The Annual Lions club district conference will be held in Sooke on April 13-15, and is expected to bring $150,000 to the community.
According to district governor Al Beddows, about 350 Lions throughout the district — which encompasses 58 clubs from Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Olympic Peninsula — will be heading into Sooke. Representatives from other districts in B.C., Washington and northern Idaho will also be present.
Beddows said it is the first time a district conference has been held in Sooke, stating the weekend will be a good opportunity to bolster the local tourism industry.
“We’re trying to showcase our talent… what’s not included in the $150,000 is the good will that we send off to our colleagues in British Columbia, Washington state and Idaho,” he said. “We have to introduce them to the community and they will come back, and they will talk about it.”
The visiting club members have been given a list local bed and breakfasts and hotels for their three-day stay. Local business owners may also see financial benefits as a friendly competition will be held, where the winner will be awarded a prize for dining at the most restaurants.
There have also been tours arranged for the Sooke Region Museum and Charters Rivers Salmon Interpretive Centre.
Beddows, who will ending his term as district governor after an election over the weekend, said the event will celebrate the successes of individual members as well as clubs as a whole.
“We come together and celebrate the year that we’ve had in ‘Lionism,” he said. “My theme is to recognize the rank and file Lion, the one that we see in our community every day that works hard behind the scene to make our communities a better place to live.”
The three-day conference will begin with a space-themed get together at the Sooke Community Hall on April 13. Followed by information panels, guest speakers, district governor election, awards ceremony and black-tie banquet on April 14 at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort. The weekend will end with a memorial ceremony at the Prestige Hotel for Lions who have passed away on April 15.
Sooke has three clubs, with a combined membership of 104. The clubs are: the Sooke Lions Club, the Sooke Harbourside Lions, and the Sooke District Lioness.
The Lions Club International is the world’s largest service club organization, with 1.35 million members. The clubs have a mandate to support and provide assistance to those in need in their respective communities.