By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, October 2012
Both mother and daughter survived the trip.
By the time this issue of Focus is out I’ll be counting down the last two weeks of our eldest daughter’s year-long adventure in Southeast Asia (The emphasis is mine: Who knew that time could be such a trickster, crawling through the endless hours of a loved one’s absence while flying through life’s usual rigours at the same time?)
By Katherine Palmer Gordon, September 2012
While fleets of log-laden ships depart our shores in growing numbers, scores of mills have closed resulting in massive job losses in BC. With so few mills left to send logs to, logging companies claim exports are the only way to stay in business. With the removal of the requirement that forest companies holding tenure on Crown forestland must mill that timber locally, there’s little or no impetus for them to invest in much-needed infrastructure that would provide an alternative to log exports. What will it take for BC to stop exporting so much home-grown opportunity to Asia?
"Advocates of raw-log exports in British Columbia claim log exports create employment. The truth of the matter,” the United Steelworkers Union declared bluntly in a May 2012 publicity campaign linking massive BC job losses to record volumes of log exports, “is that raw-log exports kill BC jobs.”
By Rob Wipond, September 2012
Safety pronouncements for the waterway relate strictly to fecal coliform—but what about industrial chemicals?
My sense of place spins like I’m in a celebratory party version of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Wow, I’m splashing in a Bermuda bay amidst California beach boys and Hawaiian dancing girls! No, my mind reminds me as I flutter about in warm ocean waters below a fervent August sun: This is downtown Victoria, British Columbia, and I just dove into the Gorge inlet.
It shouldn’t be so unexpected and disorienting. The Gorge’s shallow waters can take two months to turn over during dry summers, and so hover above a balmy 20 degrees celsius. But decades of unregulated pollution from industrial, sewage, boating, and urban sources transformed the once-popular swimming area into a liquid dump peppered with designated contaminated sites concentrated with lead, mercury, hydrocarbons, PCBs and more.
By Katherine Palmer Gordon, September 2012
The BC treaty process turns 20 this month. Will it make it to 21?
Sometimes it seems that for every step forward in the BC treaty process, we take two steps back,” says Chief Treaty Commissioner Sophie Pierre, the frustration loud and clear in her voice.
At its inception 20 years ago, there was optimism that the treaty process would be complete by now. It’s not even remotely close. Only two treaties have been completed, the Tsawwassen and Maa-nulth agreements.
By Leslie Campbell, September 2012
The news is both heartening—and surprising.
Watching a video produced by Enbridge the other day, my first reaction was: This is not a fair fight. Enbridge has a lot of money to throw at deceptive marketing and PR. And they also seem to have a pretty powerful member on their team: Our resource-extraction-obsessed prime minister, with his determination to limit environmental assessment periods and dig up and export Canada’s resources—quickly.
But in recent days there’s been news on a variety of fronts that makes me realize that, despite its significant resources, Enbridge may well lose this fight.
By Aaren Madden, September 2012
Tara Ehrcke on why education in general, and class size in particular, needs to become an election issue next spring.
It’s September, and another school year is about to begin. Usually this season puts people in mind of fresh starts and the exciting potential represented by all those sharpened pencils and crisp sheets of loose-leaf. For teachers in BC, though, it will mean a return to the same issues they have faced for years and fought for in tumultuous contract negotiations and job action through most of the last school year. The implementation of Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act, in June forced a temporary settlement, effective until June 2013, at which time the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation may or may not be a different government’s problem.
By Gene Miller, September 2012
SNC-Lavalin’s “zero tolerance” for unethical behaviour apparently doesn’t include a billion-dollar overstatement of the benefits of a proposed LRT for Victoria.
1. Lucky Sevens
The prospect of criminal prosecution is keeping the news alive that England’s Barclays Bank, with the likely cooperation of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, UBS, Canada’s Royal Bank and others, has for years been manipulating the London interbank offer rate (Libor) so as to sweep a few additional hundred million crumbs into its lap.
By Briony Penn, September 2012
Victoria becomes a hub for re-connecting children to nature.
