The Week — Feb. 7: A day for every sweater

This week: A day for every sweater, the Victoria Tea Festival offers cozy solution and Hub 2 becomes a done deal...

The seventh-annual Victoria Tea Festival will raise a cup and needed funds to Camosun’s Child Care Services.

A day for every sweater

Now, even your cherished old sweater can celebrate its own day. The province has marked Thurs., Feb. 7 as National Sweater Day — but more than just a nod to the comfort of cotton, the day is a World Wildlife Fund Canada initiative asking Canadians to put on their favourite sweater to take action against climate change and work toward a sustainable future.

Just in time, the The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) is bringing the initiative straight to the city with Turn Down The Heat Week, from Feb. 2 to 9.  Participating businesses will turn down the heat at work (and at home) and wear sweaters to help promote energy conservation. But wait, there’s more: the nine businesses (so far) who have signed up for the challenge have a goal to collect 125 sweaters for the Cool Aid Society.

“These donations are of great value to the people we serve. There is a lot of need in this city, and we never have surplus — at least not for long,” says Alan Rycroft, Victoria Cool Aid Society spokesperson. “But we also don’t have the staff to organize many drives like this ourselves, so it really means a lot.”

Rycroft says while organizations typically see plenty of donations during the December holiday season, that tends to taper off after the New Year, though the need doesn’t. “I like to remind people there may be some items you received at Christmas that you won’t find yourself using,” says Rycroft, or perhaps new clothes that allow you to donate the old. “We have to remember it’s always cold outside at night.”

More cozy than a sweater?

It’s time for tea.

Get your pinky finger ready for the seventh-annual Victoria Tea Festival, tipping its cup Sat., Feb. 9, 11am-5pm at the Crystal Garden (713 Douglas).

The event features premium beverage tastings, delectable food selections, complimentary presentations and opportunities to take home your favourite tea paraphernalia.

While the fundraiser for Camosun College Child Care Services had become a two-day festival for the past few years, the event is back to one day in 2013 to lower expenses. Still, with a few new coffee exhibitors and silent auction, next year could be bigger again.

“Tea culture in Victoria has changed and grown in the last seven years,” says Lisa Stekelenburg, founder of the festival. “It’s not just about ‘tea grannies’ anymore. The industry has shifted to help people understand the trendy side of tea and to see it as a complex drink. Next to water, it’s the most consumed beverage in the world.”

Stekelenburg says that while Victoria was known for the trade side of tea, new education and fanfare surrounding the drink has helped to create tea aficionados who respect the drink much like many do wine — aroma, flavour and quality all matter.

“You can learn what’s important with a matcha, for example, then go to the next booth and have an entirely different experience with the same drink,” she says. “It’s a great place to get exposure to things you may never have heard of before.”

Approximately 2,500 to 3,500 people attend the event, which has raised more than $143,000 over the last six years. The funds go to bursaries for student parents, playground upgrades and staffing costs. Tickets are $20 advance or at the door.

Hub 2 a done deal

By Colin Cayer

An expanded health service offering needle exchange may be a done deal for the city, but that doesn’t mean residents concerns won’t be heard.

Representatives from VicPD, Vancouver Island Health Authority, Victoria City Council and health service organizations formed a panel before a divided crowd this past Wed., Jan. 30, at the Fernwood Community Association. In the hot seat: VIHA’s Hub 2 (1125 Pembroke), the site of the controversial upgrade to health care services.

While torches were extinguished at the door, there was still some fire left for spitting. The evening began with cries of “SHAME!” and moved through a theatrical repetition of the phrase, “My child’s life got a little bit smaller [due to people who use drugs.]” The conversation was peppered with citations from harm reduction health service models and requests for residents who oppose expanded services to join those who will benefit from them for a meal at Cool Aid; a request extended to their children as well. The town hall-style meeting gave Fernwood residents a safe place to blow off steam and lock antlers with neighbours over what is truly a done deal. Those who arrived early had the opportunity to speak with each panel member individually before the meeting.

The new outreach team is the most obvious change in VIHA’s expanded program, and is the recipient of $500,000 in new spending. M

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