Health Options, needing YOUR voice

By Vanessa Hammond

To our neighbours in James Bay - Changes are coming to the Co-op Health Centre. And we want your opinion about some very positive possibilities for enhanced wellness and medical services in James Bay. Join us at 7pm December 12 in the Board Room of the James Bay Community Project (our landlords).

Your opinions, your vote. We want to know your opinions. And if you are a member of the Victoria Health Co-op, cast your vote. We really encourage all young people with opinions to come and be part of the discussion.

What has happened? Many of you know that the James Bay Community Project operated a medical clinic in their building for many decades. Then, in 2010, the funding from Island Health changed for this and many other clinics, and the JBCP and its doctors decided the clinic would have to close.

At that time, the Victoria Health Co-op was well established providing outstanding wellness treatments at the Pacific Rim College. We expanded into running Community Outreach programs with Back to Basics at Central Middle School and Choices for a Healthy Lifestyle for many community organizations including Our Place, First+Met Seniors, BC Housing locations, Saanich Public Library etc. We were busy and successful with this work, not looking to expand into other activities.

Then, in 2010 we were approached about taking over operation of the James Bay Community Project’s medical clinic so that it would not be closed down because of the funding changes. This felt like a huge increase in workload, but we were given assurances of viability on behalf of the doctors. Many of you will remember that we presented this opportunity to the membership of the Victoria Health Co-op. We knew it would need a huge amount of volunteer effort. The membership voted to take on this responsibility in September 2010. It has, indeed, been a huge, huge effort.

We are very proud that the Victoria Health Co-op has operated the Health Centre for seven years, serving from 5,000 to 7,000 depending on the number of family physicians available. Maybe you are a patient, client, or interested resident.

It has been seven years of very hard work. Throughout this time, the James Bay Community Project has been an outstanding landlord, the Medical Office Assistants (MOAs) have provided a wonderful welcome for all patients as they have come in for appointments, and the doctors have given careful care. The volunteer Co-op Board has worked ceaselessly. We are very proud of the work we have done, maintaining this service for residents of James Bay and beyond. 

But it has been a struggle. Because of the acute shortage of Family Physicians in Victoria, we have never been able to fully staff the Health Centre. This has meant that our revenue has never covered expenses. Every month we have asked the community to support the Health Centre through donations to the Creating Community Wellness Society and through loans to the Co-op. 

We are very grateful to the James Bay residents who have made generous donations in the past few weeks. Without your generosity the Health Centre would not have survived. Thank you so much.

But this method of operation is not sustainable. Every month our members, in particular our Board (mostly retired and relying on Canada Pension), have had to contribute to keep the Health Centre afloat.

But now we are relieved and able to share some very good news. We have received an offer from a group that already owns and operates wellness-focused medical clinics in Duncan and Langford. They are offering to take over the ownership and management of the Health Center at 547 Michigan Street and to significantly enhance the scope of services.  

This would allow the Victoria Health Co-op to return to its wellness and community outreach roots and no longer have to struggle with the finances and management of the medical facility. Equally we see it as a significant benefit for the current and future patients of the Health Centre where the new owner-operator will provide expanded services.

To accept this offer we need the approval of the members of the Victoria Health Co-op.

Please join us for a Special General Meeting of the Victoria Health Co-op on Dec 12 in the Board Room of the James Bay Community Project at 7pm. Find out about what services would be added. Find out how they would support us, the Victoria Health Co-op, in our wellness and community outreach work. The opinions of all will be welcome. The member-owners of the Victoria Health Co-op will vote on this opportunity.

Please let us know if you plan to attend. Watch the notice board at the Health Centre and in our local coffee shops for updates. We welcome questions by phone or email and try to reply as quickly as possible.


Our December Person of the Month is Alexis Henning, Medical Herbalist. Alexis is a regular wellness participant in the Sunday Wellness Clinics.

Herbal Medicine is the use of medicinal plants and herbs in various preparations, such as tinctures and teas, to not only address specific ailments, but to support the body and mind as it moves back into a state of health and balance.

Used on its own or in collaboration with other health modalities, herbal medicine can effectively be used for both acute and chronic conditions - anything from a common cold to an autoimmune condition.

Alexis is a registered Herbal Therapist with the Canadian Herbalist Association of B.C. She teaches medical herbalism at Pacific Rim College. She offers in-depth herbal medicine consultations and tailored herbal formulas to meet your individual healthcare needs.

Initial consultation 90 minutes, follow-up sessions 60 minutes.

Past “Persons of the Months” have been:

Nicole Costello, reflexologist, can be reached at 778-433-3119, or 250-858-8307.

Rae Bilash, (250) 380-8733, who uses the Trager® Approach to improve movement and mobility while releasing muscular tension that has accumulated over the years in your body.

Lindsay Hounslow – Registered Herbal Therapist at or 250-891-5467.

If you have ideas or questions about the Victoria Health Co-op, our Co-op Health Centre please contact VHC Chair, Vanessa Hammond or 250.415.9272.


Best Wishes for 2018 from the team at the Victoria Health Co-op and all at the Health Centre.

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