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Posts from the ‘Saanich’ Category

CHEK News – Insensitive and Gratuitous

Most journalists work in their profession for noble reasons. Most of them intend to do the right thing. But sometimes – just like some police officers – they become jaded and numb to what they see on a regular basis. Media outlets are uniquely positioned in terms of their ability to inform millions of people. A gratuitous and insensitive decision by a journalist can lead to more grief and trauma, and foster a more cynical society.

The following has been submitted to the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council in relation to a CHEK News segment that was broadcast on September 11, 2017:

Dear Sir or Ma’am,

I am writing to express my concern and disappointment regarding the decision by CHEK News to broadcast security camera footage of a fatal motorcycle collision.

The news clip even included a close up / enhanced replay showing [graphic description of collision removed].

The clip was broadcast on the 5pm news. No viewer advisory was shown before the clip. The clip currently remains on the CHEK News web site: [link removed]

Following the CHEK News broadcast, the police department investigating the collision took the rare and unusual step of publicly criticizing CHEK News by posting the following message on Twitter:

@Saanich Police: “Can’t believe you obtained the video & then aired the death of someone on your newscast. Insensitive to the #yyj family, friends & coworkers”

I wish to echo the concerns expressed by the Saanich Police Department.  It is one thing to show the aftermath of a collision, it is another matter entirely to broadcast the serious injury or death of a motorcyclist on the air.

I note that in a decision released earlier this year, the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council determined that a violent sci-fi show should be broadcast at 9pm instead of 8pm. The CBSC also determined that the show required viewer advisories. I would respectfully suggest that the same criteria – at a minimum – should apply to a community television station that wishes to broadcast the death of a real person who lived in that very same community.

I believe that CHEK News violated the following provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Violence Code (1993):

6.1 Broadcasters shall use appropriate editorial judgment in the reporting of, and the pictorial representation of violence, aggression or destruction within their news and public affairs programming.

6.2 Caution shall be used in the selection of, and repetition of, video which depicts violence.

6.3 Broadcasters shall advise viewers in advance of showing scenes of extra-ordinary violence, or graphic reporting on delicate subject matter such as sexual assault or court action related to sexual crimes, particularly during afternoon or early evening newscasts and updates when children could be viewing.

Please note that I am submitting this complaint as a concerned citizen. These are my own personal views and they do not represent the official views of any organization or employer.

Thank you,

David Bratzer

Saanich Police Board meeting

This afternoon I went to my first Saanich Police Board meeting.

The police board is chaired by Mayor Frank Leonard. I didn’t really want to go to the meeting, but this particular police board is one of the least transparent in the province. It is one of only two municipal police boards in British Columbia that refuse to publish meeting minutes or agendas online. This is contrary to the recommendations (on page 119) of a substantial report from the Justice Institute on police governance. As a result if you want to find out anything about what the Saanich Police Board is doing, you have to go there in person.

The meeting itself highlighted a lot of amazing, innovative work done by Saanich police officers. This is why it’s surprising that the police board won’t put the minutes of these meetings online. It is a real disservice to those officers.

I also learned a few interesting tidbits. The Saanich Police Department is restarting its Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) program after a year-long privacy review. They are also cancelling police camp. Apparently it costs too much and not enough kids were actually from the District of Saanich. (According to the 2012 numbers: 24 youth attending police camp were from Saanich, the other 25 youth were from neighbouring municipalities.)

I’m glad I went to this meeting, particularly since I live in Saanich, but my original point remains: the Saanich Police Board should be posting its minutes and agendas online. This kind of basic transparency is a reasonable expectation of Saanich residents (who collectively pay more than $31 million in policing costs each year).

Essay in Victoria News about police regionalization

This is a well-written essay by Deputy Chief Ducker. Even if you disagree with police regionalization, it raises some interesting facts and anecdotes that many people throughout the CRD probably did not know about or may not have considered:

It’s no secret to VicPD members that many of the region’s hardcore drug dealers, organized criminals and party crowd live in the outlying areas, which most certainly includes Saanich.

