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Leslie Campbell

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  1. Leslie Campbell


    shape/colour/form Winchester Galleries: January 16 - February 2, 2019 Opening reception: Saturday, January 19, 2:00 - 4:00 pm. Brent Jarvis, piano; Ross Macdonald, bass the new year commences not with a whimper but with a clear, strong call to art please join us in january as we present the best of shape/colour/form in all its glory shape emanates from the elegant lines of a Picasso etching colour is created by the deliberate layering of opaque and transparent pigment on a McEwen canvas form is a focussed aerial view of irrigation tracks molded from steel by Robert Murray and there will be so many more revelations throughout to lead us gladly/hopefully/excitedly into a bold new year at Winchester Galleries Winchester Galleries Ltd.2260 Oak Bay AvenueVictoria, British ColumbiaV8R 1G7250-595-2777Tuesday - Friday: 10 am - 4 pmSaturday: 11 am - 5 pm www.winchestergalleriesltd.com
  2. Residents are mobilizing to protect one of the city’s greatest natural charms, increasingly threatened by development. I RECALL DURING MY FIRST YEAR HERE IN VICTORIA, as a transplant from Winnipeg, sitting in a small James Bay park noticing its many different species of very large trees. I was in heaven! It seemed so exciting, so exotic and luxuriant. I may have become more blasé about it 34 years later, but I still know what a blessing—and a defining characteristic of this city—all those big trees are. And I am obviously not alone. Witness the growing crescendo of concern over the city’s loss of mature trees. Pressures from development, summer droughts, wind storms, sewage pipelines, and simple aging are among the reasons residents are noticing the demise of more and more trees. Citizens, regional councils, and municipal parks employees all seem to recognize the central role the urban forest plays in making Victoria what it is—a beautiful, healthy, prosperous place. Many of us now understand how trees, especially mature ones, provide ecosystem services like water filtration, cooling shade, and carbon sequestration. How they contribute to our health by absorbing both air and water pollutants; they even filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark, thereby reducing asthma attacks. Did you know that trees increase the value of our homes from 3-15 percent? Or that shading from trees prolongs the life of asphalt by 10-25 years? Trees also act as useful wind buffers. By sheltering many other species, they increase biodiversity. Look out your window and imagine the city without trees: it would be a very different, bleaker place entirely. No birds would be singing. Ironically, those very trees and their many charms have helped attract development, which has boosted land prices so much that trees are being sacrificed to make room for more and larger homes. The real estate boom and its impact on our urban forest seems to have caught us off guard, without adequate safeguards in place. As a result, every year thousands of mature trees—along with the many services they provide—are being lost throughout the Capital Region. In this article, I will focus on the City of Victoria, where a weak bylaw means, for example, that removal of non-native trees with a diameter at chest height of less than 80 centimetres—or 31.5 inches—does not require a permit. (More on this later.) At a City of Victoria council meeting on November 22, a half dozen speakers from the recently formed Community Trees Matter Network showed up to give presentations to the new council. Their website (housed under the Creatively United for the Planet website) contains numerous articles about the many benefits of and threats to the urban forest. Verna Stone (l), Nancy Lane MacGregor and Frances Litman Nancy Lane MacGregor, in her presentation, took Victoria council on a tour of a block in her Rockland neighbourhood: “On Moss Street, a Garry oak blew over in a storm…At Moss and Rockland, a 350-year-old Garry oak was cut down, its roots too close to homes on either side. At Langham Court, a healthy 162-year-old giant sequoia was taken down because its roots were entwined with a sewer pipe. Around the corner on Linden, apartment balconies face a wasteland through standing dead trees, the first phase of a development. At 1201 Fort Street, a luxury condo and townhouse development…will destroy 29 mature trees including a remnant Garry oak meadow, giant sequoias and other protected trees. Up the street, at Central Middle School, a large Garry oak fell in a windstorm…” Frances Litman, founder of Creatively United for the Planet, reminded council of the many services trees provide a city: “Trees clean and cool the air, create oxygen, decrease carbon dioxide, provide essential habitat for birds and animals, and save this city a lot of money [$2 million in 2013] by processing and filtering hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that would overtax our storm sewers.” She charged today’s developers with “scraping the land bare of every earthworm and living thing, despite the footprint of the building and without regard to how this impacts the natural ecosystem and surrounding neighbourhood.” Litman urged council to implement the recommendations of the City’s own 2013 Urban Forest Management Plan, and “budget for a qualified coordinator to oversee, educate and implement it department-wide.” A week after that council meeting, I met with Litman and MacGregor at Verna Stone’s art-filled apartment at Fort and Moss Streets. A coffee table was set with a smorgasbord of sweets and Philosopher’s Brew tea was steeping. Stone was wearing her tree dress, a lovely tunic featuring an appliquéd Douglas fir. She too is a member of the Community Trees Matter Network. The story of how they came together—along with a number of others—to form the Network includes the outrage they experienced as they each noticed too many trees falling victim to disease and development. Serendipity and basic networking also brought them together. When Litman was put in touch with so many other tree-lovers, she thought, “Oh my god, I’ve found my tribe.” She manages the Network’s website and email and said she can barely keep on top of the interest: “It’s exploding!” Indeed, soon after I talked with them, Litman was interviewed on CHEK TV about the planned removal of at least 29 mature Garry oaks—and endangerment of 20 more—on Grange Road in Saanich due to the CRD’s sewage pipeline. The neighbourhood was in an uproar over this loss. Fortunately, the ensuing publicity nudged the CRD to figure out how they could shift the pipeline a bit and preserve the trees. Network members have investigated what the City of Victoria has been doing and think it’s just not enough. “A barely advertised ‘Tree Appreciation Day’ draws only a handful of citizens to witness the mayor planting four trees, then pack up for another year,” said MacGregor, adding, “Trees are not considered in the push for densification.” Though an upbeat group, cynicism about governments near and far was apparent. In discussing how Transport Canada recently removed all the trees along the south side of the Inner Harbour at Laurel Point Park to clean up contaminated soil from a paint plant once located there, Stone suggested the federal body is just attempting to look good on the cleanup front so it can allow more oil tankers to ply coastal waters. The women were looking forward to hosting expert speakers, art events, speaking at other council meetings, and fanning out to various neighbourhood associations to connect with tree defenders in different areas. They want to “harness the power of an integrated network of people,” said Litman. Stone, an artist, never expected to be an activist, but, quoting a friend, said, “Activism is the price you pay for living on this planet.” THE CITY OF VICTORIA ESTIMATES there are about 150,000 trees within its borders, with 33,000 of them on City boulevards or in parks. There’s an inventory of these on the Open Data Portal of the City’s website (I found it, but only with considerable help). In the City’s 2013 Urban Forest Management Plan, it’s noted that the City’s “tree canopy cover ranges from a low of 3.4 percent in the Downtown area to a high of almost 34 percent in Rockland.” Overall, Victoria’s canopy was, in 2008, estimated to be 17.6 percent. Navdeep Sidhu, assistant director of Parks and Recreation, told me the City is currently in the process of planning the next canopy coverage study. The Urban Forest Management Plan is, at 98 pages, a wealth of information and supports the activists’ arguments for more care being taken with