ARCHIVE – Breaking News – March 2018
Saturday, March 31 ~ WEST SHORE. Even though schools were closed for the second week of spring break, the BC Ministry of Education delivered funds.
An announcement of $3,381,049 was made for Sooke School District 62 (SD62) which serves schools in the west shore — the fastest growing school district on Vancouver Island. These are capital funds that were first applied for in June 2017, finally coming through for 2018-2019. It will help SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull update his budget documents for presentation to the SD62 board at their April 10 Education Committee of the Whole for further discussion.
CAPITAL FUNDS FOR SOOKE SCHOOL DISTRICT SD62 (2018-2019):
• $1,250,000 in School Enhancement Program funding for building enclosure upgrades at Ruth King Elementary, and dust collection system upgrades at Dunsmuir Middle, Spencer Middle, and Edward Milne Secondary.
• $475,396 in School Bus Replacement Program funding for three replacement busses.
• $1,655,653 in Annual Facilities Grant (AFG) funding, which flows to the Sooke School District annually for routine school maintenance costs.
These funds are for building envelope improvements, the purchase of three replacement busses in the SD62 30-bus fleet, and building maintenance of the 27 schools that SD62 owns and operates in the west shore (Langford, Colwood and Sooke).
This latest funding announcement comes on the heels of the ‘bonus’ funding that SD62 has enjoyed in recent months. Just before Christmas, $23.3 million was received from the BC Government to buy land on which to build two new schools (one elementary, one middle) in the expanding Westhills area of Langford, and $23.2 million earlier this month to expand Royal Bay Secondary by almost half its size again (up from 800 seats to 1,400 by Sept 2020).
“The $1,655,653 received as the Annual Facilities Grant (AFG) is the first year it has increased a tiny bit,” says SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, explaining that the grant hasn’t increased in almost a decade despite expansion of the school district in terms of both student count and number of schools. Almost 400 more students are expected to be registered in SD62 for September 2018, over and above the approximately 10,500 students in schools this 2017-2018 academic year.
“The bus fleet is getting younger,” said Parmar. Getting three new buses will decrease the average age of busses in the SD62 fleet. There is one more bus in total this year in the fleet, to help accommodate the student population increase.
SD62 will be dealing with a few dents in the operating side of the budget in 2018-2019, said Parmar. With the changeover of Medical Service Program (MSP) fees for SD62 employees from 50% (of current rates) in 2018 then switching to the Employer Health Tax in 2019, there is a crossover phase to carry that cost. And less will be paid by Camosun College starting Fall 2018 for their leased Neighbourhood Learning Centre space at Belmont Secondary, as they give up use of that space during the day for regular use by Grade 9-12 students; Camosun classes tend to be popular in the evening. Some of that dip in operating revenues will be assisted by the Next Generation Network Wi-Fi costs being covered by the government (until now SD62 had to pay that), Parmar explained.
Thursday, March 29 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. TRAFFIC ADVISORY extended to April 4 through Easter Weekend
>> Lane shifts continue on Highway 1 at Admirals/McKenzie
Drivers are advised to watch for temporary shifts in the travelling lanes on Highway 1 as work to connect and test the below-ground watermain system continues on the McKenzie interchange during the Easter long weekend, the BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure advised today, March 29. This was previously projected to wrap up March 30.
For southbound traffic, the highway will continue to have jogs on either side of the Admirals/McKenzie intersection. Northbound traffic has a minor diversion north of the intersection. At night, this winding route takes a bit of extra caution and attention while crews continued their work.
These temporary alignments are designed for motorists to pass through safely at 50 km/h. Drivers are asked to keep moving through the construction site while following signs, watching for workers and obeying the construction speed limit of 50 km/h.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure thanks motorists for their patience while this work is completed.
Sunday, March 25 ~ WEST SHORE. The collection tally at the March 19 west shore blood donor clinic in Colwood was 91% of target (92 units collected). That’s even with the donor attendance goal of 101 being surpassed.
There were 10 deferrals, often due to people having travelled and not enough time passing before they are again allowed to give blood. https://blood.ca/en/blood/abcs-eligibility
Typically, only 50% of Canadians can donate at any given time and 1 in 60 actually do, says Ann Chabert, Territory Manager, Canadian Blood Services.
An upbeat community spirit was palpable in the room at Church of the Advent where the complex mobile unit was set up on Monday. People were cheerily greeted, directed to the computer-station check-in, and comfortably seated in the waiting area. Nurses worked the room to screen donors, draw blood, and help with any followup health issues. Technicians stacked the drawn blood on refrigerated trays. Volunteers helped with cookies and juice.
The next two west shore region clinics are on Mon April 9 at the Sooke Legion 12:30-7:30pm, and Mon April 23 at Royal Bay Secondary, 9-4.
Sunday, March 25 ~ WEST SHORE. What does it matter that the long-time format of holding a monthly Education Committee of the Whole (ECOW) meeting is getting replaced with two new committee meetings each month?
With only about three months left in the 2017-2018 academic year, Sooke School District 62 (SD62) Superintendent Jim Cambridge sees it as a way to receive more input from stakeholders, including parents. “The board is working on being more transparent,” said Cambridge in his report at the March 13 SD62 board meeting.
The new Education Policy Committee will meet on the first Tuesday each month, the new Resources Committee will be on the second Tuesday, with public board meetings on the third Tuesdays.
