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  • June 11 - Victoria swimmers take on cold waters near North Pender

June 11 - Victoria swimmers take on cold waters near North Pender

Rutledge Park ready for summer, Victoria's Jeopardy! spotlight, UVic developing vaccine for ancient virus.


Good morning !

Our first story today looks at a remarkable Victoria swim team that plans to take on the frigid waters of North Pender Island this week. I used to swim competitively in my teen years, but I was never brave enough for open-water swims, where currents, temperatures, and winds can wreak havoc on a race.

Have you ever swam in an open-water race?

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Today’s approx. read time: 6 minutes

🌡️ Weather Forecast

Today: 🌧️ 16 / 9

Tomorrow: ☀️ 16 / 9

Day after: ☀️ 19 / 11


Victoria swim team to relay around North Pender Island

The Spirit Orcas. Photo: Courtesy of Susan Simmons

A local open-water swim team is about to prove disabilities don’t have to be a barrier by swimming around North Pender Island this week in 10-degree water—without wetsuits.

The Spirit Orcas are a team of nine swimmers, aged 20 to 50, all competing at different levels. Each lives with a physical or developmental disability, including Down syndrome, autism, PTSD, blindness, and epilepsy.

“It is quite unique—I don't know of any other open-water swim team for people with intellectual and physical disabilities anywhere in the world,” says coach Susan Simmons. “I know there's individuals that swim, but not a team that focuses specifically on that.”

The team has tackled challenging swims before, like the 35-km length of Lake Cowichan and Gunpoint Passage near Bella Bella.

These difficult swims push each team member out of their comfort zone, and Simmons says the sport has helped them tap into leadership skills. Some of the swimmers are now coaching younger people with disabilities or adults looking to learn about open-water swimming—a leadership role that Simmons says is often out of reach to those with learning disabilities. 

“This is remarkable. People with intellectual or cognitive disabilities coming out of Special Olympics to be swim coaches is unheard of,” says Simmons. “A lot of times when you have a disability, you never even get asked if you can do this. There is no assumption that you can, it's not even a possibility.”

⚠️ Capital Bulletin

Know how to turn off utilities in emergencies.

Construction along Island Hwy for RapidBus service starts June 24. [BC Transit]

Lawn-watering restrictions (Stage1) continue through to Sept. 30.

Driving today? Check the current traffic situation via Google.


Rutley’s in the pink and a ‘new’ park awaits Saanich neighbourhood

Rutledge Park’s new changeroom and splash pad. Note Rutley’s new pink coat in the background. Photo Mark Brennae / Capital Daily

Ten months after breaking ground, Rutledge Park near the Victoria-Saanich border is just about ready for the summer. Rutley—the park’s popular, pink pachyderm—has been sandblasted, repaired, and repainted, and sits awaiting kids to climb aboard.

“It’s going to be great for families,” said one onlooker as she approached the just-renovated park for a first look.

That’s exactly what Saanich was going for when it committed to a $1.2M upgrade. Speaking with Capital Daily about the renovations last summer, Mayor Dean Murdock called the tri-governmental project “an investment in community health.”

So, what did Saanich get for its portion of $329,508? Most noticeably, a new private, universal changeroom facility that can be opened year-round, and a long-awaited splash pad. There’s also new furniture, including benches, picnic tables, and a water-filling station all expected this month.

The splash pad was on the community kids’ wishlist back in the late 1990s but didn’t quite fit into the budget. A quarter of a century later, there it is, almost ready for kids and another hot day. “I know the new playground and splash pad will make Rutledge a popular destination for kids this summer,” Murdock tells Capital Daily.

The park, bordered by Inverness, Scotia, Cloverdale, and Glasgow appears just about complete, with only a little groundskeeping and sidewalk paving scheduled for this week. New and modern playground equipment was installed in March and the prefab building, consisting of two universal washrooms and three changerooms was trucked in. 