Victoria’s urban forest. For instance, it notes that “The Garry oak and associated ecosystems that shape Victoria’s landscape are home to more plant species than any other land-based ecosystem in coastal British Columbia. Many of these species occur nowhere else in Canada. At this time [2013], because so much habitat has been lost or degraded, approximately 100 species of plants, mammals, reptiles, birds, butterflies, and other insects are listed as ‘at risk’ in these ecosystems. Many of these species at risk are found in Victoria—from tiny poverty clover in Barnard Park to the iconic great blue herons that nest in Beacon Hill Park.” The authors also note, “Garry oak ecosystems have been dramatically affected by land development. It is estimated that in 1800, Garry oak ecosystems flourished on 1,460 hectares of the City. By 1997 that had dwindled to 21 hectares of fragmented and degraded habitat.” And certainly less now, nearly 20 years and two real estate booms later. Management of the urban forest in the City of Victoria falls under the Parks and Recreation Department, in particular the 20 employees of the Arboriculture and Natural Areas section. They have their hands full with the maintenance of those 33,000 trees in parks and on streets and boulevards. They prune 600 of them a year, plant 900 native plants, and give five years of extra care to young saplings they’ve planted. They maintain the tree inventory, remove invasive species, respond to over 1200 calls for service of public trees each year, and review “development-related and other various permit applications for impacts to the Urban Forest.” I had hoped to speak to an employee in the City’s arboriculture section, but was instead urged to send a questionnaire to Parks and Communications managers. The full Q&A is on Focus’ website. Parsing some of the answers provided as to why trees are “removed,” the spokespeople cited increased stress, including from drought, that increases “impacts of disease and insect pests.” Trees’ defense mechanisms fail and pests are attracted to weakened trees. They also noted that, “A large number of street trees planted in the 1950s and 1960s are now nearing the end of their lifecycle. They are decreasing in vigour and not as adaptable to changes in the environment around them. The last several years of summer drought conditions have put additional stress on many trees.” Additional stress on these trees comes from damage by humans: “wounds to trees from mowers and weed eaters are detrimental to tree health and can be infection points for fungal wood decay pathogens. Nailing, screwing, bolting or attaching things to trees can cause damage to the tissues within the tree and the bark.” Soil compaction is also an issue for trees lining streets where people park or store materials in the root zone of a tree. The Parks people assured me that “we always look for ways to retain the tree as long as possible…Generally, when dieback of the crown is above 40 to 50 percent, removal is recommended.” In the first 9 months of 2018, the City had removed 327 trees and planted 265 trees on City property. Since then, they have removed at least a further 29 trees in Stadacona Park, adjacent to the 1400 block of Pandora Avenue, and 12 more in Fernwood. Increased numbers of tree removals in the last year or two are likely due to the City’s strategy to manage high-risk trees. As the Parks people explained: “The City of Victoria completed an inventory of trees on City property in early 2014 and recorded information including species, size, condition, geographic location and maintenance needs. Trees that were identified through this process to have significant safety hazards or that were at risk of imminent failure were removed immediately. The inventory identified trees that require further assessment to determine risks, which may result in pruning, removal or other hazard mitigation techniques. Staff further assess these high-risk trees to determine if they can be retained, or if they must be removed. In 2019, 392 trees will require assessment.” Judging from recent years, these assessments will lead to a good number of trees being removed. Pressures on the urban forest on private property (which comprises about 75 percent of Victoria’s urban forest) are more difficult to assess. I was told Parks had an average of 111 requests annually for removal of “protected” trees over the last couple of years. About half of the requests are denied—so about 55 protected trees were removed each year by private property owners. That doesn’t sound like much, and seems at odds with the perceptions of many tree watchers. But one just needs to read the City of Victoria’s Tree Preservation Bylaw to understand what’s not being counted. This is a bylaw that most agree needs revision. It currently puts restrictions on the type and size of trees that can be cut down on private property. Certain species—Garry oak, arbutus, Pacific dogwood, Pacific yew—if over 50 centimetres in height, are “protected.” Western red cedar, big-leaf maple, and Douglas fir must be over 60 centimetres in diameter at chest height to be protected. Any tree on private property with a trunk over 80 centimetres in diameter is also protected under the bylaw and cannot be removed or altered without a permit. A lot of big trees slip through these size requirements and can often be removed without any permission, fees or civic involvement. Contrast this to Vancouver, where trees over 20 centimetres in diameter are protected. A permit involves getting one of the City’s arborists to assess the situation. If they agree there is a problem warranting removal (e.g. it is severely diseased or poses a danger), you’ll pay $30 for a removal permit for each tree up to three trees, then only $5 per tree after that. If you do not obtain a permit and remove a protected tree, penalties for first-time offenders are $250-$1500. Updating this bylaw is an objective of the City’s new Strategic Draft Plan. In my mind the biggest gap in the tree bylaw is that in practice it fails to protect any tree when their removal is deemed “necessary for the purpose of constructing a building, an addition to a building, or construction of an accessory building” or a driveway, off-street parking, utilities service connections, or “the installation, repair, or maintenance of public works.” A permit may be needed, but man-made things seem to have priority over saving trees. Brooke Stark, manager of Parks Operations told me that in 2018, “there were approximately 126 trees lost to development and capital projects.” The department will track these categories separately in 2019, but could not get more specific for 2018 data. Not included in that tally are the 29 trees approved for removal at the somewhat ironically named Bellewood Park, a 2-acre, 83-unit development at 1201 Fort Street. These include some big Garry oaks and two giant sequoias (still standing as Focus went to press). Last April, MacGregor wrote to council about these magnificent sequoias, which can live for over 2,000 years: “[They] have historic importance, planted from seed in the 1860s by the Attorney General of the Colony of BC, E.G. Alston.” In that letter, MacGregor noted some of the 22 trees being retained by the developer might not survive blasting and construction. She quoted the arborist’s report on the excavation for underground parking: “If it is found that large structural roots must be pruned…it may be necessary to remove additional trees to eliminate any risk associated with them.” The developer has agreed to plant 83 new trees, but most of those will be varieties of small trees. The ironically-named Bellewood Park development will see the removal of 29 trees, including Garry oaks and the two giant sequoias in the background ANOTHER FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY TREES MATTER NETWORK, Grace Golightly, has been writing thoughtful and detailed letters to City Hall about trees, often copying them to Focus, for a couple of years. She has taken particular issue with the tree bylaw’s modest requirements of planting two replacement trees and paying a token $30 fee when removal of a protected tree occurs. Among other reasons, she has pointed out that mature trees provide far more carbon sequestration than younger trees. The research backs her up. A 2015 study reported in Nature looked at 403 tree species and showed that “for most species mass growth rate increases continuously with tree size. Thus, large, old trees do not act simply as senescent carbon reservoirs but actively fix large amounts of carbon compared to smaller trees; at the extreme, a single big tree can add the same amount of carbon to the forest