Education Policy Committee discussions will include student education and school district policies, in other words “how and why we do our business,” said Cambridge. Resource Committee discussions will include budget, transportation, and capital programs. A few trustees will sit on each committee. Reports and “possible motions” will come forth from committees to the board, which could consolidate any remaining policy threads under Cambridge (2009-2018).
The ECOW on April 10 at Journey Middle School is the last ECOW. ECOWs have also been an opportunity for trustees and the public to tour each school location where the meetings were held, with the principal at each school having that opportunity to showcase the school and the achievements of students and teachers.
Saturday, March 24. Yes, tonight is the night for Earth Hour. For now 12 years, electricity usage reduction for one hour on a Saturday night in March has been a way to raise awareness about energy conservation around the globe.
At local time this evening March 24, it’s lights-out (and turning off electricity-drawing appliances) from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
Starting as a symbolic lights out event by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour organizers say their event is now the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring millions of people to take action for our planet and nature.
The movement is people-driven. “From pushing for environmentally-friendly laws and policies to crowdfunding for a better future, YOU make Earth Hour possible. Coordinated by WWF and other volunteer organisations, Earth Hour’s greatest strength is the power of people,” say organizers. This year’s hashtag is #CONNECT2EARTH. More at www.earthhour.org
In BC, the reduction of electricity usage in each community is tallied by BC Hydro each year. Overall, the percentage drop has been lower in recent years, likely as most people already take care to reduce their electricity usage on a regular basis.
Friday, March 23 ~ GREATER VICTORIA.
TRAFFIC ADVISORY – March 24 to 30
Lane shifts returning to Highway 1 at Admirals/McKenzie
Drivers are advised to watch for temporary shifts in the travelling lanes on Highway 1 as work continues on the McKenzie interchange, the BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure advised today, March 23.
From Saturday, March 24, through Friday, March 30 while the water main system is connected and tested, traffic will run on the same temporary alignment that was put in place for a limited time in February.
For southbound traffic, the highway will have a bend on either side of the Admirals/McKenzie intersection, and northbound traffic will have a minor diversion north of the intersection.
These temporary alignments are designed for motorists to pass through safely at 50 km/h. Drivers are asked to keep moving through the construction site while following signs, watching for workers, and obeying the construction speed limit of 50 km/h.
>> Photos of construction zone on Hwy 1 near McKenzie Interchange [West Shore Voice News – March 23, 2018]
Wednesday, March 21 ~ BC. The BC government is launching a new, four-part surgical strategy aimed at reducing wait times for the health care British Columbians need, it was announced today in Vancouver.
One of the first components of the strategy is aimed primarily at the seniors population with five hip and knee replacement programs implemented throughout the province, announced today.
“For far too long, far too many British Columbians were left on waitlists instead of getting fast access to the surgery they needed to enjoy full, active, lives,” said Premier John Horgan today. “We’re getting people back on their feet faster by dramatically increasing access to hip and knee surgeries.”
These programs will address the long waits faced by people. In 2016-17, 30% of people waiting for hip surgery and 38% of people waiting for knee surgery waited more than 26 weeks.
“We are embedding the innovations of the former Richmond Hip and Knee Reconstruction project into our program because it is a public health-care system solution that is proven to work for patients,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Our strategy will not only mean people spend less time waiting for hip and knee replacements, but that we keep up to demand for all surgeries by investing in more surgeries and implementing operating room efficiencies.”
The strategy is supported with ongoing targeted funding of $75 million starting in 2018-19 and increasing of $100 million in 2019-20.
The hip and knee replacement programs are designed to support increased surgical volumes, reduce wait times, and improve continuity of care for patients by coordinating all the services a patient requires to prepare for, undergo, and recover from surgery. They build on the Richmond project by adding new components like dedicated operating room time, pre- and post-surgical support, centralized intake, standardized assessment, first available surgeon and ongoing evaluation.
“We are thrilled to be part of this important work and announce the new hip and knee replacement centre at Vancouver General Hospital,” said Dr. Bassam Masri, Vancouver Coastal Health’s surgeon-in-chief for Vancouver Acute and the head of the orthopedics department. “Streamlining the intake and assessment process for hip and knee replacement surgery reduces wait times for patients, providing them with comprehensive, wrap-around care before and after surgery so they can get back to living their lives in the best way possible. With people spending less time in hospital, we are able to perform more surgeries.”
In 2016-17, approximately 14,390 hip and knee surgeries were performed, and by 2018-19, more than 19,250 will be done annually. The additional surgeries will mean a 34% increase in hip and knee surgeries. This will significantly reduce the number of patients waiting.
In total under the surgical strategy, 9,400 more surgeries (4,000 additional hip and knee, 900 dental and 4,500 other surgeries) will be done throughout BC by the end of March 2019, compared to the previous year.
The surgical strategy has four areas of focus:
* Providing more surgeries in areas with long wait times, starting with hip and knee surgeries and incrementally tackling other surgeries with long waits;
* Investing to keep up with growing demand for all other surgeries;
* Making surgical programs and operating rooms in the province more efficient through better planning and scheduling and, establishing centralized booking and a single point of contact for patients; and
* Making sure the right number of health professionals are in place to deliver the services needed to meet demand both now and into the future, including surgeons and anesthetists, as well as nursing and rehabilitation health professionals.
Tuesday, March 20 ~ BC. There will be a test of the BC Emergency Alerting Systemat 1:55 pm PDT on March 21, 2018.
