Last FOCUS mag uploads now on Scribd

June 9, 2009 at 9:04 pm | In FOCUS_Magazine, victoria, writing | 6 Comments

I just uploaded my May and June FOCUS Magazine articles to – and wow, I guess I was so pissed off about the idiot letter in the May issue (which was in response to my April article, It’s the people, stupid) that I didn’t even notice until now how badly the magazine had botched my May article: fully twelve words went missing from the beginning of my text, so that it starts in the middle of a sentence and makes no sense at all.

Um, thanks for that…

I scribbled in the correction by hand before scanning the article, so at least my online version is corrected.

Without further ado, for your reading pleasure, please check out May’s Embracing complexity and density (where I tear into “Wil” and his pro-suburban low-density ilk) and June’s Blue Bridge blues, which criticizes our city council for wanting to tear down a bona-fide heritage structure without so much as a second thought. They’re just itching to rip it down.

A note to Victoria city council – Mayor Dean Fortin, councilors Sonya Chandler, Philippe Lucas, John Luton, Lynn Hunter, Geoff Young, Chris Coleman, Charlayne Thornton-Joe, and of course our esteemed “heritage-invested” councilor, Pam Madoff: you are wrong, wrong, wrong in rushing to tear down the Johnson Street Bridge.

As for the heritage crowd in this city: you have shown your true colors, and they’re all in various shades of hypocrisy.

n.b.: Note also that I updated my page (which has the Scribd links) to show that the June 2009 article is my final article for FOCUS Magazine.


  1. Have both the printed mag and online version. Article starts with ” On April 23, Victoria City Council voted “yes” on a motion to proceed with with plans to to replace, rather than rehabilitate, the Johnston Street Bridge.”

    What 12 words? – you provided links but I could not find the relevant words (scribe was general)

    You and I may disagree on the future of the bridge, but I am right with you on lack of comment from the usually vocal historical preservation societies and individuals.

    Comment by Mat — June 9, 2009 #

  2. That’s the June article you’re looking at, Mat. The article that has the editing error is the May article, and it’s missing the first twelve words.

    Comment by Yule — June 9, 2009 #

  3. I really enjoyed reading this article — and though I spent very little time in Victoria, the Johnson Street Bridge is something I remember very well, like a landmark, back from decades ago now. You make a very important point when you describe those who opt for a clean slate and those who integrate the past (or make the “roots” of a city stronger). Obviously, this is not just philosophical hairsplitting, because these “point” turn into a cityscape.

    One thing I can think of is that the historical preservationists might not find the bridge “charming” enough — that is, there is nothing romantic or possibly “nostalgic” about that workhorse for an industrial age that happened to be golden around the time the structure went up.

    Comment by maria — June 10, 2009 #

  4. I agree, Maria – it’s quite possible that the preservationists don’t care about preserving the bridge because it’s not Potemkin enough. (Its guts and structure actually work and aren’t just a charming facade.)
    Also, this bridge will get ripped down to “rationalize” car traffic. There’s no end to the people screaming about the allegedly “difficult” curve in the road leading up to the bridge on the western side. (It’s really just a bit of a curve, but to hear some, it’s an insult to their ability to speed full steam ahead.)
    As a friend of mine suggested – and I’d give him credit, but he wishes to remain anonymous – this bridge would find its defenders if it weren’t for the fact that most people are still totally married to their cars (and this in a pretty walkable and bike-friendly city – but cars still rule). IOW, if you oppose replacing the bridge, you’re implicitly pitting yourself against the automobile-centric mindset – and that means you’re on the losing end as far as the general consensus goes. (Yes, people talk a pretty game about car alternatives, but when push comes to shove …well, you know…)
    For example, on Facebook a while back, I pointed to my earlier post about density, and one of my Victoria contacts complained in response about how we have enough density already. And to “prove” it she wrote that when she drives downtown, she can’t find a parking space. The complaint is preposterous. First, she lives in a core neighborhood that’s walking distance to downtown, plus it has pretty good bus connections to downtown. But even if she wants to drive into downtown, there are 4 city-owned parkades that charge a pittance for parking ($1 per hour – I ask you, where else can you park for a buck an hour?), and they’re never filled up. If one is full, it’s almost a guarantee that the next one is empty. But the problem is that for people like her (and I fear she’s typical), “parking availability” means finding a spot directly in front of the store that she wants to visit, not off-street parking 2 blocks away. Of course, those same people will think nothing of going to a big box mall outlet that has acres of parking and will park the equivalent of 2 blocks away from the mall entrance (and happily walk many more blocks within the mall). Yet somehow when they’re expected to do that downtown, they freak out.
    With thinking like that, it’s no wonder people here jump up and down about all the wrong things.

    Comment by Yule — June 13, 2009 #

  5. Well, jeez, I live in the suburbs in California, in neighborhoods with houses and gardens both with plenty of space, and probably at most 2 inhabitants per all that square footage, but I still have problems finding a parking space in most of the centers of these small towns…. And yea, the cry often goes up here too about “density” whenever someone (make that a developer with an interesting idea that mixes residential and commercial and public space). So I hear you!

    Comment by maria — June 14, 2009 #

  6. It’s ALWAYS one of the very first questions that comes up at any public hearing (whether with the community association or at city hall): “Where will people park?”
    It’s kind of (only kind of) funny. On the one hand, we think the personal mobility device (aka automobile) has brought us so much personal freedom – until we try to ditch, er, I mean, park it and realize it’s a g-d ball-and-chain.
    Parking is always the issue where we show that we want to eat our cake but have it, too. 😉

    Comment by Yule — June 14, 2009 #

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