Going the Extra Mile
This is a story about an amazing manager at the Odeon Cineplex who truly went the extra mile!
I live in James Bay and volunteer with the C.N.I.B. as a “vision mate”. My job is to guide legally blind, low vision folk in their daily living. We help them shop, help them with their mail, take them to physicians, and help them organize their days. I have been doing this for over twenty years and am currently a vision mate with “Jean” for over three years but I felt I could take on one more.
I was given a delightful new lady, Lois. On our first outing Lois, to my surprise wanted to go to a movie at the Odeon Cineplex. Lois has partial sight in one eye and has good hearing. The plan was to meet her there a half hour early and she would arrive by cab. Arriving 15 minutes late, she was a little anxious and upset, but quickly calmed down. While I’d been waiting for her, the line ups were brutal. All of Victoria appeared to arrive like a tsunami wave. This is where the manager (Pierre Gauthier) steps in to save the day.
Apparently two of his girls had phoned in sick and he was going through the line ups to make sure all of his customers were doing okay. When he got to me, I was wondering how Lois and I were going to get our tickets, as she couldn’t do it electronically and although I could, I didn’t think she was able to stand a long time in a line up. We searched for her low vision card and were unable to find it when Pierre came to the rescue. Sighting our dilemma he then escorted us inside and asked us which movie we had come to view. When we told him, he immediately escorted us down the hall through the crowds over to the elevator and into the theatre to two beautiful comfy seats reserved for people with disabilities. At this point Lois asked if perhaps we could move down to the front row centre and Pierre’s reply was to be my guest as long as you can manipulate the stairs. With white cane flying we made our way down to her perfect seat and Lois and I were just so grateful.
Comfortable now, Lois was dying for a large bag of popcorn, so away I went to stand in the long concession line ups, when who shows up but Pierre with a couple of napkins! He informed me, Lois had a large bag of popcorn and was delighted. Sure enough, there was Lois snug as a bug in a rug with her large bag of popcorn. WOW! I was blown away by his kindness for going the extra mile keeping in mind the theatre was full and two staff sick, yet he took all this time out just for us. As we were leaving the theatre, he asked us if we enjoyed the show. Absolutely! Bouquets to Odeon manager Pierre Gauthier!
'Irresponsible Cyclists' are Not the Majority
I read with amusement Mr. John Fry's letter chastising cyclists. While he does speak the truth for some cyclists running Stop signs or red lights, not signaling etc, many of these accusations can easily be said of many of Victoria's motorists. They too frequently fail to signal, roll through Stop signs especially when making a right hand turn, cease to give way to pedestrians, accelerate for Yellow Lights, cease to keep clear of cyclists as common sense dictates. My favourite are those motorists who putter along, with mouth agape, at 20 kmh below the speed limit on any given street in Victoria, particularly on Dallas Road. Shall I go on? As an avid cyclist (and motorist) I do see these irresponsible cyclists break the rules. I am the type who calls them on it but am often met with colourful responses. But they are not the majority. There are arguably more responsible cyclists than irresponsible as there are with motorists though that is only through personal observation not recorded statistics. We all tend to focus on the bad ones. For Mr. Fry to suggest "training, testing and insurance" is unrealistic particularly the insurance nonsense. Any collision or accident caused by or to a cyclist can be dealt with via litigation if required or through vehicle insurance if that be the case. Under the table compensation is not unheard of. I'd further argue that an angry motorist is far more dangerous. I'm curious how Mr. Fry would suggest enforcing these things on the not so law abiding members of society who permanently borrow cycles and quite frankly do not care about the rules. As for the "costumes", the humorous part of his letter, I'm not sure why he's so uncomfortable with cycle attire. Perhaps he has reason to be embarrassed to wear such attire. It's the "uniform" of the sport Mr. Fry. Nothing unusual. Millions do it. So before Mr. Fry calls cyclists arrogant, anarchist and dangerous, look very closely at the motorists (and yourself) as well. Victoria, and indeed Canada does have a little ways to go to meet your role model country's' standard of road behaviour before total acceptance of road sharing is realized. But in the meantime, exercise a little patience and take note of the "good" cyclists out there. We are many.
Proposed Rithet Street Development
I'd like to bring the above development proposal on Rithet Street to your attention. A developer is proposing to remove the two single- family houses currently on these 2 adjoining lots and replace them with a 4 story rental building with 27 small units. The developer applied for a development permit with variance with the City of Victoria on December 15, 2017 (DPV00062). Information on the requested variances and the developer plans are available on the City's "Development Tracker" website.
