Thursday, April 10, 2014

If not McLoughlin Point, where could one point a sewage treatment plant?

The whole sewage treatment thing is such a mess now that Esquimalt has not approved the rezoning of the McLoughlin Point site.  The CRD will be asking the province to intervene and overrule Esquimalt council.   I think this is preferred route all the local politicians would like to take so that none of them have to own the decision.  I think all of them are holding their breath in hopes the province will force the rezoning.  I am not so sure this government will do that.

So what if the province does not agree for force the situation?  

Here are the options for a way forward:

CRD could make Esquimalt a better offer
The CRD and Esquimalt could come to some agreement on the use of McLoughlin point if there was more on the table.   I am 100% certain there is a number that Esquimalt would accept as compensation for having the sewage treatment plant.  The CRD could offer to cover 100% of the Esquimalt budget for a couple of decades and I suspect Esquimalt would accept.  

Yes, that sounds extreme, but it is just an illustration that all the options have not been considered.   You could argue that this would be an unreasonable extreme, but the negotiation was flawed from the start from the CRD side.  

The reality of the negotiation between the CRD and Esquimalt is that it never came from the approach of not using McLoughlin Point as an option in the negotiation.   It was clear the CRD was unwilling to negotiate in good faith and accept that the site was not set.    If there was a lack of good faith in the negotiations they are with the CRD and not Esquimalt.

The whole situation we are in at the moment is because the CRD seems to have gone ahead with the plans without first getting all their ducks in a row.   Why choose McLoughlin Point and issue RFPs for the work if you do not have the site secured?   Is this because the CRD assumed Esquimalt would kowtow to the CRD or is it because the CRD assumed the province would step in and force the rezoning?

The CRD could try an offer of a large annual sum of money and see how that works.  Using a location elsewhere in the CRD will likely have some significant increased costs.  If it were to add $400,000,000 to the cost, it would save a lot to offer Esquimalt $10,000,000 a year for 20 years.  

The CRD could seek a new location
Yes, the CRD did go through a process to find the best location but there were other sites on the list.   By not securing McLoughlin Point the CRD should be looking at the other locations on the list.   It may cost a lot more money but there are alternative locations outside of Esquimalt that could be used.  

  • Clover Point - yes, it would likely mean Dallas road would have to be closed there and some houses would have to purchased and bulldozed
  • Off of coast of Uplands - this option would have one major upside, very few people would see any impact since the population density of the Uplands is so low.   
  • Thetis Cove - since what is coming out is treated there is no need to have it go far out into the ocean.  The Thetis Cove area is either in View Royal or on reserve
  • Off of Finnerty Cove - the advantage of this is that it is in Saanich and the Saanich council seems to be very strongly in favour of the current model of a large single plant and therefore would likely approve the rezoning
There are likely others.

Try with a new sewage treatment plan
The Federal and Provincial governments are not unreasonable.   If the CRD were to try again with a much better plan I suspect that the other levels of government would be willing to allow some deferral.

Core to getting the Feds and province to agree to a new plan is to show there is support for the new plan.

There are options for the way forward but the CRD seems to have locked themselves into one set model

Friday, April 04, 2014

A Visit to Elkington Forest in South Shawnigan

The view from what will be the Ridgeview Hamlet looking towards
Shawnigan Lake - yesterday was overcast so the photo did not turn out 
I was invited by Doug Makaroff to come visit the Elkington Forest site in South Shawnigan and I took him up on that offer yesterday.   I was impressed with what I saw, this is the real deal.  Doug and his partners are really trying to do something different.

Their vision could be offering realistic and viable alternative to how we offer people the places they want to live in while at the same time providing a focus on the ecological needs of the land.   They are creating something between a development and an intentional community.  All developers use words like sustainable and community but none of them ever seem like building a community really matters to them, other than Elkington.

Barry Gates and Doug Makaroff at the look out 
I wrote about the project three years ago and I was not that impressed with what I saw on the website at the time.  My doubts at the time were there because it seems every developer these days talks about eco-something and uses all manner of buzz words related to sustainability and such - green wash.   Going up to visit the site allowed me to put it all into context.

The website does not do a good job of putting the property, especially the forest, in context with the whole area around it.  From the website it was not clear to me the relationship of the houses to the rest of the property.  The houses are slated to be on the land with the lowest productivity forest and located for the most part on a ridge at the southern part of the property.  Frankly, the views from the Ridgeview Hamlet will be stunning.