The criminal element of these groups ply their trade on the streets of our downtown core and often retire to the bedroom communities, where not enough attention is paid to them. After 34 years I could fill a police notebook with instances where outlying agencies have either declined outright or simply don’t have the true capacity to deal with serious criminal elements living in their communities, leaving it to VicPD to handle or simply allow the problem to be ignored.

Jessica Van der Veen in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

This is Jessica Van der Veen’s third effort to win Oak Bay-Gordon Head. This is not unusual and it isn’t something that should be held against her.

In the CRD, there are lots of examples of politicians who were not successful with their first attempt at elected office. Look at Randall Garrison, who is now the Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. It took him three tries before he was elected. Look at Chris Coleman, who is serving his fifth term as a councillor for the City of Victoria. It took him a few tries to get elected. Ben Isitt ran for mayor twice, took a break from politics, then he was elected as a city councillor (and CRD director) in 2012.  In Oak Bay, Michelle Kirby ran once (twice?) before getting onto council.

Winning an election is often difficult. My main point in this post is that no one should discount Van der Veen because she has tried a couple of times and not succeeded. If anything, it proves something important: She doesn’t give up. She is tenacious, patient, hard working and, above all, committed to the folks who live in this riding.

Proposal to move Emily Carr library to Uptown

The Greater Victoria Public Library is planning to move the Emily Carr branch from its current location to Uptown. I visit this branch on a regular basis with my two year old son. We visit a variety of branches but we live in Saanich and Emily Carr is the closest. We have never had any problems finding this library or finding a parking spot. We can usually park within twenty to thirty feet of the library entrance.

Emily Carr library map

The current location for the Emily Carr branch is great and I see no reason for it to move. It is close to many existing shops and restaurants; these businesses would be harmed if the library did move. The current location is owned by Saanich; there is no mortgage to pay. If the branch moved, the Greater Victoria Library would have to lease the new space from Morguard. The lease rate has not been made public. Also of note is that the Municipality of Saanich has not said what it plans to do with the old Emily Carr location.

Apparently one reason for the proposed move is that the bathrooms are in the basement and therefore inaccessible to some patrons.  The GVPL’s reasoning here is confusing, particularly as they describe the facility as being fully accessible on the Emily Carr branch web page:

Emily Carr

Why can’t the GVPL spend a small amount of money to add bathrooms to the main floor of the current location? The current space has 8600 square feet but the GVPL claims that only 6000 sq. ft. can be used for public space. The new space would have a total of 5575 square feet (this includes non-publc space). This means the GVPL could install two 200 sq. “super bathrooms” on the main floor of the current branch and still come out ahead.

The feedback survey from the GVPL is skewed towards relocation. I do not consider it genuine public engagement at all. For example, one of the questions was, “What other physical features of a library branch are most important to you? Please indicate all that apply.”  I would have clicked “bright, clean modern facility” but I feel like that would have been interpreted as favouring a relocation to Uptown. I think the current library is just fine. To me, it is a “bright clean, modern facility” with “comfortable areas for reading” and “easy to reach book shelves” and “lots of natural light”. Honestly, who designed this survey? It is obviously skewed towards getting results that will favour a move.

For the record, I am not one of those people who thinks Uptown is a monstrosity. I like it a lot and I want it to succeed. Its Aboriginal tile fountain is (in my view) the best piece of public art in the CRD. The development as a whole is far better than the old Town & Country strip mall. That said, Uptown has a lot of unleased space. Morguard needs to lower its lease rates if it is having difficulty attracting businesses. It is not the job of Saanich or the Greater Victoria Public Library to subsidize a struggling commercial development.

This relocation plan does not seem beneficial to taxpayers or library patrons. That said, whether you are for or against the library move, please take a moment to fill out the survey. They are collecting feedback until March 18th. You can also email Saanich council at council@saanich.ca.