Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blog number one

This is my entry into the world of blogs. I've posted on a few, but now is the time for me to start my own.

As a Victoria City Councillor, I'll use the blog to share ideas and profile work I am doing down at City Hall. I hope it will be of some value in providing some accountability to the citizens of Victoria and the many thousands of you who lent me their votes last year. I hope I can earn them back again when our term ends in 2011.

Council has worked on a number of our priorities. We've advanced several major affordable housing initiatives; gone to bat for our citizens on issues around the design and management of our beautiful inner harbour, taken steps to refurbish our public engagement tools, and are working at polishing up downtown to ensure we have a safe, welcoming and vibrant city. There have been many other issues and decisions before us over the last year and I'll plan on sharing more about them on my blog in the days and months to come.

Perhaps the most important issue, and the focus of much discussion is our decision to replace the iconic Johnson Street Bridge that connects downtown to Victoria West and neighbourhoods beyond. It's a choice considered over months of discussions and reports and, contrary to some of the more critical comments, anything but rushed.

During the election, I spoke frequently about addressing our critical infrastructure deficit. Like every other city in Canada, Victoria is facing the challenge of aging transportation networks, water and sewer facilities and a host of other municipal assets that are in need of repair and replacement. Our condition assessment of our bridge, for many, including myself, a historical treasure that needed to be assessed carefully, has shown that it is rapidly approaching the end of its useful life. Protecting the safety of our citizens and the functionality of an integrated and diverse transportation system demands that we address the liabilities and hazards of the bridge.

Given that it is not just a bridge that we are evaluating in isolation, council decided that the best and most responsible decision was to build a new bridge. While the structure could be restored and continue functioning for many years, its heritage values would be signficiantly compromised by the work we need to do to bring the bridge up to an acceptable seismic standard and, at the end of the day, it is impossible to retrofit the bridge and approaches to reposition this key link to adapt to the transportation system we are evolving for the future.

I'm starting now to update my own website - - to provide more detailed information on this and other important municipal issues. It's there that I will share details of my reasons for voting for the new bridge.

My work over the last several years and one of my interests as a councillor is on transportation issues - particularly active and sustainable transportation. I've worked in Victoria and around the region to promote cycling as a viable and appealing transportation option and been involved in developing and designing many projects around Victoria's Capital Region and a few more off of the Island. My work with engineers has lately also helped to support walking and public transit too. These are the transportation options we need to favour to ensure a sustainable future and a healthy population.

You can find out more by visiting some other websites where my work in the community has been focused. Here's some places you might like to go:

You can also see my growing collection of photo works at: This is where I maintain galleries illustrating cycling, walking and other community design issues.

Thanks for checking in and I hope you'll come back to visit for more discussion.

John Luton