Victoria Filipino association looking to expand its old community centre and build a housing complex

Victoria Filipino association looking to expand its old community centre and build a housing complex
Cobb Carbonel/submitted
A previous event at the Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre where many events take up much of the limited space.

The Victoria Filipino-Canadian Association is looking to revive plans for a community centre and housing complex to replace their current one.

At the launch of Filipino Heritage Month on June 2, 2024, the association and its leaders pitched for the expansion of the centre, currently located at 1709 Blanshard Street, in front of some government officials, including local MPs, MLAs and municipal government officials.

“We need to expand the Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre to accommodate the needs of the community and the growing programs and activities we have in place to support them,” said Elaine Abanto-Wong, a leading proponent of the centre’s expansion through the Bayanihan Cultural and Housing Society.

“When it was first established, part of its mandate was to operate a Filipino culture community centre and provide housing to the needy. The housing component has yet to be realized,” she said.

According to VFCA president, Sid Emmanuel, the number of Filipinos on Vancouver Island has grown since its founding in 1969.

“To date, there are about 10,000 of us and still growing,” Emmanuel said.

This growing number of Filipinos also means they need more space to accommodate its members, volunteers and guests.

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Cultural presentations, seminars, culinary exhibits, and community outreach events are some of the many programs hosted by the centre regularly.

Even as the number of volunteers have ebbed and flowed since it was built in 2001 through provincial government funding, monthly events from Filipino students currently studying at the University of Victoria as well as the association’s various programs have put a strain on the space.

Emmanuel told CHEK, “There’s only about 60 people who are supposed to be sitting at every event, but a lot of times we have to turn people down because of space constraints, that’s why sometimes the parking lot becomes an extension of the community centre.”

In January this year, the City of Victoria purchased the almost 25,000-square-foot site at 1703 and 1725 Blanshard St. that will be developed as a new downtown park.

RELATED: City of Victoria purchases land for future downtown park

VFCA and the society were caught unaware and didn’t have a chance to engage with the City of Victoria prior to the announcement.

While a site has not been decided yet, the city expressed their willingness to work with them saying there are no immediate demolition plans scheduled involving the new park that will be built surrounding the centre.

The Bayanihan Cultural and Housing Society has applied to Heritage Canada for a $250,000 grant to help conduct community surveys about the centre expansion and has launched a website and engagement survey for a provincial Filipino cultural centre.

Harry CorroHarry Corro

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