within a year as is contained in an entire mid-sized tree.” Golightly herself has cited Ohio State University research suggesting it would take a total of 269 two-inch-diameter trees to replace the carbon sequestration provided by a single 36-inch-diameter deciduous tree. Forests in general are one of the world’s largest banks for all of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere. As much as 45 percent of the carbon stored on land is tied up in forests according to NASA scientists. With the City of Victoria’s professed concern about climate change, maintaining a robust and growing urban forest, in large measure made up of mature trees, should be a priority. A first step would be analyzing how much total carbon sequestration is being provided by our forest. Oak Bay, for instance, has calculated that its trees sequester 3,270 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and store 97,490 tonnes of carbon. On public lands, the Victoria’s Parks department told me they plan to plant only 250 to 300 new trees per year. This does not even replace on a one-to-one basis recent removals of mature trees from City-owned land. And on private land, only certain tree removals need to be accompanied with replanting of, at most, two saplings. At such unambitious replanting rates it’s clear that Victoria’s leafy canopy and the important services it provides, will fade away. Golightly’s and others’ advocacy for a much more vigorous replanting schedule seems warranted. She wrote, “When I mentioned the need to plant a lot more trees to one of the Parks administrators, he said there was nowhere to plant them. However, we must plant them, and a little thought can generate lots of ideas.” She mentions offering trees at a discount to residents (as Nanaimo, Saanich and Vancouver do). She points out that most schoolyards and many other institutions could also accommodate more trees. She suggests planting more trees along the Galloping Goose—and in many parks, particularly if volunteers cleared out invasive species. The other day I noticed barren parcels of land around the Johnson Street Bridge begging for trees to at least replace the dozen or so removed years ago for the new bridge. Golightly goes further: “I think it’s essential that the City purchase well-treed properties that come up for sale. They can either be covenanted and re-sold, or made into mini-parks where more trees could be planted to increase the carbon storage and benefits to the neighbourhood.” On that score, the South Jubilee Neighborhood Association has urged the City to consider purchasing a large corner lot at Leigh and Bank Streets which has never been developed and boasts 26 mature Garry oaks. “We are also keenly interested in planting more trees on the property to turn it into a true urban forest or ‘clean air’ garden,” writes board member Matt Dell. The City is being urged to purchase this private land at Leigh and Bank to preserve the Garry oaks Along such lines, the City’s own Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) suggests the City establish a capital fund for the acquisition and restoration of lands for new urban forest. Of course, it is not as simple as just plunking more trees in the ground. The Parks department told me: “All restrictions of the site, physical space, soil volumes, overhead or underground services, soil quality, site exposure, expected available water, levels of wind and sun, pest resistance and aesthetics play a part in tree selection. Selecting a tree variety which is going to be successful long term is critical.” Increasing densification and more extreme, climate-change-induced weather patterns will just make maintaining a healthy urban forest more challenging—and more important. The City’s six-year-old UFMP predicted all this: “Finding space for significant amounts of urban forest within these high-density [neighbourhoods] is a challenge. Other types of ‘greening’ such as green roofs and green walls, as well as smaller trees and shrubs in planters will make important contributions. However, this will not achieve the same level of benefits that large, mature trees provide. Urban planners, developers and the design community should be encouraged to find ways to incorporate large-canopy trees into these settings, such as has been done in Portland.” (In 2014, Portland had a 29.9 percent canopy cover and was aiming at 33 percent.) The UFMP, written before the recent real estate boom, continues: “The single greatest impact to the urban forest comes from the incremental loss of greenspace associated with development and densification. In addition to removal of large mature trees, there is a loss of soils and space that could be used for future generations of trees. It takes a significant amount of space to grow a large tree. As land uses change and neighbourhoods are redeveloped, it is critical to ensure that adequate greenspace is being reallocated on-site or elsewhere to sustain the future urban forest. Failure to do so will result in a forest that is diminished in size, more fragmented, less productive and more vulnerable to change—the antithesis of sustainability.” [italics added] An earlier densifying boom in the 1970s gave rise to numerous three- and four-storey apartment buildings that had big setbacks allowing for wide lawns, bushes and large trees. The more recent boom, in an effort to maximize return on high-priced land, has created buildings right up against sidewalks. The Parks people put it this way: “Most original homes in Victoria were not built to the zoning setbacks or built to maximize allowable Floor Space Ratio. New construction tends to maximize both.” If the powers-that-be had been thinking faster, or just more holistically, they’d have figured out a way, during the recent boom, to plan developments in tandem with urban forest expansion. This is not as unlikely as it might sound. Other cities have done it or have at least planned how to accomplish it. Duncan is aiming at a 40 percent canopy and knows that means planting 3,729 trees by 2020; Seattle is aiming at 30 percent coverage within a 30-year period; Vancouver’s 2020 plan sets a target of 40 percent canopy and calls for 150,000 new trees by 2020. Victoria’s, recall, was 17.6 percent in 2008. Other cities are establishing volunteer programs to assist in maintaining urban forest health. Melbourne has a very successful program involving over 400 volunteers doing meaningful work for the urban forest—mapping, creating inventories of landscape features, and eco-assessments. Closer to home, Saanich’s “Pulling Together” program involves volunteers in ecological restoration in 40 of its parks. Community members can participate in invasive removal and replanting activities on a casual drop-in basis or as “lead stewards” and “restoration assistants.” There is no similar program in the City of Victoria. IN THE RAPIDLY GROWING FIELD OF URBAN FORESTRY, trees are viewed as essential “green infrastructure” that deliver environmental, health and economic services. These include those mentioned in relation to carbon storage, pollution reduction, stormwater management, the provision of wind-buffering and shading, and public health. The director of UBC’s Bachelor of Urban Forestry program, Professor Cecil Konijnendijk, recently told CBC that too many cities are letting development drive city-wide growth. “Stronger planning frameworks that actually guide developments [are necessary]; cities should be stronger in really making sure development is done in the right way…” Konijnendijk has agreed to speak in Victoria in the new year—watch the Community Trees Matter website. Urban foresters advocate for good strong policy and enforcement, more funding to support city arborists, and education so citizens understand the wide array of services provided by a healthy urban forest. They know that a mobilized citizenry is essential to encourage the political will to get the right policies in place. Fortunately, Victoria has both a mobilized citizenry and that 6-year-old Urban Forest Master Plan in place. Most of its 26 recommendations have not been implemented, the very first of which advocates creating “a position for an Urban Forest Planner/Coordinator, who is empowered to work with other departments to achieve the City’s urban forest goals and to report annually to council.” That seems a good place to start—along with direction from council to make an increased tree canopy a reality. Leslie Campbell loves walking the well-treed streets of Rockland—just by viewing trees our stress levels drop. Note City Hall’s January sessions for citizen input on the draft budget and strategic plan at Victoria City Hall.
  3. Leslie Campbell

