UVic guerrilla garden reappears

Youth protecting Yams
Youth protecting Yams, satirical take on the Youth protecting Youth issue*.

The guerrilla gardeners at UVic have — technically still are — struck again, replanting the garden in front of the McPherson Library. With the current community gardens under threat of being turned into a warehouse, students decided to take direct action and plant a garden in the middle of UVic. That work was subsequently ripped out by UVic in the middle of night, spawning this second effort.

While the UVic Student’s Society, perhaps¬† not surprisingly, lacks an official position on the ad-hoc community garden, one of the senior UVSS people I spoke to said the UVSS lacks even a more generic statement of support for community gardens at UVic and that it ” might be a good idea”.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Several people I spoke to seemed to think that the university will likely wait until the summer to rip out this garden 2.0, mostly to avoid further confrontation. Bunnies might not be the only things getting culled this summer.

*Youth Protecting Youth is a pro-life group that was denied club funding by the UVSS due to their use of shock tactics with images of aborted fetuses.

Solutions for empty buses on the 15

Yesterday I talked about some of the teething challenges that the new UVic/Downtown express bus, the 15, nee Dogwood Line, was having. Thankfully a lot of these problems have fairly easy fixes:

  1. New-ness – This will only be solved by time and it will.
  2. Advertising – For BC Transit’s part, they could use some of that empty advertising space, both inside and out, to help promote the new line. Metro in Los Angeles has run some pretty good ads and increased choice ridership by a decent amount as a result. Express buses are loved by choice riders. UVic/Camosun and their respective student societies should work to get people on the ground to pamphlet their bus stops and let people know about the new buses, especially with the separated 15 stop at UVic.
  3. Stops – Most of these are fairly easy fixes as well.
  • UVic – As I mentioned, a lot of UVic students are opportunistic riders, so the riders of the 15 will come from the 4, 7, 11 and 14. As can be seen from the image to the right, there is a massive amount of space between the exchange and the SUB. Given there is no space in the exchange for the 15, kicking out another bus to make room would keep the downtown-bound routes together. A logical route would be the 26, which is one of the busier routes, so would benefit from the extra space in front of the SUB, and its route only overlaps with a short section of McKenzie St. with the 39. Moving an existing bus line with established ridership is hard, but is easier than building up a new ridership if nobody knows the bus exists or is hard to easily find.
  • Placement of bus route stops @ UVic
    Placement of bus route stops @ UVic
  • Fort @ Douglas – The City of Victoria is fairly transit friendly and is likely to be amenable to removal of parking spots to expand the bus stop here. As a bonus, the spots are in front of the Municipal Finance Authority building, who don’t have the same concerns as a storefront retail business with regards to parking.

    Potential expansion of Fort @ Douglas stop
    Potential expansion of Fort @ Douglas stop
  • Fort before Richmond – A much harder stop, because the stop is on an island bounded by two roads, so it can’t be easily expanded. One option would be to have the 11 not stop here, as it stops just after Richmond about 100 m away, where the 15 currently does as well. This would keep the 14 and 15 at the same stop.

    Stop on Fort before Richmond, with two double-deckers superimposed
    Stop on Fort before Richmond, with two double-deckers superimposed
  1. Mistaken schedules – I don’t even know if BC Transit is even aware of this issue up ’til now, but this is a fairly easy fix.

As a last note, I think BC Transit should break out its express routes, the new 15, the 28 Express, the 70, etc. and brand them differently, much like Translink did with the B-Lines.This kind of product differentiation is a great way to attract choice riders, people who could drive but choose to take a bus. Of course, it isn’t news that transit agencies are bad at marketing their own products, a fact which hurts their cause immensely.

(Aerial images are from the CRD Natural Areas atlas, with text and highlighting done with the GIMP and Inkscape)

Possible sewage treatment location in Oak Bay

The CRD has now identified the three possible locations for the Saanich East/Oak Bay North sewage treatment plant and one of them is in Oak Bay, despite the fact that the only public consultations this month are in Saanich. Two of these properties are on UVic land, at opposite corners of the campus.

Likely one potential site of sewage treatment
Old orchard on UVic property

The site in Oak Bay is the old orchard on Cedar Hill X Rd near Crestview Rd as can be seen on the right. This is a part of UVic and is a very common dog walking site. I have no idea how much of the site they are planning to use or if the orchard will remain, but I expect at least some of that information will be at the upcoming public consultations. I wonder what Citizen Canine will say about the possibility of using this location.

Fields near McCoy Rd.
Fields near McCoy Rd. on UVic property

The second site on UVic lands is near McCoy Road in the fields there. Again, I have no idea how much space they are going to take, but I sincerely hope that they don’t remove the trail that connects to the end of McCoy Road. That is a great biking and walking connection to avoid having to go all the way down to the corner of McKenzie Ave. and Gordon Head Rd.

Haro Woods near UVic
Haro Woods near UVic

The last site is the previously mentioned lands in Haro Woods that the CRD purchased last year. I don’t know exactly where in Haro Woods, as outlined in yellow in the map on the right, but I know that UVic owns a portion as well. There isn’t much more to say about this, except that it is one of the few pieces of relatively intact forest left in the area. Also, there is a large field on Queen Alexandria lands just across the road. In all the years I have been going up that direction, as I used to go to school at Frank Hobbs elementary, that field has been sitting largely empty. Why not use it?

Haro Woods, because it has been previously announced, has already attracted a lot of attention. There is a Save Haro Woods website, and the Cadboro Bay Residents Association has come out strongly against this site as well, asking for it be turned into a park.

There are two open houses coming up, on the 16th at Gordon Head United Church and the 17th at Cadboro Bay United Church. Both of those forums run 3pm to 8pm. There is also neighbourhood workshop that requires pre-registration on the 22nd of June between 6:30pm and 9pm at the Queenswood Centre. This information and more can be seen on the wasterwatermadeclear’s public forums page.¬† There is also a report from the CRD’s contractor about the feedback from the previous public forums and the principles used in deciding a location.

Personally, I like none of these sites, but I think the orchard site is probably least worst, provided the orchard itself survives and public access for walking dogs is preserved. However, if they do choose the Haro Woods site, they are really setting themselves up to fail. I think we will see UVic students and other environmental activists chaining themselves to equipment and tree sitting, potentially delaying the project months. I almost wonder if this is why the other two spots have just appeared, to avoid that very scenario.

Pictures from the morning UVic station

Another shot of the food and coffee table
The food and coffee tent

On this, the second day of Bike to Work Week 2009, I dragged myself out of bed at a very early hour of 6 am to attend the morning celebration station at UVic’s main fountain. As UVic is the single largest destination for bicyclists in the CRD, this has been a well attended station in the past and it was certainly no different today. The good weather this morning undoubtedly helped, although most of the people today looked like long-time commuter bikers.

Long shot of celebration station
Long shot of celebration station

Beyond just having fun early in the morning, I was also there to find out where people are biking in Oak Bay. So armed with a clipboard, lots of maps and highlighters, I managed convince almost 20 people to colour on the lines. After the week is done, I get the unenviable task of collating all that data and posting a map of popular biking routes.

Parked bikes
Parked bikes
Oak Bay Bikes fixes a bike
Oak Bay Bikes fixing a bike

For more pictures of yesterday’s station in Sidney and will be adding more as the week goes on from other stations in my Bike to Work Week 2009 flickr set.

See you all tomorrow morning on the lawn of the Oak Bay Municipal Hall.