The test is being conducted by Emergency Management BC.
This is part of a Canada-wide Alert-Readysystem that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters. This system will only be used during large-scale disasters or emergencies where loss of life is imminent and possible.
Please note that text messages will NOT be tested at this time. Testing of wireless alerts will begin in May 2018.
You can currently expect to receive emergency alerts via Canadian radio and TV, cable and satellite operators.
Alert Ready is a Canada-wide program that allows government officials in each province and territory to issue emergency alerts.
Tuesday, March 20 ~ VICTORIA. Premier John Horgan welcomed Canada’s Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, on her first official visit to British Columbia today, as part of a ceremonial welcome at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria.
“It is an honour to welcome the Governor General to British Columbia,” said Premier Horgan. “Her extraordinary list of accomplishments makes her an inspiration to all Canadians.”
Upon arrival, Her Excellency was presented with flowers by Elayna Loehr, 7, on behalf of The Make-A-Wish Foundation of British Columbia and Yukon.
The Governor General was welcomed with a performance by the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers of the Songhees First Nation.
Her Excellency received a 21-gun salute fired by the 5th (British Columbia) Field Artillery Regiment of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. The Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific played the Vice Regal Salute in tribute to her visit.
The Governor General inspected the 100-member Guard of Honour from Maritime Forces Pacific and Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, and met with veterans in the Upper Rotunda Memorial Hall in the legislative precinct.
Accompanied by the Premier, Her Excellency signed the Distinguished Visitor’s book in front of the Coat of Arms.
The Governor General will participate in several events during her visit to Victoria and Vancouver from March 20 to 22.
Tuesday, March 20 ~ VICTORIA. The Honourable Judith Guichon has offered her congratulations to Janet Austin, OBC, on the announcement of Austin’s appointment to be the 30th lieutenant-governor of British Columbia.
“I am so pleased to welcome Janet Austin as the next lieutenant-governor of British Columbia. As someone who has dedicated her career to championing women’s equality and social change, she is a wonderful choice to represent Her Majesty The Queen in this great province,” said Guichon. “Ms. Austin will continue to inspire and connect British Columbians in this role.”
Guichon will remain lieutenant-governor until the installation of Austin in the coming weeks.
Sunday, March 18 ~ WEST SHORE. Construction of the new Millstream Fishway to help with salmon preservation is slated to start in July.
The fundraising goal of the Peninsula Streams Society is $205,000 to match the Dept of Fisheries and Oceans RFCPP funds for 2018-19. They are currently one-third of the way there. Some funding is confirmed, some has been requested, and some still needs to be found. Total project cost is about $450,000. Some of that has already been raised and spent in 2017-18 on design work.
“Bottom line, we are within sight of the goal to begin construction in the coming 2018-2019 fiscal year,” says Peninsula Streams Society president Ian Bruce. On March 14 a cheque for $7,500 was presented to Peninsula Streams by the Esquimalt Anglers Association whose volunteers also donate “a lot of hours” at Goldstream Hatchery.
“People understand that salmon enhancement is truly a regional issue. The Millstream Creek is not in Esquimalt but they recognize that projects of this kind support salmon fishery throughout the south Island.
“Stepping up”, explains Ian Bruce, is a deliberate pun. The Peninsula Streams Society is working with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Society and others to build the fishway (a series of concrete steps) that will enable coho salmon and cutthroat trout to get further up the Millstream Creek.
Currently, fish passage is blocked at Atkins Road by a large perched culvert that is too high up for the fish to jump into. The fishway will allow the fish to continue upstream, gaining access to an additional 8 km of habitat.
In total, Peninsula Streams Society is seeking 15 ‘step sponsors’—one per step—who will each contribute $7,500 towards the project costs, as well as smaller donations from groups and individuals. Esquimalt Anglers are the fifth group to contribute. Other step donors include Trotac Marine Ltd and Ralmax. Municipalities including the City of Langford, as well as Ecoasis at Bear Mountain, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation have also contributed to the project.
Saturday, March 17 ~ LANGFORD. Rugby Canada’s Chairman Awards each year recognize members of the rugby community who have gone above and beyond to support the organization.
Rugby Canada Chairman Tim Powers acknowledged support by the City of Langford since the 2012 opening of the Rugby Canada Centre of Excellence and office in Langford, followed in 2014 by providing an opportunity to build a high-performance training centre across the street on Glen Lake Road.
The Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre officially opened February 27, 2018.
Powers recognized five people with awards for pulling together the training centre, starting with City of Langford Mayor Stewart Young who was instrumental in securing the land and funding opportunities that allowed Rugby Canada to break ground and kick off a campaign to help fund the new building.
The award ceremony was held on March 8 as part of getting the excitement rolling for the HSBC Canada Men’s Sevens Vancouver Tournament at BC Stadium, March 10-11.
Langford hopes to attract bigger sporting events to Westhills Stadium once seating is expanded.
Saturday, March 17 ~ GREATER VICTORIA TRAFFIC ADVISORY. Cyclists and pedestrians are advised of a temporary detour Saturday March 17 and Sunday March 18 along the Galloping Goose Trail,between Grange Road and Belgrave Road. It’s part of ongoing work for the McKenzie interchange project.
The detour will allow rock-scaling operations to be completed along this section of the trail to prepare for retaining-wall construction, and to reinforce the foundation of the pathway.
