This was another busy year for the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association, a year of great events in Oak Bay Village.
The BIA is thriving, having had what most believe is the biggest Christmas Light Up its ever had, said President Martin Cownden, adding he can barely walk a block along The Avenue without being asked, “what’s next, what’s going on?”
“Right now, I see Christmas shopping in the village and it’s just so exciting and enjoyable to see people I know,” Cownden said. “Not just because I’m involved in the BIA, but because I grew up here and I have a business here [Chef On The Run], and that’s how I know everyone.”
The BIA calendar settles down for a bit of a break until the return of the Spring Nosh on west Oak Bay Avenue.
Among the highlights of 2019 were a set of new summer banners used for the first time, which hung along Oak Bay Avenue lamp posts. They featured Oak Bay artist Caroline Hunter’s Sentinel of Anderson Park, and artist Ann Nolte’s Sailboats at Cattle Point.
The banners were well received and the BIA plans to continue the artist prints on future banners.
The BIA also worked with Oak Bay Heritage and Oak Bay Archives to create a historical photo on the Hydro box in front of the Clive Building. The image shows the same approximate spot, but in the early 1900s, a sort of “time-machine” when you look at it.
After the Spring Nosh in May, which featured live music, a beer garden and tasty bites supplied by BIA members, the BIA moved on to a successful series of Oak Bay Night Markets. Held on the second Wednesday of June, July, August and September, they remained popular with an estimated 2,000 attending each one.
Halloween on The Avenue was also a busy event with more families coming out for Halloween and more adults dressing up and enjoying the afternoon.
And of course, the Light Up, held on the last Sunday in November.
“This year was one of our busiest with probably 6,000 people coming through that day,” Cownden said.
Businesses added more lights this year and the BIA initiated an over-the-sidewalk lighting project which they hope to expand in 2020 for the 20th anniversary.
“The Light Up was magical again,” Cownden said. “To think, here in little Oak Bay, that we are doing so much. It’s remarkable what the village businesses are doing in their contributions that has the community pulling together.”
The BIA also supported the second annual Realtor Food Bank Challenge and it shattered last year’s total collection with 7,783 pounds of food and $6,158. The community added 992 pounds of food when the Truck Light Parade hit Oak Bay Avenue on Dec. 7, and $793, which brought the Oak Bay Village contribution the equivalent of more than 10,000 pounds of food.
“The numbers for the food bank were off the charts, it’s terrific and all four real estate offices are to be commended, Pemberton Holmes, Engel & Volkers, RE/MAX Camosun and Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Cownden said.