The tension in the Songhees Wellness Centre is just as high as the stakes.

A $10 million dollar prize is about to be awarded to two Canadian cities.

“I’m really excited and nervous!” says Christina Clarke, executive director of Songhees Nation.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed that we’re gonna have a good result,” says David Screech, Mayor of View Royal.

“We’re hoping we’re going to win,” says North Saanich Coun. Celia Stock.

It’s called the Smart Cities Challenge, a federal government initiative that invites communities across the country to put their best foot forward.

The goal is to showcase the best ideas to improve their communities through innovation, data, and technology.

Greater Victoria is among the ten finalists, beating out more than a hundred other cities.

Their path to success is called #FreedomToMove.

The focus is to bring transportation costs down and make inclusion a priority for south Island residents.

And after a long wait, the moment of truth comes… and passes.

The $10 million prizes each going to the City of Guelph and communities in Nunavut.

It’s a bittersweet moment for the Greater Victoria area.

“There was a moment of disappointment, but we’re still in a celebratory mood,” says Clarke cheerfully.

“We did something amazing together, learned what we’re capable of doing, and we’re gonna keep on moving forward.”

But the outcome does nothing to change plans to roll out transportation services that focus on seniors, new immigrants and First Nations students.

“It would’ve been great to have the 10 million bucks, since it would’ve made our lives a lot easier,” says Bruce Williams, Interim CEO for the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP).

“It just means we just have to work in a different way to make these things happen and do have a plan in place that will produce the outcome we want.”

Despite hitting a bit of a speed bump, Williams says Greater Victoria will continue moving on.

Aaron Guillen