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By Leslie Campbell, September 2016

A community force for truth, beauty and justice

Diane CarrWHEN MY FRIEND Diane Carr was asked recently by a Hospice nurse if she had any hobbies, she asked right back, “Is hell-raising a hobby?” 

Diane was the best type of hell-raiser. She did it in the name of community, of righteousness, of art and friendship.

Unfortunately, Diane died on September 1st, at age 75, after a very short struggle with pancreatic cancer. 

By David Broadland, September 2016

Sewage "experts" make up new numbers to support old decision and hide real costs.

McLoughlin Point rendering(Sent as an open letter to CRD Directors)

Dear CRD Directors:

I write to you as a Victoria ratepayer, and as a journalist who has covered the sewage treatment issue since 2012. You are being asked to decide on September 14 what action to take on the Core Area Wastewater Treatment Project Board’s recommendation. I urge caution. In short, the Project Board’s report appears to be founded on fundamentally untrustworthy information and the implications for CRD ratepayers are unsettling.

Focus Readers, September 2016

Sewage and the politics of contamination

Another excellent article on the contamination of local politics, toxic promises, and confabulation in the name of serving the public interest.

It’s amazing how the fine print in an environmental legislation clause, private side trade deals between political leaders in BC and Washington state, and IOUs left over from the Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympic Games can be used to over-ride the right of elector consent in order to plunder the public purse and build a regional sewage treatment system that could cost $3 billion over time.

By David Broadland, September 2016

The city was once targeted by Sierra Legal Defence Fund for the level of "harmful" chemical contaminants in its wastewater. 12 years later, advanced source control has reduced those contaminants to a level lower than is allowed in Canada's drinking water.

Franc D'Ambrosio's vision for McLoughlin PointIN MID-AUGUST, Victoria architectural firm D’Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism released drawings of a design created by “an international team” for a wall around a sewage treatment plant on McLoughlin Point at the entrance to Victoria’s harbour. Writing in the past tense, as though the idea might have already been superceded by some better one, the firm stated:

By Leslie Campbell, September 2016

The gap between incomes and housing costs has grown so wide that bold action is long overdue.

In Victoria, lots of high-end housing has been constructedWHEN 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. 

By Briony Penn, September 2016

Tourism operators on the coast have been forced to watchdog forestry operations since government introduced self-monitoring.

Breanne QuesnelJOHNSTONE STRAIT, around Robson Bight, is one of the most scenic and busy sections of the Inside Passage for Vancouver Island tourism in general, and for whale watching in particular. Across the water from the Bight, in Boat Bay on West Cracroft Island, is Spirit of the West Adventures’ base camp. There owner Breanne Quesnel is juggling her busiest time of year for kayak guiding, looking after her two under-two-year-olds, and fielding my questions on an issue she has been watchdogging for the last five years.

By Judith Lavoie, September 2016

The salmon farming battle heats up with the Sea Shepherd’s voyage and eviction notices served by First Nations on fish farms.

Young salmon swim close to fish farm net pens. Photo by Tavish Campbell.AS THE FULL EXTENT of this summer’s catastrophic Fraser River sockeye salmon returns unfolded, sending shock waves through fishing, First Nations and scientific communities, the dismal numbers did not surprise independent biologist Alexandra Morton. For more than 25 years she has warned of the dangers of allowing fish farms along salmon migration routes.

By Alan Cassels, September 2016

The war on blood glucose is stupid, costly and bloody.

blood glucose meter graphicAT 66, Sandra B. in Vancouver was feeling great. She lived a healthy lifestyle and was exercising. After the death of her mother a few years ago, however, she found herself inexplicably losing weight. The weight loss became noticeable and her partner suggested she go to the doctor and “get that checked out.”

She went to a walk-in clinic where the doctor sent her for a battery of tests. She wasn’t, however, prepared to hear the results. 

“I got a call three days later and the doctor told me to come in and see her,” said Sandra. “So I went to the doctor and she looked at me and said: “You’re a diabetic.’”

By Lisa Cordasco, September 2016

BC growers worry they will be cut out of the equation as governments move towards legalization.

Craft Cannabis' Teresa TaylorPRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S promise to legalize marijuana could cripple an underground economy in British Columbia that experts at Simon Fraser University’s Sauder School of Business estimate is worth $2 to $5 billion dollars a year.

By Stanley Tromp, September 2016

The use of fentanyl has exploded and more Victorians have died from overdoses in the first half of 2016 than all of 2015.

