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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bygone Days of By-Law Enforcement Are Back

Victoria and the CRD is heavily legislated. You would think you were living in a totalitarian regime given the number of laws on the books. You can't use a tanning bed if you can't vote. You can't idle your car. You have to shovel your sidewalk. You can't smoke in a doorway (though you can shoot up in a doorway-- the lesson there: shoot up crack, don't smoke it.). We don't feel the boot of The Man, because they bylaws are complaint driven. If you don't name who you are and drive the complaint nothing happens. This explains why the lunch time drive-thru at Wendy's is a hazy mass of motorists who don't get cited for the Clean Air by-law.

This from the City of Victoria:
Complaints can go to their email address: bylawenforecement@victoria.ca

To avoid delays in processing your complaint, and to ensure a Bylaw Officer can contact you, please ensure that you have provided your name, address, and phone number. Please note that the City of Victoria does not accept anonymous complaints.

The Bylaw & Licensing Services Division is responsible for the enforcement and administration of municipal bylaws. The Division consists of eight staff: six officers who address most bylaws except parking/animal control, and two Bylaw Clerks who provide administrative support. Our mandate is to achieve compliance with municipal bylaws; through education, mediation and as necessary through enforcement and prosecution.

When a written complaint is received, it is investigated and appropriate action is taken. Bylaw Officers are generally able to achieve compliance without enforcement, however not everyone complies voluntarily. When this happens, there are formal legal requirements that must be followed and, unfortunately, they can take time. You are welcome to contact the Bylaw & Licensing Services Division to request an update, however privacy is a priority, and disclosure may be regulated.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ICBC - They aren't insuring my part of BC

Victoria BC reacts very poorly in the face of a little snow. People from the mayor on down neglects to shovel their sidewalk. The municipalities clear the roads late, do it only once or not at all-- with over a dozen fiefdoms, it's a sampler plate of incompetence. The snow removal efforts are underfunded and somnambulistic. When people pay a steep premium to live in this pretty little town, they love the infrequency of snow. They forget that when it hits, we fall apart. A tiny amount of snow becomes a crisis. Levels of public service come across as confused and ill-prepared. Yesterday, the police told people to stay off of the roads, but large employers like UVic and the Provincial government kept it business as usual. BC Transit said the buses were running (with the exception of many routes). Schools stayed open and I think that's largely because of the school's unofficial primary role: state run day care. We have kids trudging to school on icy sidewalks-- dodging meatheads who think they can drive their SUVs. Cars littered the roads around the region. Some abandoned. Some disabled.
The snow that hit Vancouver Island this February will probably deliver over a million dollars in ICBC claims. That amount will be dwarfed by the administrative bloat inside of ICBC; and the loss of work and loss of use generated when a car goes off the road. This is the same ICBC that pressed that some of us put away our cellphones (eg. we can't use our phones or car stereos; but police can still order pizzas while the sirens are flashing and they're ducking cars at high speed). ICBC litters our side streets with "SLOW DOWN" posters to the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. On weekends, police officers log overtime on the ICBC dime peeking into cars looking for drunk drivers. ICBC funds lots of things beyond car repairs after we get a ding or a dent. They cite it as prevention.
Why isn't ICBC stepping up to clear the roads? They could have crews at the ready to move into communities as snow hits. Clear roads would knock down the accident rates and transportation delays. Less accidents = less claims, less injuries and less loss of life. ICBC has the money-- they take it from us and keep a large war chest. Their co-opting of our police forces to prevent drunk driving shows that they do practice prevention. Can't they limit the likelihood of accidents when it snows by paying to keep the roads that our insured vehicles drive down? While this does nothing to keep the clerical staff in ICBC occupied, wouldn't fewer accidents save ICBC some money?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bill C-32 plea from Access Copyright

The Writers' Union of Canada, under the leadership of its Chair Alan Cumyn, has put together a video (link not provided) featuring five writers about the perils of Bill C-32, Canada's controversial new copyright bill. Access Copyright encourages all of our creators, publishers and member organizations to spread the word about this video.I figure that Access Copyright gets most of the issues surrounding intellectual property wrong, so there's no need to spread their pap.

The video features two-time Governor General's Award winner Nino Ricci, and builds awareness on how Bill C-32 and the education exceptions will hurt Canadian writers' ability to make a living.

"Without strong copyright protections, professional writing in this country will be irreparably harmed," says novelist Alan Cumyn and author of the video. "Thousands of authors and artists across the country have been writing their MPs, protesting parts of this bill. This video puts faces and voices to our concerns."

Legislative Committee Members

· Gordon Brown, Chair, brown.g@parl.gc.ca

· Charlie Angus angus.c@parl.gc.ca

· Pablo Rodriguez rodrigues.p@parl.gc.ca

· Mike Lake lake.m@parl.gc.ca

· Dan McTeague mcteague.d@parl.gc.ca

· Serge Cardin, cardin.s@parl.gc.ca

· Ed Faste, faste@parl.gc.ca

· Sylvie Boucher, boucher.s@parl.gc.ca

· Dean Del Mastro delmastro.d@parl.gc.ca

· Peter Braid, braid.p@parl.gc.ca

· Carole LavallĂ©e lavallee.c@parl.gc.ca

· Marc Garneau garneau.m@parl.gc.ca

Friday, February 11, 2011

Exit Through the Gift Shop

I've just finished watching, Exit Through the Gift Shop
I will have to write more on it, after I have a chance to digest this documentary.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Do Victorians Live In a Pressure Cooker?

