BC Transit Fare Review

Last week, I completed BC Transit’s survey for the 2016 Victoria Regional Transit Commission Fare Structure Review. (The survey is now closed, and a decision on the new fare structure will be made on December 8, 2015. You can find a review of the three options presented in the survey in the Times Colonist and Saanich News reports.) Here’s what I told them in the survey:

I would really like to see increasing property taxes presented in this survey as an alternative to increasing fares. We pay for local roads almost entirely through property taxes and provincial funding, and we don’t toll local roads or bridges. The same should go for transit, which increases everybody’s mobility by reducing traffic congestion. We should not have to pay directly through fares every time we want to use transit, just as people don’t have to pay a user fee every time they take their car out of their driveway. 

Any of the changes suggested in this survey will lead to me using the bus less frequently, reducing my mobility. Eliminating transfers, as option 3 suggests, would mean that I would have to buy a car rather than relying on the combination of transit, cycling and walking as I do now; it would simply be too expensive and inconvenient to pay multiple fares on multiple buses to get where I need to go. As transit planner Jarrett Walker says, “Charging passengers extra for the inconvenience of connections is insane. It discourages exactly the customer behavior that efficient and liberating networks depend on. It undermines the whole notion of a transit network.”

If you’d like to say something similar to your Transit Commission members in advance of the December 8 meeting, you can find their contact details here.

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The City Walks – In the Shadow of Mega-Events: Protests, Policing and the Military in Victoria

You are invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of mega-events and police-military connections in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Adam Molnar’s lecture, In the Shadow of the Spectacle: Security Legacies in the Olympic City, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Centennial Square
Date: March 29, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Join the walk on Facebook.
Click here for a map of the sites we’ll visit and the route we’ll take.

Here are the sites we’ll visit and some of the questions we’ll discuss:

Centennial SquareCentennial Square

  • How has this site been used by protestors, particularly by anti-Olympics groups and the Occupy movement?
  • What makes it an attractive site for protesting?
  • How is it designed to be easily policed? What physical and legal technologies have been employed here to control protestors?

Bastion BricksBastion Outline on Government Street

  • What was the Bastion originally created for? How was it related to forms of civil, military and commercial power?
  • How is the Bastion represented now? How and why was the brick outline created?
  • Given the variety of heritage plaques, First Nations inspired art, and cultural institutions in the vicinity, how should we interpret this site? How is our experience of this place structured by the information embedded in the landscape?
  • Does the fact that the cannons were fired during a dispute with First Nations people in 1844 appear in any of the heritage interpretation signs at this site?

View of SonghesSonghees Lookout

  • Are you aware that the Songhees First Nation used to have a reserve at Songhees Point? Do you know why the Songhees were encouraged to move there in the 1840s?
  • How do you think Victoria would have been different if the reserve had remained across the harbour in Vic West, rather than being moved to Esquimalt in 1911?
  • Do you know about the totem pole that was raised at Songhees Point to celebrate the Commonwealth Games? How else were First Nations involved in the Games?

Ship Point Navy Sculpture

  • What does this statue say about Victoria’s relationship with the military? What does it ask us to remember? What does it ask us to forget? How is it used by residents and tourists?
  • Does it seem odd that one of the main pieces of sculpture here lists a number of corporate sponsors?

Commonwealth Games Commemorative Sign

  • Are the Commonwealth Games generally remembered positively or negatively by residents of Victoria? Do you remember Expo 86 or the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver as being more controversial than the Commonwealth Games?
  • Were you aware that “designated demonstration areas” were set up at all Commonwealth Games venues? Did you know that Games organizers used a number of security measures, including “the placement of surveillance cameras in the Inner Harbor, … photo-IDing of sex-trade workers, and the removal of the homeless from the city’s inner core”?1 How do you think these measures influenced the public’s perception of the Games and of Victoria?
  • What organizations control and manage this area? What effects might this have on the Causeway as a public space?

Legislature Grounds

  • What do you know about the Canada Day bomb plot? Do you recall how it was reported by the media and handled by the police and courts? What do you think of the so-called “Mr. Big” investigative technique?
  • What effect do you think threats like the Canada Day bomb plot (and the reporting about them) have on large public gatherings in Victoria and elsewhere? How do you sort out the various risks and benefits of public gatherings and demands for increased policing?
  • Has the nature and policing of large events at this site changed over the past few decades? How is it used differently for protests, celebrations, state occasions and tourism?
  • How do you feel about the war memorials near this site? How are they used for Rememberance Day and other commemorative ceremonies?

