The views of FOCUS readers that were published in the March-April 2017 edition
Escape from BC
In the exchange between Rob Wipond and Dr Ronald Pies, Rob Wipond emerges as the clear winner in my opinion. Dr Pies disparages Wipond’s position as lacking balance and critiques him for using “negative words,” suggesting that in doing so Wipond is not being “objective.” However this begs the question, for if on balance the psychiatric drugs do far more violence than good, then the “objectivity” requires that this be said. Correspondingly, Pies states that in his own personal experience he sees the drugs as doing far more good than harm. What makes Pies think that a psychiatrist trained to see “dulling” as a good outcome is in any position to objectively evaluate? Is not the fact that evaluations are overwhelming done by care professionals with a demonstrable bias exactly what has always made the “treatments” look good?
Objective? Hardly! Thank you, Rob Wipond, for exhibiting far greater “objectivity”!
Dr Bonnie Burstow
Getting growth right
Leslie Campbell’s article [“Getting Growth Right,” Focus, Jan/Feb 2017] is a valuable contribution, but I think the dichotomy between Core and West Shore is misplaced. The realistic immediate alternative to the McKenzie Interchange (and the other road/highway expansion schemes in the pipeline) is completing the Douglas Street-Highway 1 bus lanes to the West Shore. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is already quietly doing designs for the Highway1 shoulder bus lanes from Saanich Road to McKenzie. Funding is in place and construction could start within months. Shoulder bus lanes on the next 4.5 km from McKenzie to the Six Mile Pub would cost a mere $15 million or so, and could be operating within 18-24 months once funding is in place.
The BC Liberals promised 24/7 bus lanes all the way to the West Shore “soon” in 2008. I’m optimistic that with enough political pressure these bus lanes could be open within 24 months.
Real transit-oriented development requires good transit, and providing good transit to and from the core areas of the West Shore is an important way to spur the kind of changes needed there, and region-wide. The best land use plan is a transportation plan, and given the climate crisis, we need to plan for quick and impressive transit improvements region-wide.
How important is it that we reduce carbon emissions? In discussing the CRD’s Regional Growth Strategy, Director Vic Derman of the CRD has an imaginative answer: “The only thing that could be possibly more urgent to act on,” he says, “would be if a large asteroid was hurtling toward us.” (“Getting Growth Right,” Focus, Jan/Feb 2017).
Five to three million years ago—before most of our lot was around—sea levels were some 25 metres higher than today, atmospheric temperature some three degrees celsius warmer, and CO2 levels about the same. Two hundred million years ago, atmospheric CO2 was at 5 times present levels. Arguably, the Earth and life adapted and survived.
In the recent American election, a large population had grown tired of being told how to live, where to live, what to believe, what to say, what to buy, what to eat, where to work, how to get to and fro. They voted, and said good riddance to the self-absorbed who righteously spoke for them.
Sitting in an arm chair in front of a fireplace in Victoria and targeting communities like Port Renfrew over water and sewer services in order to restrict population growth and development should be considered retributive and regressive. What, after all, did Victoria look like in 1843?
In matters of urban and regional planning, we’re like the American public. In Victoria and the CRD, we need to see new faces, new politics, new ideas, to hear something worth being said—and the sooner the better.
Sewage & RGS failure point to dysfunctional CRD
As is made evident in “Getting Growth Right” (Focus, January/February), the CRD edifice is collapsing under fire from within, setting off alarms. Already it looks as if the Province will have to intervene again to put out the fire. Maybe it will become clear that the building is not fire-proof, and restructuring of governance is sorely needed.
I understand the desire to legally challenge the Province’s approval of the sewage plant at McLoughlin Point but shouldn’t we be addressing the real problem which is the undemocratic and unaccountable CRD?
The sewage debacle is an issue that has its roots in one fundamental problem which underpins the current CRD dysfunctional governance model. The CRD is not directly elected by citizens. As a resident of Victoria I cannot hold a CRD director from another municipality to account.
