The Week – March 17

Maritime Museum move, local tsunami relief and emergency preparedness in Victoria

The Maritime Museum might get a waxy new home.

Maritime madness

With the emphasis on wild waves this week, it’s probably a good time to remind people that our local favourite, the Maritime Museum, is seeking a new home in the spot of the former Royal London Wax Museum — but it may need a bit of mariner’s luck to get it.

The “awarded” organization won’t just win the spot on merit alone, but by a silent bidding competition held by the B.C. Provincial Capital Commission (BCPCC) that will take into account community use and — perhaps more importantly — how much rent each organization can pay. So far, only the Maritime Museum and the Oak Bay Marina have publicly declared their intention for obtaining the building, and further information by the BCPCC was not available by press time when the bid closed on March 15.

Jamie Webb, president of the Maritime Museum of B.C. Foundation, says that he’s hopeful for the museum’s bid, and adds that the foundation budgeted prudently this year so that they could afford to give the most competitive bid possible.

“That spot [of the former wax museum] is one of the best tourist locations in the city, and it would do wonders for us,” says Webb. “We’ve been geographically challenged and have had 45 years of struggle, but we’ve still done alright. I think it’s time Victoria’s best kept secret finally gets a chance to shine.”

Webb points out that countless artifacts have been stored in the museum due to space, and adds that the new location would allow all those maritime ghosts to finally take sail. The ghosts — which are a story favourite for museum goers — are in support of the move, too, he adds. And he suspects they’ll be pleased to come along.

Meanwhile, the decision for who will win the spot should take two to three weeks.“In my mind, a public building should be for public use,” Webb says. “I’d hate to see some privately owned, for-profit business get in there.”

Tsunami sympathy

With the tsunami tragedy in Japan leaving devastating emotional waves all over the globe, it’s a good time to reflect on the services offered by our very own city.

The Victoria Morioka Friendship Society (VMFS) — founded for Victoria’s sister city in Japan — will be partnering with the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society (VNCS) and any other interested Japanese societies in Victoria to create a fundraising initiative to help with some of the damage in Japan.

While the destination for the funds will be decided at a meeting this week, VMFS president Bill McCreadie says he hopes to see the money go directly to the Iwate Prefecture, the hardest-hit area of Japan’s coast.

“Every fall season we see 50 or 60 students from Morioka come to study in Victoria, and a fairly significant number of tourists every year,” McCreadie says. “There are a lot of people affected by this. If we are able to raise $15,000, I want all of that money to go straight to the source.”

Morioka is about 90 km in from the coast and did not see the damage of the coastal areas, which now have a death and missing-persons list of 10,000 and growing.

“That was a nervous day, when we first heard about the tsunami in Japan, and we were so relieved to hear that people in Morioka were okay. They were shaken up by the quake, but didn’t get anything like the coast, and have since been able to house and shelter many people coming inland,” says McCreadie. “I’ve been totally devastated by the pictures I’ve seen … those are coastlines I’ve walked, and to see the boats just flung around, is unbelievable.”

For information on how to donate to the fund, contact McCreadie at wmccreadie@shaw.ca. Counselling services in the area and person finders can be accessed through Google. Students can contact UVic International and Exchange Student Services at iess@uvic.ca, or counselling at counsell@uvic.ca.

Shaw Cable is offering free long-distance telephone service to Japan this week, and free access to TV Japan on cable at channel 514.

One step further

Getting a little freaked out with all the worldly upheavals and natural disasters that have laced the news as of late? Not to fear, your city is near.

The City of Victoria will be offering community-based organizations (and interested community members) free workshops on becoming “disaster ready,” in an effort to quell the questions that keep coming into so many minds: what if it happens to us?

The workshops will teach how to identify and prioritize essential services, how to address emergency workforce considerations and how to ensure the availability of critical services, supplies, and equipment after a disaster — when the community may need them most.

The workshops will occur Tuesday, March 22 (1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and Thursday, April 7 (9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.) at the Victoria Fire Hall (1234 Yates), but are limited in space. Contact vema@victoria.ca or 250-920-3373 to reserve a space.

Then, take a deep breath.

 

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