Given that the Galloping Goose Trail is used by many for their weekday commutes, the ministry scheduled the detour over the weekend to limit disruption for as many people as possible. Due to the precise nature of scaling operations, work must be done in daylight, as opposed to overnight.
Signage along the trail has notified cyclists and pedestrians of the upcoming detour since Friday, March 9. The detour route will be posted and monitored by the contractor throughout the weekend.
Friday, March 16 ~ COLWOOD. Expansion of Royal Bay Secondary school announced today.
Royal Bay Secondary school with a student population of 1,085 is beyond the building’s original capacity of 800 students. So it was a welcome announcement today in the school gym by BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming that $23.2 million has been provided to Sooke School District 62 (SD62) for expansion of the school to accommodate 1,400 students. Construction will begin this September, with the additional student spaces expected to be ready by Fall 2020.
With an audience well over 120 people — including a full gym class of Royal Bay students plus SD62 trustees and senior staff, Langford councillors and senior staff, BC Ministry of Education staff, and media — Minister Fleming said that SD62 is the fastest growing school district in BC, and that every student should have a proper learning environment. “It’s an amazing community that is growing an incredible pace. It’s a great area for young families in Greater Victoria, but with growth is facing some unique challenges,” said Fleming. “As a government we are trying to ensure that our investments are able to keep up with the kinds of change that we’re seeing in dynamic areas like this one.”
Fleming reiterated the BC NDP government philosophy that “education is a critical investment for our province” that contributes to future prosperity and economic diversity of BC. Fleming said that education in a positive school environment helps students prepare for an ever-changing world, giving them the tools to succeed in building “happy good quality lives, contributing to their community, and be able to live in a beautiful community like this”. He called the $23.2 million a long overdue investment. “A positive learning environment is exactly what students deserve.”
The additional classroom spaces will replace what is now a count of 10 portable classrooms (the number of which could very likely increase before Fall 2020). SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge says the portables are well-equipped with new desks, chair, projectors and WiFi, but that being out in a portable lends to a disconnect from the main flow of the school action. Royal Bay has a bright open lobby, an active social Commons area, a vibrant and spacious learning centre, food services area and lounge areas in the hallways near the lockers.
“In Sooke School District 62 we make sure we’re ahead of the curve, ahead of the growth,” said SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar today during the formal announcement. The previous government built schools to current capacity. The current government is working to population projections. Parmar explained that SD62 will work with the same architect that designed the school for its opening in Fall 2015.
“This school board knows how to do construction on time and on budget, and on an aggressive timetable,” said Minister Fleming. In addition to the government’s funding, SD62 is contributing $2 million from their capital fund. There will be 21 new classrooms and a second smaller gym, an additional level added to make the building a 3-storey structure, and 120 more parking stalls.
Introductions were made at this morning’s announcement host Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) in whose riding Royal Bay Secondary was essentially a hub around which the Royal Bay community has grown. Accompanying Fleming and Dean at the podium and backed up by a group of teen soccer players, were Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, Royal Bay Secondary Principal Windy Beadall, and a student leadership rep Maddy Morrison.
Fleming added that about 95% of the hiring that has needed to be done has been done to restore class ratio since the Supreme Court settlement in 2016. School districts got $50 million to hire more teachers. Teachers have been recruited in the past year from other provinces.
There are still gaps for specialist teachers, said Fleming. There are shortages for French Immersion teachers, which Fleming said is being addressed, including recruiting French-speaking teachers from Belgium and France; the demand for French in the classrooms has increased 30% in the last 10 years, he said. A fund of $1 million has been established for recruitment and retention. Fleming expects a report in the next six weeks with recommendations to help train new teachers in ways to improve retention, starting with September 2018 intake.
Royal Bay Secondary is in Colwood. Land for two new schools in Langford (one elementary, one middle school) was announced in December 2017. SD62 operates schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke, serving families in those communities as well as Highlands, Metchosin, and Juan de Fuca in East Sooke and up to Port Renfrew.
Friday, March 16 ~ LANGFORD. For one day next week — Wednesday March 21 – the City of Langford is asking motorists to avoid use of the Millstream Overpass during some improvements for traffic signal installation on the overpass and on Hwy 1. All signals and streetlights in that area will be without power on that day in that commercial area of Langford, says the city’s engineering department.
Motorists travelling southbound on the Trans Canada (TCH/ Hwy 1) can use the Exit 16 Leigh Road interchange. Motorists travelling northbound can use Exit 15 McCallum Road to access the Millstream Corridor.
The work cannot be done at night due to the power supply being offline during the installation from 7 am to about 9 pm. The contractor Raylec Power has indicated they will manage the project so that the street lighting portion does not remain off when dusk occurs later in the day. Sunset is at 7:28 pm PDT on March 21.
Traffic control personnel will be on the overpass working within an approved Traffic Management Plan. Three lane closure trucks and six personnel are anticipated throughout the work zone, or more, to ensure safe passage for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. Emergency vehicles will be given priority. March 21 is during spring break for schools in the area, with less of a traffic load expected.
The overall Millstream Overpass project is on schedule. aiming to complete by April 30.
Wednesday, March 14 ~ LANGFORD. An increase in the number of Langford residents seeking assistance with federal programs has prompted a change in hours at Alistair MacGregor, MP’s constituency office in Langford.