With the exception of the three electoral areas—Salt Spring Island, Juan de Fuca and the Southern Gulf Islands—CRD Directors are not directly elected. Councils appoint their members to CRD boards and committees. There is an anomaly—Victoria and Saanich use a voluntary double-direct system whereby voters can choose a candidate standing for council and vote for that candidate to be appointed to the CRD. But if the candidate fails to be elected to his or her council then the CRD vote is void.
CRD directors are attempting to serve two masters and they are only accountable to one—their council. Municipal self-interest comes before regional interest and this has defined the way business has been done at the CRD since its inception.
We need to replace CRD directors with a directly elected body comprised of qualified candidates who owe no allegiance to any municipality and who have as their mandate unified, forward-thinking, innovative and focused solutions for the issues facing the Metro Victoria region.
Sewage fiasco and the politics of contamination
I just came across the July 2016 article written by David Broadland titled “Victoria’s Sewage Fiasco and the Politics of Contamination” and I was hoping you could pass on my congratulations to the author on a very thorough and well-written summary of a highly technical subject.
I particularly liked his comparison between the 96-hour LC50 rainbow trout bioassay toxicity test and a canary in a cage exposed to car exhaust while trapped within a sealed container.
Troy D. Vassos, Ph.D. FEC P.Eng.
McLoughlin Point’s fatal flaw
As I have pointed out in the past, we should not build a treatment plant at the mouth of Victoria’s harbour because of its negative impact on tourism and on development in the Songhees area due to odour and decrease of property values. I have also commented that the McLoughlin Point site is too small and that a second smaller plant would be required to deal with the treatment and processing of biosolids—at great capital cost, operating costs, and the requirement of two pipes to be built from McLoughlin Point to the dump site.
Obviously, the small treatment plant on McLoughlin Point, as noted in David Broadland’s article “The CRD hid McLoughlin Point’s fatal flaw,” will have a limited life because of its small land base. In the longer term it will require an expansion of the plant based on limited capacity, relative to the impacts of growth of population in the service area over the next few years.
More land should be acquired in order to build the treatment plant. I spoke to key regional staff concerning the project over two years ago, as to why they did not acquire additional land for the sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point so that it could be built at an economic size and not require an external plant at the dump site and the even greater cost of two pipes to the dump site.
Interestingly, I was advised that DND had been approached but would not approve the sale of lands to provide for a proper sewage treatment plant. I then asked the question, “Was the Prime Minster approached concerning this matter to intercede to save millions of dollars?” The answer was “No,” the CRD had not involved the Prime Minister.
The article by Broadland on the issue of size of plant relative to the size and configuration of the site, also makes very clear to me that the site on the other side of the Region’s lands should be acquired from DND and is of better use for this project than in the hands of DND or First Nations. The Federal Government should support the need to save so much in unnecessary costs including the elimination of the external biosolids plant and infrastructure.
Surely with support from the Prime Minister, the Federal Government would agree to the sale of the lands to complete total acquisition of the point of land, as shown in Broadland’s article. Obviously this action should have been taken years ago.
Donald Roughley P.Eng, Former Victoria City Manager
The Dallas Road Sewage Pipe Bike Path
the city’s proud, new bike path
is 3 kilometres long
thanks for 10 safe minutes
but I think the pride is wrong
like the 100 metres of Blue Bridge
now that sure turned out swell
and the decades of the sewage debate
that had a certain smell
like the E & N railway line
rapid transit made no sense
but the McKenzie Interchange
that sure does
says three layers of government
I’m sitting here in the Colwood crawl
and have some time to reflect
about the beauty of the coastline
and the stream of cars effect
California sure has taught us, car lanes
solves it every time
the paving of our paradise
brings Joni’s song to mind.
and I’m thinking of a bike path
all along the E&N
and I’m thinking of electric trains
and how much we’d have to spend
and I’m thinking of the future
not what the line would cost
I’m thinking of our heritage
and just how much we’ve lost
and I think the Sewage Pipe Bike Path
is so odd, it hurts my brain
I prefer the Boondoggle
now that’s a righteous name
and when I’m cycling on the Boony
with the beauty all around
I’ll forget it’s all a thin veneer
and what stinks runs underground.