A group of concerned neighbours is starting to come together to oppose the development proposal as it currently stands and urging city council to deny the development permit. Opposition is diverse and comes from owners of the traditional housing cluster of south Menzies, condominium owners and apartment dwellers. Opposition surrounds the large scale of the development relative to the lot size, the insensitive transition to adjacent houses especially the prime heritage house at 29 Menzies, privacy, shadow effects, and parking issues that will inevitably arise on Rithet and Menzies which already suffers from a shortage.
"Share the Road"
Re: Letters to the Editor; Cyclist (Issue Feb 2018)
In the same week that John Fry unleashed his litany of complaints against cyclists, the Victoria Police were targeting pedestrians for infractions. Considering our streets are used by skate boarders, truck drivers, motorcycle riders, scooter riders, rollerbladers, and so on, I don’t think it is constructive to complain about one segment of the population while ignoring all others. We all need to "Share the Road” as best we can.
Community losing its character
James Bay is a community in the midst of a change that is not always for the best. The community is losing its character housing, large and small to modern day developments. The housing that is being lost is not always heritage but is part of the character of each and every street. It seems that the city, with its zoning requirements, is allowing new development that is creating a dense population growth that is not in line with the residents of James Bay, in my opinion. By adding these new apartment blocks, it increases the residential population by almost double the units per building. If you allow a 27 unit building, is not necessarily 27 individuals, but a maximum of 54 individuals, where two houses had perhaps 5 individuals. That adds more vehicular traffic and parking problems, when there are not enough spaces provided in the development for the whole building. Parking as we all know is at a premium in James Bay. Rithet Street, along with other streets, is inundated every morning with individuals who work downtown but choose to park on James Bay streets, leaving residents short on parking. The zoning, which was probably done many years ago, never took into consideration the pressure that the housing market is now going through, throughout the city, and how to preserve the uniqueness of James Bay. Development can take place but it should not be on a large scale. If possible, relocate the houses, as did Jawal Properties for the Capital Park development, to other lots in James Bay. Do not remove any more James Bay homes. If development is to take place, maintain a low density, i.e. the development on Toronto Street where six townhouses replaced one house. That does not dramatically increase the density. The proposed development on Rithet Street is too dense. If this development is to proceed, I would rather see a two storey townhouse project with perhaps eight to ten units. This might add up to 20 individuals rather than 54. The proposed development is not affordable housing, but units that will go for “fair market value”, which indicates expensive rents.
I encourage the residents of James Bay to contact City Council with your ideas and concerns regarding development in the James Bay neighbourhood. Please follow this link: https://tender.victoria.ca/tempestprod/ourcity/Prospero/Details.aspx?folderNumber=DPV00062
Traffic Laws not Enforced
I was amused at John Fry's letter to the editor in the February 2018 issue of the James Bay Beacon bemoaning the legal infractions he has seen cyclists committing - not because I take issue with his complaints; but because much of what he writes mirrors what I have repeatedly said about drivers in this city. The problem is one of enforcement, or more accurately the lack of it. I moved to Victoria, James Bay, specifically, in 1991. In all that time I have never seen a police officer go after and stop a driver who has run a red light, not come to a full stop at a stop sign, or barrelled through a crosswalk when pedestrians were either waiting to cross or were actually in the crosswalk crossing [something that police officers themselves have always done to me- is it personal?], no matter how blatant or obvious the violation was. Think of that. In over 26 years, with the exception of the rare, temporary, and obvious "stakeout" of some corners, never have I seen an officer bothering to enforce the above traffic laws.
Full disclosure: I don't own a car. I do rent them when needed, I ride a bicycle occasionally, but mostly I walk or take the bus. I have been hit once by a driver who evidently thought he did not have to stop for a red light, and have had to jump back or literally had to run for my life on other occasions, once in full view of a police officer who then turned the corner and drove away. It was once suggested to me that in such circumstances the police officer had a vital call to attend to: this seemed reasonable until I realized that I had never seen a police officer fail to go after a bicyclist who had committed the above infractions [sorry Mr. Fry]. It's not credible that such circumstances only prevail when drivers are involved.
But no one has to take my word for the sorry state of compliance to the traffic laws in this city. About a year ago, one Sunday morning as I stood waiting for a northbound bus at the corner of Menzies and Simcoe, I decided to while away the time counting how many drivers came to a full stop at the stop signs there. I gave up after 16 vehicles. Excluding those who would otherwise collide with another vehicle, nobody came to a complete stop. I invite others to do the same at their corner of their own choosing. Drivers, and cyclists, in the greater Victoria area, drive the way they do because they know that the traffic laws are not enforced. Full stop.