The South Shawnigan area has been heavily harvested for timber over the last ten years.   It had been almost all previously been cut down in the 1920s so this is the second cut.

Elkington stands out because it still has forest cover
I had a chance to talk with Barry Gates about the forestry aspect of the project.  They have a realistic long term plan for forestry.   An important point for the forestry aspect is a large enough volume to make timber harvesting economic.  

The forest as it stands now is not anywhere close to ready for harvesting but there are trees that could come out now in a thinning process including some of the timber that will be used for the houses being built as part of the project.    The land that is the working forest is the flatest best part of the whole property.

Much the area around Elkington was harvested in the last decade which I find astonishing because the trees would not have had much value to them.  The trees would only have been about 70 to 80 years old and hardly the high value timber they would have been in several decades.  Much of the harvested land will not not return to forest because it is being sold off as building lots.   There clearly is no serious coordinated plans on the south Shawnigan lands in relation to forest management.

One thing that I understand much better now is that this development has the creation of a community as a very important value.  This is not an intentional community but the hope is that it will have many of the aspects of an intentional community.   The hope is that people who buy here will share similar values with respect to the land and that the design of the development will lead to people getting to know their neighbours.

The current master plan for the developed part of Elkington
Yes, Elkington will be a car dependent community but a much better designed and laid out one that most of the rest of the South Shawnigan area.   The Goldstream Heights stuff is a nightmare, the land was all completely clear cut before subdivision.   The very thin soils are gone so you are working with little more than bare rock.   A bare five to ten acre lot in Goldstream Heights will take a lot of work and time to look like anything more than a piece of bare land.,

Current work in the Trailhead Hamlet
I have looked at their drawings of the Trailhead Hamlet numerous times, but it was only by going on site that I understood how of small a space we are talking about.   Even though the bare land strata lots are in the range of 1/3 of an acre and up, the way the Trailhead Hamlet is laid out is very intimate.   While walking around it I was consistently surprised at how quickly I moved on the map.  This is because the roadway is narrow, the properties are only 20-23 meters wide, and all the development and construction has to take place in a small part of each property near the street.  The core of the Trailhead Hamlet takes up around 3 acres which is smaller than the smallest of the acreages being sold as part of Goldstream Heights next door.

This is about the same area that a cul de sac with 15 houses in Gordon Head will take up.  The big difference is that in Gordon Head a lot more of the land is taken up by the street.

A typical roadway in the suburbs is 8 meters wide.   The use of 4 meter roadways at Elkington Forest will reduce the paved area by 50%, which over all the roadways they intend to build on the site works out to about 1.5 hectares less paving, which is enough space to build 15 more houses.

As to the commercial, I got a better understanding of what they have in mind.   They have set aside 7 lots for light industrial/commercial in part of the development not near any of the housing.  The idea for these lots is to allow for businesses related to the forest activities or the farms plots to exist in the area.   The other potential is for home businesses that out grow the home could continue not far away.

I had thought the idea of a local coffee shop in the Trailhead Hamlet was not a viable option and they agree that it is not going to be a traditional coffee shop.   The coffee shop will likely serve as a seasonal location for  the people using the Trans Canada Trail.  In any case, it will be part of the community centre which is what the building is really about.

For me, the website is what lets the vision for this development down.  I will admit I am jaded because every developer website tends to say community, sustainable, green, eco, buzz word, buzz word etc....  Every developer has beautiful drawings to make us fall in love with the project.   I think Elkington suffers from looking and feeling like green wash when they are not.   The problem is that development is not like other developments.

Doug Makaroff is really trying to do something different in Elkington.  It means this development is not like other developments and therefore hard to categorize.  This is a developer who is trying to build a functioning viable community that respects the environment.  I know of no other people trying to do anything quite like this in BC.  Success here will prove a new model that could be replicated in many locations in BC.

They need to do a better job of telling their story.   This may be a for profit development but at the heart of it it is about a group of people working hard for a decade to protect a 1000 acres of land.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A benefit of the closure of the Capitol 6

The current building that housed the Capitol 6 movie theatre and parking lot behind it are 5200 square meters in size.   This is a large enough space that it could be another Atrium building or several Juliets.   A significant development on this location would give a strong anchor between all the development further east at Harris Green and the traditional core of downtown on Douglas Street.

Whatever is built at this location needs to add to the vibrancy of downtown.  The loss of another movie theatre is a loss in the evening vibrancy of downtown.   Movie theatres have traditionally been one the major evening draw for people into downtown.   I suspect this is an issue in many cities around the world as the idea of a movie theatre dies out, but what will replace them as a reason for large numbers of people to gather in the evenings?

