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Ross Crockford

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  1. Image: A house in Rockland being demolished to make way for a larger house. Every year, dozens of old buildings end up in the landfill. We need to get smarter about how we replace them. Go to story...
  2. Every year, dozens of old buildings end up in the landfill. We need to get smarter about how we replace them. IN MARCH OF 2018, a call came into the Focus offices, asking us to hurry down to Despard Avenue, a leafy, sidewalk-free street in Rockland. A crew was at a beautiful old house there, the caller said, and getting ready to tear it down. The house was a 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom bungalow, built in 1933. Many of its period details, like its mullioned windows, had already been removed, but the house was still distinctive, topped by a series of gently curved roofs, li
  3. Posted August 14, 2020 Image: Victoria City Council is short one councillor after Laurel Collins left for federal politics. Who will replace her? Contest appears to be Andrews vs. Hardman, as other prominent candidates drop out. Go to story
  4. Contest appears to be Andrew vs. Hardman, as other prominent candidates bow out. THE CITY OF VICTORIA’S by-election for a seat on Council, likely to occur this autumn, will look quite different from how it appeared in March, before it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Two prominent candidates in the spring by-election campaign won’t be running this fall. Rachael Montgomery, a registered nurse who had suspended her campaign to rejoin her colleagues at Island Health, told FOCUS that she plans to continue working in health care. “At this point, I’m not making any plans to run
  5. January 2020 To satisfy the Millennials’ need for housing, Victoria’s mayor aims to permit fourplexes “as of right”on single-family lots. DOWNTOWN HAD SEEN MANY BIG PROJECTS over the past decade, but nothing like this. On December 3, Starlight Developments revealed its plans for a block and a half of Harris Green — replacing the existing Market on Yates, London Drugs and other businesses with 100,000 square feet of new retail space, topped by five towers up to 25 storeys tall and containing some 1,500 rental apartments. The unveiling took place at a land-use meeting run b
  6. November 2019 Residents take the City of Victoria to court for overriding its Official Community Plan. (UPDATE: On November 22, the BC Supreme Court rendered its decision in this case. See the note at the end of this story.) “I’M NOT AN ACTIVIST KIND OF GUY,” John Wells says. By day, he develops instrumentation for the high-tech sector. But this autumn, he put his name on a court action that could change how developments get approved by the City of Victoria, and potentially every other municipality in British Columbia. “I’ve never done anything like this before.” In
  7. January 2019 Downtown residents question the $34-million deal for a new fire hall. CRITICS HAVE ISSUED THEIR LISTS of the best TV shows of the past year. For high stakes and dramatic twists, though, it has been hard to beat the live stream of recent City of Victoria council meetings. “We have one of the most difficult decisions we will probably have all term in front of us today,” mayor Lisa Helps told councillors on November 15. For nearly three hours they debated sites for a new Crystal Pool, before voting 7-2 to keep it in the southwest corner of Central Park, the loca
  8. May 2018 The debate over density at 1201 Fort is sure to repeat itself across the City of Victoria. VICTORIANS CROWDED INTO CITY HALL on April 12. They stood in hallways, craning to hear the speakers in the council chambers, or downstairs, watching a live stream of the meeting on a TV in the foyer. The agenda package was 2,311 pages long — nearly 2,000 about a proposed development for 1201 Fort Street, the site of the former Victoria Truth Centre. “This has been an emotional journey for everyone,” said Mike Miller, president of Abstract Developments. In the two years sinc
  9. July 2017 Victoria’s council still needs to learn lessons for its next big project. THIS HAS BEEN A MIRACULOUS YEAR for the City of Victoria. Lowest unemployment in Canada. Cranes on every block Downtown. Record levels of tourism. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that our civic government has engaged in a bit of magical thinking. This is what occurred to me when I read a headline in the June 23 Times Colonist: “Victoria might not need to borrow for Crystal Pool.” The day before, City parks director Tom Soulliere delivered an update to Victoria councillors on the
  10. May 2017 How many big infrastructure projects can the City of Victoria tackle at once? CRYSTAL POOL IS A CHALLENGING PLACE to navigate if you’re disabled. You need a key to turn on a power lift to climb the eight steps from the lobby to the men’s locker room. You need another lift on a different staircase to get to the top floor’s tiny weight room, too crowded with equipment to fit a wheelchair. Anyone who’s visually impaired could smack their head on the concrete bleachers overhanging the pool deck. And if you want to get wet, you need someone to hand-winch you down into the
  11. May 6, 2020 Photo: The public notice that Langford wouldn't hold public hearings on major development proposals. Langford waives public hearings, a practice threatening to become common across the region. Go to story
  12. Posted May 2019 Photo: Teen anti-plastic activists Charlotte Brady and Anastasia Castro Is recycling enough, or should we ban some plastics completely? Go to story
  13. November 2019 The Johnson Street Bridge undergoes one safety review after another. THE JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE is an attractive structure, especially in the evening. Resembling a giant bird’s skull, awash in the glow of blue floodlights, it’s easily the most distinctive landmark on the harbour. Lately, however, the bridge has been drawing the wrong kind of attention. At 11:40 pm on Saturday, October 19, a man fell over a railing near the southwest corner of the bridge and hit the shore, ending up in hospital with serious injuries. “Incidents like this serve as a good opport
  14. November 2019 Residents take the City of Victoria to court for overriding its Official Community Plan. (UPDATE: On November 22, the BC Supreme Court rendered its decision in this case. See the note at the end of this story.) “I’M NOT AN ACTIVIST KIND OF GUY,” John Wells says. By day, he develops instrumentation for the high-tech sector. But this autumn, he put his name on a court action that could change how developments get approved by the City of Victoria, and potentially every other municipality in British Columbia. “I’ve never done anything like this before.” In
  15. May 2019 Is recycling enough, or should we ban some plastics completely? YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOOK HARD, but you do have to look. To the dog walkers and strolling families, Willows Beach appears pristine. Start hunting for garbage, though, and you’ll find lots of it in a few minutes. Drink-box straws, candy wrappers, globs of styrofoam, cling wrap, bits of broken toys, zip ties — all plastic, tangled in the wood and seaweed left at high tide. “For many people, plastic is just a matter of convenience,” Anastasia Castro tells me, gathering bits from the sand. “They don’t see t
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