Piping for change

by Yule Heibel on September 8, 2004

Took my dog on his necessary walk today, combining that task with several others before and after, hence travelling to the favoured walking spot by car instead of on foot. Since the whole “getting there” part of the doggie exercise regimen was thus eliminated, we had to extend our usual beach route walk to include more rocky cliff terrain. At one end of the walk, before turning back to where we’d parked, we (ok, I) huffed and puffed up several hundred stair treads: I was embarassed to discover that I was quite winded, and it didn’t help that the sun was blazing off the limpid waters in the bay to create a slight sensation of furnace heat, thus contributing to a sense of my own imminent explosion. So there I stood at the top of the cliff, watching my dog eat grass, occasionally looking at the nearby traffic turning up Douglas Street (we were at Mile 0). Two young guys then came up the stairs. Compared to my recent strenuous efforts, from which I was attempting to recover elegantly (still watching my dog eat grass), these two were breathing easily, and they were remarkably pale, too. As they began to cross the street, I remembered an entry of Wendy‘s from a while back. She described the constricting sensation she experienced while wearing a tight calf-length skirt: her steps were shortened, her freedom of movement was curtailed: it took longer to get from A to B because each step was smaller, impeded. I remembered this because I saw that one of the young men was walking funny: he was wearing a pair of those absurd-looking “gangsta”-style jeans, the ones that deliberately ride low on the ass to expose (only the “right” kind of) underwear, and whose crotch seam, already lower than normal, comes to rest — baggily, very baggily — about 2 inches above the knees. I suddenly realised that his walk was as unnaturally shortened and encumbered as that of a woman in a tight-ish midi skirt, because the crotch seam’s width, placed at that point slightly above the knees, determined the length of his stride. If your crotch seam hugs your crotch, your stride is as long as you can make it. If it hugs your knees, but is only a few (perhaps 5) inches across and therefore keeps your legs from opening to their full extension, you’ve lost a huge spread. Hunh, I guess girls aren’t the only ones subject to fashionista dictates that hobble the body. But who would have thought those cool jeans impair movement? …Prison wardens, maybe? Um, so where I parked — right on Dallas Road — I saw an old beater parked next to me. This car had a bright green sticker: “Vote Green.” It made me so mad I nearly put a note on the owner’s windshield. Here’s some sanctimonious jerk with a “green” sticker on his car, yet this car, judging by its dilapidated, uncared for, rusted, and generally shitty appearance, no doubt spews more noxious fumes into the air than the combined automobile output of 15 “less green” drivers. It looked exactly like any of the countless cars you see around here that trail thick, long blue plumes of fume from their tailpipes. And speaking of crap and pipes: Victoria just got an “F” from the Sierra Legal Defense Fund and was “suspended” for its “lack of effort” in addressing the scandal of pumping raw sewage directly into the Juan de Fuca Strait. This from today’s Globe and Mail:

Victoria and Montreal’s practice of dumping raw sewage into their waterways gave them failing grades from the Sierra Legal Defence Fund Wednesday in its third report card on sewage management.

“Billions of litres of raw sewage continue to flow into our lakes, rivers and waterways each day,” said Sierra Legal staff lawyer Margot Venton. “As Canadians, we should be embarrassed that major cities like Victoria and Montreal continue to dump enormous amounts of sewage laden with toxic chemicals into local waterways without any treatment whatsoever.”

“Unlike the United States or European Union, Canada has no national standards for sewage treatment,” said Sierra Legal staff scientist Dr. Elaine MacDonald. “As a result of our patchwork approach, Canada has fallen well behind. To begin catching up, Canada must create national standards for sewage treatment, and these standards should be consistently and equitably enforced throughout the country.”

Read the report on Sierra Legal Defense Fund‘s site here. There is nothing equivalent to an EPA in Canada (i.e., no national or federal standards), which is why Victoria can get away with its destruction of the environment — and city-wide corruption and scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours mentalities only facilitate the general aura of nastiness and skullduggery surrounding city politics here — and that’s also why there are no emissions standards for cars or trucks or buses. My special nemeses are the hokey double-decker tourist buses that take the out-of-towners through the fake “olde Englande” experience of downtown and the Scenic Route: those buses have the worst emissions, and I’m amazed that people living in houses along the Scenic Route haven’t taken to sniping at the drivers as they pass. NB: the links to Crystal Gardens allude to the recent closure of a local downtown landmark that, rumour has it, the city wants for a convention centre/ casino. It was supposed to close last Monday at 9pm, but in an especially meanspirited move, the Provincial Capital Commission (some ominous body of who-knows-how appointed arbiters) closed it, without even telling the staff, at 6pm, thereby cutting off last minute protests and visits. Nice guys? Democratic? Responsive to the people? Not. Who are these people?? Still not getting to comments, sadly. Too much to do, but soon, soon.

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