In general there is a stretch along Blanshard between Broughton and Yates that is remarkably low density given that this is downtown    There is a potential for a lot more offices and residences right at the core of downtown.

An Idea for More Effective Residential Waste Management

In Saanich the next garbage pick up will be with the new standard bins that they delivered to households in early January.   With this shift to standard sized bins that will be lifted by machine to dump into the trucks there are a few additions that could be done to make waste management cheaper and more efficient.

One the goals in this region is to reduce the amount of landfill waste and the most effective way to get people to reduce their waste is give them a financial incentive.  Up until now there has been no easy and cost effective way to ensure that the people who produce the most waste are charged for that waste.

In the CRD water pricing has been very effective as a way to reduce water use.   With a price for water and not a flat fee per property, there is an incentive to reduce how much water people use.   This same financial incentive could now be done with garbage because of inexpensive technology.  All it would take is the addition of an RFID chip along with a large address label on every bin and a sensor on the truck that can weigh the bin.   I assume the trucks already have GPS on board.  

The RFID chip on the garbage bin would allow the sensor on the lifting mechanism to recognize which bin was being lifted, the weight of the garbage and compost would then logged by residence.   On each municipal utility bill it would now clearly show how much garbage and compost is being produced by the household.  It would now be possible to charge garbage collection based on how much is thrown out.

Charging based on volume is only part of the cost, the very act of having to stop and pick up the bins is a cost as well.   It would only make sense to charge residences based on the number of bins picked up per year.

It is most efficient for the system to only collect bins when they are full but at the moment you get a pick up every two weeks if you need it or not.   The RFID chip would also allow the municipality to charge in part based on how often garbage is picked up and thereby giving people an incentive to only bring out their bins when they are full.   If my bin is not full and it does not need to be picked up, the RFID chip would then record this and my bill would show the weeks when pick ups were not required.

The per pick up charge is one that could be put on the compost bin.   It takes much longer for them to fill up and therefore need fewer pick ups.   By having some charge to the compost pick up those that compost at home would be rewarded.

Reducing the number of partial bins would speed up waste collection and that would save the municipality money.  This alone should be enough to quickly amortize the costs of setting up the program.

Collecting the data would allow the municipality to know what areas produce more waste than the average and therefore where further waste education is most needed.   It should also be possible for the municipality to work out what each garbage route costs to operate.  If denser neighbourhoods have ongoing lower costs to collect waste, those residents should be rewarded with cheaper costs.

The data would collected give us more and detailed information on the waste production habits of the public.  Combining this with census data for neighbourhoods would make it possible to do a detailed analysis of what socio-economic factors impact waste production.

Since this change directly charges back the full costs of waste collection, there is no reason why a household should not be allowed to have as many bins as they would like.

The reason for the large address label on the bin is to ensure no one swaps bins with a neighbour and thereby has them pay for their garbage. 


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The 1907 William Harbeck film of Victoria from a streetcar and then a boat on the Gorge

There are a number of good websites with lots of information about this film and William Harbeck.

The film is out there in two different forms, one is only three minutes long and ends when they reach the Empress.  The full version is just about six minutes long and goes up the Gorge to the Tillicum Bridge

What I am adding is the full article that appeared in the Colonist on May 5th 1907 about William Harbeck's filming day on May 4th 1907

From the Daily Colonist of May 5th 1907 - page three

Views of Victoria in Realistic From
Many Pictures of City and Surroundings Taken by Cinematograph Expert

The beauties of Victoria, just as they really are, will in future be shown for the benefit of stay-at-homes in half a hundred places throughout the civilized world.  By means of a lifelike cinematograph pictures they will represent will be spread over the whole of the States, as well as throughout the principal cities of the old country and of Europe, and the work of the Tourist association in drawing attention of the world to the capital of the west will be supplemented by views showing the city and its surroundings realistically.

All day yesterday there toured round the city a man.  On a street car specially loaned for the purpose by the British Columbia Electric Railway company he traveled through the streets, and on a launch he journeyed up the Arm and along the water front, and all the while he devoted himself to a queer box-like piece of apparatus, turning a crank and adjusting it so that the powerful lenses situated at the front could command the best views that were to be had.

The man was W.H. Harbeck, traveler for the Hales Tourist association of Portland, and the apparatus was a camera for the taking of films for use in cinematorgraphs.  When the sun set and it was impossible to take any further pictures, Mr Harbeck had exhausted some six hundred feet of film and had transferred to the long ribbon  some of the most beautiful scenes round Victoria.

