JBCSC Invites the Community In

By Elodie Adams

Located at 140 Oswego Street, the James Bay Community School Centre has been in operation as a non-profit organization since 1977.

But what is a community school centre exactly, who goes there, and what can you do there?

The staff members to whom I talked were more than happy to spend some time with me.

“The advantage of our set-up is that many of our rooms act as school classrooms during the day and venues for recreation and leisure programs during the evenings and weekends,” explained Darcy Topinka, Community School Coordinator. “After school hours, we invite the community in to share that space so that the community of James Bay can develop together.”

This unique use of buildings and land is made possible due to the tri-party relationship of the City of Victoria, Greater Victoria School District 61, and the non-profit organization which is the James Bay Community Centre.

In the daytime, the school functions as a regular school with the values and principles of Community Education. A Board of Directors is responsible for the education program and is comprised of the principal, school staff, parents and community residents.

Funding for the centre’s recreational services and staff is provided by the City of Victoria. Along with seven full and part-time staff members, the Community Centre also welcomes volunteers who can help out with special events, such as their annual picnic in June, or the James Bay Community Festival in September.

The city provides core grants for its operations, which in turn allows for affordable programs that meet the diverse needs of the community.

There seems to be something for all ages. Adults can take up yoga, learn cycle maintenance or experience Nepalese or Lebanese Vegetarian cuisine. Youths can sign up for dance, martial arts, or a variety of outings. There are programs for preschoolers, too, in music, art, dance and sports. Alex, the program and facility coordinator, is always willing to consider ideas for new courses that could be offered at a future date.

Throughout the year, the centre offers a Seniors Dinner program at a very reasonable price on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:00 p.m. (resumes Sept. 15) Some of the other services available are:

  • Before- and after-school childcare
  • Community Café
  • L.I.F.E. program (for low-income families)
  • Computer station with free internet access

The James Bay Community Centre is open from 9 – 9, Monday to Friday, and on weekends when there are special workshops or events. Telephone 250-389-1470 or find them on the web:

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