The Week — Jan. 24: More outrage needed

More outrage needed for public broadcasting, calling all passengers to proposed new ferry service and more food for thought

Jo-Ann Roberts would like to see Canadians “a little more outraged” about the need for public broadcasting.

More outrage needed

There’s an irony in knowing that public broadcasting matters to every Canadian — and especially every journalist — no matter how often you tune in, says CBC star Jo-Ann Roberts; it holds governments accountable, keeps citizens informed and challenges private media organizations to an industry standard.

But while a growing number of young Canadians are giving up radios for iPods and TVs for MacBooks, the CBC has remained part of the country’s national identity for over 75 years. And despite annihilating funding cuts, that “public good” is exactly what Roberts, host of local CBC Radio show All Points West, will be talking about as UVic’s 2013 Harvey S. Southam guest lecturer in journalism and non-fiction. Roberts, with 35 years experience in radio, print and television, is UVic’s sixth Southam Lecturer and, in addition to teaching an advanced journalism class this semester, Roberts will be giving her open talk “Public broadcasting for the public good” on Wed., Jan. 30, 7:30pm at UVic’s Human Social Development building (Room 240). The event is free, and open to the community.

“When you consider that 83 per cent of the media is owned privately, and mainly by three big corporations, that necessitates the need for public broadcasting,” Roberts says. “I worry not that government will get rid of the CBC, but that it will simply underfund it. That makes the CBC just what most governments would rather have — a lapdog, instead of a watchdog.”

Last spring, the federal government announced severe cuts to CBC’s funding, equalling a loss of $115 million over three years. Though the cuts have devastated the corporation, Roberts says CBC is still setting a standard, for better or worse — as the CBC shrinks, so, in turn, do private media outlets.

“We need to see Canadians take more responsibility for what they want,” she says. “Governments will listen, but you have to make yourselves heard … sometimes we do need a little more outrage.”

Calling all passengers

Attention Victorians and West Shorians: only one day left to have your say in a passenger ferry that may be coming your way.

The WestShore Chamber of Commerce (WSCC) is asking commuters to give feedback on a proposal that is examining the feasibility of a passenger commuter ferry connecting the West Shore with Victoria Harbour. While the WSCC began looking at the possibility last fall, the group is hoping to hear from the public by Jan. 25 through a brief survey. “This passenger ferry could really impact the lives of people who commute back and forth between the West Shore and downtown Victoria,” says Dan Spinner, WSCC CEO. “It is crucial to hear from people who might use the ferry as it could cut down their commute times, as well as reduce the amount of traffic congestion and vehicle emissions that occur in the ‘Colwood Crawl’.”

As an incentive, participants who fill out the survey by Friday will be entered to win a return trip for two on Blackball Ferries between Victoria and Port Angeles, or return trips for walk-ons, including tickets to the Port Angeles Underground Heritage Tour. Anyone in the South Island area is encouraged to fill out the survey online at westshoreferry.ca/survey.

Who doesn’t love eating out?

Victorians still have another month to wait until our city kicks off the dining frenzy better known as “Dine Around & Stay in Town” from Feb. 21 to March 10. But for those impatient foodies willing to hop a ferry, Vancouver kicked off its sister festival this last weekend with “Dine Out Vancouver” tempting Islanders over from Jan. 18 to Feb. 3.

The festival, now in its 11th year, is a city-wide celebration of eating out — approximately 240 restaurants and 24 hotels will partake in the event this year, with 68,000 patrons visiting Vancouver’s showcase in 2012.

“This is a very local movement, but it’s also an attrative getaway for people living on the Island — we’re really not that far away,” says Lucas Pavan, festival coordinator for Dine Out Vancouver. “This is a great chance to experience the quality of influences in such a multicultural, culinary city.”

While Victoria’s growing event will turn 10 this year and promises to offer 60 participating downtown restaurants and 21 hotels, Vancouver’s version still holds the title of Canada’s largest restaurant festival, and allows diners to sample menus all for a prix fixe cost (price points are $18, $28 and $38 per person). Dine Out also features special hotel room rates and packages, plus a full menu of unique food-themed events, seminars and activities.

Learn more or snag tickets in advance at dineoutvancouver.com. To wait and see what’s in store on the Island, visit tourismvictoria.com/dinearound. M

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