The Week – Bridging over the new year

Blue Bridge lovers will have more knots in their stomachs this year as deconstruction work continues on Old Blue

Blue Bridge Victoria

Blue Bridge lovers will have more knots in their stomachs this year as deconstruction work continues on Old Blue, with a portion slated to be completed by March.

Contractors started work this month removing the Johnson Street Rail Bridge and relocating the Telus communication lines, which service Victoria West, Esquimalt and the Department of National Defence. The city and lead contractor Ruskin Construction Ltd. are working with sub-contracted company RalMax, owned by Ian Maxwell, to complete this portion of deconstruction. While the city has had to rejig a few plans to stay within budget, the deconstruction is on schedule.

“This is how projects go — moving the Telus lines will cost about $1.5 million more than we expected, but shaving a few metres off the bridge will save us $3 million,” says Mayor Dean Fortin. “We are going to see some real progress in the coming months, and a lot of excitement. Will we continue to be scrutinized and second-guessed every step of the way? I’m sure of it.”

Readers rise to the call

Here at Monday, we have been blown away by the response to our Dec. 8 feature, “Living on the Edge of Welfare,” about Dolores Campbell and her struggles to keep her apartment through welfare.

We’ve fielded phone calls, emails, messages of support and even generous gifts, art supplies and Thrifty’s gift cards for Campbell. Friday, Dec. 16, marked Campbell’s 48th birthday, and Monday had the privilege of meeting with her to pass on all of your good will. She was moved, nearly to tears, and astonished with the outreach she received.

“More than anything, I wanted people to know that there is hope, and that things can get better if you hold out long enough,” says Campbell. “I just knew something good would be around the bend.”

Campbell continues to live in her apartment, though she remains nearly a month behind on rent. Her case has been accepted by a lawyer in Duncan, who will be working with her in an attempt to raise her income assistance levels and secure disability funding.

Monday wishes to thank every reader who took the time to make a difference.

Ice fantasies linger longer

Downtown shoppers hoping to hit the ice for some skating between end-of-year purchases won’t need to rush — the Centennial Square rink is open for extended hours to accommodate more patrons, at least until Jan. 2.

Just five days after the rink opened, the Downtown Victoria Business Association announced the decision, which they say stemmed from public feedback calling for the rink to remain open past 5 p.m. “We couldn’t have predicted how popular the rink would be,” said Ken Kelly, general manager of the DVBA. “We had a lot of requests for use of the facility and we are doing our best to handle as many as we can this year.”

While the $60,000 open-air rink has been met with its share of criticism for its may-appear-smaller-than-pictured dimensions, the rink’s first year has already been considered a success, with over 2,000 skaters lacing up after just three weeks.

“It’s been so great to see everybody out there with smiles on their faces, and we’ve been hearing wonderful stories of people dusting off their skates again after so many years,” says Kelly.

The DVBA is already planning the 2012 rink, says Kelly. The rink will stay open Monday to Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. It will remain open New Year’s Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. M

– Kate Shepherd

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