    Letters to the editor

    Future proofing Victoria Ross Crockford’s eloquent post-mortem on Victoria’s civic election (“Great politics vs. good governance,” November/December 2018) notes that the new council will need to move quickly to address “a mess of detailed, practical issues.” Heading the list is affordable housing, the Crystal Pool, and fendering on the Johnson Street Bridge. If these issues are successfully “juggled,” as he puts it, and City Hall is seen to be well run and financially stable, our mayor and council “will bring Victorians together.” I wonder if this is true—and I wonder because none of these issues genuinely matter to the future of our city. We are living at the edge of an inflection point in human history, a time of significant change, a turning point. The smoke from forest fires that enveloped our city—and so many others—this summer was a visceral reminder that climate change is real, it is happening now, and we are not immune to its effects. Similarly, radically advanced robotics and artificial intelligence are re-shaping the employment landscape worldwide, but they are doing more than that; they are changing the ways in which humans interact with each other and the world around us. As a bona fide technology hub (albeit not so much in robotics or AI), this could be an opportunity for Victoria to showcase how it is using (or will use) AI to facilitate smart urban development, for example, but neither our mayor nor any member of the new council campaigned on a future-focused strategy of how this might be done. The issues that command our immediate attention, such as affordable housing, or the fate of the Crystal Pool, are real enough and yet they also seem parochial; too small to define the conversation about the path Victoria is travelling through time. Each of them is most properly cast as an objective that, if approached intelligently, would support the realization of something greater: a city that is resilient in the face of change; a city that excels at pattern recognition and the seizing of opportunity; a city that future proofs itself and its citizens. What exactly does future proofing mean? It is the conscious, intentional decision to do certain things—and crucially, not to do others—that insulates the city against economic, environmental and social change that might otherwise be de-stabilizing. This is especially important for island communities. We are vulnerable to many of the global forces that are playing out in distant places—though in our complacency we delude ourselves into thinking that we are sustainable. Our energy and our food, for example, come to us from the Mainland, and are susceptible to supply chain shocks. Imagine the chaos if either our energy or our food supply were interrupted for even a few days? Beyond these obvious supply chains, there is another, less well-known attitudinal chain, that is equally important. What is the collective attitude about Victoria today? What do we think about when we think of the future? Do we even know what the future means to us anymore, or have we forgotten? Without memory we have nothing. The decisions local governments make about infrastructure—be it buildings, bridges, roads, or sewer and water mains—leave an indelible physical imprint on the city that endures for a century or more. Equally, those decisions shape the emotional experience of this place, the feeling sense that each of us has as we walk around Downtown. There is a good deal of development taking place here, but what is the narrative or story that it tells? What does it say about the atmosphere of Victoria at this moment in its history? What does it say about what makes Victoria special? Victoria needs to incubate a conversation about the future, about what this city could mean to us (and others) a generation from now. What are the forces laying in the shadows that we need to confront? What is our vision, distinct from any other city, that conveys a sense of uniqueness and palpable civic pride? Better still, how might Victoria recover the sense of community that is ultimately the most potent competitive advantage any city can have and use it to inspire each of us to reach for the stars rather than muddle through. Now if we could make progress on that kind of agenda, then I think we’d truly bring Victorians together. Rob Abbott Orcapocalypse I remember looking forward to Stephen Hume’s conscious and eloquent Vancouver Sun articles. What an honour to have his gift at Focus. “Orcapocalypse” stirringly articulates the planet’s dire condition. Four films together present a simple vision and strategy to end the eco-catastrophic era. Watch Living Downstream, What the Health, Cowspiracy, and Stink (the latter three on Netflix). About that nagging climate change dilemma: UK’s Paisley University Social Sciences Emeritus Professor John Foster insists that neoliberal policies, including those enshrined in European Union treaties and directives, preclude the action necessary to combat climate change effectively. “Such an urgent, radical transformation is not possible without large-scale public ownership, investment and planning, which means a revolutionary advance to socialism,” Mr Foster argued. Doesn’t Mr Foster know socialism “always fails”? Larry Wartels As Stephen Hume (November/December 2018) alluded to, and David Broadland (November/December 2017) noted, “Rivers running into Puget Sound have perennially low returns of Chinook salmon—currently estimated at just 10 percent of their historic levels—even though many of them are enhanced with hatcheries. Last year, scientific research connected this decline to secondary sewage treatment plants discharging partially-treated effluent into Puget Sound.” Jay Inslee, Washington State’s governor, wants $1.1 billion to pay for a state effort to help recover the critically endangered Southern Resident population of killer whales. With 100+ secondary sewage treatment plants on Puget Sound in critical need of upgrading, will any of that $1.1 billion be used in this regard? Or is even the mention of the pollution in Puget Sound somehow to be avoided, not only by Washington State, but by our government in Victoria? I expect such a task would gobble up that billion dollars and then some—which means that any effort envisioned by the governor is at best tinkering around the edges. Richard Weatherill Landslide Lisa’s record The structure of the “City Family” and the conduct of its business should come as a surprise to no one (Focus, November/December 2018), and probably doesn’t. A bit more surprising, though, is the suggestion of one correspondent that “Reconciliation is of supreme importance to all of us.” Arguably what should be of far more importance to all of us is the issue at hand that can’t be even mentioned in public: race politics. A long and ugly practice, with harrowing results, particularly when politicians get aboard, as we now see in Victoria. Brian Nimeroski Everything we do counts As ever more dire climate disruption is reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it was encouraging to read Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic’s last two “finding balance” articles about that very subject and what we as individuals can and must do. Her list includes a multitude of individual actions that can add up to a fair-sized difference, with little sacrifice and a growing sense of what really matters. I thank her for contributing to the crucial conversations we all need to have amongst ourselves