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Leslie Campbell

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Focus Magazine Nov/Dec 2016

Sept/Oct 2016.2

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Focus Magazine July/August 2016

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Focus Magazine March-April 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic

Navigating through pandemonium

Informed Comment








Development and architecture



Controversial developments







Everything posted by Leslie Campbell

  1. September 2018 Victoria City council will soon be faced with a controversial heritage conversion and demolition project in the heart of Old Town. MOST OF US PAY AT LEAST LIP SERVICE to the value of the City of Victoria’s Downtown heritage buildings. We enjoy how they conjure the past, make Victoria unique, and attract tourism dollars. It’s up for debate, however, whether current powers-that-be—City council, staff and citizen committees—are up to the task of guarding Old Town’s heritage buildings as the continuing development boom rocks their foundations. I set out to exam
  2. July 2018 The fuzzy thinking of Canada’s mainstream political establishment is driving some good citizens to despair. DAVID DODGE, a former Bank of Canada governor, recently gave a speech in Edmonton in which he predicted “there are some people that are going to die in protesting construction” of the Trans Mountain pipeline. As reported in the Edmonton Journal, he was warning his audience to be prepared, that the deaths would be a test of will for the Canadian government and its people, but certainly not a reason to stop the pipeline. “It’s going to take some fortitude” to fac
  3. May 2018 ONE DAY, Focus may tell you about a housing proposal that everyone in the neighbourhood is happy with, where the public process surrounding it is hailed as transparent, inclusive, effective and painless for all involved. But that day isn’t here yet. When it was announced last summer that Oak Bay United Church wanted to build some affordable housing on its property at Granite Street and Mitchell—just one block over from Oak Bay Village—it sounded refreshingly bold and in tune with the times. Affordable housing is the region’s number-one need. Oak Bay
  4. March 2018 Is the CRD failing to steward its only regional park in the core of the city? ALONG WITH THE DAFFODILS, new lawn signs condemning “overdevelopment” are sprouting up in abundance in Fairfield and Oak Bay neighbourhoods. Developers seem to be finding lots that have been ignored for decades or tearing down older homes to put up something grander. Churches are selling out to condo developers (Rockland’s Truth Centre), or developing their own “excess” property for affordable rental housing (Oak Bay United). While the condo and apartment projects add density and some
  5. July 2017 Affordable housing—for low- and moderate-income people working Downtown—should be a City of Victoria priority. VICTORIA'S CURRENT HOUSING SCENE is now recognized in official circles as in “severe crisis”—both in terms of affordability and availability. The Capital Region Analysis & Data Book shows 50 percent of households can only afford 13.7 percent of the region’s homes. The City of Victoria has responded to the crisis in numerous ways. It has removed the necessity of rezoning for garden suites. It has given preliminary approval to a moratorium on granting
  6. March 5, 2020 A growing budget, a lack of transparency, and a boundary-challenged City Council all merit voters’ attention. IN THIS EDITION OF FOCUS, Ross Crockford interviews candidates running in the April 4 City of Victoria by-election. Who voters choose will provide the current council with some feedback on its direction thus far, so it’s a good time to reflect on recent governance issues and talk to candidates about them. One area of concern is the growth of the City budget and residents’ tax burden. This is central, especially in the face of a climate crisis. Keepin
  7. January 5, 2020 The biodiversity and climate crises are a reflection of our culture’s emphasis on economic growth. WHILE I WON'T BE ALIVE when the worst effects of the climate and biodiversity crises play out, children born today will be; and I think we owe it to them to be clear-eyed and fierce in our efforts to leave them a healthy planet. This edition of Focus, our entry into a pivotal new year and decade, provides thought-provoking reporting and analysis about the challenges of growth in the region, and what we are and are not doing to maintain the natural world on which w
  8. May 2017 A DEEP VEIN OF MAGICAL THINKING here in BC is the idea that political parties can accept vast sums of money from industry without being influenced by it. Or, in reverse, that corporations and unions can donate millions with no expectation of access or payback. While it applies to many different industries, donations from the coal, oil and gas industries seem especially worrisome. The climate has already changed in dangerous ways; if we are to have any success at maintaining a liveable planet, we must leave most known fossil fuel reserves in the ground (68-85 percent, accor
  9. March 2017 America is slamming its door on refugees. Will Canada open its wider? MY ROUTE THROUGH THIS STORY is circuitous. It sprang from my growing unease about the refugee situation as news arrived almost daily through the early months of 2017—news about the US Administration’s plans of mass deportations, a de facto Muslim ban, and stories of desperate people risking frostbite or worse to escape the US and claim asylum in Canada. Along my meandering path, I interviewed a law professor, immigration workers, private sponsors, and a refugee and his daughter. But any meandering
  10. January 2017 The Capital Region’s population is expected to grow to 442,000 in the next 20 years. Where are we going to put everyone? ON NOVEMBER 23, 2016 a majority of the Capital Regional District directors agreed that it was time to accept the long-time-coming new Regional Growth Strategy. The Province requires regional districts to have one of these planning guides, but it also insists that it be unanimously endorsed by each of the affected municipalities and electoral districts involved. So it’s not done yet, and in fact indications are that some municip
  11. September 2016 The gap between incomes and housing costs has grown so wide that bold action is long overdue. WHEN I MOVED HERE from Winnipeg 30 years ago, I quickly found myself a modest one-bedroom apartment on Quebec Street in James Bay. A three-story walk-up, my pad featured hardwood floors and a southern exposure. It had a tiny galley kitchen, a balcony, and a parking space. I loved it; it was the perfect nest from which to fly about my new city and start my life over. It cost me $315/month. Having settled the housing facet of my life, I moved on to finding a job, do
