New & Noteworthy

by John Kernaghan – 

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Sidney’s Average Tax Rise $102

That’s what owners of a mean residential property will pay after the town pared an originally-projected 8.42% increase to 6.04%.

The town used reserve funds and put off some spending to get the increase down.

Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said inflation had the greatest impact on the 2024 budget and council toiled to pass as little of that as possible to homeowners and businesses.

“Sugar, Women” Keeps 109-Year-Old Young

That’s Albert Middleton’s joking recipe for life, a chuckle he shared between sips from a large glass of white wine and wolfing down a slab of birthday cake.

The resident of Veterans Memorial Lodge, a Broadmead Care Home, was natty in shirt and tie March 11 as he allowed “I’m getting pretty old” to a room of celebrants.

His daughter, Darlene Van Raay, believes a life of hard work laid the foundation for his longevity.

“He worked swing shifts (at an agricultural equipment manufacturer),” she noted, then would work the farm (near Brantford, Ontario) for four days, then back to the plant.”

Albert was an English war orphan who joined Canada’s airforce in 1943, served in Europe and then married and raised a family. He took up residence at the Lodge at age 101 after living alone in Victoria.

Sidney Author’s Breast Cancer Battle

Patricia Haakonson was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2021 and spent most of 2022 undergoing treatment, including surgery that was followed by seven months of chemotherapy and five weeks of daily radiation. She has recovered and as she powered through the treatments she continued to get on the treadmill and stayed positive and upbeat about her recovery.

Patricia has published a book, titled My Waltz with Breast Cancer. In it, she describes how strategies, tools and ideas developed over her lifetime helped her through the ordeal.

The book is available through

Looking for Guitar Heroes at Arbutus

Bill Wellbourn’s accidental find of a cache of electric guitars led to a marriage of music and travelling folk at the Galaran Road RV centre. Arbutus’ lobby has been converted into a music stop for customers with guitars, amps, a turn table and some vintage albums. An outdoor stage is planned for upcoming Sunday jam sessions.

“I went to look at a used bookcase and the seller had this pile of guitars and mikes he wanted to move fast,” says Wellbourn. “He said ‘take them away.'”

The Arbutus manager installed them in the lobby, got some amps and soon RV owners were ripping off riffs.

“Turns out people in the RV community love their music.”

Keeping Home in Home Hardware

Deanne Sharp has a pretty simple take on taking over Sidney’s Homeware – don’t mess with success.

“We’re not going to mess with a store that is well loved in Sidney,” she said. “The current staff is staying and we plan to keep on offering service that is welcoming and well-informed.”

Deanne’s husband Craig has operated the Oak Bay Home Hardware for 12 years and she will take over managing the Sidney store in June when she winds up a 29-year career as a teacher.

She praised previous owner Bob Haney and his family for creating “the spirit and culture of this fantastic store” over a 29-year tenure.

Haney posted a farewell on the This is Sidney Facebook page, saying the family was overwhelmed by the kind goodbyes of staff and customers and the welcome the Sharps have enjoyed.

Hone Garden Skills at Sandown

Yearning for a colourful bounty from your own vegetable garden? Sandown Regenerative Gardener program can turn that pale thumb green.
The Sandown Centre just behind the Canadian Tire off Highway 17 in North Saanich offers a four-part, hands-on gardening course running from April to August with access to the Centre’s gardens.

Budding or experienced gardeners can sign up for one of the parts for $75 or enrol in all and get a 10% discount. Visit for more information.

Small Acts of Kindness

This one brought a smile to our faces one morning.

The usual recycling collection was rolling through Judson Place in Sidney when the operators, GFL Environmental, stopped at one address with no bins out front. A worker knocked on the front door, then went around back of the home to collect the bins. Clearly they knew an older individual lived there. Good to see.

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