Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Beacon Hill Park Song - Shaw TV Victoria

Silly little song about Beacon Hill Park

Monday, June 02, 2014

Cost of Independent Schools in Victoria

In Victoria we have a significant number of independent schools.  Some are very small and some are on the same scale as public schools.  They all charge fees but dramatically different amounts.

One thing that has been raised in the current teachers labour dispute is the issue of public funding for independent schools.   Independent schools can be partially funded by the government in BC though not all of them.   In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario the government offers 100% public funding for one set of "independent schools" - the Catholic ones.
Here is how it is decided which independent schools get government funding:
Group 1 schools - they offer the BC curriculum and use BC certified teachers and have at least 50% of their students come from BC.   They also do not have a per student operating cost higher than the local school district.  In the case of SD#61, as far as I can tell, this is about $8,300 per full time student.  Here in Victoria they qualify for $3,450 per full time student.  Just over 3/4s of the students attending independent schools in BC attend Group 1 schools.

Group 2 schools - as above except their operating cost is more than the cost for a full time student in the local school district.  Here in Victoria they can receive $2,300 per full time student.  About one in five students in independent schools go to a Group 2 school.

Group 3 schools choose not to use BC certified teachers and do not qualify for support.

Group 4 schools mainly cater to international students and receive no funding.

All independent schools charge fees to attend and it is a scale of expense that runs from borderline affordable for families on a middle class income for many of the faith based ones and alternative ones to the top end traditional private schools which are only affordable for the rich.

The fees below do not include any extra fees or costs involved with the school

Annual tuition fee for schools offering curriculum for up to the end of Grade 8 for the first child - faith based schools in red
$3,940 - Lighthouse Christian Academy 
$4,380 - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a parish supporter
$4,500 - Elizabeth Buckley School 
$4,850 - Victoria School for Ideal Education
$5,320 - Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School
$5,352 - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a non-parish supporter
$5,485 - Pacific Christian School to grade 7
$5,500 - Arts Calibre Academy to grade 5
$5,600 - non-Anglicans at the Cathedral School
$7,100 - Discovery School to grade 9
$7,319 - Selkirk Montessori
$7,332 - West Mont Montessori to grade 6
$8,100 - Maria Montessori Academy
$8,364 - West Mont Montessori grades 7 and 8
$12,400 - St Margaret's School to grade 4
$13,200 - St Margaret's School grades 5 to 7
$15,025 - Glenlyon Norfolk House to grade 5
$15,930 - St Michaels University School to grade 5
$17,100 - Glenlyon Norfolk House grades 6 to 8
$18,180 - St Michaels University School grades 6 to 8
$28,800 - Victoria Eaton Arrowsmith School - I am not entirely certain what this school is

For grades 9 to 12, the number of independent school options drops
Tuition fees for High School for the first child
$3,940 - Lighthouse Christian Academy grades 9 and 10
$4,990 - Lighthouse Christian Academy grades 11 and 12
$5,880 - St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a parish supporter for the first child
$6,800 - Pacific Christian School grade 8 to 12
$7,200 - Discovery School grades 10 to 12
$7,608 - St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a non-parish supporter for the first child
$8,262 - Maria Montessori Academy grades 9 to 11
$14,400 - St Margaret's School grades 8 and 9
$15,900 - St Margaret's School grades 10 to 12
$18,580 - Glenlyon Norfolk House
$19,790 - St Michaels University School
$28,800 - Victoria Eaton Arrowsmith School

The faith based schools tend to be among the more affordable ones.   The largest faith based independent schools in BC are the Catholic ones.   There are 79 Catholic schools in BC which, in my estimation, means about 24,000 students attend a Catholic school.  This is about one third of all the students in independent schools.

Full public funding of faith based schools is something that still happens in parts of Canada   In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario the Catholic schools are fully publicly funded.   Newfoundland and Labrador fully funded faith based schools till 1997.  In Quebec they had separate Catholic and Protestant school boards till 1999.   Because here in BC the Catholic schools are not part of the public system there can be problems comparing our education system to those in Alberta or Ontario.

