Christine van Reeuwyk
Oak Bay News
Victor Lotto and his Wheaten terrier Barney traverse 20 minutes into Uplands Park almost daily for exercise and inspiration.
“We visit there every morning and I have a number of nice spots I like to paint,” says the well-known Oak Bay artist.
He’ll be among those painting in the park for a party this weekend as Uplands Park celebrates 70 years on Camas Day.
“I’m sure they’re going to get a very good turnout of painters,” Lotto said of the event organized by Friends of Uplands Park. “I attended last year for Camas Day, despite the inclement weather there was a very good turnout.”
Festivities launch at noon on Sunday with a welcome by Oak Bay council, Friends of Uplands Park and Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture.
“I’m hoping there won’t be any rain and I’ll find a spot and set up my easel. I have to start a little earlier than that to ensure I have the right light,” Lotto said. “I think they’ll have a very good turnout. I think there will be a good sprinkling of painters that can add a little extra flavour on the day.”
A driving force behind the Friends of Uplands Park, Margaret Lidkea likewise turned 70 this March. She spent this week cleaning out her craft closet in anticipation of visitor participation in creating arts in the park alongside the plein air painters.
“We’re going to have some art supplies so people can create their own,” Lidkea said.
From those who come to propose marriage to those who were inspired to go on and do more habitat restoration work, “we’re celebrating all the people who have been inspired here,” Lidkea said. “A lot of people have scampered in these fields and on the rocks.”
During the day Matt Fairbarns, Wylie Thomas and Kathleen Matthews lead native plant tours every half hour while a celtic harp provides background music.
“We celebrate the flowers by having nature walks through nature’s garden. We’ll have some free nature plants to give out,” Lidkea said.
Kevin Webber will lead Glenlyon Norfolk students, Oak Bay High Environment Club and others pulling invasive plants that day. They’re among the groups with years of experience restoring the Garry oak meadows.
“This park is so inspirational this time of year in part because of long-serving volunteers,” Lidkea said, adding it wouldn’t be so stunning with the copious amounts of Scotch broom pulled over the years. “I would really like to honour the kids, especially the Guides.”
Bowker Creek Initiative will bring the interactive water table and marine and bird experts, Jacques Sirois and Geoffrey Newell will be on hand at Cattle Point. Donations for the free event from Hide + Seek Coffee, Cobs Bakery and Thrifty Foods include birthday cake and refreshments.
Camas Day, celebrating 70 years of the park, is May 1 from noon to 4 p.m. near the Beach Drive entrance to Cattle Point.
Visit friendsofuplandspark.org to learn more.