GREGORY HARTNELL: ‘Fortin and Council should pay more attention to the needs of the homeless and get the job done with the same urgency they have shown on the bridge issue’






Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin is resorting to desperate scare tactics in his stubborn opposition to the idea of a citizen-forced referendum on the fate of the Johnson Street Bridge.

“Fortin said if the City is forced to go to a referendum, the delay could add $8.8 million in borrowing costs over the life of the bridge,” according to a Dec. 23 article.

One wonders where Fortin dug up this number.

Does he have a crystal ball to forecast interest rates in the next 20 years?

Four days later, Fortin, elected to end homelessness in Victoria in 2008, said that “I don’t think I would ever commit to ending homelessness in six months.  

“It’s a seven- to 10-year plan.”

Try telling that to the cold, miserable and poor homeless.

Contrast that leisurely and complacent pace with the anxious urgency he says is necessary to demolish and replace Joseph Strauss‘s historic Johnson Street Bridge.

If Council is serious about helping the homeless, it should cancel the replacement of the heritage bascule bridge and put the fate of it to referendum in conjunction with the civic election in 2011.

In the meantime, Fortin and Council should pay more attention to the needs of the homeless and get the job done with the same urgency they have shown on the bridge issue.

As a letter urged on Dec. 29, “call a civic election over this issue.”


Gregory Hartnell



CCC BLOG reprint:

Victoria Times Colonist:

Tackle homelessness, stop the bridge rush

Thursday, December 31, 2009



FORTIN’S FINANCIAL FOLLY: NDP Mayor Dean Fortin says referendum delay could add $8,800,000 in borrowing costs over the life of the JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE project



Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin resorted to more outrageous scaremongering in a December 23 article written by Times Colonist reporter Bill Cleverley entitled ‘5,000 petitions for bridge vote delivered.’

After claiming that he didn’t know how many petitions had already been dropped off at City Hall opposed to Victoria City Council’s plans to borrow a staggering $42,000,000 to demolish and replace the heritage Johnson Street Bridge as ‘we don’t know the number in there because it’s not something City Council has access to,’  Mr. Cleverely writes that ‘Fortin said if the City is forced to go to a referendum, the delay could add $8.8 million in borrowing costs over the life of the project.’

After leaving readers with that foolish and unprovable paranoid idea, the socialist Mayor, whose first order of business after assuming office was to give himself a raise of more than 30%, took off to lie on some Mexican beach.

The 45 day long ‘Alternative Approval Process’ (‘AAP’) that the City of Victoria foisted upon the electorate (instead of repairing those sections of the bridge in most urgent need of repair and scheduling a proper referendum on the fate of the Joseph Strauss-designed bascule bridge during the next municipal election), will be finished on  January 4th, 2010.

Anne Russo, secretary of the group which is collecting and sorting through the petitions for any problems prior to their being delivered to City Hall, said in an email to the Concerned Citizens today that the group is now confident Johnson Street Bridge conservationists will make history, and is now aiming for 12% of eligible voters to sign the thing (instead of the minimum required 10%), which would ironically be the exact percentage number of voters who elected the socialist mayor in 2008.

Victoria voters will not know the results of the AAP until the Mayor returns from Mexico and presides over a Victoria City Council meeting scheduled for Thursday, January 7th, 2010.

For a link to the Cleverley article in the Times Colonist, please refer to the Comments section below.


Gregory Hartnell, President

Concerned Citizens’ Coalition









As President of the Concerned Citizens’ Coalition, I received a surprise email from Victoria City Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe yesterday, December 29, three weeks after sending an email on December 8 to Mayor Dean Fortin and all members of the Victoria City Council.

That letter had asked the Mayor and Councillors to send out blank petition forms for the ‘Johnson Street Bridge replacement project Alternative Approval Process’ (now still underway), to all Victorians on the Voters’ List.

To her credit, Councillor Thornton-Joe is the only member of the Victoria City Council that replied directly to the email letter.

A more general letter of thanks for my written work with respect to the Johnson Street Bridge was received about a week ago from Councillor Geoff Young.