Most  schools offer discounts if more than one child attends and here are some of the examples of what that discount works out to:
$2,026 per child - Lighthouse Christian Academy with 3 children in the school
$2,571 per child - Pacific Christian School with 3 children in school up to grade 7
$2,816 per child - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a parish supporter with 3 children in the school
$3,039 per child - Lighthouse Christian Academy with 2 children in the school
$3,224 per child - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a non-parish supporter with 3 children in the school
$3,654 per child - Pacific Christian School with 2 children in the school up to grade 7
$3,918 per child - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a parish supporter with 2 children in the school
$4,652 per child -  Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School with 3 children in the school
$4,836 per child - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a non-parish supporter with 2 children in the school
$5,070 per child - non-Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School with 3 children in the school
$5,070 per child - Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School with 2 children in the school
$5,132 per child - West Mont Montessori with 3 children in the school to grade 6
$5,300 per child - non- Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School with 2 children in the school
$5,499 per child - West Mont Montessori with 2 children in the school to grade 6
$5,562 per child - Selkirk Montessori with 3 children in the school
$6,002 per child - Selkirk Montessori with 2 children in the school
$9,920 per child - St Margaret's School with 3 children in K-4
$11,160 per child - St Margaret's School with 2 children in K-4
$3,314 per child - Pacific Christian School with 3 children in grades 8 to 12
$3,612 per child -  St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a parish supporter with 3 children in the school
$4,732 per child - Pacific Christian School with 2 children in the school
$4,848 per child -  St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a non-parish supporter with 3 children in the school
$5,130 per child -  St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a parish supporter with 2 children in the school
$6,540 per child  - St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a non-parish supporter with 2 children in the school

Friday, May 30, 2014

Creating A Community In Elkington Forest

At Elkington Forest Doug Makaroff is doing something dramatically different.  He has figured out how to mobilize the largest asset of middle class Canadians, their home.  to help protect the world around us.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

So where all the voters? Voter turnout in local elections and why it is low

People in this region are willing to vote but the turnout at local elections has consistently been low.

Here is the turnout by municipality going back over the last six elections.  I am missing data from many of the earlier elections.
Municipality 2011 2008 2005 2002 1999 1996
Highlands    accl 72.0 74.4      58.4
Metchosin    48.8 58.8           48.8
Oak Bay      42.0 48.0 28.7
Sooke        41.9 43.7 40.6 35.3
Nth Saanich  41.5 52.5 48.3
Ctl Saanich  32.4 33.4 28.0
Sidney       31.0 36.5 accl 35.5
View Royal   27.9 23.3 accl
Colwood      26.8 27.0 24.8
Victoria     26.4 26.9 26.4 31.3 31.2 26.2
Saanich      25.4 21.0 19.1 24.6
Esquimalt    18.0 26.9 32.5      25.0
Langford     14.0 22.9 21.3

In the 44 elections listed above only four times did more than half the population vote.   Meanwhile in 10 examples one quarter or less of the population voted.

It is not that people in this region are not willing to vote, when we look at federal and provincial elections we see that 60% to 75% of people are voting in most cases.   Work done by Elections BC indicates that 90% of people voted in at least one of the 2001, 2005 and 2009 elections.  Only around 10% of the population is unwilling to ever vote. 

In Saanich about 76,000 of the voters have voted in at least one of the federal or provincial elections in the last decade.   In 2011 only 21,134 people voted in the local election.    Close to 55,000 people who are willing to vote did not come out vote last time.   

In Victoria the numbers are 60,000 willing to vote but only 17,249 voting in 2011 for a total of 37,750 missing voters.

Turnout in Federal Elections
Riding           2011 2008 2006 2004
Saanich Gulf Isl 75.3 70.4 73.2 74.0
Victoria         67.5 67.5 71.0 68.4   
Esquimalt JdF    65.2 64.6 58.1 65.9

Turnout in Provincial Elections
Riding                 2013 2009 2005 2001
Oak Bay Gordon Head    70.8 66.9 73.6 75.5
Saanich North + Isl    70.3 66.8 73.1 75.9
Saanich South          67.8 66.4 72.0 76.0
Victoria Beacon Hill   59.3 57.2 64.1 69.6
Esquimalt RR/Metchosin 58.9 58.3 66.9 69.5
Vic Swan Lake/Hillside 58.7 56.9 62.7 68.7
Juan de Fuca/Mala-JdF  58.4 59.9 69.6 73.6
It is important to note that how BC calculated voter turnout changed between 2005 and 2009.  Elections BC not only tried to get a lot more people registered, they worked out how many people should be on the voters list.