and our political representatives. My experience over the last 35 years has taught me that there are far more gains than losses in choosing greener options, especially with those hot-point issues that seem so daunting, like “giving up my car” or “paying more at the gas pump.” Here’s how a few little mishaps inadvertently led me to ride my bike to work and live happily ever after. In the 1980s, as a busy single parent living in Lethbridge, Alberta, I drove the 1.75 kms to work every day without thinking. Everyone did. Then one winter morning my car wouldn’t start, so I had to catch the bus two blocks away. It was surprisingly pleasant not having to warm up my vehicle, or worry about icy intersections, and I had a blissful few minutes to sit and relax. So I rode the bus after that, saving money on gas, and enjoying my brisk walk to the bus and back. Then one day I missed the bus. After a quick calculation of time and possible shortcuts, I decided I would get to work sooner by walking than by waiting for the next bus. So off I trotted, arriving surprisingly refreshed and only a few minutes late. Why not walk home too? That became my new routine every day after that, saving more money, sleeping better, feeling more vibrant and alert, and enjoying the sights, sounds, smells and greetings of my community. Even in the wind and rain. Even in snowy and minus-30-degree weather. When I got to work, co-workers would say incredulously, “You walked to work this morning?” and I would reply, equally amazed, “You drove?” An added bonus occurred one morning in 2002, when my path crossed that of a fine man walking to his workplace. We continued to walk together until he retired and my office moved too far for me to reasonably walk. So that is when and how I came to ride my bike to work, and for errands, and for the sheer joy of it. To this day, Sidewalk Man and I routinely walk or ride our bikes instead of driving. If we can’t walk or ride, we take the bus (where texting is both safe and legal, by the way). Only when no other options work do we get in the car and drive. Now our home is Victoria where there is so much to see and do, but even our “adventures” are mostly within a 30-kilometre range. We do not feel deprived. We are both well over 65, never were and still aren’t what you would call athletic, but our main form of day-to-day transportation is active and much preferred to the hassle of driving and parking. Plus, a wide choice of tasty calories provides our fossil-fuel-free fuel. I was lucky to be led by chance to a finer way of living. The climate imperative before us all requires bold and urgent action to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Failure to do so is not a viable option. Neither is continuing to delay. For inspiration, hope, and bright possibility, I encourage you to check out online Canada Post’s proposal “Delivering Community Power,” just one of many leaps in thinking waiting for the political green light to move us forward into a sustainable economy and a better future. Discover for yourself that saving life on this planet holds many gifts, and is not to be feared. Let’s do it together. There’s no time to lose. Gail Meston Transportation in Victoria’s urban core It should be obvious to residents of Victoria that there are too many cars on the busy streets Downtown. Rush hour now can be any time between 7 am and 6 pm depending on the day. This situation will only worsen as densification of this area continues. Thousands of living units will have been added in the period from 2014 to 2024. Not all of the residents of these rental units and condominiums will have cars, but most of them will. Add to these the increasing population of the Greater Victoria area, as well as off-island visitors, and you have a big traffic problem. The problem will exist whether we have bike lanes or not. Therefore we have to look to the future when deciding on the best way to move people within the urban core (Inner Harbour to Quadra, Belleville to Chatham). Using cars for this purpose is not efficient or appropriate; they are a convenient means of transportation but they have a high social cost. For example, they occupy much more space than a pedestrian or cyclist and, except for electric vehicles, they pollute. This is most obvious on the busiest streets at the busiest times of the day. As well, the more cars there are on the streets, the longer it takes to get anywhere, the more exhaust fumes spew into the air. Where to park and how much valuable core land should be devoted to parking cars are other important issues. Public transportation vehicles such as buses are less convenient than cars but have a lower social cost. Large buses are particularly appropriate for destinations such as the University of Victoria, the Western Communities, and the Peninsula. The Douglas corridor is making it easier for these buses to move people into and out of the core. However they are large, noisy and spew exhaust (until they become battery operated). They are not appropriate for providing convenient transportation within the urban core. The core could more appropriately be served by smaller public transit vehicles, “people movers” (PMs). The PMs that I envision are rubber-tired, electric mini-buses that have a maximum capacity of 20 or 30 passengers. They would run frequently, depending on the anticipated load, at different times of the day. They would have more loading zones than are available now for buses. They would be accessible by the elderly and disabled. The fare for these vehicles would be low, perhaps a dollar for a day pass that would be good for these vehicles only. A monthly pass would also be available at a slightly lower daily price. Anybody with a pass for the large buses would not need a special one for the PMs. This system would encourage people to be a bus user all over the city, transferring to a PM when in the core area. These passes would be marketed to tourists as well. With one of these passes the vehicle would essentially be a “hop on, hop off.” It would be easy to get quickly to all parts of the core. They would be convenient for shoppers, tourists, business people, employees of Downtown businesses, and government employees. A district that would particularly benefit from these PMs, rather than big buses or cars, is James Bay. It is possible to walk to the core from James Bay, but it is not always convenient. One route that would be important would originate from Ogden Point. This would be popular with cruise ship passengers, multifamily residences, and future development at Ogden Point. In large cities such as Montreal and Toronto, this kind of service is accomplished to a large extent by underground trains. In Edmonton, LRT trains run underground in the core, above ground outside of it; in Calgary they run above ground. We used to have electric streetcars (trams) running on surface rails in our core, and to outlying residential areas. These were efficient people movers at the time, but they were replaced by large gas buses. Residents of Greater Victoria have to realize that there is no future for the car as the primary means of transportation within our core. We have to accept this as a fact for our city and pressure the civic, provincial and federal governments to support initiatives to replace cars with efficient, convenient, non-polluting alternatives such as the People Movers that I have suggested. It isn’t the only alternative but I think it is a good one. Errol Miller
  4. Leslie Campbell