A better route for sewage
As the CRD Wastewater Board moves to approve funding agreements and obtain final sewage project approval by the end of February, they do so following minimal input from affected communities and from taxpayers in general. How can approval be obtained and commitments be made when only the most high-level budget is made public? We know nothing of the details of the contracts which are being entered into.
The public is being asked to accept the laying of a 48-inch pipeline in a trench along Dallas Road from Clover Point to Camel Point. No estimate of cost is available despite repeated requests to make the estimate known, but you can bet it won’t be a small number. The proposed route stretches 3.4 kilometres along a cliff top showing signs of slumping and within a metre of the sea wall that is constantly under repair. It may not even be feasible from an engineering point of view to lay the pipe along the cliff where Douglas intersects Dallas Road.
Assuming it is possible, construction will take months and disruption will be significant during this time. Once the trench turns the corner past Ogden Point, it is proposed to connect with a pipe that has to be constructed in a tunnel under the Outer Harbour to the treatment plant at McLoughlin Point. This tunnel and pipe emplacement in the tunnel will take well over a year to construct at what can only be imagined to be enormous cost.
The disruption here will be calamitous with dust, noise and trucks right on the tourist route used by the cruise ship passengers. As for the residents, well they will have to put up with construction for months on end. The technical difficulty of drilling and tunneling is immense given the nature of the hard fractured bedrock. Does the contractor have any experience dealing with rocks of this type and with this large size of pipe?
The entire route is within the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and disruption to the backshore cliff tops will be significant. Presumably permits have been obtained but there is no indication from the Project Board website.
We simply lack design and cost data and to ask for approval in the absence of these data is foolhardy and presumptuous. It is also arrogant given the minimal community consultation which has taken place. It places the councillors on the CRD Board in a very difficult position.
Following a single meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association and the CRD project team, I made a subsea pipeline proposal in February to the CRD Project Team. (I am a retired executive and geologist with a lot of experience managing and implementing projects, all of which have involved drilling and pipelining to one degree or another.) This route would avoid the land route and harbour crossing entirely. This proposal would be far more cost effective, it would avoid the safety and environmental hazards of the onshore route as well as all the disruption during construction. To lay the pipeline offshore would take days, not months.
The community of James Bay and the taxpayers of the CRD need to know that the engineering team has fully considered this viable subsea pipeline option. Before approval to the existing design is given, a reasoned argument for not considering this subsea proposal is expected. To date, all we have received is a dismissive letter from the Project Board. The sea floor proposal could save millions of dollars, mitigate safety and environmental concerns, and avoid construction disruption. How can we have confidence in another engineering project in Victoria when we have no detailed information on plans and costs?
The Project Board says the whole project will cost $765 million, trust us. But we don’t have any idea how we got there. What is the cost of this type of construction? We don’t know. We are not being told. How can councillors be asked to approve funding?
John Gunton, BSc, PhD (geology)
As an ardent follower of your leviathan efforts to rein in City Hall, here’s another thing to examine. Just contemplate the cynicism (stupidity?) of the City of Victoria’s “participatory budget” political exercise. And who hired a New York City agency to help us allocate a mere $60,000 of Victoria’s [$224.5 million] budget?
Gene Miller makes a very valid point, that Douglas Street is going downhill. Too bad that he got the year for the end of streetcars wrong. 1948, Gene.
It’s also a pity that Miller has ranted against LRT so much, since absolutely nothing would rejuvenate Douglas Street, and Vancouver Island as a whole, more than a more balanced transportation system. Yet the E&N Railway keeps rotting away, and Transportation Minister Todd Stone wants ten-lane bridges and more blacktop everywhere.
