Friday, February 19, 2010

The Blue Bridge

Just because Victoria is a small city it doesn't mean it has to be an insignificant city. Keep in mind that ancient Athens at its peak was a city of only 100,000, which was nowhere near the size of other political centres of its day, and yet remains arguably the most significant city in history. This is not because of its military conquests- it's attempt to become an empire resulted in catastrophe- but because of the influence of its artists, philosophers, dramatists, and historians among others. Ever since we have been building on the intellectual capital they bequeathed to us. Athens, along with that other insignificant city, Jerusalem, have made us what we are.
Okay, it may be asking too much of Victoria to become a modern day Athens, but why do we have to think so small? If there's one thing I dislike about Victoria is that it thinks small. This is especially hard to understand when it is the capital of the province. So it's an attitude shared by Canadians in general.
This propensity to small-mindedness manifests itself most noisily when something new is to be done. In Victoria they won't do much to stop auto break and enters, but heaven help you if you want to chop down a tree on your own property. So imagine what happens when plans to replace a downtown bridge are announced. A shrieking arises from the ranks of our morose malcontents, like starving vultures who have just smelled a carcass. And so they went forth amongst their fellows and gathered signatures- enough signatures to pass the statutory criterion for forcing a referendum. For this, the city council had to go back into a huddle and have now emerged to tell us that $840,000 will have to be spent for a new study. In the newspaper article, the writer Cleverley (pun intended) tells us "...many people were critical of what they saw as council rushing to replace the bridge without a thorough examination of the refurbishment option." Hmmmm. Just who are these 'many people,' anyway. Thanks for not telling us, Bill.
The bridge is old, narrow, rusty and rickety. True, it is a picturesque old gal in her blue paint, accommodating to pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, an old dayliner and mariners alike. She carries two massive concrete counterweights for when she needs to raise her skirts to let a tall masted yacht, barge or fishing boat enter or exit the Upper Harbour. And the "homeless" camp and enjoy refreshments underneath her.
But who in his right mind would question the need to replace her? The only issue is with what. For instance, do we still need to accommodate that dayliner, itself ready for retirement to a railway museum. It crosses the bridge and stops. That's the end of the line. There's no place else for it to go. The railway retains a roundhouse on the Vic West end where they conduct maintenance on the equipment and the terminus would make a lot more sense there than on its downtown corner not only lacking in parking for cars and taxis but very tricky to access. It's been an absurdity for years. In fact, the whole crossing needs to be analyzed with future needs in mind, not just as drop in replacement for a solution that worked well a century ago.
Generally, I don't make much of an effort to examine issues like this too thoroughly on the principle that there's not much I can do about anything. But for the sake of this blog I'll endeavour to fill out the discussion as the situation unfolds.

No comments:

Post a Comment