    BRAINSTORM Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Explore and interact with exhibition facilitators who present opportunities for inquiry. You’re invited to have a conversation over tea, then interact with hands-on activities, take in the changing pieces of artwork from the collection and community, experience a historical timeline of changes from the Gallery’s past and help imagine the kinds of initiatives and programs that can take shape in our new building. Opportunities take place on Jan.5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information visit aggv.ca
  5. Leslie Campbell


    January 29 - February 24 Bears, by Matthew MacKenzie Belfry Theatre A multi-disciplinary journey through our wondrous and contested environment. Pursued by the RCMP, Floyd has to get out of town fast. Heading through the Rockies for the Pacific, through the forests and along the rivers, he experiences changes – inside and out. Floyd’s journey is assisted by the wildlife he encounters – especially the bears. Bears won two Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards in Edmonton for Outstanding Musical Score and Outstanding Choreography. Bears won the 2018 Dora Awards (Toronto) for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production. “I’d never seen a piece that speaks to issues facing Canada’s Indigenous peoples as effectively and beautifully as Bears does.” —JERRY SADDLEBACK, CREE ELDER AND DEAN OF CULTURAL STUDIES AT MASKWACÎS COLLEGE WHY I CHOSE THIS PLAY I want to showcase the work of one of our country’s outstanding Indigenous theatre companies. This story is so theatrically bold with its chorus of female dancers. —Michael Shamata AN ALBERTA ABORIGINAL PERFORMING ARTS AND PUNCTUATE! THEATRE (EDMONTON) PRODUCTION Bears is generously supported by
  6. Leslie Campbell

     horizontal lines

    horizontal lines A workshop of a brand new piece created and performed by Carolyn Moon, horizontal lines is a story about siblings, relationships that are formative but uncelebrated. Based on Moon’s relationship with her older brother, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, and the nature of forgiveness. Audience advisories: drug addiction, eating disorders, prison Dramaturgical support from Kathleen Greenfield. horizontal lines is part of Intrepid Theatre’s YOU Show. Intrepid Theatre Club, 2-1609 Blanshard Ave, https://intrepidtheatre.com
  7. Leslie Campbell