1Steen Hume, “(Re)Locating the Local in the Global: Theorizing Cultural Politics during the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games,” MA Thesis, University of Victoria, 1998.

Posted in Downtown, University of Victoria, UVic, Walking Tours | Leave a comment

GTCA Newsletter Contribution: Could Car-Sharing be Around the Corner?

The following article appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of the Gorge Tillicum Neighbourhood Association’s Newsletter.

Do you want to save money, protect the environment, build a stronger community, and enhance your personal mobility? If you do, you might want to join the Victoria Car Share Co-op.

Membership in the Car Share offers a number of benefits:

  • You get access to a large fleet of different kinds of vehicles, so you can drive one of those cute Fiats one day and use the pickup truck for hauling furniture the next.
  • Rather than paying for large “sunk costs” like insurance and registration, only to leave your car parked most of the day, with car sharing you only pay for the cars when you’re using them. This can reduce your costs by thousands of dollars a year.
  • By encouraging you to use more sustainable transportation options more of the time, while allowing you to use a car when you really need to, car sharing can help reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Because members spend more time walking in our neighbourhood and cooperating to provide public goods, car sharing can help enhance our community well-being.

Since car sharing also tends to benefit other drivers by reducing congestion, it’s in everyone’s interest to have a co-op car in the neighbourhood. Getting a car in the neighbourhood, preferably in a central location near Pearkes Arena, is a goal supported by the GTCA Board. It would also help support the Sustainable Saanich Official Community Plan, which includes encouragement for Co-op cars.

Because each car has to be self-supporting through members’ use fees, there has to be a sufficient density of members in a neighbourhood before the Co-op will consider placing a car here. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough members of the Co-op living in Gorge-Tillicum for them to justify placing a car here. It’s the old “chicken-and-the-egg” problem – without enough members, there will be no Co-op car in the neighbourhood; without a Co-op car in the neighbourhood, there are fewer people who are willing to join the Co-op.

There are a couple of ways you can help:

  • If you’re interested in joining the Co-op, you can find out how to do so at VictoriaCarShare.ca. There are a number of low-cost membership options that you might qualify for.
  • If you’re not ready to join right away, but think that having a car in the neighbourhood would benefit the community or make it easier for you to join later, you can fill in the Car Request Form. That will let the Co-op know that there are people interested in having a car nearby.
Posted in Car Co-op, Cars, Gorge-Tillicum, Victoria Car Share Co-op | 1 Comment

Vincent’s Victoria Urban Events – March 2 to March 8, 2014

An occasional post featuring urban themed events in the Victoria area.

City Talks Poster - Building Better Cities

• March 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m., Legacy Gallery

Building Better Cities: Urban Renewal, State Power, and Democracy in 1960s Halifax and Vancouver
Tina Loo, Professor, Department of History, University of British Columbia
A City Talks Special Event

• March 6, 2014, 4:30 p.m., UVic David Strong Building C122

CSRS Public Lecture Series: Walking Tours and the Religious Landscape of Victoria
Vincent Gornall, Vandekerkhove Family Trust Graduate Student Fellow, Department of History, UVic

Do you have an event that you want to see listed here? Send me an email including the title of the event; the time, date and place of the event; and a link with more information. I reserve the right to choose which events to highlight.

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Parking Follies III

An occasional series featuring parking problems from a pedestrian and cyclist viewpoint.

Looking for information on upcoming walking tours? Click here or on the tab above.


What: A car parked in a bike lane.

Where: Near the intersection of Gorge Road West and Gorge View Drive

When: February 17, 2014. 1:59 pm.

Comment: This happens all too often on roads in the Victoria area – a seemingly unaware driver thinks that a bike lane is actually an on-street parking lane, forcing cyclists to merge into the motor vehicle traffic lane to get around the obstruction, often at some risk to their safety. What makes this case particularly egregious is that both nearby driveways (in the foreground and the background of the picture) were empty, meaning that the driver had access to off-street parking. Half an hour later, I passed this spot on the bus, and saw a police car parked behind this car, presumably writing a ticket.

The relevant portion of Saanich’s Steets and Traffic bylaw reads: “7.10 Except when necessary to avoid conflict with traffic or to comply with the law or the direction of a peace officer or traffic control device, no person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle… (r) On or over a bicycle lane.” The fine that Saanich levies for this offense is, according to section 11.03 (b), a minimum of $30.00.

Posted in Parking Follies, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Event Listing: The City Talks – The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City


Please join The City Talks for the second lecture of Spring 2014.