Saanich expects the project to come in on or close to budget—”And that's despite the fact that you know, costs have gone up significantly over the last couple of years,” Mike Goldsworthy, Saanich park planner designer tells Capital Daily.

The work follows planning combined with public input to convert a family-friendly area from a cozy, if not dark park featuring tennis and basketball courts.

The park is open now. The splash pad will become active during the park's official grand re-opening on June 24.


Dive deep into COAST podcast!

Listen to the COAST podcast series for an exploration into maritime innovation! In the latest episodes hear from Seaspan's Innovation Manager and MarineLabs Founder, respectively, as they discuss the latest advancements within their companies that are helping to shape the Blue Economy. Whether you're a stakeholder within the Blue Economy or just curious about what is happening with our oceans, COAST provides fascinating insights into the world of marine exploration.

Tune in to discover the secrets of marine innovation and help navigate towards a sustainable future. Listen now and join the journey with COAST’s podcast series! Listen here.

⭐️ Capital Picks

📺 Jeopardy! answer is Empress Hotel.

♿ Accessibility beach mat installed for the summer at Ross Bay, allowing those with mobility issues to move more easily over the rocks.

💐 Children’s Garden Gnome Hunt at The Butchart Gardens June 14 – 16. Find the 10 gnomes hiding throughout the gardens and collect your special gift.*

🤝 Now hiring: Operations Coordinator at COAST.

*Sponsored Listing

🗞️ In Other News

UVic researchers work to develop syphilis vaccine as virus resurges
While the virus is treatable with penicillin, cases have increased worldwide—Canada recorded 9K cases in 2020—and diagnosis can be complicated. If left untreated, syphilis—one of the oldest viruses to affect humans—can lead to blindness and cognitive decline. The project has received $7.8M in funding from National Institutes of Health in the US, with UVic acting as the lead research institution. [UVic]

Man who was denied medical priority boarding by BC Ferries will get a hearing
Roger Chin was denied priority boarding for a sold-out sailing in Aug. 2019, despite being granted priority for previous sold-out sailings with a doctor's note. He says he was discriminated against for his disabilities, including a brain injury that makes traveling in hot weather more difficult. [Times Colonist]

4 adults, 1 child, and a dog rescued east of the Island
The US Coast Guard rescued the group after their kayaks were swamped with water about 2.7km northwest of Lummi Island. The kayakers were found in distress in 10C waters. All, including the dog, were wearing PFDs.


Andrew Wilkinson showcases Never Enough in exclusive book launch event

Join local entrepreneur and investor Andrew Wilkinson on July 9, 7pm at Bolen Books at The Hillside Shopping Centre for the launch of his debut memoir, Never Enough: From Barista to Billionaire. This will be the first public reading from Andrew’s highly anticipated memoir, detailing his journey from college dropout to tech investor and businessman.

🗓️ Things to do

📽 Wong Kar-Wai's Happy Together: A searing romance about a Hong Kong couple travelling Argentina, plays at Cinecenta today for Pride Month. 5pm & 7pm.

🥃 DEVINE Distillery brandy launch party: Clive’s Classic Lounge will host the launch party for the distillery’s new solera brandy today. 5pm. 

🎵 Music at Ship Point: Poncho will perform in the Inner Harbour tonight. 6-7pm. 

⚾️ $10 Tuesday at Royal Athletic: Island rivalry heats up as the HarbourCats host Nanaimo NightOwls tonight. [Tickets]

👀 In Case You Missed It

Monday’s headlines: Twenty bucks will get you Canada’s first e-plane flight ticket; Government reluctant to regulate Island shipbreaking site; And more. [June 10]

Missing Saanich woman, 45, found. [Saanich News]

Major fire destroys North Saanich home. [CHEK]

Kite surfer gets rescued at Clover Point (he’s ok!). [Facebook]

Home for sale near Nanaimo includes BC’s only floating pub. [CTV]

Baby ducks in the rapids: A Merganser family rides over the rocks. [Video]

Walking—and resting—amid the Island's old growth. [TJ Watt]

That’s it!

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