Can we get all these people that voted in the previous federal and provincial elections to vote in the local elections?

I think it comes down to people not knowing enough about the races for councils to be able to feel comfortable casting a ballot.   People need to get clear information from or about candidates for them to be able to make up their mind.   The problem is that none of things are easy to achieve in a local election.

When in a local election the turnout is higher than previously it often has to do with a competitive race for mayor.  When there is a big race for mayor there tend to only be two strong candidates which makes it easier for people to get the information to make a decision.

When people do vote they will often choose the names on the ballot they have heard of which means it is really hard to defeat an incumbent councilor.   

In a provincial or federal election each candidate has a brand they are connected with.  It means for a lot of people the decision on how they will vote is driven by their opinion of the political parties.   This is not available in local elections.

In a local election campaign it is very hard for anyone show how their platform is something actually different than everyone else.   The phrases and words used by most candidates all start to sound the same rather quickly.   I suspect this is because most candidates would have a very hard time expressing what they would do that is dramatically different than is done currently.   For most voters this means that information they are getting online or in a flyer is not at all helpful to make a decision.

It does not help that in the local elections we have 13 races for council and three races for school boards all at the same time in one city.   The are so many candidates that it is effectively impossible for the local media to cover any of the races.   It is also hard for the media to cover because the platforms of most of the people running do not make for a compelling narrative for the news.   In in federal or provincial election not only are there fewer candidates, there are clear dividing lines between the people running.   Too many races with too many candidates and no clear narrative means it is nightmare for the media to cover.

Ideally a candidate should meet every voter and talk to them.   If they can do this they have a decent chance of convincing people to vote for them.   The problem is that doing this on your own as a candidate is not really possible.  Even in Highlands, with about 1500 voters, it would mean trying to meet 50 people a day in a month long campaign.   It takes a long time in the Highlands to get from house to house.   To have a chance to win an election a candidate needs a campaign team.

Campaigning properly takes a significant sized team if you want to reach all the voters.  In Saanich you need to have a team of 300 to 500 volunteers to reach most of the voters.   In Oak Bay you could get away with 50 to 100.   With so many candidates running at once in this region there are not enough people out there to properly run a campaign.  If even only 100 candidates could achieve a moderate sized campaign team of 100 volunteers that would involve 10,000 people, that is way beyond what anyone could find in this region for political campaigning.   In Greater Victoria there are likely no more than 2,000 to 3,000 people that would seriously consider helping on a campaign.

What it all boils down to:

  • The voter needs good information to make a decision on who to vote for.
  • The candidate has no way to reach the voter with that information they need - not through the media, not through their platform and not through a campaign team.   
The only way this will change is if candidate comes forward with a large campaign team, a clear platform of change, and a compelling narrative for the media.   

2005 Highlands Election Results

Mark Cardinal   536 previously three term councilor
Karel Roessingh 508 (inc)

Council - 6 to be elected
Jane Mendum        559 (inc)
Andrew Fall        539
Michelle Mahovlich 546
Ken Brotherston    537 (inc)
Joe Kadar          537 (inc)
Ken Williams       517
???? Parkinson     515
???? Burns         509
Elaine Limbrick    505
???? York          497

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

ALR in Saanich

There are some "interesting" chunks of agricultural land reserve in Saanich.    A fair amount of it is parks, two schools are on ALR land and six golf courses.   Golf courses have not been an allowed use for ALR for over 22 years now.

Parks with some or all of the land in ALR

  • Cuthbert Holmes Park 5 hectares on the western end of the park
  • Cedar Hill Golf Course and Park - 48 hectares - this is not all of the park but 5 hectares on the eastern edge of the park is not in ALR
  • Beckwith park 8.2 ha is in the ALR, and 0.75 ha is not
  • Christmas Hill 0.33 ha is in the ALR next to Rogers elementary
  • Swan Lake 32 ha is in, 
  • Mount Doug 1.5 ha on the south flank
  • Elk Lake 24 ha at north west end - 60 ha on the east shore, 6.8 ha west side of Beaver Lake
  • Small park at the end of Story Land 1.2 ha
  • Lochside park 4.5 ha
  • Colquitz Park near north end 0.33 ha
  • Blekinsop Lake Park 3.2 ha
  • Quick's Bottom Park 18 ha, but a small amount is out on the north end
  • Prospect lake park 2.4 ha next to Prospect Elementary
  • Brodrick Park 0.5 ha 
  • Layeritz 20 ha in the ALR and 7.8 ha is out
  • Rithet's Bog 41 ha  small bits are outside of it
  • Bear Hill Regional Park 10.5 ha is in the ALR, most is out
  • Cuthbert Holmes - the ALR land is the faint brown diagonal lines
  • TOTAL 287.5 ha in parks

