A City Worth Defending
Dear Reader: sorry I haven’t posted anything new here for several weeks, but paying assignments (e.g. about artificial reefs) take priority. I’ll be back soon with news about the Songhees caves and my recent visit to the secretive Masonic Temple and Odd Fellows’ Hall, among other things.
I cannot resist the urge to quickly mention a few items in the local news, however. First off, the Capital Regional District has just released a report confirming that Victoria needs sewage treatment. You can read the entire $605,000 document here, but the quick and dirty conclusion reached by the blue-ribbon panel is that a growing city cannot keep dumping its poo into the sea.
The CRD announced that it will spend the next six months pondering where to build a treatment facility, and how to pay for it. But Victorians are already expressing outrage: the phone lines on the talk-show station CFAX were afire this morning with cranky taxpayers literally claiming that our shit doesn't stink. It has no effect on sea life, they argued, and besides, spraying treated sewage on crops is disgusting. Which seems contradictory: if it’s too toxic to put on crops, we shouldn’t be dumping it in the ocean. But faulty logic has never prevented Victorians from defending the status quo.
The other big local storyline concerns the media itself. As many have heard, 17 employees were cut from Victoria’s A-Channel yesterday, after it was announced that the TV station and everything else owned by CHUM is being purchased by CTV/BellGlobemedia. What's more shocking is news that the Times Colonist axed Sunday columnist Vivian Smith because she recently wrote a piece critical of the city’s boring, overpriced tourist attractions. As Sean Holman reported at his Public Eye Online, the cut was ordered by publisher Bob Mackenzie, after he met with a delegation of aggrieved tourism operators who advertise in the paper.
The common theme to these stories? All too often, Victoria is a gutless, fearful place – and that's as true of its media as its penny-pinching citizenry. It's yet another aspect of the city that remains unpublicized, if not truly Unknown.
UPDATE (July 24, 2006): Some amazing reversals recently. Last Friday the provincial government announced that it will financially back sewage treatment – and suddenly the city is excitedly talking about building a state-of-the-art facility that could produce fertilizer or biodiesel. And today, Sean Holman reports, T-C publisher Bob Mackenzie has apologized for suspending Vivian Smith's column, assured the staff that the paper-thin wall between advertising and editorial remains intact, and invited Smith to return to the T-C's pages in the autumn. So maybe we really can turn poo into gold – and perhaps Victoria really is more courageous than it first appears.