On my way to a friends place last night, I was treated to the sight of two different boats filled with paddlers do battle with the strong in-rushing tide at the Tillicum Narrows. This part of the Gorge is famous for its fast currents, which used to cause a tidal waterfall until a local citizen dynamited it. For more info, Wikimapia has a decent article on the narrows, also called the Canal of Camosack by the native Songhees people.
Outrigger canoeists at Tillicum Narrows
First to make the attempt was this group of 6 paddlers in an outrigger canoe. They made two separate attempts while I watched; these photos are actually from their second attempt. Both times they struggled mightly against the current, the boat zigzagging as the current caught first one side of the bow then the other. They almost made it both times, but simply ran out of energy. Frustration was pretty evident as their second attempt ended with the lead paddler telling her fellow crew to give up and the sweep/steerer in the rear attempting to keep them going.
Dragon boaters at Tillicum Narrows
Between the canoeists failed attempts, a large team of dragon boaters showed the clear difference between 5 paddlers and 20. They powered right through the rapids in a matter of a few seconds without thought. Their speed surprised me, causing me to almost miss getting any photos of them.
Gorge Regatta in the 1890s
Fiberglass canoes and replica dragon boats were not the first rowing vessels to ply these waters. Gorge regattas have been held since at least the 1890s, as these images from the BC archives attest to. I love the contrast in the uniforms in the picture on the left from today and the one on the right from then.
I will apologize for the terrible quality of the pictures. I had left my actual camera at home and thus only had my phone, which takes surprisingly good pictures, given I cannot control focus point, exposure or anything else mildly useful.
Why? Yesterday gay and lesbian couples in Iowa finally got to enjoy the many benefits of marriage, something that similar couples here in Canada and a select few other countries (and a few states in the US) can enjoy. It feels like the wind has changed. It is, as NYTimes Frank Rich says, The Bigots Last Hurrah. Vermont will start issuing marriage licenses on the 1st of September of this year. New York and New Hampshire are considering bills. Even the governor of Utah, called the “reddest state in the union” has said he backs civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
There is a particularly poignant part to Steven Thrasher’s Advocate article I linked to at the beginning: He is a half-black/white gay man. His parents got married in Iowa in 1958, almost a decade before they were allowed to across the US, something the US Supreme Court had to order. It wasn’t until 2000 that Alabama removed the anti-mixed race marriage amendment from their constitution. Gay marriage faces many of the same arguments were raised against mixed-race marriages, something that the historically-black Howard University’s amicus curae to the Iowa court pointed out quite forcefully (PDF). But I think it was this paragraph from Steven’s article that said the most to me:
My parents did move to California to raise their children, believing life would be easier on the West Coast. I’m sorry my parents didn’t get to live to see Iowan Democrats make a zebra the winner of their caucus and send him on his way to the Oval Office. I wish they had lived to see the Iowa supreme court make gay marriage legal. The irony that their gay son – who has spent his whole life living in or near New York or Los Angeles — would be denied a marriage license in those über-liberal cities, but could now get one in Council Bluffs, Iowa, like they did, would not be lost on them.
Why does this issue matter so much to me? I am a single, straight (as far as I know), moderately well educated white man from wealthy neighbourhood in a wealthy city in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It is because I am these things that I care. I am as unlikely as just about anybody to be discriminated against. Just because I likely won’t experience it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t care passionately about it. Former US Secretary of the Interior Carl Shurz said it best when he said
If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other.
So yes, today feels a bit brighter. The course of equality is usually long and often comes with setbacks but in the end will be won.
Candidate vetting is always a tricky process. It is far, far too easy to miss something that will bite the candidate and the party in the butt when they least expect it. This is partly the reason I duck out of sight whenever somebody brings out a camera at a party. I live in the internet generation. Nearly everything we do goes online, something Ray Lam, the former NDP canadidate for Vancouver-False Creek, discovered last week (CBC).
But there are mistakes and there are mistakes. Getting underwear pulled at a party is not the same as getting behind the wheel of a deadly machine and driving away while drunk. And getting a simple parking ticket is not the same as willfully ignoring traffic laws merely because you are “busy working”. It seems that some of Liberal candidates haven’t yet learnt that (CBC). Even the Solicitor General, the person in charge of ICBC, is getting in on the act (CBC).
