Council seeds support for welcoming pole with last of grant funds

The official campaign kicks off to fund the welcoming pole at Oak Bay High this weekend

When the official campaign kicks off to fund the welcoming pole at Oak Bay High this weekend it will already have some cash in the bank and the backing of council.

Oak Bay plans to contribute the remainder of its grant in aid fund, $6,187 to the Sno’uyutth Pole Project, it decided during last week’s council meeting.

The Community Association of Oak Bay sought support for the project and $20,000 funding over two years toward the estimated $88,000 project. Council agreed to put the remainder, $13,813 in the 2015 budget, though there’s some hope that the CAOB may not even need the funding if all goes well in the interim with the project that officially launches its fundraising campaign Sept. 27.

The association began work in ernest this spring, commissioning master Songhees carver Butch Dick to provide a drawing and getting the OK from the school district to place a welcoming pole or figure near an existing sequoia at the front of the new Oak Bay High.

“It would be a wonderful addition to the community,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby. “We still have that sequoia and we have a real opportunity here with the welcoming pole. … It sends a really positive message to our youth about inclusivity.”

“The First Nations in our community have been under-represented in our community for a long time,” agreed Coun. Pam Copley, adding it’s long overdue.

Council briefly considered a lower amount, $3,500 to keep a small reserve in the fund. But this signals the support of council to other possible donors, noted Coun. Tara Ney.

“I think it’s reasonable but should be driven by the community,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch. “It’s very easy to be generous with other peoples’ money.”

Coun. John Herbert was supportive in principle but wished it was a couple of years down the road as the school is looking to fund things like theatre seats to the tune of $2 million.

“There will be a dozen other things that may come up … that are higher profile than this,” he said, adding it is still a “wonderful idea.”

“We have, as a municipality, contributed $1 million to the theatre,” noted Coun. Cairine Green. “This is a very important piece of that development project.”

The CAOB hopes to see the pole in place by fall 2015.

Budget has wiggle room

Oak Bay recently finished paying off its 10-year payment towards the City of Victoria multiplex which means the grant budget is set to decrease by $17,800 for next year, allowing some room for a proposed $13,813 grant in 2015.