However, I must say that I was not at all impressed by Councillor Thornton-Joe’s letter of December 29, as  the unprofessional delay in response, the casual opening and closing salutations, the brevity and vagueness of it are really quite remarkable and tell us everything we would ever need to know about the incompetence of this Councillor.

Here is the email letter from Councillor Thornton-Joe in its entirety:


‘Dear Hartnell:

‘Thank you for your emails regarding the Johnson Street Bridge.

‘I wanted to let you know that I have received and read them.

‘I wish you the best of the holiday season and for the New Year.




[For a link to the original December 7 posting here at the CCC BLOG as an open letter,

 later sent as email to Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin and Victoria City Council,

please refer to the Comments section below.]

Gregory Paul Michael Hartnell, President

Concerned Citizens’ Coalition


MARLENE E. HUNTER, MD, + REDNER JONES: Mayor Dean Fortin ‘was not elected to arbitrarily stickhandle the waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money on a new JOHNSON STREET BLUE BRIDGE’




The Mayor of the City of Victoria was the people’s choice to lead City Council’s management of our affairs.

However, he was not elected to arbitrarily stickhandle the waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money on a new Johnson Street Blue Bridge.

In our opinion, and that of thousands like us, including bridge structural engineers, it is eminently sensible to refurbish the bridge now standing proud, as well as add proper pedestrian and cycle paths and improved decorative lighting.

Army generals get sacked, company CEOs get sacked; city mayors too can suffer the same fate if they make a grievous error of responsibility.

We say, call a civic election over this issue.  

Then, those who wish to campaign for mayor will have every opportunity to present their platforms, openly and honestly.

Marlene E. Hunter, MD

Redner Jones



CCC BLOG reprint:

Victoria Times Colonist:

Mayor not elected on bridge platform

December 29, 2009

Page A13


MICHAEL McGRATH: ‘The JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE from my engineering vantage point will easily last another 100 years at a maintenance cost way below that of a new bridge’




The Victoria City Council and Capital Regional District both seem to forget that the city is essentially at the tip of a peninsula.

Funnelling more traffic right into the centre of the city through a new Johnson Street Bridge (the result of a rebuild) just guarantees more gridlock.

Doubling the Point Ellice Bridge would allow the Esquimalt and Vic West traffic more ready dispersal into the city via Bay and Blanshard.

The Johnson Street Bridge from my engineering and U.K. vantage point will easily last another 100 years at a maintenance cost way below that of a new bridge.

Public transit is likely to be coming much more the norm as the oil crunch becomes more apparent.

Consequently, another aspect might be light, rapid transit, using the E&N track for the Langford-Colwood run into Victoria over the rail bridge.

Alternatively: the rail secion of the bridge could be used as a road bridge to help ease congestion.

It is already there.

Morning in, evening out.

The railway station could readily be sited on the Vic West side.

I spent some three months, way back when, trying to get all the municipalities, B. C. Ferries, and the province, to consider high-speed, light, rapid transit between Langford and Colwood, Victoria, the airport, and Swartz Bay.

The old railroad routes!

But I was way too early.

Zero response.

What else did I expect?


Michael McGrath

Brentwood Bay


CCC BLOG reprint:

Victoria Times Colonist:

Think public transit with bridge ideas

Sunday, December 27, 2009

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DAVID BURKE TO PRIME MINISTER HARPER: ‘War in Afghanistan should be ignored until we have fed the poor and looked after needs on our own soil first’




‘So much more could be done for the poor and the mentally ill…’


As a theatre person who can no longer work due to a broken back, I have learned a few things from being on disability for twenty-two years, and most of these things to do with the meaning of life would surprise you or take you by storm, and I am predicting that within twenty years, there will be a revolution in the midst of the welfare class and nothing will ever be the same again.

My theatre people are the ragged, the mentally ill, the afflicted, the downtrodden, the marginalized and the addicted.

Many of us pay taxes on tobacco, that in turn turns into our chief addiction and any money we have goes to supporting our habit.

My great grandfather was a bugler in the first war … won two medals and every month his heirloom ring goes in the pawnshop.

It is a good month if the ring doesn’t end up there and I wonder if I was hit by a bus would anyone know to retrieve the ring that is ninety years old?

