UVic proposes giant parking increase

UVic, after a decade of slowly drawing down their parking supply, and reaping the rewards for doing so,  has decided to build a giant parkade on north-end of campus. Why is UVic proposing this now? What hass changed that they need so much new parking now? What happened to their much-vaunted sustainability?

The crazy part is that it isn’t even needed. Although there are a few place around the campus that might need a few fixes (such as Arbutus Rd.) there certainly isn’t some giant crisis that only a new parkade can solve. Nor is the proposed parkade in a good location – the north side of the. campus away from most of the buildings. UVic’s own 2010 Traffic Audit ([download id=”9″ format=”1″]something I worked on), says this

The results from the 2010 survey document the continued positive trends with decreases in total automobile-related trips and large increases in both pedestrian and bicycle trips.

One of the big questions is this – Why bring it forward now? I suspect that like the Baptist Housing folks who are replacing Oak Bay Lodge, UVic hoped that it could slide it under the radar in the quiet summer months. Not to mention getting approval before the next municipal election, due November 19th.

Even sadder is that UVic is currently stonewalling BC Transit on a new transit exchange at the university, something that BC Transit desperately needs to expand transit service for the students and staff of UVic, but cannot due to lack of space. BC Transit even started a process to get public opinion on where that transit exchange might go (something I wrote about in April). But UVic claims to have no funding for any new exchange. So where is the funding for this parkade coming from? It is explicitly tied to the sport centre, approved in a referendum of UVic students in 2009.

Thankfully, it appears that UVic run into no small amount of opposition from the local community, causing Saanich Council to delay the proposal until the fall.

An Olympic experience

Courtesy of a good friend, a bunch of us went over on the weekend to see Canada’s Women Hockey Team play Slovakia. It was the game where the poor Slovakians lost 18-0 and were outshot 67-9.

At the end, handshakes. Photo credit: Joanna Sanders Boblash
At the end, handshakes. Photo credit: Joanna Sanders Boblash

To start off, I have to give massive credit to the Slovakian goalie, who really did try. She made some amazing saves but in the end it just wasn’t enough. At one point they had literally just finished announcing who had scored the last goal when the next one went in. The Slovakians also had some good chances, mostly because the Canadians were incredibly sloppy while passing in their own end. The crowd was pretty amazing, applauding the Slovakian goalie every time she made a great save (she made a lot of those) and at the end of the game giving the entire Slovakian team a standing ovation. The Canadian team was also gracious enough to simply skate off at the end, without receiving the same.

But before we even sat down for the game, we already had a bit of fun with venues. The website listed both Thunderbird Stadium at UBC and Canada Hockey Place (ex-GM Place) as the venue, so when we arrived at Thunderbird Stadium for the game we were rather rudely surprised to learn we had gone to the wrong place. Amazingly, there is no direct bus connection between the UBC and Hockey Place. So off on a quest we went, one bus and two Skytrain rides later, arriving shortly before the 5pm start. Or was it the 4:30pm start. The website and our tickets disagreed on that too.

Which brings us to security. The reason we were two hours early in getting to UBC was for the expected security, a saving grace and it turned out. Processing 18,000 fans into a stadium in a short period of time is hard but it ran fairly smoothly, even if it took the better part of 45 minutes standing in the concrete jungle that is the Georgia/Dunsmuir Viaducts and Skytrain line. After the game we set off to see the Olympic torch, which was by that point very neatly blocked off with an elegantly-designed barrier of 10′ of chain-link fence and concrete. Gulag chic was definitely in.

Transit was one of the bright spots of the whole day. The bus was busy, but not overly so. Of the many Skytrain trips we took, on all three lines, there were usually seats. I shudder to think what it would have been like without trains running on 90 sec headways and all those new cars that Translink purchased recently for the Expo/Millenium Lines. However, I really wonder just how much VANOC paid Translink for all the extra service. Too bad VANOC is beyond FOI reach. They claim they are going to release their budget after the games, so we will know eventually.

Olympic Line streetcar. Photo credit: Flickr user tc_terencec
Olympic Line streetcar. Photo credit: Flickr user tc_terencec

Aside from seeing the game, I also wanted a chance to ride the Brussels- and Bombardier-supplied streetcar running on the new track between the Olympic Village Canada Line station and Granville Island. Thanks to the good transit connections, I managed it. It was smooth, clean, and quite busy even at nearly 9pm when we rode it. Apparently earlier in the day it had been packed. The car also had a pleasant odour of brand-new leather, coming from the hanging straps. Made a nice difference from the usual smells you can run into on older transit buses and trains.