Effective Tuesday, March 20, Alistair MacGregor’s Langford community office hours will change to include both Tuesdays and Wednesdays for drop-ins 10 am to 3 pm.
The office at 3202B Happy Valley Rd (at the corner of Sooke Road) will also accept appointments for outside of those drop-in hours.
MacGregor’s team can help constituents with inquiries relating to federal programs and services, such as:
- Immigration and citizenship applications
- Visitor visas and Canadian passports
- Employment Insurance, income taxes, other federal taxes & benefits
- Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security
- Veterans Affairs
- Federal Funding
“I am here to ensure that my constituents of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford have a strong voice in Parliament and I encourage constituents to contact my office with any federal concerns,” stated MacGregor. “When I am not in Ottawa, I am always happy to meet with residents of Langford and discuss how we can build a better Canada.”
You can reach MacGregor’s office by phone at 1-886-609-9998 or by email at email@example.com
Wednesday, March 14 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries will add extra sailings on their busiest routes for the Easter Long Weekend.
From March 29 to April 3, the additional sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island — on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route and the HorseshoeBay/Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay/Langdale routes.
The most popular travel times are expected to be mid-day Thursday March 29 to late morning Friday March 30, with traffic returning on the holiday Monday, April 2 in the afternoon.
Checking the bcferries.com website and making reservations are options for busy travellers.
Early morning and late evening sailings are available on select sailings during the Easter long weekend and Spring Break travel period. From March 15 to April 3, standard under-height vehicles with driver can travel from $39 on the four main routes.
Monday, March 12 ~ SOOKE. Sooke to get a recreation boost with SEAPARC upgrade: fitness gym, multi-purpose room
SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke will soon see construction of a new fitness gym and additional multi-purpose space thanks to a $1.24 million Federal Gas Tax Fund grant announced by the CRD on Friday, March 9.
Topped up with $1.5 million from SEAPARC’s reserve funds, the expansion will increase the 51,020 sq ft complex footprint by about 5,150 sqft (3,600 sq ft for the gym and 1,550 for the studio). “This was a shovel-ready project,” says SEAPARC manager Steve Knoke.
“We’ve been saving for four or five years to be in a position to build something,” says SEAPARC Chair and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks. A previous grant application for Canada 150 funding in 2017 was declined.
A few years ago Sooke and Juan de Fuca (JdF) residents provided input about what additional facilities the complex might need and what the design options could include (e.g. one level with expanded footprint, or two levels with elevator).
The average Sooke household pays $307.91 a year toward SEAPARC through property taxes, says Knoke. In JdF the average annual pay-in is $178.19. Each year SEAPARC’s board puts about $350,000 into capital reserves to help fund improvements which have included the roof, pool, skate park and bike park.
The project will take an estimated 18 to 24 months to complete. Many factors come into play regarding the construction schedule. This is early in the planning phase. SEAPARC says at this point a detailed construction timeline is yet to come.
Sunday, March 11 ~ WEST SHORE. [Article first published in the March 9, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News]
The West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) facility at 1767 Island Highway in Colwood serves a cluster of communities in the region and is modestly but proudly home to a wide range of sport and recreation interests.
The West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) facility at 1767 Island Highway in Colwood serves a cluster of communities in the region and is modestly but proudly home to a wide range of sport and recreation interests. It’s the long-time integration of programs and services provided by WSPR that contributes to its powerful but relatively understated presence.
Most people know it’s there — the main building and arena seen from the Island Highway front a huge 108-acre chunk of land that includes a golf course, the Q Centre, the Juan de Fuca library, and a seniors centre. In spring, Easter egg hunts are enjoyed by families on one of the lawns and in summer there’s a joyful noise with the Rock the Shores concert weekend drawing thousands of youth.
In recent years WSPR has hosted an oversize LED highway advertising display board, so bright at night. The revenue-generation of the highway sign is good. At the March 8 WSPR board meeting it was reported that after sign management was assigned to the Jim Pattison enterprise that revenues have increased to an even higher level, even though the revenue split is now 50/50 instead of 70% to WSPR and 30% to the former signage provider.
Financial issues of WSPR have been the subject of municipal and public debate in recent weeks, especially following a strong public statement by Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton on March 1 in response to a slow-brewing effort (over years) by Langford to see a reassessment of how much each of the municipality owners are paying into the operations and capital reserves of WSPR.
Unlike many other recreation facilities in the Greater Victoria area being owned and operated by the Capital Regional District (CRD) or individual municipalities, WSPR is owned and funded by five west shore municipalities: Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands. Until last year, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) was also a joint owner, but they stepped out of the arena, so to speak, since only 0.5% of their Malahat-area residents were using the facility (at a cost of $26,000 for JDFEA to belong to the WSPR agreement) due to highway travel time impediments.
The lion’s share of the requisitions from the five member municipalities is paid by Langford, as the present WSPR funding formula is based on population. The sticking point for Langford is that they are a rapidly-growing municipality that has been proactively building their own recreation facilities in recent years including an ice rink and arena, bowling alley, and sport fields. Langford also welcomed the YM/YWCA that opened in the Westhills neighbourhood in spring 2016.
Technically speaking, Langford taxpayers are contributing to both WSPR (at the same percentage level as always) and to the operational costs of the facilities in Langford. Recreation facilities in Langford are used by residents from a wide region, not just Langford. In fact, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns was excited to point out at the Vision 2018 Westshore event on February 1 that the rural no-growth Metchosin doesn’t have to build its own expensive facilities because Langford is doing it there, right next door.
