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Rock snake art project on Greater Victoria beach combats isolation

Youngster’s summer project grows online and in real life
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Roxie the rock snake grows at Willows Beach in Oak Bay. As it grows, so does community, says a local placemaking organization. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Painted rocks snake around a tree and along a grassy patch of Oak Bay beachfront and continue to draw visitors.

The site was carefully selected by six-year-old Rosie Holoiday and her dad Chase to avoid creating a tripping hazard and steer clear of maintenance requirements at the busy park. The pair placed a handful of painted rocks and signs explaining “Roxie – a summer project inviting people to help the snake grow.”

Municipal staff have a positive outlook on the project as the wider community continues to build it in a responsible way.

“It’s out of the way and I think people will enjoy looking at it. If it posed a trip hazard … we’d maybe look at a better location, but where it is, is fine,” parks manager Chris Hyde-Lay said.

Roxie the rock snake grows at Willows Beach in Oak Bay. As it grows, so does community, says a local placemaking organization. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Roxie the rock snake grows at Willows Beach in Oak Bay. As it grows, so does community, says a local placemaking organization. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

The pair planted the handful of rocks near the Bowker Road access to Willows Beach and it quickly grew.

“From Rosie’s perspective and ours, we are thrilled with the quick acceptance of the project we call Roxy,” the family told the Oak Bay News. “After the project started, we left for a couple weeks of vacation. I like to say it was a surprise how big Roxy was when we returned, but there was a steady flow of new pictures and growth messages daily.”

Rosie really likes the many glitter rocks, but the big beautiful butterfly and Mr. Potato Head are her favourite so far.

“There are so many talented artists that have made an impression on Rosie and the community. From rocks stamped OBPD (Oak Bay Police Department) to beauty flowers, slices of watermelon and ladybugs,” the family said.

READ ALSO: Rosie calls on community to grow Oak Bay painted rock snake Roxie

As Roxy grows, so does community connection, says Jessica Hum of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.

“Rosie is exactly the generation of placemakers we’d like to inspire and be inspired by,” she said.

The organization that marks a decade next year helps planning, design, manage and create programming of shared-use spaces. High-profile projects include growing and mapping the network of nearly 700 little free libraries in the region and community murals.

Placemaking is all about developing connections. Roxie fits the bill as a project created for everyone to enjoy with no boundaries to participating, Hum noted. Visitors can read the sign, join in, or just look and take in the artwork.

“She’s welcoming you with an invitation to make this place more welcoming for others as well,” Hum said. “When there are opportunities for neighbours to connect … these things that are free because they’re put on by neighbours and intend neighbour-to-neighbour connection that you belong here.”

Roxie the rock snake grows at Willows Beach in Oak Bay. As it grows, so does community, says a local placemaking organization. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Roxie the rock snake grows at Willows Beach in Oak Bay. As it grows, so does community, says a local placemaking organization. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

The public placement signifies the youngster and her family showcasing what they see as valuable in their neighbourhood and finding a way to make a favourite place more investing, intriguing and inspiring.

At the same time, Rosie and her dad are inspiring social activity and connection, promoting health, happiness and wellbeing, with a side of combating loneliness and isolation.

“Happiness and well-being they’re fundamental,” Hum said. “If we are thinking about those in our work, our day-to-day community activities, we’re going to have stronger communities.”



Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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