The sad reality is that because of Entitled Driver Syndrome or the so-called windshield perspective, these people won’t drop out of the race. Part of the blame for this can be laid at the feet of the journalists. They are often just as guilty (Streetblog), if not more so. It is ultimately a societal flaw. We let people get away with things behind the wheel that they never would be able to do outside a car. We invent cute phrases like “road rage” or explain away blame by using terms like “accident” rather than crash. Maybe somebody that will change. I guess I can only keep hoping.
The experts have decided: One giant sewage plant in Colwood is a great idea. Except of course, if you live in Colwood. Too bad one giant plant is a terrible idea for local land values, the environment and just about every other reason short of get-it-done-now-itis.
One giant plant is being sold as a way to save money, as the cost estimates* show that lots of little plants have almost double the cost of one big plant. Except of course, one big plant makes certains types of resource recovery such as neighbourhood hot water heating basically impossible. One big plant is also very attractive for a P3, something I know a lot of people are not very keen on, myself included. I wonder how many of those “experts” the CRD have found have worked for the big “environmental” (I use the term loosely) firms that would likely bid on any such project?
All in all, just another report. Sewage treatment studies in the CRD are the new transit studies. Lots of hot air and wasted paper without much done. Too bad small plants have already been proven to work and coexist with residential neighbourhoods right here in Oak Bay…
* A word about capital costs: don’t trust any capital cost estimate done before 2009. The price of materials and the cost of wages have fallen so sharply in the past 6 months that any and all estimates, especially those made around the middle of 2008 are totally suspect. For instance the bid for a piece of the University Link Light Rail in Seattle was 34% under estimates, a bid made in December 2008.
In response to my post about the secondary suite consultation (specifically the part about the call for a vote by homeowners, not voters):
Image created by Wirelizard Designs
Yesterday evening I managed to make it to the community roundtable on the legalization of secondary suites. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who actually supported the legalization of secondary suites in the crowd. There were at least a few at every table save one. I have no idea as to the make up of other tables, but ours was pretty evenly split between those that supported it and those that didn’t.
I did find a few things telling. There was a gentleman who called for a referendum on the issue. This would mean delaying any decision until 2011 at the earliest, as running a referendum during a non-election year is simply too expensive. Given how long the issue has been left untouched, this is not really a major issue. What galled me was that he called for a referendum of “home-owners”. Not taxpayers, not voters, but home owners. Renters like myself pay taxes, albeit indirectly through our landlords, and we have the right to vote. We have as much say in the running of Oak Bay as those who are fortunate to be able to afford a home. I find it sad that there are those that forget that.
The event was also well attended by the municipal council and candidates from the last municipal election. Nils Jensen, Pam Copley and John Herbert are all members of the committee but were joined by Tara Ney and Allan Cassidy with Mayor Causton sending his regrets. With Michelle Kirby and myself both there, the only candidates from the last municipal election missing were sitting councillor Hazel Braithwaite and candidate Chris Smith.
Which brings me to the irony. One of the major issues people raised was the more renters would somehow change Oak Bay for a worse, introducing a more transient population that doesn’t take care of the properties they rent and throws loud parties. Parties like the one my roommates and I were having earlier this evening, hanging out on our front steps, drinking beer and chatting about life.
All is not lost on the secondary suites fight. It is important that the committee hear from as many people who support legalization as possible. Those that oppose legalization are out in force and they are well organized. The next time you can tell the committee of your views is April 23rd, 5:30-7:30pm at the Municipal Hall.
BCTransit has slowly been rolling out the new corporate look for the past few months and as part of the new look, they got a new logo:
One of the interesting things about this new logo is the inclusion of a stylized road. Few transit logos include any explicit reference to the service they are offering. I expect this is largely an unconscious decision, as few logos in any field explicitly reference the product or service they are associated with. For example:
Image courtesy of Julie & Co, a design firm out of DC.
Rebranding of any kind usually involves most of the senior management, which brings me to the point of this post: I think that the senior management of BCTransit is biased against rail transit. I don’t think this is a conscious bias or that they are even aware they have it. After all, knowing you like blue doesn’t mean you always think about why you choose the blue thing. BCTransit’s management has so internalized that rail transit is not an option here in the CRD that they made their corporate image exclude it.
This is despite having an existing rail corridor running from the core into downtown Langford, arguably the two places we need to link most with transit. All this means that the shiny new study will suggest exactly the same as every other study listed on this page: do nothing. Talking about unconscious bias. The URL to the Victoria Regional Rapid Transit project is busonline.ca.