The Week — Oct. 20

Occupy Victoria on ice, election lineup, Mustard Seed in trouble

Occupy Victoria

Occupy Victoria on ice

Interesting timing on the part of the city and the Downtown Victoria Business Association this week. Guess what’s coming to Victoria? An outdoor ice skating rink! Guess where it’s going to be? In the lower-level of Centennial Square — right in the tenting zone of the Occupy Victoria movement.

“We’ve flirted with this idea since the DVBA came to existence, but there was always one reason or another it wouldn’t quite work,” says DVBA General Manager Ken Kelly. “Finally the stars and the moon aligned and we can move forward. This is going to be a wonderful attraction to bring people downtown.”

The rink, with support from the city, has been secured with a firm for $60,000, and is scheduled to begin set-up on Nov. 21, with an opening date of Nov. 26. Kelly denies the move is an attempt to oust the occupation in the square — instead, he says it’s an extra attempt to build community.

“I don’t look at it as kicking anyone out,” says Kelly. “Ice rinks are all about community, and if the Occupy Movement wants to draw together the community and rethink how things have been done in the past, this should really excite them. And who’s to say things aren’t resolved by mid-November, anyway? There could be solutions around the world.”

Admission to the rink will be set at $2 a person, with rentals of skates and helmets available. The ice is kept cold via a chiller and piping that runs under the ice sheet, and can be kept cold in temperatures up to 10 degrees. No official word yet from the group on how the installation and the People’s Assembly of Victoria (Occupy Victoria) will get along, but it sounds like more will be occupying the space, whatever the case. Now, where are those skates?

And the contenders are…

Ladies and gentlefolk, please welcome to the stage your contenders for 2011 Victoria Municipal Election Idol! This year’s race promises to be a saucy one, full of Jersey Shore drama,  Big Losers and votes off the Island, but we’re sure this will be one Amazing Race.

It may not be quite that exciting, but now that we’ve cleansed our election palates of all the punny fun, it’s a good time to Occupy Together whatever space you’re in, and read about the leaders who are destined to decide our city’s future. Your 2011 list of council hopefuls includes 20 faces, eight of which will make the cut.

First, the returning crew: Marianne Alto, Christopher M. Coleman, Lynn Hunter, Philippe Lucas, John Luton, Pam Madoff, Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Geoff Young — yes, for better or worse, we could elect the exact same officials, all over again.

But, for those looking for change, your new-meat council hopefuls include: Saul Andersen, Shellie Gudgeon, Aaron Hall (of the Open Victoria slate), Lisa Helps, Rose Henry, Ben Isitt, Robin Kimpton, Sukhi Lalli (Open Victoria), Linda McGrew (Open Victoria), Sean Murray, John C. Turner and Jon Valentine.

Now, for the head runners. This year’s mayoral race for Victoria sees a whopping four contestants, but only one will win, complete with their own private set of political baggage: returning hopeful Mayor Dean Fortin, Paul Brown (leader of the slate Open Victoria), Steve Filipovic and David Shebib.

There you have it. Google the names, start asking questions and stay tuned to upcoming election coverage. We only have four weeks to make up our minds on Nov. 19 — unless you sneak in early to advance vote on Nov. 9 and 14 — but it’s never too early to hop on board a campaign you believe in. We’re counting on you this time, Victoria.

Mustard Seed in trouble

The group that works so hard to feed thousands of mouths every month needs a hand-up itself.

After an economically exhaustive year, the Mustard Seed has been hit with the worst decline in monetary donations in six years. Worse, the $100,000 rainy-day fund (which covers operational expenses, such as heating and gas bills) has dried up.

Now, in a final attempt to stay afloat, the group is preparing to take out a collateral mortgage on the Mustard Seed’s Hope Farm Healing Centre, north of Duncan, where drug addicts go to recover.

“That’s something I never thought I’d see,” executive director Chris Riddell told media. “The coffers are bare. We’re doing that as a backup.”

Mustard Seed receives no government funding, but feeds approximately 6,800 people a month across Greater Victoria. To lend a hand or donate yourself, visit mustardseed.ca.

For those wanting extra heartfelt fun, Monday will media host the Victoria Royals’ Oct. 29 home game against the Seattle Thunderbirds. A donation table will be set out to benefit Mustard Seed. M

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