  12. July 2016 BC’s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie makes the case for more government intervention on behalf of seniors. I MEET WITH BC SENIORS ADVOCATE Isobel Mackenzie weighed down by personal experience of aging parents and relations, and complaints about “the system” from friends and fed-up professionals in the health and homecare fields. Much of my baggage points to at least some systemic dysfunction and an apparent disconnect between what is claimed about the government’s respect for seniors and what’s happening on the ground. After reading through most of the eight r
  13. March 2016 Mayor Helps’ forceful push to a billion-dollar sewage facility at Rock Bay takes some twists and turns—and ain’t done yet. LATELY, A NUMBER OF PEOPLE, from seniors to sewage activists, have wondered aloud if Mayor Lisa Helps is moving too fast. Her penchant for “getting things done” is one she readily admits to, from planting potatoes in February to “stampeding” her fellow CRD colleagues towards a decision on a sewage treatment plan. I met with Mayor Helps on Sunday, February 21, at City Hall. I had requested an hour for an interview but was given 30 minutes wi
  14. January 2016 The encampment at the law courts grounds provides evidence of our collective failure to meet the need for housing. THE HOMELESS CAMP at the Provincial law courts grounds might be getting most of the attention these days, but the whole latter half of 2015 experienced gusts of action on the homeless front, starting with Mayor Helps’ and Councillor Ben Isitt’s proposal last summer to devote a corner of Topaz Park to a regulated tenting area for the homeless—something angrily rejected by local residents. Then the mayor hosted a shelter workshop in September with
  15. June 2015 Do articulated tug barges, each carrying millions of gallons of hydrocarbon fuels, pose a threat to our coast? INGMAR LEE HAS A MISSION BORN OF SERIOUS WORRY. The long-time environmental activist has been trying to raise awareness about the “articulated tug barges” that transport various fossil fuels through the Inside Passage to Alaska. From his home on Denny Island, near Bella Bella, Lee maintains a facebook page (10,000 Ton Tanker) where he posts regularly. It started a few years ago, he says, when he began noticing and then tracking (via www.marinetraffi
  16. March 2015 Living with wildlife can be a community-building project. Oak Bay chose a different path. READING OAK BAY’S REQUEST FRO PROPOSAL for the contractor that will kill up to 25 deer, one gets a glimpse of the difficulties envisioned. Besides the required covered truck, steel-toed boots, smart phone, and data plan, the RFP warns applicants in bold: “Experience dealing with angry, aggressive or hostile people an asset.” The successful contractor, who can earn a maximum of $600/deer or $15,000, must set and bait each trap in the evenings through March 15. Before first
  17. Posted April 26, 2020 Photo: A pre-COVID-19 class at Iyengar Yoga Centre After significant losses of revenue, Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria transitions to virtual yoga classes until the studio can re-open. Go to story
  18. A pre-COVID-19 class at Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria THE NON-PROFIT Iyengar Centre of Victoria has been a remarkable success story. Since its inception in 1976, it has grown to offer over 40 classes weekly to 450 people. For the last 20 years, it has done so from beautiful, large studios on upper Fort Street. Based on the teachings of Yoga Master B.K.S Iyengar, the Centre takes great pride in its rigorously trained teachers and offering one of the most comprehensive programs of Iyengar Yoga in North America. Of course, that has all changed, at least for a while. On March 16
  19. Posted April 4, 2020 Photo: The last performance in Dance Victoria's season was cancelled. Dance Victoria’s Stephen White explains how COVID-19-induced problems for small businesses impact arts organizations. Go to story
  20. Posted July 5, 2019 Photo: Floatplanes on Victoria Harbour Airport Victoria boasts one of the busiest water airports in the world. Some think it’s too busy. Go to story
  21. Update: Royal Athletic Park was removed as part of the solution on April 8, in favour of finding more indoor spaces.
  22. This is the first in a series of interviews with Victoria businesses and non-profits about how they are weathering the pandemic. DESPITE STEPHEN WHITE’S WELL-ROUNDED, long-time experience working in arts organizations, he’s never experienced anything quite like the shake-up caused by COVID-19. For 20 years, White has headed up Dance Victoria, a dynamic non-profit which brings world-renowned dance companies to Victoria. The organization also supports the development of dance through commissioning new works, puts on a 10-day dance festival offering free dance classes, and re
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    Environment and Family Christ Church Cathedral is hosting two new events – family walks and a watershed seminar –reminding people that caring for the environment is an important part of the Christian faith. Watershed Discipleship March 21 from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm Christ Church Cathedral is hosting a day-long foundational seminar – on the day of the spring equinox – as part of the Lenten series on stewarding the environment. Presented by the Rev. Matt Humphrey, deacon at the Parish of Central Saanich and a veteran teacher at Vancouver’s A Rocha environmental community, th
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    Miles Lowry: Breathing Spaces - Solo Show March 12 - April 12, 2020 Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Massey Sales Gallery, Spencer Mansion You are invited to the Opening Reception: Thursday, March 12 @ 6pm-8:30pm Breathing Spaces is a solo exhibition of works made during my travels to Ireland. This current series reflects a fresh attention to landscape on the edge of abstraction. The paintings manifest through complex marks and layers of translucent atmospheres. In some works the brush-marks suggest the meditative yet painstaking deta
  25. Leslie Campbell


    Earthfest: Creative Climate Solutions Showcase April 18-19 This April marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Creatively United for the Planet is celebrating with a blossoming new relationship that will include an all-ages festival featuring world-class speakers and performers, as well as exhibits, workshops, interactive art displays, electric vehicles, food trucks, tours, Indigenous wisdom and more. Thanks to a new partnership with the Gail O'Riordan Climate and the Arts Legacy Series, Creatively United will be sharing in the launch of this series. The Legacy Series aims to e
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