Do we live in a pressure cooker? As we look at houses for sale, we see the squished little properties where every last square foot has been built out-- where they build toilets into coat closets and calling it a bathroom. We're literally getting squeezed. Victoria's population of 78,000+ is small by comparison to a lot of places. But look at it from a viewpoint of population density and check out where Victoria ranks among BC cities. This explains why such a "tiny" place can have such road congestion and cramped housing.

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CityPopulationArea (sq. km)Cooker Factor (population / area)

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Vancouver 578,041114.715,039.15

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Victoria (City not region)78,05719.683,966.31

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North Vancouver 45,16511.853,811.39

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New Westminster 58,54915.413,799.42

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White Rock 18,7555.163,634.69

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Duncan 4,9862.052,432.20

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Langley 23,60610.222,309.78

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Burnaby 202,79989.122,275.57

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Port Coquitlam 52,68728.851,826.24

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Richmond 174,461128.761,354.93

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Surrey 394,976317.191,245.23

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Port Moody 27,51225.621,073.85

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Coquitlam 114,565121.69941.45

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Nanaimo 78,69289.3881.21

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Port Alberni 17,54819.92880.92

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Colwood 14,68717.76826.97

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Courtenay 21,94026.68822.34

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Armstrong 4,2415.24809.35

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Nelson 9,25811.72789.93

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Fort St. John 17,40222.74765.26

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Penticton 31,90942.02759.38

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Parksville 10,99314.6752.95

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Cranbrook 18,26725.14726.61

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Enderby 2,8284.23668.56

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Langford 22,45939.55567.86

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Kelowna 106,707211.69504.07

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Dawson Creek 10,99422.32492.56

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Powell River 12,95729.77435.24

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Grand Forks 4,03610.44386.59

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Vernon 35,94494.2381.57

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Castlegar 7,25919.8366.62

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Abbotsford 123,864359.36344.68

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Williams Lake 10,74433.11324.49

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Merritt 6,99824.94280.59

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Terrace 11,32041.52272.64

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Kamloops 80,376297.3270.35

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Chilliwack 69,217260.19266.02

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Quesnel 9,32635.34263.89

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Fernie 4,21716.05262.74

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Greenwood 6252.52248.02

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Prince Rupert 12,81554.9233.42

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Revelstoke 7,23031.9226.65

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Prince George 70,981316224.62

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Trail 7,23734.78208.08

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Campbell River 29,572143.48206.11

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Pitt Meadows 15,62385.38182.98

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Kimberley 6,13958.31105.28

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Salmon Arm 16,012155.36103.06

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Rossland 3,27857.9756.55

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Kitimat 8,987242.6337.04

Friday, February 04, 2011

It's Time To Put Your Money Where Your Meter Is

Victoria is in the throes of pretending to attempt to include rail to the Johnson St. Bridge replacement. They let the bridge fall into disrepair. They pushed through a referendum that excluded the rail and deployed a lot of dubious tricks to get the votes they needed.
When local provincial representatives were urged to come out in support of rail, they failed. Maurine Karagianis, the NDP MLA for Esquimalt-Royal Roads said:
"We know that a rail crossing on the Johnson Street Bridge is important... I believe that government needs to be seen as not only understanding our growing transportation challenges, but ensuring funding is in place to satisfy our current and future transportation needs. The corridor is deteriorating; the time is at hand to make a commitment to this region and without senior levels of government at the table, the opportunity may be lost... I encourage you to continue lobbying the Minister of Transportation (Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca) on this important matter."
Translation: blame the Liberals. I agree that the Liberals have not done their part to make this bridge viable and it likely is payback to a region that elects NDP representatives. But more importantly: the NDP aren't going to break ranks their municipal counterpart, Dean Fortin.
When Dean Fortin urged the public to decide on which design would be used for the bridge replacement, he then went on to select the second most popular design, resting on the idea that it was in the council's purview. When he kyboshes the rail across the bridge, he will likely slink back to the referendum question and remind the public that the design they supported didn't include a rail line. I'll credit him with knowing what's legal. I wish he could appreciate what's right. When that happens, we need to look on this left-leaning environmentally sensitive City Council and see them for what they are: hypocrites. They are against getting people out of their cars and into light rail. They are against preservation and heritage. They are against generating foot traffic in a vibrant and enjoyable downtown.
The problem with this bridge is that it's used by people throughout the region, but I'm going to be stuck paying the bill. This should be a provincial project as their jurisdiction is an umbrella over the the Capital Region's bickering Balkans.
If the other municipalities are not going to pay and the City of Victoria is stuck footing the bill, it's time they took off the gloves.
The City needs to look at the services it offers the public. They need to jack up the prices substantially and offer a deep discount to City of Victoria residents.
  • Parking meters should all be replaced with the kiosk and numbering system. Then, they should triple the parking rates. Yes: triple. Then offer pre-paid cards (they already do). People who produce drivers licenses that show they live inside of the city boundaries will get the cards for a deep discount. If you're a tourist, you can pay $10/hour to park. If you're from Oak Bay or Colwood: $10/hour-- sorry, you're still a tourist. Sure Colwood people can put their friends up to buy them discounted cards at risk of fraud charges. This would fill the city coffers with much needed revenue.
  • Make Crystal Pool and other public services behave in a similar way: if you're from the City of Victoria swimming is $3 but $10 if you've dropped in from Esquimalt.
If the other municipalities aren't going to contribute and work together, it's time they had their noses rubbed in it. This smattering of little jurisdictions need to be amalgamated and put their petty differences aside. If they don't they should be prepared to pay the privilege of living in their little tweed castles and using the amenities of the City of Victoria.


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