July 30 - 700+ little free libraries

Barbie pop-up coming to town. Popular pig dies. Floatplane crash. 'Cats clinch playoffs. Fighting through grief for overdose awareness.

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Good morning !

Today locals celebrate a new milestone for little free libraries, the community book exchanges that are more popular here in Victoria than anywhere else in Canada. We cover their explosion in popularity below.


Have you used a little free library?

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🌤️ Today's weather: Mostly sunny. Some wind. High 23C (18 near water) / low 12. UV index 7 or high.

🌫️ Air quality: Low risk today (2/10), light smoke to dissipate today.


Local book lovers celebrate 700th little free library

Images via Teale Phelps Bondaroff. Collaged by Jimmy Thomson in 2020

The number of little free libraries (LFLs) in Greater Victoria is growing just as quickly as the tomes themselves fly off the book-box shelves.

There are now officially 700, up from 400 in early 2021 and under 300 in early 2020—and even that 700 milestone has become outdated, with 18 more added since its recent announcement.

Today book aficionados will gather outside a Vic West house for the grand opening of #700: a children’s book box named Kiddo Library, built by a local carpenter.

Greater Victoria has the highest documented density of the pocket-sized book depositories in Canada.

So why are these little libraries so popular?

“People bump into each other there,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, who leads the Pocket Places Project, a part of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network which supports the libraries.

“In addition to adding whimsy to the urban landscape, you also get to take home a book at the end of the day.”

Who uses these libraries? “Pretty much everybody,” he says. “Who doesn’t love a book?”

Over 80,000 books dropped off

When he’s not attending to the business of his constituents, Phelps Bondaroff—now a Saanich councillor—restocks the LFL shelves.

“I’ve dropped off 40,000 by bike trailer over the years,” he says.

“As of July 15 we had dropped off 81,946 books since the first book drop-off in August 2018.”

Danielle Steele and James Patterson books are some of the more common finds in area LFLs because of their ubiquity.

Phelps Bondaroff says he likes to leave books from Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, and Timothy Findley when restocking LFLs near Ogden Point, so that cruise ship visitors are exposed to Canadian authors.

Today’s LFL celebration is at noon at 448 Wilson.

The full map of all 700+ LFLs in Greater Victoria can be found here:

By Mark Brennae, with Cam Welch

Read our original story here on the success of local LFLs during the pandemic, and the locals who have spread the concept to other parts of the world.

Capital Bulletin

 💐 Another firefighter dies in BC after vehicle rollover on gravel road near Fort St. John.

🛩️ Floatplane crash in woods near Gold River mouth: The pilot was airlifted to hospital in Nanaimo.[My Comox Valley Now]


Grieving losses close to home, local duo teams up for overdose awareness

Ben Goerner and Melanie Cunningham. Zoë Ducklow / The Westshore

Melissa Cunningham has spent nearly 30 years grappling with the loss of her son to deliberate overdose, and the stigma of talking about it. She now fears she will someday get the same call about her other son, a Victorian who lives with addiction.

Sooke’s Ben Goerner is a former clinical counsellor who retired due to the trauma and grief of losing 50 patients to toxic drug deaths between 2016 and 2019.

Cunnnigham and Goerner have now teamed up to bring more overdose awareness to the Westshore. They’re hosting an event a month from now to honour the people who have died and the first responders who work to save them, and to train more locals to use overdose-reversing naloxone.

Goerner says that rural areas such as Sooke are especially in need of those resources as deaths outside major cities rise. Of this year’s 235 confirmed Island deaths, the plurality (89) were outside Greater Victoria and Nanaimo.


Barbie phenomenon will come (back) to Victoria with fall pop-up

📸: The Barbie Brunch

This summer’s biggest hit movie is on track to hit $750 million by the end of today. But its success has been as visible from the numerous groups of moviegoers walking local streets in preppy pink outfits as from the box-office totals.

That phenomenon will be back this fall for another round, with the arrival of a pop-up restaurant themed around the famous doll. The “Barbie Brunch” (which also serves lunch and dinner) will come to Burdett in October with Barbie-themed cocktails, trivia, sing-alongs, and a photo wall.


Those who love green sauce; and those who haven’t tried it yet

Which are you?! No sauce is as famous in the city of Victoria as this deliciousness from The Root Cellar.

Discover your love of green sauce at TheRootCellar.ca, available exclusively at their flagship market on McKenzie Avenue at Blenkinsop, and their second location in Cook Street Village.

