Tuesday, October 16, 2018

October is Referendum time

As the leaves turn to their brilliant October colours, here in BC we're gearing up for a hugely important referendum. It's an opportunity to change our voting system for the better, to move to a proven system of democracy that gives everyone an equal voice in their government.  It's Proportional Representation--otherwise known as Pro Rep. And it's not like the current system that lets a party with less than 40% of the vote have 100% of the power in government.

Under Pro Rep if a party gets 30% of the votes province-wide, it will end up with 30% of the seats in Legislature. Dozens of democracies around the world use this system because it results in a government that represents everyone's views and cooperates to get things done. If you're tired of feeling like your vote doesn't count then Pro Rep is for you.

I am so excited about this opportunity to upgrade our voting system that I've been volunteering with a group phoning people to let them know about the referendum. But I'm concerned that not that many people understand what it is and how important it is to our democracy. Hence this post.

Ballots will be mailed out to everyone on the BC voters list this week. When you get your ballot you'll see there are two questions on it. The first question asks if you want to stay with our current system or move to a system of Proportional Representation.  This is the only question you need to answer.  And I hope you'll vote for this change. We will have eight years to try it and then there will be another referendum to decide if we want to keep it.

The second question on the ballot is optional. It asks you to select which Pro Rep model you think is best. There are three models being considered. Each of them has been reviewed by a committee on electoral reform. Each of them will provide local representation and proportionality without increasing the number of MLAs in government.  Any one of them will be a huge improvement over our current system by allowing every vote to count. So if you don't have a strong preference for one model over another, you can choose not to answer the second question.

It's the first question that's important. I am hopeful that you will watch for the ballot in the mail and take the time to vote yes to PR and mail the ballot back as soon as possible.

And if you want to see this change to our voting system, please make a point of talking to your friends and family about the referendum and encourage them to vote yes too. If they've  moved recently they should contact Elections BC  to update their information.

By the way, the Elections BC website has a really comprehensive voters guide that will answer any questions you have about the systems and the voting process.

I am crossing my fingers that British Columbia can join countries like New Zealand, Scotland, and Germany and move to a proportional system to create government that reflects the views of all.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing these photographs taken here in Victoria and in Vancouver over the past week of glorious sunny weather.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Moss Street Market and a walk in the cemetery

On Saturday morning Sue and I headed off to the Moss Street Market, one of the best places to see friends and pick up some local organic produce. As usual my camera couldn't stay in my pocket. There are just too many beautiful, colourful vegetables to photograph. 

We have to get there right when it opens at 10:00 because all the best veggies are snapped up pretty quickly. Once we've made our selections we can head over to where the music is happening. This week it was Slim Sandy and the Hillbilly Boppers, a local couple that really get things going on the guitar and the washtub. 

Our next stop was the Ross Bay Cemetery, one of the oldest in Victoria. And we enjoyed a stroll among the lovely trees looking at gravestones from a century or more ago.  

I hadn't visited this place for years actually but for sure I will be back. It's a funny thing--when we travel I make a point of visiting cemeteries in Eastern Canada and France and Mexico but I'd forgotten that we have a spot right here in Victoria that's just as lovely.

There's even a lovely carved angel. I like the way she has her foot lifted as if she's walking.

We headed home after that and I spent some time making this beautiful beet soup for dinner.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Late September Butchart Gardens

Today was quintessential early fall--cloudless and calm, cool in the morning warming up mid-day. We spent a few hours at the lovely Butchart Gardens and I tried out my new camera.  Here are few of the images I found.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Cowichan Bay

Today being Sunday we took a drive over the Malahat up to Cowichan Bay on the east side of Vancouver Island. It's a cute little bay with a marina and a road lined with waterfront cottages and funky restaurants.  

We stopped at a restaurant called Rock Fish Cafe, where we had some delicious Manhattan style clam chowder and salad and then walked down the dock to a Maritime Museum. It's built along a pier that you can see in the photo at the top of this post.

This museum is a labour of love by people in the area who are wooden boat aficionados. Many elegant and historic rowboats are docked there. As well there's a marine ways where people can haul their boats up to repair them.

And inside the main building there's a workshop where volunteers work on ancient outboard motors, doing repairs the people then pay what they think the work is worth.

There's also a lovely old wooden boat that needs a ton of work and is for sale for $15,000 to anyone who will undertake to restore it where it sits. Maybe this could be your life's work?

Here's a lovely double ended rowboat that's in the museum. Isn't it beautiful? How I would love to have have place to moor this sweet little boat so I could take it out for a row in the harbour. But alas, my boating days are over.

I'll leave you with a rather moody photo of the bay. Today was somewhat cloudy but by the time we got back to Victoria the sun was out in time to light up one of the pots of grasses in our back courtyard. Summer may be over but we still have some lovely warmth happening in Victoria.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The dog days of summer

We've had a lovely summer here in Victoria.  Lots of sunshine and very little rain (actually about two hours in the past two months). Here are some dogs enjoying a late evening stroll down at Dallas Road. But now it's September and today the kids went back to school.  I guess the dog days of summer are over now.

I haven't been posting much so I thought I'd just show a few images from the season.  Here's a reflection photo from the dock at Saturna Island showing the beautiful blue ocean.

We're pretty stoked that last Thursday the Federal Court of Appeal struck down the permits for the Trans Mountain pipeline last that was proposed for the port of Burnaby, near Vancouver.  It's possible that this may be the end of that project, which would increase tanker traffic on our coast seven-fold.  This would mean huge environment issues if a spill of diluted bitumen took place. This kind of spill cannot be remediated. Can you imagine what a spill like that would mean to our beautiful coast?

Earlier this summer the new Johnson Street bridge was completed. It took a long time and a lot of money. And many people thought it unnecessary, but in the end it has cleaned up the harbour big time. And eventually the cost will fade from people's minds. On the left is a photo of the old bridge going up to allow a large boat into the upper harbour. On the right, a photo of the old bridge with the new bridge completed to the left of it.  It's quite a different look

The new bridge has a wide pedestrian walkway and cycle path and people are always walking from old town across to the other side of the harbour.   The building you see here is the Janion building, the new part, where until the 15th of August we owned a tiny suite.  For the past two years we've rented it out, through AirB&B in the summer and to students for the other 8 months of the year.

But after a couple of years of doing this because of changes in regulations made it uneconomic to continue this so we sold it. Another reason was that the parking lot beside the Janion is going to be the site of a large 7 storey condo building that will eliminate much of the view and the light. We'll miss meeting people from all over the world, but we won't miss cleaning bathrooms and changing bed linens several times a week.

Here's what the main part of the studio suite looked like this summer.

This fall we are not doing any traveling, mostly because we need a break. Last year after Harry finished his chemo we started taking trips. In May we went to Mexico City, in June a road trip to Nelson, in September we went to London, Spain and Portugal. Then in February we spent a month in Zihuatanejo and in April we were in the South of France. So now we're here in Victoria attending to our own home and planning some social times with friends.  

Today Harry finished replacing some boards on the back deck and I've signed up for a weekly painting class.  Life is good.