Memo From Port Townsend
Port Townsend, Washington, has a population of about 9,000 – a thirtieth of Greater Victoria's. And yet its ornately brownstoned downtown possesses a few things that ours sorely lacks.
It has a city museum, located inside the same building as the city hall. (What a great way that would be to draw tourists to Centennial Square.) It has a teen coffeeshop run by volunteer counsellors, with internet and couches where kids can hang out in hassle-free warmth instead of on street corners. It has a historic, community-run movie theatre. And it has pubs like Sirens, where I am right now: a cozy second-floor beerhall (in the building pictured above right) with free WiFi, fireplaces, shelves of donated books, high-backed leather reading chairs, board games, blues (softly) on the stereo, burgers on artisanal bread instead of crap supermarket buns that disintegrate on the first bite, and a deck overlooking the water – in other words, it's the kind of place you could sit in for hours. Not a single pub in Victoria offers all this.
Another advantage of a strong Canadian dollar: maybe a few more Victorians will travel to Washington State, and see how our neighbours do things better.