Schools in the ALR

  • 3.4 ha of Rogers Elementary is on ALR
  • Prospect Lake Elementary 3 ha
  • TOTAL in ALR 6.4 ha

Rogers Elementary - all ALR
Golf Courses within the ALR

  • 49 hectares in Cordova Bay Golf Course, part of the course is outside of the ALR
  • 16.8 ha of the Mount Doug Golf Course, which is all of it
  • 7.6 ha Victoria Golf Academy on Blenkinsop, which is all of it
  • 8.8 ha of the Royal Oak Golf Course
  • 4 ha of the Prospect Lake Golf Course
  • Cedar Hill Golf Course 40 ha
  • TOTAL in ALR 126.2 ha

Overall total 380.1 ha which is about 18% of the ALR in Saanich.

There should be a move to get all of this ALR land back into a form so that it could be used for farming again.  The easiest ones would be the parks.    If the public does not want the park lands to be farmed, the land should be removed from the ALR.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Bus Exchange at McTavish Road and Highway #17 - Is it a White Elephant?

With the build of the overpass at McTavish and Highway #17 BC Transit built the McTavish bus exchange and park and ride.  

I have never had to use it for transit, though I have been on the #72 as it passes through there.   What strikes me is how large it is but underused.

There is space for four full sized buses to be here at the same time but one of the spaces is not in use.  The exchange also includes stops on the on/off ramps of the highway making for six spots where buses could stop, this is a large scale transit exchange.  The bus loop part of the exchange takes up close to an acre of land.   The bus loop looks like it was constructed to be able to have five more buses stop there.  

So why is it so big?   There are not that many buses that come through here at any given time.   Right now only six bus routes use this interchange of which four of them use the small community buses.  

Total number of trips of each bus that passes through McTavish Exchange on weekdays
#70 58 total trips - 29 to Swartz Bay, 29 to Downtown
#72 80 total trips - 41 to Swartz Bay, 39 to Downtown
#81 32 total trips - 15 to Saanichton/Brentwood, 17 to Sidney/Swartz Bay
#83 16 total trips - 8 to Sidney 8 to Royal Oak
#86  4 total trips - 2 to Deep Cove, 2 arriving at McTavish
#88 46 total trips - 23 to Sidney, 23 to the Airport

This is a total of 236 buses arriving at the exchange over 18 hours, which is an average of only 13.1 per hour.  What this means is that is very rare for more than one bus to be at the exchange at any given time.   If the exchange was a route end there could be the need for buses to sit there for a longer period as the drivers take their break, but almost all of the buses going through McTavish are on their way to another destination and only stop there long enough to let passengers off and on.

The idea of an exchange is for people to transfer from one bus to another bus.   In the case of the McTavish Exchange I do not see this demand being high.   The community buses only have a maximum capacity of just over 20 passengers.   Even with the low capacity of these community buses these routes have very low use.  Routes #81, #83, #86 and #88 move a total of about 800 people per weekday, that is 400 round trips total.  If all these people were going to McTavish to change to the #70 or #72, this would only represent 9% of the traffic on those routes.   If more realistically half of those people were transferring at McTavish each weekday, this is only about 50 people per peak hour using the exchange.

McTavish has the largest park and ride facility in Greater Victoria which I find very surprising given the much higher population and more transit on the Westshore.  There is space for 177 cars to park there, though according to people I have asked it is not heavily used, half full at best.   With roughly 90 spots used and an average occupancy of 1.1 people per car, this only represents 100 transit passengers a day, just enough to fill one double decker bus.   Why build it so large if the demand is not there?   Where does BC Transit think the demand will come from?   There is no realistic expectation of large population increases on the north end of the peninsula. and if anything the number of commuters is likely to fall over time.