Just last week, I happened across a 1938 article in the Cincinnati Enquirer which was the smoking gun that confirmed that General Motors nuked the streetcars in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky. The car and oil companies run the world, including in Victoria. Just look at Douglas Street! Car dealers, muffler, tranny and lube shops and parking lots.
High on drug industry donations?
I applaud Alan Cassels’ article on the BC government’s role in supporting the prescription drug manufacturers and their contribution to the current opioid crisis. Certainly a match made in heaven (driven by money and influence-peddling) to enhance the predatory and profiteering integrated network of interests—which include the global pharmaceutical industry, government controlled pharma-care programs, physicians who legally prescribe these drugs, manufacturers of the drug components, and illegal distribution networks.
Mr Cassels uses the image of babies floating down a river and a village mobilized to jump in and save them one by one. By asking what causes this tragic loss of life, a search reveals that someone is flinging the babies from the bridge.
In a world in which human life is considered worthless—be it the bleak future and intolerable conditions of destitute economic migrants, refugees escaping from war and famine, or indigenous youth and others without a prospect for decent education, shelter, health care, and work—it’s not surprising to see this man-made form of exploitation playing out in social media and on the 24/7 TV news channels.
When the super-rich and their billionaire authoritarian leaders—less than one percent of the world population—are rewarded with more than half of the world’s wealth and resources, it is easy to see who is throwing babies into the river and why. Millions of workers are no longer necessary to produce consumer goods and are rendered redundant by automation and disruptive technologies; millions of uniformed men and women are no longer required as cannon fodder because cyber-warfare and drones can immobilize “the enemy’s” critical infrastructure. It is not hard to see who benefits and why the expedient killing machine of capital is so effective.
In the 1960s, youth and working people from across the globe actively opposed the superpowers and their aggression against the peoples of Indochina, the Middle East, and their henchmen in Latin America. The rule of these war-mongers and blood-thirsty tyrants was called into question, particularly on campuses across the US and Canada. During this time, the US deployed their “Keep Canada White” messengers, funded anti-“pig” agent provocateurs, and groomed police informants to discredit legitimate opposition to wars of aggression, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
At the same time, these same super-rich superpowers also opened the floodgates to pushing drugs and entertaining distractions to divert millions of youth. Drugs were used to pacify those facing the bullets of the National Guard on US campuses; young draftees consumed drugs to escape the horrors they were called upon to inflict in the name of defending peace and liberty.
Today, the game has become more sophisticated, but the end remains the same. Might makes right to ensure the rich get richer and the poor get poorer—with one added twist: most of humanity now represents a cost that the rich (and the governments that protect and promote their interests) can no longer afford to bear. In the race to the bottom, guess who will pay?
Last summer the Canadian government passed a medically-assisted death-with-dignity law. When it cannot provide adequate health care for all Canadians, is it any surprise that Victoria has become the killing-with-kindness capital of the country? The BC government sheds tears about the growing number of drug-overdoses but at the same time collects hefty campaign contributions from the makers of these opiates, and limits the number of funded addiction-treatment centres. This is the killing-with-cruelty side of the same coin.
Drugs and distractions are ever part of the power arsenal that denigrates and destroys those who cannot generate wealth for self-interested saviours who desire to make their vast imperial wastelands great again.
LNG in Brentwood Bay too risky
Researcher and activist Dr Eoin Finn spoke in Mill Bay recently regarding the proposed LNG terminal in Brentwood Bay.
He noted that this Steelhead plant would be the first floating LNG terminal in the world (meaning this has never been done before)—and that should worry southern Vancouver Island residents. We must also consider the huge tanker ships, about the length of three football fields, that would pick up the liquified fracked gas in Brentwood Bay.
The process to cool the gas into a liquid would suck in 30,000 gallons of seawater every hour—which means phytoplankton and small fish are also sucked in. Then they release that heated seawater and, because they don’t want anything fouling the pipes of their very expensive ships, they add a little biocide.