We were fortunate enough to have a relative of one of my friends to stay with in Vancouver, so we didn’t have to find some of the very scarce hotel space available. They also lived in a decent place for transit, so we could get to and from their place without too much difficultly. Attempting to drive down would have been insane and impossible and there are few park-and-rides anywhere on the Skytrain system.

I am glad I had a chance to go and see the Olympics and all the effects it has had on Vancouver. I really hope that the City of Vancouver finds some way to keep the Olympic Line running, although they will need to find new vehicles. Not reopening the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts would also go a long way to making the downtown a better place. As for the rest of the legacy of the games, that remains to be seen.

Henderson bike lanes are not places to park: Oak Bay Police

Bicyclist on Henderson Road. Photo credit: John Luton
Bicyclist on Henderson Road. Photo credit: John Luton

In the Oak Bay News’ Jan 27th Police Brief is this little tidbit:

Police remind motorists who park their vehicles in the bike lane along Henderson Road that doing so is a safety concern, not to mention a violation of municipal bylaws and the Motor Vehicle Act.

Offenders can be towed and ticketed.

I have called in dozens of vehicles parked in the bike lane since it was installed, but anecdotally, the number seems to be shrinking. My hope is also that of John Luton, who says in the notes attached to the picture on the right:

Hopefully, parking will simply disappear as a use along the corridor and the full time bike lane concept realized someday.

Let’s hope that day is coming soon.

Tinto rocks to stay for now

After a great deal of discussion today around the council table and with the members of public that showed up, including the Monterey Middle School Principal Brenda Simmons, council ultimately opted not to remove the rocks on Tinto. Nor did they opt for new parking bays.

During the questioning, a few things very quickly became clear; that the residents that wanted the rocks gone didn’t particularly care if the parking was there or not, just that the rocks were unsightly. Secondly the problem traffic at the Monterey Ave end was due to the entrance being there. Not unsurprisingly, the lone resident of Tinto St. who opposed the removal of the rocks lives at the corner of Tinto and Monterey. Lastly, the problem traffic was not school traffic anymore, it was now evening and weekend users of the fields, primarily sports teams. One of the residents pointed out that this isn’t exactly a new issue, demand was high back in 1990.

Principal Simmons provided some information that had been lacking from teh debate previously. Firstly, the school needs the Tinto Street entrance as that is where they marshal their students in case of evacuation from the school. Second, almost half of the students already walk, bike or take transit to school, which far exceeds the working populations 1/5. And lastly, the school has a very defined traffic pattern, one that discourages use of Tinto St. at all. Despite this discouragement, one resident reported traffic on Tinto St. being a problem around school pickup and drop-off times before the rocks were placed there.

One of the better quotes of the night came from the Mayor:

This looks easy compared to bicycle lanes on Henderson

Ultimately council opted to ask the school board for the following two items:

  1. A second entrance on Tinto St., on the Oliver end to help spread out the traffic.
  2. To let a community member have keys to the school parking lot, which is currently locked from 11pm Friday night until early Monday morning to prevent vandalism.

They hoped that then they wouldn’t have to spend large amounts of money on parking bays or stalls, estimated in the $20,000 to $60,000 range, depending on choice of surface. The Mayor was also asked by council to play mediator once again, talking with the local residents, the school and at the suggestion of a Tinto St. resident, a member of Oak Bay Parks and Rec to represent the various sports teams that use the Monterey fields on the weekends.

Finally, amusingly, I leave you with this quote:

It looked like East Berlin

A Tinto St. resident describing his reaction after seeing the rocks along the boulevard.

Entitled Driver Syndrome hits Liberal candidates

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.

Silly pedestrian, sidewalks are for cars!

Today while walking back from Camosun, I saw no less than three trucks parked on the sidewalk. Frustrating.

This looks like a contractors truck, given the construction in the house right at this location.


This Cadillac Escalade is owned by somebody who lives here. I see this car here nearly everyday, usually parked on the curb to some degree on another.

Tomorrow is my first final of three. I hope to get back into the blogging spirit as we roll closer to Christmas.