Langford does alright with their facilities, some years generating a relatively small profit after covering the operational costs. Langford swings the cost of building new rec facilities in large part due to donations from property developers (e.g. Sobey’s is paying in about $2.5 million as they get rolling with their newest Thrifty Foods, at Belmont Market).
Recreation is a costly municipal service, but considered to be an essential one for most municipalities for serving the activity needs of all ages (a tangible thing) and inherent in that the well-being of the community (a qualitative achievement evidenced in overall resident satisfaction). Very much so in Langford, where mayor and council are gung-ho for providing active opportunities to youth and the sporting community. And the costs for that have been not just financial but now there are the costs of political adjustments within WSPR.
Langford has for a few years now has raised a red flag over WSPR operational expenditure increases as pointing to inefficienices and a need for reviewing internal operations. And increasingly, Langford’s mayor has pointed out that Langford’s financial contribution to WSPR has increased (due to population increases under the current formula) even though Langford continues to expand its own recreation infrastructure footprint.
Frustrations are mounting. Councils in both Langford and Colwood declined to approve the 2018 WSPR budget. “Langford cannot be a cash cow for something that is not managed properly,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said March 2. Colwood essentially claims, in part, that they do their fair share (in addition to the requisition payment), noting in their March 1 release that Colwood waives WSPR property taxes (this year $736,267). Here are some WSPR 2018 budget numbers. Revenues (e.g. facility rentals, activity fees and rec passes) are projected as $5,953,298 while expenses are nearly double that at $11,643,688. The requisitions paid in by the five member municipalities amount to $4,968,945 which (with ‘transfers in’ at $721,445) brings the spreadsheet to balance at zero.
As much as $225,000 may need to be transfered in from capital reserves said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns this week, to maintain WSPR in 2018. That concerns some mayors; the use of reserve capital funds was also the subject of brief discussion at the March 8 WSPR board meeting which is attended by municipal Councillors as reps (not the mayors) as well as volunteer community appointees. The reserve fund of over $2.1 million has been built up to pay for infrastructure repairs and upgrades; WSPR chair Ed Watson itemizes arena floor repairs, repairing the skin of the pool, upgrading the arena including the washrooms, and upgrading the pool washrooms.
A wild card for the 2018 budget is whatever the result will be from CUPE negotiations, with pay increases expected to push up the level of expenses for WSPR. As for anyone who pays into anything, there needs to be a sense of value for payment. From a business model standpoint, WSPR could be seen as operating at a significant loss (i.e. expenses far outstrip revenues). But as a community service with perceived value to all residents, the municipalities contribute taxpayer dollars that make up the difference. “It’s a subsidy paid by municipal governments to provide recreational services to their communities,” says Watson. He notes that the partner municipalities could also apply for grants (such as the Federal Gas Tax funds) to help boost WSPR funding.
As the 30-year agreement of the now five municipalities comes up to its end date in a few years, it’s no surprise to see political shuffling toward rejigging the balance of contribution. Indeed, there could be an overall review of operations and possibly even the mission of WSPR to the region. Independent consultant Jonathan Huggett has been engaged to review the full scope of factors and implications. And so far, Langford in particular has agreed to stand by the conclusions and recommendations.
In her March 1 statement, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said: “Colwood is fighting for West Shore Parks and Recreation’s survival by advocating for a sustainable financial plan. We risk losing West Shore Parks and Recreation if owner municipalities act in their own interests rather than honouring their contractual obligations.”
Langford sees a need for assessment after having built seven recreation amenities in the last seven years (after what Langford Mayor Young experienced as political frustration for far too long at WSPR). Young sees taking timely action to serve the needs of the bustling growing Langford as fully justifiable. He says he looks forward to the consultant’s report which could provide a new formula that recognizes the mix of recreation use ‘across municipal borders’ so to speak, in balance with recreation amenities used by residents in their own municipality. Gathering statistics to support this will likely be key.
Thursday, March 8 ~ Today on International Women’s Day, BC Green Party Deputy Leader Sonia Furstenau issued the following statement:
“Today in British Columbia and around world we celebrate the accomplishments of women. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, inspired by a time of growing activism around the world,” said Furstenau.
Furstenau also tabled a petition from Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) requesting the restoration of core funding. Following 2004 funding cuts, one half of BC’s women-serving organizations were forced to close. The WAVAW petition says that while the organization is heartened by recent project funding for counselling services in the 2018 provincial budget, core funding will provide greater stability. Due to lack of core funding, WAVAW presently has an 18 month waitlist for counselling services.
“In the past year we have seen another Women’s March, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, and more. Yet in spite of this, the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap reports that gender parity is still 200 years away. Women continue to face disproportionate levels of violence, experience poverty at higher rates and have limited access to education and healthcare. These problems are especially prevalent for LGBTQ+ women, differently abled women, women of colour and Indigenous women.
“The BC Green Party is proud to take part in the International Women’s Day celebrations and to recognize the women in our lives. We celebrate today on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen, Songhees and Esquimalt peoples, whose Missing and Murdered Sisters demonstrate the tragic and ongoing effect of colonial gender-based violence in our community.
Today, as proud feminists, we voice our support for the global movement towards gender parity. We will fight for a future without gender-based violence, where women of all backgrounds are heard, believed and represented equally in all of our institutions.”
