Sunday, July 26, 2009

Victoria May Ask Saanich To Re-Think Their Electric Car Ban

Mayor Fortin wants Saanich to allow electric cars, as it is silly to allow then in three of the core cities and not Saanich. He may ask them to look at it again.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard took exception to Fortin's remarks, and is quoted as saying: "It's no more [appropriate] than if I were to write to Victoria council and ask them to reconsider a decision. I'd have quite a long list, too."

I hope I am not the only one to note that had we one city, or at least one in the core, our counsellors would have made a decision for us all (in favour or not) but then we could move on for now, rather than waste time with different cities pushing separate agendas on the others.

If we were amalgamated, Frank Leonard would not have to take his long list to Victoria as he may be on the counsel of the amalgamated city. Dean Fortin would not have to contemplate if he was going to talk to Saanich about reconsidering, as the city would have addressed the issue and his views would have been known and considered before the vote.

This is not the most compelling of points raised for amalgamation but it does show yet again why it makes so much sense for our region.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Can Greater Victoria Plan For More Retirees And Fewer Workers?

An interesting article indicates that Greater Victoria’s economy will have trouble sustaining itself in the future. The population is aging and there will be 2.8 new seniors for every new worker over the next 30 years. Issues include a lack of entry-level work force, housing for those with low incomes, care for the elderly, and how to bring in workers from areas like Duncan.

The mayor of View Royal is quoted as saying “what it does challenge is our ability to service ourselves as a community. With the very high cost of property, who is going to do the work to sustain a community of this greater size? To me this speaks directly to our regional transportation and mobilizing our labour force over the hump to Duncan and places like that, where real property costs are a bit less.”

These are serious issues, and they affect all of us in profound ways. While it may not be guaranteed that a larger city will have the answers, it is far more likely that a unified area will be able to address the issues better and more successfully than trying to slowly get 13 municipalities to work together and implement plans.

For example, a larger city would have a greater ability to:
· Identify, zone and fund property for low cost housing where younger workers might live;
· Plan and implement regional transportation;
· Identify, zone, support and facilitate regional housing for the elderly;
· Provide support for the elderly.

There are no guarantees, but logic suggests that a larger population, working together will have a greater ability to address what will be radical and unprecedented changes in our demographics. How is Oak Bay going to address the lack of people to provide support workers for the elderly? Should not residents in Langford have to help pay for elderly support services for their parents who live in Saanich? Can we just move a few miles away so we can ignore the obligations that make us a community?

Perhaps Central Saanich should put a toll on the roads leading out from the airport to help fun their own elderly support services. Could that be a situation that develops when we worry just about our limited population in a larger area.

Life in a community requires us to be a community. We need to work towards the best future possible and we cannot do it the way we are divided up right now. The future has a lot of changes in store for us and we would all be better off working together to make the best of it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sooke Waits For Someone To Help Pay For Clean Up Of Torched Tugboat

Mayor Janet Events has told her staff to do nothing about an environmental hazard now sitting in Sooke Harbour. The burned out tugboat could cause significant environmental problems, in addition to being an eye sore in the Harbour.

While no one wants to pay to clean up someone else’s garbage (the owner should pay in this case), the reality is that the community does have to fix it when problems show up on its property.

The larger the community, the greater the ability to deal with the problem quickly and cost effectively for everyone.

A larger community would just get on with doing what needed to be done and hope to recover the cost after. An issue like this should not wait until “someone” pays for it. However a small group clearly could lack the resources to suddenly payout $120,000.00.

An amalgamated area though, may have the internal ability to clean up the mess or the ability to share the cost among a larger group, therefore avoiding the need to wait for someone else to step forward. Meanwhile the risk to the environment we all enjoy, remains.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Combined Staff might help our Boulevards

The TC wrote about "Boulevards of broken budgets stump Victoria officials." While the article did not mention how the other 12 municipalities deal with their boulevard issues, we can assume each has to do so in some way. I really do not know for sure if this would be an issue better dealt with by amalgamation. One might find different results in different areas in any event.

However, a united area will have better resources to deal with the issue. Perhaps dedicated summer relief, who could mow all the boulevards in the core, would become more practical than each municipality dealing with the issue separately. Perhaps this too is not feasible.

Interestingly, there are many ideas being put forward regarding what to do, but the city is just turning people away because they do not have the capacity to manage the requests and they don't have a policy in place.

Certainly it is more likely that a unified city, with sufficient staffing (and more to the point, with the proper allocation of staff time) could deal with the issue. A city of a reasonable size, could deal with issues like this and many more, by having departments large enough to deal with issues.

A city should have departments with sufficient people and expertise to work effectively for the population. It is impossible to believe that if all the relevant staff in the many cities we have were combined, we would not have a more effective administration.

By combined staff, we would be able to afford to have people in place who both know what they are doing and have the time to do it. Rather than an individual having to do a number of different tasks within a department, staff could maximize their efficiency by focusing on more defined tasks for a larger area of our cities.

A larger city, while it will still have to deal with its boulevards, would at least have the manpower to ensure that people are not `just turned away. `

Ban on alcohol on buses - affects mainly those outside Victoria

Victoria Police and B.C. Transit enforced a controversial one-day policy that banned the carrying of alcohol onto buses.

What is telling here is that this was in practice, primarily a ban on those who live outside of Victoria. For the majority of Victorians, they would be able to walk downtown and would not have been affected by the ban, or the possibility of a search on a bus.

This occurred without any input from those outside of Victoria. Now, it is not to say that the policy was right or wrong. Rather the point is that this reflects the reality that we are one city which should be governed as such. If the policy is sound, it should be adopted and implemented by all municipalities.

An additional reminder here is the fact that we have B.C. Transit controlling our bus system. We need them as we have 13 municipalities, all serviced by the same buses. However Ottawa, which is an amalgamated city, controls and runs its own bus system. It would certainly make sense that we do so ourselves. The issue of public transportation is a huge issue of interest to us all. It should not be controlled by a third party, with no responsibility to the public it serves.