The Week – March 2

City crews tackle snow, Little League gets an unfair ad-vantage and May Day is fast approaching.

City workers on Meares had sidewalk snow beat

Snow priorities slickSince we’re so quick to point out when the City of Victoria is causing a kerfuffle, we thought it would be nice to offer them a pat on the back, too, due to the valiant efforts of City crew workers who made Victoria look a little more prepared and prioritized than usual when it came to this week’s atypical snow explosion.Crew workers were out as early as the afternoon before the snowfall hit, salting roadways, filling loaders and preparing machines. But perhaps the most impressive move was the City’s effort in clearing off pedestrian sidewalks and thoroughfares, many times even before the roads themselves were clear. “Over the past few years, we’ve been working on an exhaustive plan to convert our parks and maintenance crews into a snow-clearing team,” says Katie Josephson, City corporate communications director.The City has received plenty of heat from residents in the past regarding a lack of attendance to walkways, bike lanes and lesser-used areas during snow storms — something others have written off as Victoria’s general lack of snow-survival skills. Yet this time, crews could be seen throughout the city prioritizing sidewalks and redistributing built-up snow from the edges of roads and bike lanes.“We work 24/7 during a snowfall … We make our game plan and collect all the man power we can to keep the city moving,” says Josephson. “We can’t do it without people, though.”The City used approximately 417 tonnes of salt and 119 tonnes of sand on the snow this past week, and spent over $193,000 including materials, labour and equipment. Is it too much? Well, we have to complain about something.Free ad space?Before we get too cozy with the City’s practices, though, one reader brought our attention to some suspicious allowances in advertising this week, in the form of a City exception around the little league field near Beacon Hill Park.The community park, which hosts little league from early April to late June, typically allows advertisers and sponsors to post their signs during batting season. Yet, as pointed out by reader Kim Brown, the advertising has been left up long past usual removal time. In fact, it hasn’t come down, and the City has little intention of changing the fact. “City Hall has given little league special treatment that no other group seems to be able to get, and the defacing advertising signs that they leave up are quite simply ugly,” says Brown, who has lived in the area for 52 years and has never seen signs left up so long before. “A park shouldn’t have signs advertising businesses; it should be simply a park.”Sure, it’s a little thing compared to the leagues of issues the City has come under heat for as of late, but Brown says being forced to see subliminal advertising year-round is only part of the problem — it also shows preferential treatment to certain advertisers who have received a lot more bang for their buck than is traditional. “Beacon Hill Little League has been advised that the signage will need to be removed after the end of the 2011 season,” says City communications expert Katie Josephson. “However, as their upcoming season starts in just six weeks, we have allowed the signs to remain up to avoid having to remove and then reinstall in such a short period.”Fairness aside, all advertising money goes straight to the league itself, which hosts games for kids ages 5 to 14. Looks like residents will just have to stay Tee’d off.A-may-zing workersIt might not feel like May quite yet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for some working-class history. International Workers’ Day — also celebrated around the world as May Day — will kick off in Victoria on Thursday, March 3, with Elders of the Community gathering at the B.C. Government Employees’ Union Building (2994 Douglas, 7 p.m.) to share their remembrances of Workers’ Days past, honour the sacrifices of the working class and refocus attention on governmental systems that act as class adversaries.“These elders were part of the struggles to bring about medicare, unemployment insurance, indexed pensions and wages that kept up with inflation,” says organizer Art Farquharson. “It’s the elders who will show us that, in spite of the obstacles we face, they have faced worse and prevailed.”The day has been celebrated on May 1 since 1886, when a general strike for an eight-hour work day began in Chicago. The elders event will see stories from guest speakers, including: Bill Doherty, Gudrun Doherty, Kevin Neish, Freda Knott, Larry Tickner, Dave Rothkop, Alison Acker and D.J. Alperovitz. Moderator Saloumeh Pourmalek will lead the discussion on renewing the call to rebuild the movement, and audience members are invited to bring historic mementos including banners, photos, buttons, books, recordings and more. Heave ho!

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