So it is for so many.

“Never in the field of human endeavour has so much been owed to so many by so few.”

Often I’m suicidal and not exactly because of money, but rather the feeling that my glory days of bringing Canada recognition are over and I will never stand at the podium to receive the Order of Canada or any prize of any merit whatsoever.

My godfather was Canadian ambassador to Southeast Asia Godfrey Hearne; my great grandfather, Charles Schofield built cathedrals at both ends of the country, great grandfather Alexander Nairn built the Nairn docks in Toronto and owned a hundred acres along St. Clair Avenue, etcetera.

My family has paid in blood and I would like to know why are our pension is so low, after all this time, and the benefits so limited when it is the lower class that is the glue that holds together the bricks of our great society.

As a seventh generation Canadian, I turn my face to the wall with manifest sorrow.

So much more could be done for the poor and the mentally ill, trimming the excesses of the many wealthy who think of this, our country as a playground not a battlefield.

Both grandfathers fought in the The Great War for the rights I enjoy but if I do not enjoy and revel in them, a priori, what is the use of their having fought?

I have been twenty-one times across Canada in my career and now that career is kaput and I have to struggle to express myself or even get press or get on the radio.

You should try being bi-polar and still run the country, sir.

It is so unbelievably hard that it is a wonder so many try at all, on this pittance we receive from the province.

I am asking you to consider raising the pension from nine hundred to twelve hundred, so we can afford the luxurious rents here in demi-Paradise.

By the time I will have completed this letter, I willl have smoked five cigarettes, so bad are my nerves, so deep is my concern for my country.

Welfare is not a state of mind or a disability.

It is an idea that society has been force fed.

If more socialism is the answer, so be it.

Whatever works in my books.

The Ministries are brutal in the handling of many cases and if they reviewed me to lessen my winnings, I would not hesitate to take my own life as a symbol.

That’s how strongly I feel.

I know people who clear a hundred on their monthly cheque.

How would you like to pay the bills with that? 

Welfare is warfare so the war in Afghanistan should be ignored until we have fed the poor and looked after needs on our own soil first off.

Surely you think of the poor at home while you are jetting to all those exotic locales to rub shoulders and press the flesh?

Examine your conscience Mr. Prime Minister, are we really doing enough for those at the bottom of the heap?

David Burke



CCC BLOG reprint:

Island Catholic News

December 2009/January 2010

Page 3




IAN M. SHERWIN ON PRESERVING OLD TOWN’S JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE: ‘Far better to recycle the present bridge at half the cost to the Victoria taxpayer’



Panic is rarely a sound reason to rush to spend a huge amount of taxpayers’ money.

There is a good driving bottom on the west side of the Blue Bridge, where for very little money, a new line of piles with a well strapped capping would prevent damage from any failure of the western lip, which seems to be the main focus of panic.

No matter what new structure is built, it will still be no guarantee of protection against the Big One, which will be a major geological event along a 1,000-kilometre rupture.

The proposed bridge panic scheme is wrong for all these reasons:

As long ago as 1965, traffic studies confirmed that Bay Street and its bridge was the ideal future east-west distributor of automobile and heavy-truck traffic.

It requires no lift bridge and can be easily doubled without blocking traffic for a year or more.

A small pedestrian and cyclist bridge could at that time once again be introduced over Rock Bay connecting with Store Street and providing an attractive near-harbour north-south pedestrian and cyclist route which is now sadly lacking.

Planning to dump an increased flow of automobiles for 100 years into the Old Town flies in the face of all the work of Old Town preservation of the last years.

Far better to recycle the present bridge at half the cost to the Victoria taxpayer.

Within 30 years, “dollar-wise” sensitive commercial development pressure will convert Wharf and Store Street into plazas for pedestrians and golf-course vehicles as Victoria continues its increasingly rapid transformation into a superb retirement area.

Anyone who thinks this is futuristic hasn’t live here and seen the changes for over 80 years.

Ian W. Sherwin



CCC BLOG reprint:

Victoria Times Colonist:

Don’t panic to spend money on a new bridge

Sunday, December 27, 2009

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