When the CBC asked Washington DC resident Roger Wood to describe the impacts that the summer’s freak storms, heat waves and electrical outages were having on his family, his response was not one that earlier generations could ever have anticipated. He replied that his three-year-old son Jordan “was bored.” Wood recounted how Jordan, cut off from television, internet and video games was miserable, revived only by the Cooling Centre where the Boys and Girls Club had set up a generator-run, air-conditioned computer room.
By Amy Reiswig, September 2012
How Canada’s cruel polices around immigrant Chinese workers affected one family.
Since 1885, Canada, and particularly British Columbia, has been faced with the problem of Oriental immigration.” So declared the Encyclopaedia of Canada, originally published in the mid-1930s and now cited in Victoria writer May Q. Wong’s family memoir A Cowherd in Paradise (Brindle & Glass, April 2012). Wong is the Montreal-born daughter of Chinese immigrants who were victims of Canada’s discriminatory head tax and restrictive immigration policies. In a work of diligent research, Wong reveals those policies to be the real “problem of Oriental immigration,” one that often tore families apart.
By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, September 2012
We’re very good at convincing ourselves we’ve progressed, not so good at the actual progress.
During the glorious days of summer I shamelessly abandoned a chronically thirsty garden and most of my other duties to join the legions of Canadians plunked in front of televisions everywhere to watch the Olympic Games. Cheering is a sport in itself, and I happily gave my best to our hardworking athletes who did a great job and made us all proud.
By Aaren Madden, September 2012
It’s the latest word from the city-wide conversation on height, density and marrying new with old.
By April 30, 2014, Victoria’s skyline may have a new benchmark for what’s considered to be acceptable height. That’s the expected completion date for Promontory, a 21-storey condominium tower that will emerge from a hilltop in Vic West. At least until the Hudson tower is completed, Promontory, currently only a very large hole blasted into bedrock, will, at 66.3 metres, be the tallest building in a city where height can be a major contention.
Skylines speak volumes about a city. Given its height and position in the landscape—off to one side of Downtown’s main core where it will stand out—Promontory will make a strong contemporary statement, even as it attempts to balance that with material choices that reference the site’s history.
By Christine Clark, September 2012
The method—and community—behind the madness of printmaking.
When Victoria Edgarr and her long time partner Alain Costaz, with whom she creates collaborative prints under the pseudonym Chloé, came to Victoria in 1993, they almost immediately “took responsibility for Ground Zero Printmakers Society, [doing] everything from maintenance, design, provisions, keeping things moving, [and] generating the people to work in the studio.”
“We put a huge amount of energy into the community, the meetings…[and] the artists. Artists came through Ground Zero and later had shows or created portfolios, or came to work on six-month projects, and there were older people…working on learning to make art. There was lots and lots of community art and involvement,” she says.
By Gene Miller, July/August 2012
Once upon a time, Victoria offered the delicious opportunity to transgress at every turn.
Our bearded daily, The Coach and Flyswatter, contained an early May report that Oak Bay residents had just staged a rally to protest a contemporary house going up in the 1000-block of Monterey, architecturally scandalizing the staid manses up and down the block and, like a flailing mouse drowning in the punchbowl, nauseating the people living in them. You should never underestimate Oak Bay’s capacity for hysteria and self-parody.
From the headline alone, though, “Oak Bay home too modern for neighbours’ tastes,” I had brief but unrequited hopes that the object of all this protest would be a house that had dared to erect something truly outre and new-fangled like a wood picket fence along the front-yard property line instead of the traditional pike-topped stone wall festooned with the bloody heads of invading Normans.
By Amy Reiswig, July/August 2012
Gregory Marchand has been searching for the meaning of his near-death—and recovery—for 14 years. Now, the book.
Former Focus writer Gregory Marchand admits it’s a little strange being on the other side of the notebook, as the interviewee for his first book Open Heart Runner: searching for meaning after my heart stopped (Agio Publishing House, May 2012). But over the last 14 years, Marchand’s life—and near death—has come to rest quite comfortably on reversals.
