A few days after I pointed that Toronto doesn’t get a cent from Ontario to run the TTC, “fiscal conservative” Mayor Rob Ford has gone cap in hand, like his predecessors, to ask for Ontario to restore the 50% operating subsidy, but by the “fiscal conservative” Premier Mike Harris. Like his predecessors, Ford failed. Ouch.
Ugh, yet another article on “Surviving Public Transportation“, as if it is something to be endured. One of the books they mention is My Kind of Public Transportation, which Jarrett over at Human Transit elegantly rips apart in his post about the Disneyland Theory of Transit.
However, given we are about to cut a few thousand hours from buses run here in Victoria, the federal NDP’s public transportation strategy cannot come soon enough. Now if only the newspaper could get the story right about BC Transit. The issue isn’t so much that the number of riders fell, it is that this is the first year in a decade that ridership hasn’t risen. That little fact, despite being easily seen in any slide-show from BC Transit, isn’t mentioned in either editorial or the main article about bus lanes.
Also, we are not the only region that got a higher than expected bill for buses. At least one Nelson councillor is publicly ruminating about “sending the buses back to the province” and “what about a Nelson-run transit system?” Lovely ideas, but they fail to realize two key points:
- BC Transit has a fairly good (by North American standards) deal with regards to sharing of operating costs on an even basis with the province and local authority. Pity the poor systems in Alberta, which much go cap in hand system-by-system, or the TTC, which gets no help from Ontario.
- BC Transit offers local communities centralized planning and purchasing, one of the reasons why BC has some of the best rural and small community transit in North America.
Lastly, the group that killed the last round of transit improvements on Douglas St, the Association of Douglas Street Businesses, is out to do it again, claiming we need to “rethink rapid transit.” Actually, they don’t want any rapid transit. Their spokesman, Bev Highton, said this:
Bev Highton commented that he felt that the committee did not include representation of people who use the roads every day, and there should be discussion on whether there is actually a need for Rapid Transit. He also had concerns about the guiding principles of securing a dedicated right of way.
(from the Victoria Regional Rapid Transit CLC June 2009 minutes – CLC mandate and other minutes can be seen here). Take anything this group says with a giant grain of salt.
So in sum: The sky is not falling, buses are not horrible, the world will not end if we get a bus-only lane somewhere in the city, and the universe will not end if we get light rail.
I noticed this on the main GVPL website, so I thought I would give it some promotion:
The Greater Victoria Public Library, in partnership with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, is pleased to introduce an innovative new program for library users. Beginning February 18th anyone with a valid adult GVPL library card can borrow a free household pass to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
“Our library patrons can now borrow a pass to the Gallery just like they borrow a book or DVD” says Maureen Sawa, CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library.
The AGGV household access pass can be used by a household of two adults and up to four children for free admission to the Gallery’s exhibitions and programming events. Passes are available at all ten library branches and may be borrowed for a one week loan period.
“The library is delighted to collaborate with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria for such a terrific outreach program” says Sawa. “We are committed to connecting people with ideas and information, and what a great opportunity this provides for so many people to learn about art and all the wonderful programs that the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has to offer!”
The Art Gallery currently has an exhibition on Emily Carr entitled On the Edge of Nowhere, a historical overview of the artist, who described herself as “isolated little old woman on the edge of nowhere” .
Due to the importation of weather from other parts of Canada, aka snow, the BBQ the Rotary Club of Oak Bay had planned for today has been cancelled.
This evening’s projection is still scheduled to ahead on the side of the Malahat Building on Wharf St, but given it is continuing to snow, the outlook isn’t positive.
The time to end polio is now and the Rotary Club of Oak Bay invites you to come help us out in this quest. Tomorrow between 11am and 2pm, we are holding a hotdog BBQ on the front lawn of the Oak Bay Municipal Hall in the Oak Bay Village. The hot dogs and coffee are all “sold” by donation, with all proceeds going to the PolioPlus project of Rotary International. Thanks to our generous sponsors: COBS Bakery for the buns, Fairway Markets for the wieners and condiments, and Level Ground Trading for coffee. Also thanks to the Municipality of Oak Bay for declaring February 23rd Rotary Day, letting us the lawn of the municipal hall’s lawn, and raising the Rotary flag, as well as to the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria for providing us with a tent in the case of inclement weather. Hope to see you there!
|What the planner says||What the planner thinks||What the developer thinks|
|“What do you think?”||You don’t like it either, do you?||We’re in trouble, they’re thinking.|
|“Is the applicant here?”||Can we talk, or do we have to be diplomatic?||No! After spending all of this energy, to say nothing or a King’s ransom in fees, the applicant has decided to go to the racetrack where the odds are better.|
The FCM’s 2011 Sustainable Communities Conference is over and all the delegates have gone home. I thought I would post a few more thoughts about the conference:
- I had a great “corridor conference” with a number of people, including Nicole Tomes, from the City of Cochrane, AB. I met her at Gaining Ground 2010 (a conference which got volunteering right – see below), so it was great to run into her again. She is doing great things with the Cochrane Sustainability Plan, a well-written and well-designed piece of work.
