Volunteers at Haliburton Farm are on the forefront of leading Victoria into a sustainable future. (Tim Collins/Black Press)

Awards recognize commitment to Cordova Bay

Three individuals and one organization presented with Cordova Bay Leadership Award

Three individuals and one organization are being recognized for their contributions to Cordova Bay.

The Cordova Bay Leadership Awards – presented by the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs, in partnership with the Saanich News and other community organizations – recognize three individuals and, this year, one organization for their amazing contributions to the community.

There has been a bit of shift this year in that the association has moved away from specific categories and have chosen instead to simply recognize community contributions, however they may occur.

“We thought it best to be less restrictive in terms of specific categories, as great work and contributions can occur in any number of ways,” said Larry Gontovnick, association president.

Nominations for the awards were solicited through posters, announcements and emails and closed on May 14. At that point it was the responsibility of organizers to consider all the applications and select those who were destined to receive this year’s honour.

“It was a tough decision. There are just so many great people who had to be considered, but I think the three people and one organization we selected are very representative of the community spirit and service we see in Cordova Bay,” said Gontovnick.

One of the individuals selected this year was elementary school principal Kelly Urarii.

She became the principal of Cordova Bay elementary in 2012, but has been teaching since 1985.

“I went into teaching because, first of all, I love children and see them as our future. Anything I can do to help them along the way is a wonderful honour for me,” said Urarii.

A visit to the school, and watching Urarii in action, offers a clear indication that she does make a difference.

Children greet her in the hallways with smiles and waves and she, in turn, not only knows their names, but is aware of each of their interests, hopes, challenges and skills.

She is, quite simply, the sort of teacher/principal that every child deserves.

Beyond her exemplary work as an educator and administrator, she spends her free time volunteering with CARTS outreach, Canada Comforts, Best Babies and Mount Edwards Transition House.

A Cordova Bay Leadership Award was also presented to Brock Smith.

Smith has been the Scout Group Leader for the 5th Tsarslip Cordova Bay Scout group since 2003, and it’s a role he’s taken on with enthusiasm and a caring attitude.

Himself a scout as a boy, Smith has always been an advocate of scouting because of the values and skills that young people gain as a result of their membership.

As the group leader he now co-ordinates all of the scouting sections including not only the Scouts, but Beavers, Cubs and Venturers as well.

Smith’s leadership has seen the program grow, and this year, nearly 50 young people are part of the 5th Tsarslip program.

This year’s other individual Leadership Award goes to Roger Stonebanks.

Stonebanks and his wife have been residents of Cordova Bay since 1983 and he has served his community in so many ways it’s almost impossible to list all his contributions.

He served as the president of the Cordova Bay Association for seven years, during which time he helped to resolve issues surrounding the Haliburton Farm, the Story Lane development and Story Lane Park; a treed 2.9-acre park for which Stonebanks negotiated the donation.

His work as a fundraiser was also significant for the community.

Throughout all of that, Stonebanks managed to find time to work as a journalist until his retirement, as well as author two books.

“My philosophy is simple. Do what you can to make good things happen and stop bad things from happening,” said Stonebanks.

His work in Cordova Bay has undoubtedly done both.

Haliburton Farm picked up this year’s award for organizations.

Established in 2002 the farm is operated entirely by volunteers, with the goal of providing stewardship for the land, working to help educate farmers, students and the community in general about farming and the concept of food security, and growing food in harmony with nature.

All of this has been done through an incredible program of community involvement.

“I wish there were more places like Haliburton Farm,” said Elmarie Roberts, one of the farm’s board of directors.

“It’s critical for our future that we find ways of raising food in harmony with the ecosystem that surrounds us.”

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Kelly Urarii is the principal of Cordova Bay elementary school and a devoted advocate for children. (Tim Collins/Black Press)

Brock Smith has been a tireless leader for the Cordova Bay scouting movement. (Photo submitted)

Roger Stonebanks has been a leader in the Cordova Bay neighbourhood in more ways than can be listed. (Photo submitted)

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