Victorians might remember the story of the 40-year-old Marchand who collapsed in cardiac arrest at the finish line of an eight-kilometre road race on January 11, 1998, and lay without a pulse for 20 minutes. Fellow runners took shifts performing CPR, trying to give him every chance to survive when there seemed no hope he would. But he did. That was reversal number one: essentially coming back from the dead.
By Leslie Campbell, July/August 2012
Holiday wishes: buy local, keep it simple, practice gratitude.
Last year, David and I decided to publish just one edition for the summer—and now we don’t know how we managed to go for so many years without a real holiday.
So I am feeling particularly blessed as my July vacation nears, and want to say a big thank you to our readers and advertisers who have supported Focus over the years—it definitely takes a village to raise a magazine.
Our advertisers are virtually all small, locally-owned and operated businesses, often family-run and, in this new economic paradigm, they’ve had to be very adaptable and resourceful, very good to their customers, and just plain determined (or crazy, some would say). They have certainly embraced the buy-local movement as crucial to their own well-being and that of the community at large. And that, in part, explains why they buy ads in Focus.
By Linda Rogers, July/August 2012
Founding member Fran Thoburn represents Raging Grannies everywhere on the eve of their 25th anniversary.
“Where does the trickster gene come from?” I ask my subject. Eighty-years young, the woman who has had two knee replacements locks her bike in front of Green Cuisine before she answers, as we sit down for tea at a bench in Market Square.
Except for one aberrant moment when her mother voted for FDR and the New Deal, causing a paternal meltdown, Fran Thoburn reports that her Cleveland, Ohio, antecedents were upper middle-class Republicans, neither dust-eaters nor dust-disturbers.
“As a kid growing up on my grandmother’s 12 acres along Lake Erie, my happiest times were running across her huge lawns with my dogs, climbing trees, early morning raids on her raspberry bushes, playing hide and seek in her barn—all beyond the reach of my parents. Being free has always been important for me.”
By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, July/August 2012
Figuring out what to eat these days is getting darn complicated.
As the song goes, it’s summertime and the living is easy. Except at our house at dinner time, when everyone comes to the table with a different notion of what constitutes a healthy, tasty meal. There was a time I could select from a wide range of everyday entrée recipes, add a few veggies, a salad, a pot of rice or some presentation of potatoes, and everyone was happy. Or at least happy enough to eat what was offered, even if it wasn’t the expressed favourite. That distinction, for the kids, went to Friday night’s chicken nuggets and homemade oven fries. For their dad, a health professional with a lifelong passion for practising what he teaches, it was any fresh seafood surrounded by heaps of vegetables.
By Amanda Farrell Low, July/August 2012
Two Shakespearean comedies set in the 1920s and ’30s are staged in a Garry Oak meadow.
In some ways, it feels like the Victoria Shakespeare Society is coming full circle. Not only does this year’s Shakespeare in the Summer festival denote a decade of the current incarnation of the VSS putting on shows, but it also marks artistic director Michael Glover’s return to a role reminiscent of the one he took when first acting with the VSS in 2004. Back then, he played Don Adriano de Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost; this year, he’ll be performing as Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing.
“I got to play the fool and I get to play the fool again this year,” he quips. “It’s full circle for the fools.”
Posted by David Broadland, July 30, 2012
Three independent researchers are praising the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia (OIPC) for today's announcement that it is launching a review into the use of Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) in the province.
See OIPC release here: http://www.oipc.bc.ca/news/2012Releases/NR_ALPR-s25-Investigation.pdf
For the past year, the researchers have been using access to informationlaws to investigate BC police ALPR programs, and have shared their findings through articles, presentations, and blogs."The Commissioner's decision to investigate and issue a public report is an important validation of the concerns we've been raising," said freelance journalist Rob Wipond. "Authorities have frequently represented the ALPR program to the public as having been 'reviewed and approved' by Canada’s privacy commissioners, but that's not true."
By Rob Wipond, July/August 2012
150 years ago, on August 2, 1862, the townsite of Fort Victoria was incorporated as the City of Victoria. But while Victorians get ready to don their party hats, a new book by Tom Swanky presents evidence that the circumstances surrounding that birth are nothing to celebrate.