The park and ride facility does not allow you to park there and then take the bus to the airport of the ferry because you are not allowed to park overnight.   Given the very high prices the airport and BC Ferries charge for parking, it would be nice to be able to park somewhere near to them for free.   It would also generate more traffic for BC Transit.   They have the space and it is not being used so why not let people park overnight, they could charge a small fee for overnight parking and limit it to only the back half of the parking lot.   80 spots available for overnight parking that cost $5 a night could bring in $90,000 to $140,000 a year for BC Transit.  The extra bus fares from making this parking available could worth another extra $90,000 to $140,000 a year.   That is enough income to allow for seven to eight more transit service hours per weekday.

The location is not a very useful one because there is no destination there.  Part of the problem is that Highway #17 was not constructed close to the airport terminal or the core of the population in Central Saanich.  The other exchanges in Victoria like UVic, Saanichton, Langford, Western, and Royal Oak all have significant development around them and reasons for people to travel to them.  All McTavish has is the airport but BC Transit has never really embraced the airport as a core destination.  

Now for a digression about transit and the airport:
Few people are going to want to transfer when going to the airport with luggage which means the small community buses that take you to McTavish from the airport are acting as a disincentive to transit use.   I think it should be possible to change the routing of the #70 and #72 into three routes, one being the #70 express from the ferry to downtown, a second being the #72 but only once an hour from the ferry and a third that starts in Sidney but runs via the airport.   Creating this third route would effectively make the #88 redundant.

Is there demand for transit to and from the airport?  Among local people that are flying somewhere there is clearly a demand especially those aged 18 to 30.   You people travelling are seeking a cheaper alternative than a taxi or the tourist airport shuttle.   One only has to look at the high demand for BC Transit service to the ferry.  One nice aspect for transit to and from the airport is that it is not like the ferry where everyone arrives at the same time.  The smaller capacity of airplanes and the constant flow of passenger which means there would be a consistent flow of people going to and from the airport.  

With around 3,000 people per day travelling through YYJ there should be enough demand to fill a regular single deck bus especially if it is a route that services Sidney as well.  This would be augmented by the people using transit to get to the airport for work.   YYJ is a significant sized employer but has not easy connection for commuters to get to work.  I would be very surprised if transit use by people working YYJ was not lower than the average.

Back to the McTavish Exchange, it seems to be much larger than is needed and located where it is not needed.   I think BC Transit made a mistake spending their money on building it.

Here is the list of all 38 buses passing through McTavish Exchange weekdays between 7:00 am and 8:59 am, the busiest time of the day for transit.  Bold are full size buses, red are southbound, underlined are the buses that stop outside of the bus loop at the exchange.
7:00 #70 to Downtown
7:00 #72 to Downtown
7:10 #81 from Keating headed to Sidney
7:12 #83 from Sidney headed to Brentwood and Royal Oak
7:15 #70 to Downtown
7:20 #70 to Swartz Bay
7:21 #86 from Deep Cove terminating at McTavish - normally has only one or two passengers
7:22 #81 from Sidney going to Keating
7:24 #72 to Sidney/Swartz Bay
7:27 #72 to Downtown
7:30 #70 to Downtown
7:38 #88 from Sidney headed to Airport
7:40 #72 to Downtown
7:42 #88 to Sidney (starting at McTavish)
7:44 #72 to Sidney/Swartz Bay starting at Saanichton
7:45 #70 to Downtown
7:47 #81 from Sidney going to West Saanich and Wallace
7:47 #88 from Airport headed to Sidney
7:49 #81 from Keating headed to Sidney
7:51 #72 to Sidney/Swartz Bay
7:53 #70 to Swartz Bay
8:01 #72 to Downtown
8:09 #83 from Sidney headed to Brentwood and Royal Oak
8:13 #88 from Sidney headed to Airport
8:15 #70 to Downtown
8:20 #81 from Sidney headed to Keating
8:22 #88 from Airport terminating at McTavish
8:23 #70 to Swartz Bay
8:24 #81 from West Saanich and Wallace headed to Sidney
8:31 #72 to Downtown
8:32 #88 from Sidney headed to Airport
8:32 #83 from Royal Oak and Brentwood headed to Sidney
8:41 #88 from Airport headed to Sidney
8:45 #70 to Downtown
8:51 #72 to Sidney/Swartz Bay
8:53 #70 to Swartz Bay
8:54 #83 from Royal Oak and Brentwood headed to Sidney