The City of Victoria is starting off the new year by modernizing an old tradition.
Mayor Lisa Helps and councillors will be forgoing the usual New Year’s Day levée at City Hall for a public swim at Crystal Pool. They will be in the lobby greeting and shaking hands with people and the pool will also be open for free swimming.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins is going back to a more formal meet and greet this year.
Desjardins, along with a few members of council, will hold the levée offering light refreshments at Esquimalt Municipal Hall. She said next year they will again look at having a more active levée with free skating or swimming.
Lt.- Gov. Judith Guichon will host the traditional levée at Government House on New Year’s Day. She will greet the public and deliver her remarks at 11:30 a.m. The Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums will entertain. Light refreshments will be served.
The levée, an informal reception held by many levels of government to mark the start of the year, dates back to 16th century France, but has mostly become a Canadian observance held on New Year’s Day.
The word levée means “rising” in French and originated in the Levée du Soleil (Rising of the Sun) of King Louis XIV. It was his custom to greet his public just after rising, a practice that spread throughout Europe.
Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe has been suggesting council look for a change regarding the City of Victoria levée for the last few years.
It was rookie Coun. Jeremy Loveday who suggested having the event at Crystal Pool this year.
“I thought [it] was a great way to make the levée more inclusive and make it something that all members of the public can participate in,” said Loveday.
“After Christmas holidays, a lot of families will be looking for something to do on New Year’s Day, and we can celebrate in a public pool.”
Added Desjardins: “Tradition is something people value. It’s a nice way to finish off the holidays.”
• Government House, 1401 Rockland Avenue
10:00 a.m. – noon
• The City of Victoria
Crystal Pool, 2275 Quadra Street
times to be determined
• Township of Esquimalt
Esquimalt Municipal Hall, 1229 Esquimalt Road
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.