April 2012 letters

Opportunity lost

I just returned to Victoria from a year travelling through southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and was shocked to find the Johnson Street Bridge missing. Or at least part of it. So I picked up my favourite local magazine to find out what had happened and there it was—on the back cover!

Where did they send it? The moon? Mars? They should have sent it to the intersection of the Trans Canada and McKenzie Avenue. They didn’t? Another lost opportunity.

Whereever it is now, the last flight of the Blue Bridge must have been a real blast!

Thanks Denton Pendergast—for the laugh.

Allan Charlesworth


Smoke and mirrors at City Hall

For those who have not watched a sheep-herding demonstration, I commend to you a Victoria City Council committee of the hopeless I snoozed through recently.

In March this flock met to hear from its highly-paid ring knockers about why the new Blue Bridge is going to cost 20 percent more for now and probably double before it is never built. For hours these so-called professionals droned on and the dutiful flock did not even ask the traditional “How high?” when staff told them to jump. The issue was why the price had gone up so dramatically over what voters had been promised in a referendum. A full report was presented two days prior to the meeting, but since our councillors are not bright enough to read it, the gang of engineers read it to them, and, oh what a song and dance it was.

Why, they have to pay more for insurance on construction. There would be more millions for archaeological costs. Who would have thunk you would have to get insurance on a project? And what a surprise to discover First Nations had lived there. I wonder if they lived anywhere else in the province?

The presentation was mind-boggling. One consultant gave a Power Point show of bridge designs and noted they were in 3D. One of several thousand examples given of bridges that may or may not be built was in Ireland with a prison in the background where “Irish independents” were kept, so this showed what a bridge could do. Was this a sales pitch for a new bridge or an explanation of why costs had gone through the roof? One thing made clear was that all these bridges were “iconic.” Then there was the startling revelation that the seabed was irregular. Apparently, it started high and went down. Guess no previous bridge builder here had discovered that.

All this was in the report, but none of the sheep said “Get on with it. We know your smoke and mirrors: Why has the bill gone up?”

Great blather was made of the fact the whole project had been peer reviewed. Who were these peers—the Smurfs?

No one suggested the staff overseeing this should be fired. No one suggested the engineers be fired and it was time to cut losses and re-evaluate with someone who knew what they were doing.

No, it was the old saw of “We have spent this much already, so we might as well carry on.”

So when a new bridge does open—maybe—in 12 years, the cost will be closer to $200 million. Who would have thought the province was so wise in keeping out of this farce?

Patrick Murphy


Re Privacy Commissioner slams provincial surveillance program

Police Chief Jamie Graham says he wants as much information as he can get his hands on, even if he doesn’t know what he’s going to do with it.

Besides the concerns the Privacy Commissioner has about the illegality of such intelligence gathering—which Rob Wipond so ably dug up from underneath all the bullshit news stories that covered it over—we should all be concerned about Graham’s tendency toward hoarding. It could cost us an arm and a leg.

Soon Graham will be asking for more money so he can hire more people to sort through and file the information he doesn’t know what to do with. Then he’ll be looking for off-site storage facilities for all the cardboard boxes he’s filling up with all our suspicious meanderings around the city.

My recently-departed mother had this tendency and let me tell you, it can become quite acute as the afflicted person ages.

The second-in-command down at VicPD needs to keep a sharp eye out for other stuff building up in Graham’s office. This is classic hoarding behaviour. Soon we’ll hear that Graham can’t find things in his cardboard-box-filled office and that his patrol car is crammed full of missing service pistols and stale doughnuts.

William Johnston


Re The parachute problem

Gene Miller is a frail pensioner? Geez, it seems like just yesterday he was pounding them back at the Churchill Hotel. Where did all the years go Gene?

Look, I think the Colliers guys are a tad too hopeful and Nicole Foss is a bit on the gloomy side. But the folks trying to build a more local economy where people living here invest in their neighbours? Good on them. Sign me up.

And Gene, when they get your last can of tuna—the bastards—come over to my place and I’ll show you how to grow potatoes and carrots.

Molly Henkel