Wednesday, March 7 ~ Tomorrow March 8 is International Women’s Day. This year in particular sees the federal and BC governments taking heed of gender equity. Here is the BC Government statement from Premier John Horgan and Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity Mitzi Dean:
“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the work of women who have stood up against sexism and discrimination, and we recommit to advancing equity each and every day.
“We are doing our part by making gender equity a priority across government, and making choices that lift women up. That is why our latest budget works toward gender equity by taking real steps to make life more affordable, to improve the services people count on, and to build a strong, inclusive economy.
“Our investments in child care, the largest in BC history, will help parents, especially women, build families while pursuing their careers.
“Our increase to the minimum wage will boost incomes for the lowest-paid people in BC, which will disproportionately benefit women.
“We are also working hard to break down barriers and open up careers for women in trades. Women deserve the opportunity to pursue these rewarding, high-paying jobs, and we need their help building the province.
“Everyone has the right to live without fear. That’s why our latest budget reverses years of declining supports and provides ongoing funding for the services women and girls depend on, including housing, counselling, and crisis supports for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
“We have shown our belief in equity from the very first day of government, by swearing in British Columbia’s first gender-equal cabinet.
“Together we are building a stronger, fairer and more-inclusive province, where everyone has the chance to realize their full potential.”
Tuesday, March 6 ~ VICTORIA. The BC government announced today March 6 that it is “moving to clamp down on high-priced ticket scalping to make live-event tickets more affordable for British Columbians”, and may even ban automated ‘bots’.
“Live events should be an enjoyable experience for British Columbians, not a windfall for scalpers,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “The action we’re taking is aimed at protecting people from unscrupulous scalpers and unfair practices that shut average people out from events in BC.”
A three-week survey (launched March 6, running to about March 26) has been launched online at //www.engage.gov.bc.ca/ticketbuying where BC residents may indicate their experiences with ticket buying, reselling, and buying from resellers. Survey results will be used to develop recommendations for improving affordability, fairness and transparency.
“British Columbians are frustrated by ticket price gouging, and want action,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End. “Working with the people of BC, our government is acting and will develop and bring forward new consumer protections to help make the ticket-buying experience fairer and more affordable.” Improving improving fairness and transparency is the government’s goal, to inform the creation of suitable legislation.
The 30-question survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. It is aimed at people in BC who buy tickets for live events, and those who sometimes resell their tickets, to ensure that changes will improve fairness and transparency in how tickets for live events are bought and sold. Survey results will be publicly available later in the spring.
The public consultation will look to find out specifics on how people feel about parts of the ticket-buying process, such as: how often they purchase event tickets (from resellers, online, through a venue, etc.); experiences reselling tickets; and what changes are needed to improve the fairness in the buying and selling process.
British Columbians have many opportunities to see sports, concerts, live theatre and other cultural or recreational events throughout the province. This survey will help shape the way government gives everyone a fair chance at seeing their desired events.
Alberta and Ontario have passed legislation and had public consultations on ticket-buying practices, and acted on this issue. A Canada-wide Angus Reid poll showed that four in five Canadians would agree with outright banning of software (“bots”) to jump the queue when tickets go on sale; that poll showed that 50% of Canadians feel it’s up to governments to make the necessary changes to protect Canadians. Additionally, the poll said most Canadians see ticket reselling as a significant problem, and 80% believe that purchasing tickets with the specific purpose of reselling them is unfair.
Monday, March 5 ~ Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor will be welcoming Jagmeet Singh on Vancouver Island this week, sharing the floor with the national NDP Leader at a community meet-and-greet in Duncan on Wednesday, March 7.
Members of the community are welcome to come and have a conversation with the two politicians about federal government policy and priorities for Parliament.
The get-together will be held at the Ramada Duncan at 140 Trans Canada Highway, from 4:30 to 6 pm.
MacGregor is presently promoting the “Create Your Canada” contest that gives Grade 11 & 12 students in the riding the opportunity to engage in making Canada a better place by creating an idea for a Private Member’s Bill. The winning student(s) will have the opportunity to travel to Ottawa to watch MP MacGregor present their idea to the House of Commons for First Reading.
“I am very excited to give students in my riding the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and participate in law-making firsthand,” stated MacGregor. “The young people of this country are our future, and I am thrilled to have this chance to encourage our youth to get involved in politics and think about how we can create a better Canada.”
The deadline for submissions to the “Create Your Canada” contest is April 30, 2018. Students may enter individually or in groups of two. More info: http://alistairmacgregor.ndp.ca/create-your-canada-contest
Sunday, March 4 ~ WEST SHORE. Colwood slams Langford over rec centre funding. A zinger of a statement was issued by Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton on March 1 and widely distributed in the community and to media by her municipal communications department.
The letter from Colwood’s mayor said that Langford was not meeting its financial obligation to West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) which is jointly owned and operated by Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands. The WSPR agreement sets out a formula for different levels of financial obligation from each of the municipalities based on resident use of the facilities and services. [The agreement used to include the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, but they backed out a year ago or so.]
A good west shore corporate citizen, Langford still pays the largest share of revenues into WSPR ($2.5 million per year) but “Langford cannot be a cash cow for something that is not managed properly,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said March 2.
Two years ago when the WSPR budget hit $5 million, Langford identified operational inefficiencies at WSPR causing what that municipality considered an unfair financial burden their Langford taxpayers who already support their own facilities built in the last several years (including arena, bowling alley, City Centre, Goudy Field, Westhills Stadium).
