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District receives grant for Metchosin Village Square

Members hope to begin community consultation in October
(Gazette file photo)

When Shannon Carman looks at the Metchosin Elementary School property, she envisions a space for residents to come together, foster connections and strengthen their ties to the community.

That dream of building a village square on the property on Happy Valley Road is slowly coming to fruition. Carman, who is a member of the healthy communities advisory committee with the District of Metchosin, recently announced it will receive a grant for $30,000 to get the project off the ground.

“If this place is going to be here for years and years, we really want to make sure we get it right,” she said.

Carman, who has two daughters aged two and seven, has been working on the Metchosin Village Square project for the past year and a half.

The idea initially began as chatter on the Metchosin Mamas and Papas Facebook page, and within a few hours had generated roughly 100 comments and discussion online.

Shortly after, the group received support from the municipality, and when it became clear the Metchosin Elementary School property was being put up for sale by the Sooke School District, Carman said Mayor John Ranns suggested it would be a good site for such a project, should the district decide to purchase it.

READ MORE: Residents in favour of Metchosin school purchase

While there are a number of community spaces in the area, Carman said there isn’t one that’s visible.

“I really want a place where parents can come, sit down and run around with their kids, and also a place for seniors to watch kids and talk to young parents and really encourage those multi-generational relationships,” she said, adding she hopes to see a village square that includes a covered space that can be used year-round and a playground that blends in with the district’s rural feel.

The grant money will be used to hire a consultant to conduct a community-wide survey and public consultation about what the space could look like and how it would be managed. The consultant would also come up with a preliminary design and budget.

Carman hopes consultation will begin in October, and will continue for the course of the year.

By the end of October 2018, the group hopes to have a clear picture of what the space will include, cost and how those costs will be mitigated, to potentially begin phase one in spring 2018.