six years with the association. “We’re healthy, for now.”

Parker is also the director of the City Harvest Co-op where she lives at 1834 Haultain St. She knows first-hand that the biggest challenge facing Saanich’s most southerly nook is its identity crisis.

Shaped like a cubist panhandle, the Camosun neighbourhood juts out of Saanich into a peninsula surrounded by Victoria and Oak Bay. Though the neighbourhood is somewhat expansive – it extends north from the Royal Jubilee Hospital to Derby Road and Cedar Avenue through the Shelbourne and Richmond Road corridors – it is without a community gathering place, Parker says.

It all leads to a lack of involvement from local residents.

“One of the biggest obstacles to having a vibrant community association in this neighbourhood is it doesn’t have a hub available to us.”

Looking around, it’s easy to paint the Camosun Community Association as overlooked, or forgotten, in the grand scheme of neighbouring associations.

It borders Oaklands and Fernwood, which boast not-for-profit community centres with child care and regular events, and they do so with paid staff.

But the current level of the Camosun association’s resources are minimal at best, and getting property or a building space would have to be by donation or through a minimal, long-term lease.

“It’s an odd thing because we have a hospital, a college, but other neighbourhoods have more gathering places oriented for community events.”

Commercial businesses that could host an event are few and far between, such as McCrae’s Bistro on Shelbourne Road.

In the meantime the association is seeking volunteer help from its residents to help rejuvenate it.

“There are roles which haven’t been filled for a long time and things like creating a few more events,” Parker said. “The nice thing about doing an event is those can be volunteer roles that don’t involve a year-round commitment, it’s just planning for one day.”

The association also needs a treasurer and several people to stay on top of development issues in the community, as well as other areas of need.

The board includes Parker, who is doubling as the Treasurer, and returning directors Andrea Gleichauf (environment) and Ian Graeme.

Traditionally the association has held an annual picnic. It’s moved from Allenby Park to Browning Park to the grounds of Richmond school.

CCA has focused on a series of issues: retaining the Richmond school property for community access; restoration and upgrading of Browning Park; supporting the initiatives of the Friends of Bowker Creek, where the majority of the creek daylights, the Shelbourne Community Kitchen, the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan, and the Royal Jubilee Hospital Neighbourhood Committee.