Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jobs and the Bridge

The Johnson St. Bridge and Victoria's industrial economy

You'll find out more towards the end of the blog, but I wanted to share a little from my day today that talks about neighbourhood transportation and the city and moves on to the bigger transportation issues surround the Johnson St. Bridge debate. It's not always about the traffic on the bridge, sometimes it's the traffic under it.

This morning I had coffee with Bill McKechnie, a former owner of Point Hope Shipyards. We were talking about traffic calming and street design issues in his neighbourhood. He's been developing a great streetscaping plan to beautify a stretch of Grant St. in the city's North Park neighbourhood.

It's well thought out and he's been good at doing his homework to make sure business and residential neighbours on the street support the design and that the associated roadworks are feasible - they don't impact storm and sanitary sewer lines or other underground utilities, access to and from businesses for goods traveling by truck will still work, and residents keep access to their properties along the street.

At the same time the plan envisions more greenspace, discourages outside traffic from cutting through a much beautified residential street and makes it more appealing for the children and families who rightly claim the block as public people space and extensions to their front yard. We'll continue to look for the means to bring this reality forward.

Our discussion turned to the bridge and he reminded me that when he was running the business, promising and job creating contracts had to be turned down because the shipping channel under the Johnson Street bridge is too narrow to accommodate some vessels. Our new bridge will open up the gateway to the upper harbour, the shipyards and other industrial operators. The extra few metres will help support the steady flow of ships and jobs to a site embraced by the community and a good fit for the city.

It's always been a part of our vision for Dockside, the Harbour and Downtown Victoria that we hold onto this industry and maintain the vitality of the working harbour. The new bridge helps us to better realize that vision and helps support an important industry long into the future. Victoria has a strong, dynamic and diverse economy and our interest in long term economic sustainability is a key consideration for how we manage our important infrastructure.

Have a look at some of the ships that have sailed under the bridge into Point Hope.

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