Oak Bay Rotarians David Sills

Rotary celebrates 40 years of service to community

Group has contributed water park, skate park and teen centre

The Rotary Club of Oak Bay is celebrating 40 years of service to the community this year and part of its celebration was a lunch held Oct. 21 at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

“Around 40 years ago, I was just a little rug rat running around the hotel,” said Oak Bay Beach Hotel owner Kevin Walker as he welcomed the group. Walker’s father Bruce was a founding member of the Oak Bay Rotary Club.

“In 1977 dad decided I needed a little coming of age tour of Europe,” said Walker, who was 19 at the time. “What I remember is all the make ups (meetings) he did on our little tour. He spoke to me of the values he embraced as a man and the values that the organization embraced.”

The Rotary Club of Oak Bay has met at the hotel for most of its 40 year history.

Mayor Nils Jensen also spoke at the occasion and remarked on all the projects Rotary has done for the community and beyond. “The water park, the teen centre, the skate park, the work in Malawi. … It’s all about building a better community and you’ve done that through your hard work and your diligent fundraising that all goes back to the community. … and I’m grateful and thankful.”

Members took time to reminisce about the club’s history, including its first project in which club members built four picnic tables in Uplands Park at a cost of $300. Six were proposed, but after a letter of complaint that the tables could lead to destruction of rare native plants in Cattle Point, only four were built and installed.

The club’s Charter Night meeting was held on Oct. 19, 1974 with 22 charter members in attendance.

District Governor, Bob Brewster, presented the charter to the club’s first president, Barney Simmons. Among the charter members were Deans (D.P.) Peggs (Rotarian Joan Peggs’ father), Bruce Walker (former Rotarian Kevin Walker’s father), and Ray Rawnsley (Rotarian Neil Rawnsley’s father).

At that meeting, the club received the first banner by a visiting Rotarian from the Retford Club in Nottingham, England, one of hundreds of banners the club has received to date.

The Rotary Club of Oak Bay meets every Tuesday at noon at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.