Monday, October 31, 2011

Gene Miller fights for downtown

Another Focus Magazine piece

Here is one exert
What’s interesting about the City of Victoria is that you can feel its pain. It plays a Christlike, sacrificial role in the regional hagiography, and the surrounding municipalities—solemn invocations of regional cooperation notwithstanding—can barely contain their glee. The WestShore doesn’t even bother to hide its animus and contempt. It simply wishes Victoria would drop dead. Frank Leonard, mayor of Saanich and regional elder statesman, keeps his opinions to himself, christens new shopping centres, and diligently repaves his roads.
Every politician in the region with a shred of intelligence knows exactly what’s happening: the tide of economic influence is streaming toward the suburbs and Victoria is slowly but steadily losing muscle mass in terms of regional leverage. Gormless Victoria council is either unaware or in denial. I guess they’ll just wait until Downtown wakes up dead.
The City of Victoria is the only place in the region where you get this strange condition of endless, concatenating near-fiascos: a vitiated Downtown planning process (with profound implications for Downtown’s future); homelessness and street issues; the edgy relationship with the province; Blue Bridge cost overrun debacles-in-waiting, rhapsodic embrace of LRT with no idea whatsoever if it will benefit or hurt the city; housing affordability challenges; a largely un-funded half-billion-dollar capital works to-do list; a median household income $10,000 below the regional average (and half of Oak Bay’s); legitimate worries about business and shopper exodus to the suburbs; intermunicipal competition for jobs and fading numbers for Victoria; diminishing financial reserves…. Whoo-ee! Of course, not everything’s a crisis and the city has its share of victories. The new public urinal for besotted, late-night club-goers is a big success.
Post a Comment