    OUTstages, a decidedly queer theatre festival, returns for the 5th year with brand new dates, February 1 – 9. This week-long festival is packed with theatre, music, drag, burlesque, storytelling, some returning festival favourites and a European smash-hit! Tickets and passes can be purchased online, or in-person at Ticket Rocket, 1050 Meares Street (Monday to Friday, 10am – 5pm). See https://intrepidtheatre.com for details.
  8. Leslie Campbell

    QALEIDOSCOPE: Queer Film

    QALEIDOSCOPE: Queer Film On Tour by Queer City Cinemas Brought to us by Saskatchewan's Queer City Cinema tour, this two-night event will feature films from Canadian QTBIPOC* that explore, question, and play with identity to propose and investigate diverse ways of looking at sexuality, gender, and race. Both evenings of screenings will present well-textured assemblage of images, characters, ideas, and realities that collide in fantastical, personal, and playful ways to produce an ever-changing, multi-faceted queer media art viewing experience. Admission will be by donation, sliding scale. Screenings start at 8pm, Friday, January 18 and Saturday, January 19. At Open Space, 510 Fort St.Featuring films by:Kristin Li, Vivek Shraya, Jess MacCormack, Milena Salazar & Joella Cabalu, Mée Rose & Wy Joung Kou, Blair Fukumura, Kent Monkman, Clark Nikolai, Wrik Mead, Shelley Niro, David Geiss. *Queer and trans Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour www.openspace.ca
  9. Leslie Campbell

    Quasar quatuor

    Quasar quatuor: Territoires sonores February 8 at 7:30pm, Quasar quatuor will present Territoires sonores at Open Space. Since the group's founding in 1994, the Quasar saxophone quartet (Marie-Chantal Leclair, Mathieu Leclair, André Leroux, Jean-Marc Bouchard) has been dedicated to the creation and promotion of contemporary music. A sonic portrait of Canadian new music,Territoires sonores is made up of 8 works commissioned for 8 Canadian composers on the occasion of Canada's 150th anniversary. Admission will be free / by donation. Open Space is at 510 Fort Street, Victoria www.openspace.ca
  10. Leslie Campbell

    Chantal Gibson: How She Read

    January 13 - February 26 Chantal Gibson: How She Read Open Space presents Chantal Gibson's visual and text art exhibition, How She Read: Confronting the Romance of Empire.Gibson is a Vancouver-based artist and educator whose work plunges into the fraught territory of school texts and history books with a sewing needle and re-works historical Canadian texts with black thread in order to revise our ideas of history, nationhood, and how we read. Through altered book sculptures that ensnare the texts with braids and thread, redacted texts, and reprints of old children’s readers, Gibson’s work asks us to consider the voices, stories, and bodies that have been erased or excluded from historical narratives and proposes material ways in which we can resist those historical erasures. Chantal Gibson teaches writing and visual communication in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University. As a visual artist with interests in race, gender, and history, her altered texts and installations challenge the cultural production and consumption of knowledge. At their core, her works explore power, exploiting colonial mechanisms of oppression—myths, tropes, types, and metaphors—persistent across readings, writings, and representations of Blackness and Otherness in the Canadian cultural imagination. Most recently, Gibson’s multimedia installation Souvenir was featured in Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art at the ROM in Toronto and MBAM in Montreal. Her debut book of poetry, How She Read, will be published by Caitlin Press in January 2019. Alongside the Open Space exhibition, Chantal's work TOME will be on display in the University of Victoria's Mearns Centre for Learning - McPherson Library from Jan 13 - Feb 26.How She Read will feature a week-long artist residency from February 14-21, during which Chantal will participate in numerous events in the gallery and off-site, as well as hold open gallery hours for the public to engage with her directly.Join us for the opening reception Sunday, January 13 from 3-5pm. Open Space is at 510 Fort Street, Victoria www.openspace.ca
  11. Leslie Campbell

    Local Poets

    AN EVENING WITH LOCAL POETS We have a rare opportunity for you to join four local poets, including Victoria's Poet Laureate, Yvonne Blomer, for a night of Ekphrastic Poetry reading. Yvonne, along with poets John Barton, Eve Joseph and Arleen Pare, will respond to various visual works of art from paintings to sculptures, including artists Emily Carr and Robert Bateman. This is the perfect cultural and creative outing for a January evening! Date: January 17th, 6-8 p.m. at The Robert Bateman Centre Members $5 and non-members $10. Register online atbatemancentre.org/events
  12. Leslie Campbell

    Dance Days

    Dance Victoria’s Dance Days Now in its 10th year, Dance Days is a unique, “experiential” event. Over ten days each January, the public is invited to participate in free classes at studios all over the city; watch demonstrations of dance, such as flamenco, belly dance or ballet; see new professional work in development by Victoria and Vancouver artists; participate in discussions and roundtables; and meet and mingle with artists and dance presenters. Rough Cuts January 25 + 26, 2019. Informal showings performed under work lights and without costume or makeup. Join a group of visiting dance presenters from across the country and participate in a meaningful discussion with the artists. Sølvi Edvardsen’s MAN • McPherson Playhouse January 25, 2019. *One performance only* In MAN, Adhana uses only a small sitting stool as his partner to embody the struggles of a bicultural identity, while considering who is he? Where does he come from? At the heart of the work is Edvardsen’s exploration of how we put limits on ourselves based on our life experiences. MAN is at the crossroads of two cultures. It acts a dialogue between Norwegian choreographer Sølvi Edvardsen and South Asian dancer Sudesh Adhana, and questions identity and what it means to be human. At the heart of the work is her exploration of how we put limits on ourselves - draw lines and boundaries - based on our experiences, especially if you have a bi-cultural identity. See www.dancevictoria.com for further events of Dance Days -- including a “choreography walk”; a roundtable discussion about the state of contemporary dance in the Nordic countries and India; and more.
  13. Leslie Campbell

