— Kevin Underhill
Shellie Gudgeon is a firm believer that strong neighbourhoods are the backbone of strong cities. Operating on this mandate, she dedicates her time, money and efforts to the Victoria West Community Association (VWCA).
Gudgeon was recognized for those efforts last month when she was awarded the VWCA Vision Award. As one of the founders of the award, it was only fitting that the Vic West resident won the award in its 10th year of existence.
“The intention behind the award was to encourage more people to give back to the Vic West community,” Gudgeon said. “Some amazing people have won it so I feel tremendously proud to have been recognized.”
Diane Carr recently finished a year as past president on the board of the VWCA and said that Gudgeon’s reliability and generosity made her a perfect fit for the award.
“She can just always be counted on and not just for money,” Carr said. “She’s always willing to lend her time to help out.”
Carr said Gudgeon’s dedication could be seen through the projects she heads and the initiatives she takes on. On one occasion, she recalls Gudgeon picketing at the corner of Bay Street and Tyee Road when a Volvo dealership was scheduled to move into the entrance of Vic West.
The decades-old community association provides services and programs to residents of all the neighbourhoods in Vic West. Carr said the association really found its stride when it finally had a place to call home.
“We took over the community centre about five years ago,” she said. “Since then, I’ve noticed that the association is thriving. I think our programs are maxed out.”
Gudgeon, who has lived in Vic West for 24 years, recently served one term on Victoria city council and is still digesting all the lessons she learned from that experience. She knows you can’t please everyone but the best way to grow is to keep moving forward.
Despite Vic West’s vibrant and growing community, Carr said they are in major need of a new neighbourhood plan. The current plan is from 1986.
Gudgeon said the community association needs to keep working hard to encourage the wealth of knowledge that exists in Vic West’s volunteers and residents.
She is motivated after wining the VWCA Vision Award this year and said Vic West has all the ingredients to be the community of the future.
“We have rich people, poor people and everything in the middle; we’re by the water and only 10 minutes from downtown. We have it all.”