Capital Picks

💃🏽 Flamenco Tablao featuring Lia Crowe, Veronica, Maguire, Juan de Marias, Gareth Owen, and Denise Yeo. A live flamenco performance over delicious food at The Mint. Doors 6:15pm. Show 7pm.

🎨 Art class at RBCM: Learn from art teacher Jeri Engen how to paint abstract forest scenes today at the museum, 1-4pm. [Details]

🌿 Habitat Restoration at Dominion Book Park: Volunteers are wanted to help the Greater Victoria Green Team remove invasive plants such as Himalayan blackberry, English ivy, and daphne from Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich. 9:45am.

🌎 The latest COAST Talks features an ecosystem restoration non-profit, an entrepreneur transforming marine conservation and a bioplastic startup who share how their innovations solve ocean-based problems.*

🕺🏿Afro-disiac at the VEC with Njoki Njoki, Peaches N Screams, and Quarterback’s return to Victoria. A fun, sexy, celebratory, and inclusive night of drag, pop, R&B, DJing, and more. Victoria Event Centre. 9pm.

🍸 Ginuary in July: This gin festival at St. Ann’s Academy will include a shoppable tasting market and an all day after party featuring DJs Bellyfish and Primitive. 1-9pm.

🧶 Hann Made Market: Shop from artisan vendors and food trucks today at The Langford Station, 11am-4pm.

🎙️ Vancouver Island Dynamite at Fisherman’s Wharf Park: The jazz funk fusion band will perform today at the park, 2-3pm.

🌈 Salt Spring Pride: Events continue today and tomorrow after the parade yesterday. [Schedule]

⚾ HarbourCats vs. Kelowna Falcons face off today at 1:05pm.

😊 Now hiring: Ages 3-5 Program Team Lead at Fernwood NRG

*Sponsored Listing

In Other News

 🐖 Popular Lochside Trail pig euthanized by owners
The Central Saanich sow died at 18 after the owners decided it was “better to let her go” than to go through the vet checks required to avoid euthanization following a BC SPCA order. A passerby had reported the pig’s skin condition, which the owners say was being treated and had been checked last year by a vet. [Times Colonist]

⚽ Pacific FC regains league’s top spot with 3-0 win
The Langford soccer team won comfortably in Winnipeg on Sat., despite still missing Djenairo Daniels after his concussion last game, and have jumped back above usual rivals Forge and Cavalry. PFC and Forge now both have 29 points, but Forge has played an extra game and PFC has a better goal differential at +11. PFC’s new “sibling” Vancouver FC, launched by the same ownership group, remains last in the league and -18 in goals.

Watch the game highlights below:

⚖️ Class action against BC’s health authority over “fake nurse” who worked in View Royal
The suit would apply to 1,000+ patients who interacted with Brigitte Cleroux while she worked at the BC Women’s Hospital. [CTV]
Cleroux—currently imprisoned in Ontario and facing BC charges including fraud and assault of patients—worked briefly at a View Royal private surgery clinic in Nov. 2020 while on administrative leave due to allegations on the mainland.

⚾ HarbourCats clinch playoff spot as home record hits 22-1
The Victoria ball club padded its dominance at Royal Athletic with a 12-2 win over Kelowna on Sat. night. The ‘Cats (32-12 overall) are neck-and-neck with division rival Wenatchee. The next week of play will determine if the ‘Cats win the North or settle for a wild-card spot.

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In Case You Missed It

☕ Saturday’s headlines: Oak Bay victim identified, locals save favourite cafe, Island First Nations join huge water journey, alleged assault over grass fire, and more. [July 29]

🚨 Driver hits scooter on Douglas, sending the rider to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [CHEK]

📰 Friday’s headlines: Victoria orgs get anti-racism funding, electric buses coming soon, and more. [July 28]

🏛️ RBCM’s Old Town reopens: After closing in Jan. 2022 over concerns with representation and safety hazards, the exhibit has returned with a fuller picture of the city’s early urban history and demographics.
Capital Daily recently covered the behind-the-scenes work that keeps the RBCM running.

🐶 Victoria brewery creates pet menu: Moon Under Water’s new menu will feature dog friendly chicken stew, meatballs, and beer. [Tasting Victoria]

📰 Thursday’s headlines: New bike lanes and trails, fracking protest, body found in bushes in Oak Bay, and more. [July 27]

That’s it!

Thanks for reading, and if today’s stories interested you please consider forwarding the newsletter to a friend who might also be interested.

Cam Welch

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