Vic PD Staff Sergeant Conor KingIT'S A HOT AUGUST AFTERNOON at the office of Society of Living Illicit Drug Users (SOLID) on Caledonia Avenue, one of a dozen needle exchanges in Greater Victoria. As users come and go, the bustling office manager Jill Cater shows me around its four rooms, past racks of pamphlets, a small library, new overdose reports posted on the walls, and the needle lockup. 

By Katherine Palmer Gordon, September 2016

The Province’s failure on First Nations burial sites is leading to more Grace Islets and potentially another Gustafsen Lake.

BC Lands Minister Steve ThomsonON THE EVENING OF March 17, 2015, the Tseycum longhouse in Saanich was permeated with a sense of profound relief. The desecration of 18 ancestral graves on Grace Islet, a First Nations’ burial site in Saltspring Island’s Ganges Harbour, had finally been stopped. 

By Gene Miller, September 2016

What’s creating all that weird energy to our south?

Donald TrumpSO, YOU DON'T SPEND HALF your waking moments trying to work out the difference between “cloudy with sunny periods” and “sunny with cloudy periods?” Well, lucky, nuance-free you! If the sky falls, it’s all your fault, you… you hippie.

By Aaren Madden, September 2016

Lindsay Delaronde’s collaborative photography project uses images to defy the language and attitudes that marginalize indigenous women.

Nikke Goodwill, Nuu-chah-nulth, CreeLANGUAGE PLAYS A POWERFUL ROLE in the history of colonialism, racism and sexism. Even small words have major implications: there is a big difference between, say, the history of Vancouver Island and a history of Vancouver Island. The former leaves no room for alternative tellings or voices, while the latter acknowledges that as the whole point. That single mark carries with it a powerful paradigm shift. 

By Amy Reiswig, September 2016

Kathy Page’s new collection of short stories explores the transformative power of one-to-one encounters.

Kathy PageIN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE, our world has grown so big. Our care and concern is called on by people from around the planet, and we are mentally and emotionally stretched in endless different directions. Locally, too, as Focus showcases, there’s no shortage of capital “B” Big issues to be aware of and involved in. Being engaged is one of the great parts of living in a vibrant community like Victoria, but it’s sometimes easy to lose one’s boundaries and bearings amid the tide of so much outward pull. 

By Mollie Kaye, September 2016

An arts oasis faces challenges without CRD funding—so throws a dance party.

Groove KitchenART IS A FORM OF LIFE SUPPORT. That’s not hyperbole. There’s enough bona fide quantitative research—and plain old anecdotal evidence—supporting this truth. Every small and large municipality in this administratively pixellated region has collectively invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies and public meetings to craft Official Community Plans (OCPs). These OCPs clearly demonstrate that citizens prioritize public funding of the arts as a vital part of their neighbourhoods and lives—and that dollar for dollar, no investment of civic resources offers a better return than building an arts infrastructure.

By Monica Prendergast, September 2016

Hard-hitting Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical about mental health and family opens the season at Langham Court Theatre.

Next to NormalWHEN NEW SEASON announcements came out this spring, I was delighted to see that Langham Court Theatre had programmed the contemporary American musical Next to Normal as its 2016-2017 season opener. A rock musical, with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, it’s a somewhat surprising and risky choice for Langham. 

By Maleea Acker, September 2016

Metchosin uses citizens and volunteer scientists to create a low-cost but impressive inventory of species.

Moralea MilneFIVE YEARS AGO, a group of naturalists in the Capital Region realized there was no comprehensive list of species that inhabited the varied ecosystems in their rural district of Metchosin. Despite containing rare ecosystems like coastal bluffs, Garry oak meadows, and Douglas-fir forests, naturalists Kem Luther, along with Moralea Milne and Andy McKinnon (the latter two now serving on Metchosin’s council) decided to see who they might be sharing their community with (other than humans).

By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic September, 2016

Victoria and the Province are blind to the real costs of gambling.

Illustration by April CaverhillTHROUGH THE SUMMER, the wires crackled with the news that Victoria has become the latest winner in the BC Lottery Corporation’s coveted casino lottery. Yes, a casino is coming to town, and while we don’t yet know exactly where and when, there’s plenty of political keenness on the accompanying plum, an annual cheque for about $2 million for the bother of “hosting” the venture. Mayor Lisa Helps has called the coup a “win for everybody.”