The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City
Steve Herbert
Professor and Director, Law, Societies, and Justice Program and Department of Geography, University of Washington

Monday, February 24
Doors Open at 7:00pm
Lecture Begins at 7:30pm

This is a free public event at the Legacy Art Gallery ~ 630 Yates Street

Run by the Committee for Urban Studies at the University of Victoria, The City Talks is a free public lecture series featuring distinguished scholars drawn from the University of Victoria, across Canada, and beyond. This Spring our lectures, on the theme of Security and the City, explore the contested terrain of security and surveillance in contemporary cities.

The lectures last an hour and a half, including a question and answer session with the author.

For more information, please visit www.TheCityTalks.ca.


You are also invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of poverty and the pursuit of social justice in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Steve Herbert’s lecture, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Store and Fisgard, across the street from Swift House
Date: March 1, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Click here for an outline of the tour.
Join the walk on Facebook.

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The City Walks – The Paradoxes of Place: Policing Poverty & Pursuing Social Justice in Victoria

“The key political challenge… is to replace the fear-inducing language of ‘disorder and decline’ with a more capacious, just and inclusive public discourse… Such a political appeal would aim not at fear and castigation but at the human capacity for empathy and respect.”

̶Katherine Beckett & Steve Herbert in
Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America

You are invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of poverty and the pursuit of social justice in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Steve Herbert’s lecture, The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Store and Fisgard, across the street from Swift House
Date: March 1, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Join the walk on Facebook.

Here’s a map of the sites we’ll visit and the route we’ll take:

During the walk we’ll consider these broad questions:

  • How is poverty policed in Victoria?
  • How is poverty discussed, experienced and explained by regular citizens, mainstream media, police, activists, academics, service providers, and most importantly, the poor themselves? Does the way we think and talk about poverty need to change?
  • How should we pursue social justice? What types policies should we implement to alleviate poverty?

Here are the sites we’ll visit and some of the questions we’ll discuss:

Store & FisgardSwift House

Centennial SquareCentennial Square

  • How is Centennial Square physically constructed to encourage certain uses, while discouraging others?
  • How has Centennial Square been used historically by marginalized groups, like hippies or homeless people (Midenhall, 24)?
  • How has it been used more recently by protest groups, like the Occupy Movement or anti-Olympics protestors?
  • How has it been used by more conventional groups, like the Downtown Victoria Business Association?
  • Why does the City of Victoria ban people from “squatting, kneeling, sitting, or lying down” and putting “any structure, tent, object or thing” on sidewalks or medians? How are these provisions enforced? What groups do they disproportionately apply to? How do civic regulations like these, symbolized by City Hall, affect people at some of the other sites we’ll visit today?

GVPL Central Branch

GVPL Central Branch Courtyard

  • Is this public space or private space? Does the privatization of public space create tensions between the institutions and their users?
  • How is this space controlled and regulated? Who is allowed to use this space? When and how are they allowed to use it?

Provincial Court

  • In 2010, the Victoria Integrated Court was formed. Rather than funding judges, prosecutors, defence attorneys, police and probation officers, and other justice system officials to coordinate social programs, would it make more sense to fund increased income assistance, supportive housing, and addictions treatment instead?
  • Is it a problem that “the police presence on the team means that some clients who could benefit from team support are reluctant to be engaged with law enforcement” (VICOT Annual Report 2012, 4)? Should laws be changed so that we no longer “criminalize some aspects of economic marginalization” (Beckett & Herbert, 152; also see Out of Sight, 33)?
  • Does it concern you that the DVBA prioritized business interests in creating the Victoria Integrated Court?
  • Do programs like Victoria’s Integrated Court create the risk of a conflict between citizens’ rights to a fair hearing in court and their rights to access social services?


Pioneer Square

  • The BC Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that allows camping in municipal parks has implications for “the debate over negative and positive rights,” the “underlying sociological issue of homelessness,” and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ “potential for effecting transformative change” (Young, 105). (The ruling was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in 2009.) What are these implications?
  • Do you agree with the current municipal regulations governing camping in parks? What unintended effects might these regulations have? How else might homelessness be dealt with?
  • In what ways did recent changes to Pioneer Square physically change the park? How might these changes affect homeless, poor and otherwise marginalized users of the park?

900-Block Pandora900-Block Pandora

References/In-Line Citations

Posted in Events, Homelessness, Housing, Law, Public Space, University of Victoria, UVic, Walking Tours | 2 Comments