This 30,000 gallons of seawater being poured back into the inlet every hour is heated 10 degrees in the process. That is like filling 10 Olympic-size swimming pools every week with warm, toxic (biocided) seawater (five million gallons per week).
“This amount of hypochlorited hot water poured into the Inlet every year, will turn it into a marine desert,” Finn told us.
Saanich Inlet is home to shellfish, herring, and large salmon runs up Goldstream Creek. It also houses VENUS (Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea), a cabled undersea laboratory for ocean researchers.
And there’s more downsides to the four-foot-diameter gas pipeline that would come into Brentwood Bay. The process cools the fracked gas into liquid to feed the tanker ships and then pipes more fracked gas forward along another route past Duncan, west to Lake Cowichan, and on to the West Coast where another cooling facility and shipping facility is to be housed.
The entire sea route of LNG tanker traffic, and the fracked gas pipeline route itself, is fraught with potential disaster points. This threatens hundreds, even thousands, of lives depending on where those disasters occur. And we know disasters eventually do occur. Just search on Youtube for: “Tanker carrying natural gas exploded in China,” and see for yourself.
Concerned adults need to start demanding answers. We need to weed through the sales pitches of well-paid corporate executives who are selling us a barrel of rotten fish.
Open Letter to Premier Clark
I am writing this letter in regards to the drug epidemic and tent cities that are happening in our province, and would like to introduce you to the polar opposite of these.
I have been a drug addict and alcoholic for over 30 years and have been in treatment several times. I am no stranger to an opioid overdose, and once had to be brought back to life after respiratory failure.
Through my life of addiction, I still managed to have somewhat of a normal life (the wife, two kids, jobs) until about two-and-a-half years ago when I came home and my wife had left due to my drinking.
At that point I just kept going (drinking) and before long everything was gone. I left Prince George and headed for Victoria where I have family. I just couldn’t stay sober and ended up homeless.
That’s when I ended up at Woodwynn Farms, a 193 acre therapeutic community in Central Saanich. I’ve been here for nine months now and in that time I’ve regained my self-respect, courage and most of all my spirit back. I’ve lost the obsession or need to self-medicate. I’ve learned to go through pain and not only feel it but embrace it knowing that it only makes me stronger. For the first time in my life, I can envision a future without drugs or alcohol.
I plan to use my experience to help others to escape the terrible downward spiral that is addiction.
This is where I come to the main reason for this letter to you.
Woodwynn Farms has been trying to get fully off the ground for the past seven years and has faced a mountain of challenges and senseless opposition.
Richard Leblanc, the executive director, has worked tirelessly during that time to overcome these objections, most of which are ridiculously trivial.
I have witnessed this first-hand.
I believe this is a case of political bullying on the behalf of the municipality of Central Saanich. Contrary to the overwhelming community support, it seems the small number of opposers’ unfounded complaints carry more weight and has resulted in the failure to obtain permits to grow this program and increase the capacity to help more people.
At this point in time there are only seven participants here, but the farm has the potential for over 100 lifesaving beds. In this time of crisis, I find it an absolute travesty that such petty issues like thistles and wording of signage (typical complaints), stand in the way of the success of this life-changing program. Nothing has worked for me until I came here. If this place can fix me, it can fix anyone.
We need your help Christy.
I know you’re a very busy woman. I see you on the news every day dealing with multiple issues and believe you are doing an awesome job on what seems like an overwhelming situation.
I’m asking that you come to Woodwynn Farms and see firsthand the wonder that is happening here and judge for yourself.
I know it’s not a total solution to this huge problem, but we’ve been throwing expensive little band-aids at this giant gaping wound for far too long and it’s only getting worse. As I’m sure you would agree, recovery is the number-one solution. This place has the potential to save countless lives and we cannot afford to let it fail.
You would totally be welcome to join us for dinner as well. The food is all organic and very healthy. Also, the dinner conversation is very eclectic.
Thank you for your time,
Edited by Leslie Campbell