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Comment: Many reasons to wonder about Victoria

A commentary by a retired professional engineer and planner who lives in Victoria.
A pair of dog walkers brave the chilly wind at Clover Point. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A commentary by a retired professional engineer and planner who lives in Victoria.

A while ago I was in Singapore, and was greatly impressed by the orderliness and clean feel of the city. I remarked to our cab driver that Singapore was indeed a fine city.

“Yes sir”, said the cabby. “It is a fine city. There is a fine for littering, there is a fine for ­jaywalking, there is a fine for making graffiti, fine, fine, fine. Yes sir, it is a fine city.”

Coming back to Victoria, I believe, in the same vein, that Victoria is a wonderful city. Let me elaborate.

I wonder if the council members and bureaucrats who made Government Street impassable to cars ever went back to see the havoc they wrought on the economy and commerce of the place.

The boutique stores, the high fashion stores, all gone. The only stores surviving there are cheap souvenir stores. I wonder if the city realized this or if they ever asked why people have stopped coming downtown for recreation and shopping.

I wonder if the planners who changed the design of Clover Point have visited the place recently to see what they have done.

They changed it from an enjoyable experience during calm as well as stormy weather, watching a sunset during a brisk cold wind, sitting in your car facing west, into a place where all the parking spaces are situated at the least suitable places for the above activities, and on top of that, more than half are for handicapped parking.

I wonder what the city has against healthy old people who just want to enjoy nature from the sanctuary of their car.

I wonder if the planner or bureaucrat who advised the city to close Arbutus Road, the road through Beacon Hill Park, to all traffic except bicycles and pedestrians, ever went back to see what has become of that stretch of the park.

What used to be a magical 5 km/h drive stuck behind a horse carriage, windows down with the wind rustling your hair, is now a distant memory. It has deteriorated into unkempt bush.

I wonder if they ever realized what they were doing. I don’t remember hearing why they were doing it.

I wonder if the transportation engineers who have transformed a properly functioning Fort Street into a nightmare obstacle course of barriers, concrete curbs, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and confusing signals have ever driven a car on Fort Street on a dark rainy night in the vicinity of Fernwood and Craigdarroch. Have they ever gone and looked at what they wrought? I wonder.

And I wonder about the stoic attitude of the taxpayers with regard to a small population of under a million people being governed by 13 mayors, 91 councillors, as well as all those police chiefs and fire chiefs and innumerable bureaucrats.

Why can’t we have one City of Victoria, and use all the savings for upgrading the roads and infrastructure and providing cultural avenues for the artistic soul of the city?

I wonder why the taxpayers are so frog-in-a-pot-like. The city is slowly deteriorating and I wonder why we don’t do anything about it. Why can’t the minister of municipal affairs, or the premier, order the amalgamation of the area into one city? Toronto did it.

I also never cease to wonder why the council is going to spend nearly a million dollars on the redesign of a heritage item, the Centennial fountain. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.

And of course, I wonder how the council gave themselves a 25 per cent raise. Probably for giving us so many things to wonder about.

As I said, Victoria is a wonderful city.

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