On his street car tour, Mr Harbeck started out from Douglas street.  He caught a picture of the city hall, and then travelling along Yates street he went down to Government, whence he journeyed, taking pictures all the time to the postoffice.   At this point My Harbeck was so struck with the view that he stopped the car, and starting at the Empress Hotel, swung his camera so as to take one huge panoramic picture, including the government buildings, James bay and the harbor.  Thence he went on past the government buildings and there terminated his street car ride.

In the afternoon Herbert Cuthbert, secretary of the Tourist association, took possession of Mr Harbeck and his machine, and carried him out to the Point Ellice Bridge.  There Mr Harbeck took a picture of the harbor and the sealing fleet, and then J. Hinton opportunely appeared on the scene.  Mr Hinton was immediately much interested in the proceedings and offered to take the camera and operator for a ride up the Arm in his fine electric launch.  The offer was gladly accepted and up the beautiful stretch of water went the moving picture man and the machine.

My Harbeck was delighted at the beautiful vista which was opened as the launch carried him up the Arm, and had it not been for the fact that it was too busy "sawing wood" the very machine would probably been moved to speak.  As it was it occupied itself transferring to the film the splendid scenery.

On arrival at the Gorge bridge, it was found that the tide was running out and that it would be impossible to go any higher.  My Harbeck, however, was delighted.  The reversible water falls was something he had never previously struck in his travels and he had to have a picture of it.  Accordingly the little launch was pushed in among the whirling waters, and while the vessel racked and pitched, Mr Harbeck steadily turned the handle, and obtained a truly unique picture of the fall and the turbulent current that sweeps under the bridge.

On his way back Mr Harbeck took pictures of the east side of the Arm, including the Isle of the Dead and the saw mills, which were obligingly in full operation.  Altogether he was immensely pleased at the results of his trip.

Today he is going along the line of the E&N to Nanaimo.  Starting from the deport on Store street, he will get pictures of all the beautiful scenes along the railway on the way to Nanaimo.  Arrangements have been made for the train to stop for a few minutes a Shawingan Lake, and there a picture will be obtained of the glittering sheet of water, and the pretty little hotel.  In particular Mr Harbeck promises himself some interesting pictures of the scores of fishermen who will leave the city this morning for the lake.

From Nanaimo, he will go on to Vancouver, where he will take some 400 feet of pictures, and thence he will travel up the CPR until he has exhausted about 1,000 feet of film.  He expects to get splendid views of the Fraser canyon, and the glorious scenery between Yale and Lytton.

On his travels on railways, Mr Harbeck places his machine in the last carriage, and by turning the crank backwards, obtains just such a picture as unrolls itself before a traveler on the cars.

"The only trouble," said he, in describing his method to the Colonist reporter, "is that if you happen to pass a man on the tracks he appears to be walking backwards.  Otherwise the illusion is perfect."

Mr Harbeck is kept continually travelling, getting views for exhibition all over the world.  Of the pictures of Victoria alone, some hundred different ribbons will be made, and these will be shown in all the four corners of the earth.  Mr Harbeck has recently returned from a trip to Mexico, where he had some hair-raising experiences in taking pictures from railway trains hanging over cliffs 3,000 feet in height.  He even ventured into the arena while a bull fight was on, and almost came to conclusions with the bull.  He is now planning a trip across Canada on the CPR and next month expects to be going to Europe, where he will obtain pictures of the cities and sights of the old country and the continent.

The pictures which are thus obtained are exhibited in such a way as to give the illusion of a railway journey.  The room in which the cinematograph works is fitted up like a railway car, noise, rocking and all, and as the panorama is unfolded the passing scene are explained to the audience.  Mr Harbeck states that this form of amusement has become very popular in American and Europe, and that exhibitions are running in all the chief cities of the States and in the capitals and large towns of Europe.  It is anticipated that the exhibition of the films of Victoria will prove a splendid advertisement for the city.

Sites related to the film
Hallmark Society
Welcome to Victoria 1907 at UVic
Ross Crockford's 2007 piece on the film
Ross Crockford's 2008 update
Bio of William Harbeck on the Titanica website

This is the footage from Vancouver

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Princess Maguerite steamship TV commercial

If you grew up watching TV in the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest, you heard this saw this ad and had the jingle burned into your brain.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A 1936 Tourism promotion film for Victoria and Vancouver

I have been digging around online looking for some interesting old films clips about BC and here is one of them