    The Lost Fleet

    January 12 – March 31, 2019 David Suzuki will Open New Exhibit at the Maritime Museum of BC The Maritime Museum of BC is pleased to announce that it will be hosting the exhibit titled The Lost Fleet January to March, 2019. This exhibit will be on loan from the Vancouver Maritime Museum. The exhibit will feature artwork from local Japanese-Canadian artist, Marlene Howell. The Museum will host a launch event for this exhibit, featuring three speakers: Dr. Jordan Stanger Ross, Michael Abe, and Dr. David Suzuki. On December 7, 1941 the world was shocked when Japan bombed Pearl Harbour, launching the United States into the war. This action also resulted in the confiscation of nearly 1,200 Japanese-Canadian owned fishing boats by Canadian officials on the British Columbia coast, which were eventually sold off to canneries and other non-Japanese fishermen. The Lost Fleet looks at the world of the Japanese-Canadian fishermen in BC before the bombing of Pearl Harbour and how deep-seated racism played a major role in the seizure, and sale, of Japanese-Canadian property and the internment of an entire people. Explore the legacy of these tragic events by considering the lessons that have been learned and how Canadian society has changed because of this experience. Visitors will be encouraged to consider whether the present political and economic climate is very different today; current legislation, policies and public sentiment about immigration invites the question of whether this type of injustice could be carried out against other groups. About Marlene Howell marlenehowellgallery.com Marlene was born in Toronto and moved to Vancouver Island in 1996. Since then she has lived in and has exhibited her artwork in Khartoum, Sudan, New York City, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia before settling in Victoria, BC. Her artistic development is a result of the influential instructors at the Art Student League of New York, and artists in British Columbia. Visual experiences are her inspiration, so she generally works from photographs, using various techniques, and experimenting with medium choices such as graphite, charcoal/watercolour/pastels, acrylic and Kroma Crackle. Marlene has organized and exhibited in two spring Art Shows held at the Royal Colwood Golf Club in support of Soroptimist International of Greater Victoria in the spring of 2017 and 2018. “An invitation to be part of The Lost Fleet Exhibition in 2019 was enthusiastically and gratefully accepted. Working on a series of confiscated Japanese-Canadian fishing boats provided me the opportunity to go back in time, through research of their history during the early years of WWII. Not having experienced this part of history first hand, conjured emotions that I was unprepared for during my work. With this in mind, my goal was to captivate the viewers through their imagination.” Said Marlene about her work on her upcoming show at the Maritime Museum of BC. “Under New Ownership” by Marlene Howell Lost Fleet Exhibit Details Dates: January 12 – March 31, 2019 Location: 634 Humboldt Street, Victoria BC Hours of Operation: 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Sunday With featured Artist-in-Residence, Marlene Howell See Marlene at the museum Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10AM-2PM, January 17-March 28, 2019
  14. Leslie Campbell

    Ballet West

    Ballet West: Celebrates International Choreographers Royal Theatre, February 1 + 2, 2019 at 7:30 pm Ballet West tours the world presenting the very best in American classical ballet. Their mixed three-show program coming to the Royal Theatre on February 1 and 2, 2019 features classical ballet excerpts and new works by three eminent choreographers. Artistic Director Adam Sklute has reimagined the two famous classical duets Black Swan and White Swan from Swan Lake to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s score. Also on the program is Sweet and Bitter by Spain’s Africa Guzmán and Fox on the Doorstep recounting a personal experience that choreographer Nicolo Fonte had in Aspen. The community is invited to a free, pre-show chat at 6:45 pm in the West (Blanshard Street) Lobby of the Royal Theatre prior to both performances. Ballet West Sweet and Bitter Africa Guzmán White Swan | Black Swan Adam Sklute with original choreography by Mark Goldweber & Pamela Robinson-Harris Fox on the Doorstep Nicolo Fonte Friday + Saturday, February 1 + 2 @ 7:30 pm Royal Theatre Tickets: $29-$99 ~ Ask about Pay Your Age (ages 12 – 29) & Night Moves (ages 30-45) tickets. Proof of ID required at the Box Office Box Office: 250-386-6121 • Online: DanceVictoria.com More About the Three Shows in Victoria
  15. Leslie Campbell

    Early Days of the Provincial Museum

    The Victoria Historical Society presents Flora, Fauna, and Fannin: The Early Days of the Provincial Museum with Patricia Roy on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at James Bay New Horizons, 234 Menzies Street, Victoria V8V 2G7. Doors open at 7:15 pm for refreshments and conversation. A short business meeting at 7:45 pm will be followed immediately by the speaker, Patricia Roy. Admission is free for members, $5 for guests. See websitewww.victoriahistoricalsociety.bc.ca. John Fannin -- adventurer, hunting guide, and taxidermist -- established the natural history collection of the provincial museum. As adventurer and guide he learned about the province’s flora and fauna and became acquainted with major American natural historians. With such knowledge and skills, he laid a firm foundation for today’s Royal British Columbia Museum. Patricia Roy, a past-president of the Victoria Historical Society, recently completed a history of the Royal British Columbia Museum and Archives.