- I went to the session on the Green Municipal Fund and I was pleased to see that the FCM is now taking implementation seriously. They have a push to actually fund projects with shovels and all that, not just creating additional places for dust to collect.
- It was amusing to hear discussions of how to fund sewage via a user-pay method. It had never occurred to me that this wasn’t the norm now. (For context, Oak Bay just changed so that 80% of the sewage bill is per-unit and 20% a fixed cost per household)
- The recent push by the big disease-specific charities to target the causes of their specific illness was out in evidence here: Heart & Stroke Foundation has a big campaign about changing community design to keep kids and communities healthy. Their session on Thursday was packed and filled with great info. (This ties in well with the recent push by the Canadian Cancer Society to advocate for cosmetic pesticide bans.)
And now the bad: volunteer management. I have volunteered for a lot conferences, festivals, and organizations. While I was working for Luminara, my production coordinator duties meant helping manage volunteers. So it is with this knowledge that I say that this amongst the least-well organized conference for volunteers that I have seen.
An example: When we arrived, we were told we weren’t going to get into the conference for free, the usual reward for providing free work. They later relented and “offered” us one free day, “a value of $300″. Apparently they had no experience with actual volunteers. FCM thought we were municipal staff who were getting paid to be there. Sorry, but no. All I can say is that I truly hope that this wasn’t anybody’s first conference they had volunteered at. One bad experience could put them off for life. Overall, I got the impression that FCM had very little experience dealing with volunteers.
Still, even with the issues with the volunteer management, this was a great conference. It was a great mix of people from the public and private sector. And the energy was great.
I have been having a great deal of fun attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Sustainable Communities Conference this week, talking with all sorts of people from Nunavut to Newfoundland.
- Registering people, despite being a largely dull job, was actually fairly interesting, because you get little 30-sec bios of where they are from, something that happening there, etc.
- A great highlight was a bike tour of various rain gardens and low-impact developments — including the CRD Building and the Atrium — with the Fraser Basin Council‘s Angela Evans and the CRD along with 11 people from across Canada all at various skill levels with bicycling. It was interesting see some of our infrastructure from a new cyclist’s eyes, especially the abysmal Johnson St. Bridge (it just can’t go fast enough) and just how good some of it is, including the superlative Galloping Goose (although they tended to right two abreast, not realizing that this wasn’t just a recreational cycling path).
- Talking funding of active transportation with the FCM’s Green Municipal Fund people, Transport Canada, and Infrastructure Canada.
- Listening to CropLife Canada spin that they are not an evil GMO-pushing multinational-front that hates pesticide bans. Honest! They just want “science-based” decision-making. Preferably at the federal level where they can buy the votes to prevent pesticide/herbicide bans like Oak Bay’s from ever seeing the light of day.
I am off today to see more, if the 12-hour days don’t get me first.
Last night’s council was packed as expected given secondary suites were on the agenda. Also expected, the speakers were nearly all against secondary suites, probably out in forced because of the new anti-secondary suites group, Friends of Oak Bay Neighbourhoods. But what hasn’t happened since we had a little discussion about crap in the Uplands last year, we had hecklers in the crowd. It got so bad that Councillor Cassidy was visibly angry while he told off somebody for speaking out of turn, and Mayor Causton was forced to speak up as well.
Ultimately council decided, in a split vote, to move forward with more consultation, likely in early April. This will probably take the form of an informational fair and an invitation-only “stakeholders” meeting. More details later.
A truck recently crashed into Green Party leader and Saanich-Gulf Island candidate Elizabeth May’s constituency office on Quadra and the Saanich Police had this to say:
Saanich police spokesman Sgt. Dean Jantzen said May’s office and the adjacent storefronts are close to the road, with no barriers to protect them from traffic.
Umm, what? This is classic deflection of blame. The issue is cars travelling too fast, yet the blame gets passed from the driver, who was speeding, to the property owner, who “failed to protect their buildings from traffic.” If we need to build barriers to protect ourselves and our buildings from the traffic on the adjacent road, we are utterly failing to build a city for people.