Hence Langford not approving the WSPR budget for the last two years.
“We’ve told (WSPR) that their budget doesn’t make sense. They do nothing with their reserves,” says Mayor Young. In Langford the recreation budget breaks even or better “because we chase revenue… we’re open for business,” says Mayor Young.
As one example, Langford’s Mayor points out that revenues from the large bright LED roadside sign in front of the West Shore Parks and Recreation Centre at 1767 Island Highway are directed by the WSPR board into capital reserves, not into operating costs. He feels that’s one example of where revenues are being misdirected, at least in the short term.
This year Colwood Council has also not approved the 2018 WSPR budget (now at about $6 million) because it shows the facility running at a deficit. This forces a bit of public debate, which is now rearing its head.
One person, Curtis Price, posted this on Facebook in recent days: “Hey Colwood, why don’t you start building like Langford. Get developers that can finish job make it easier for developers for want to build in Colwood. Langford got tired of waiting years ago for Colwood to jump on board. So yes of course they have no real interest in West Shore Parks and Rec. They built everything they needed in their own backyard.”
Mayor Hamilton says continuing to run WSPR at a deficit will certainly mean service cuts and likely force the shutdown of the WSPR within five years. Meanwhile, Colwood supports WSPR by foregoing property taxes on the property at a value of $736,267.
Saturday, March 3 ~ VICTORIA. The presence of former Premier Dave Barrett loomed large today. Not only on the screen above the stage at the State Memorial in his honour, but in the hearts of everyone there and those watching via livestream.
Nearly 1,000 people attended at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium for the 10 am occasion.
By all accounts, this is a man who is now fully and joyfully remembered as both a ‘giant’ of the people and a ‘giantslayer’ of lesser glories. He was BC’s 26th Premier.
Former BC Dave Barrett during a short three-year term in office (1972-1975) is forever in the history books for preserving agricultural land in BC by creating the Agricultural Land Reserve, bringing in public automobile insurance so that all vehicle owners could be covered, and creating Pharmacare drug plan coverage for seniors. His government brought in Hansard and Question Period in the legislature, and abolished corporal punishment in schools. And making all that possible his nimble political fervor brought down a 40-year-run of the right-of-centre Socred government of the day.
Speakers delivering tributes included BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, Premier John Horgan, Retired Roman Catholic Bishop Remi J de Roo, Former BC Minister of Labour Bill King (former MLA Shuswap-Revelstoke), former BC Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources Bob Williams (former MLA Vancouver East), Former BC Cabinet Minister and MLA (Vancouver-Hastings) and now Chair of ICBC Joy McPhail, and Marc Elisen who was Barrett’s Deputy Minister and Planning Secretary.
Lt Gov Judith Guichon acknowledged Barrett as BC’s first NDP premier, calling him a champion of the underdog. “He is part of the very fabric of the province,” Guichon said, noting that 357 Bills were passed in the Legislature during his time in office.
BC Premier John Horgan addressed the crowd with this: “He captured the hearts of each and every one of you.” Remarking further on Barrett’s power of oratory, Horgan noted in particular Barrett’s “passion and power of the message of social justice”. Horgan declared that no one will ever forget Dave Barrett.
Barrett’s three grown children spoke about their father with memories, fondness, and emotion.
The on-stage emcee today for the 1-hour-20-minute occasion was BC Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Carole James. A powerful rendition of O Canada was led by a Grade 10 student from Esquimalt High School, Isolde Welby. On stage ahead of the formal portion was the Chroma String Quartet.
Visual presentations on the large screen were modest and brief. The entire event was light-hearted, with a good balance of remembering Dave Barrett for both his political contributions and his happy family life. His wife Shirley attended, and was clearly seen by everyone in her husband’s life as a steady, loving source of support.
In the audience was a wide range of VIPs and the general public, many of whom have been long-time NDP supporters. Mayors of many of Greater Victoria’s municipalities were there, as well as several MLAs.
Dave Barrett (October 2, 1930 to February 2, 2018) had Alzheimer’s leading up to his death at age 87.
This past week was the official opening of the Al Charron Rugby Canada Training Centre and also the groundbreaking for the Belmont Residences property… both of those a kilometer’s distance of one another. Quite the bustling town! Both of those stories on page 1.
Colwood took a bit of a swipe against Langford over the West Shore Parks and Recreation budget… see page 4.
Plus lots else going on, not the least of which is BC residents not getting a one-year hydro rate increase freeze afterall.
Check it out in the March 2nd issue.
Thursday, March 1 ~ LANGFORD. On Monday, March 5 at the Millstream Road Interchange, one of the northbound right turn lanes heading onto Hwy 1 (Trans Canada) to Victoria will be closed for roadworks.
The curb lane will remain open for traffic, while the adjacent lane will taper into the curb lane past the intersection with Peatt Rd/Strandlund Ave.
The lane configuration will remain a permanent feature or this interchange, as a way to accommodate the dual left turns for southbound Millstream Rd. That’s where there is a heavier traffic load from the McCallum Road big-box stores commercial (and future additional residential development) side of the intersection (which is also handling more traffic from the Bear Mountain area).
The City of Langford Engineering says traffic studies support having one lane taking traffic from northbound Veterans Memorial Parkway (from the Goldstream