Darlene Dressler welcomes visitors to the British Columbia Aviation Museum, as part of Community Day, returning Sept. 16. Photo contributed

Community Day is back, thanks to the Victoria Foundation

Over 30 community organizations will open their doors for free this Saturday

Have you ever wondered what it’s like inside the Bay Street Armoury, or what goes on at the Food Rescue Distribution Centre in Esquimalt?

This Saturday (Sept. 16), the Victoria Foundation is helping to open the doors of dozens of venues across the region for a look inside everything from the British Columbia Aviation Museum to the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea to the Boulders Climbing Gym. And the best part is, it’s all free.

“This is a real look inside your community,” says foundation CEO Sandra Richardson. “There’s lots of places to go with families, but it can be expensive.”

After last year’s inaugural run, the foundation took a survey and found that residents in communities across the Capital Regional District were anxious to see the event return. Venues saw huge lineups, Richardson remembers, and participating organizations were overwhelmed.

Community Day brings out a lot of people and a lot of curiosity, she says, with more than 10,000 attending last year. The aviation museum in North Saanich, for example, recorded its largest single-day attendance ever. “There’s a lot of rich history in our community that we sometimes forget. Opening the doors can open up your eyes.”

The event was created last year in celebration of the foundation’s 80 years spent “connecting people who care with causes that matter.” Richardson says it was a way to thank the organizations that make the CRD such a wonderful place to live.

If it weren’t for the volunteers and non-profits, she points out, there’d be a pretty big hole in the community. “These volunteers are so knowledgeable and just love the opportunity to talk about things.”

Last year Richardson noticed that the visitors also shared their experiences with one another, chatting in the lineups to share where they’ve been or what to see.

More than 30 venues will participate in Community Day this year including museums, galleries, gardens, cultural centres, sports facilities, heritages sites and religious buildings. Admission and parking is free, and donations to the organizations are graciously accepted.

“It’s a neat way to get folks out in the community and really marvel at some of the things we have here,” Richardson says.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com