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Letter to Victoria Councillors re: Johnson St Bridge

I am writing you to express my position on the replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge.

There are many reasons I feel this is a bad decision for the city of Victoria. Obviously the cost of replacement is of significant concern. This sort of debt could hinder the city in the future should unexpected issues arise. From a priority perspective I fail to see how this project should supersede other important problems. In my view these problems include: homelessness, low-income housing, sewage (both the outfall and the limited overflow capabilities of the current system), the quality of our streets and sidewalks and our lacking preparedness for a major earthquake.

A major earthquake would have a tremendous impact on our city. I agree that upgrading our infrastructure to deal with this eventuality is essential but I fail to see how Johnson Street Bridge is a priority.  Before we spend such a large amount on a bridge, I would suggest we ensure city owned buildings are seismically upgraded. From a loss-of-life perspective the bridge should be on the bottom of the list. I also wonder if the new bridge would be operational after a 9+ magnitude earthquake. If not, and if the new bridge would need substantial repairs or replacement before being usable, I would suggest we replace the current bridge after this earthquake occurs or when it is no longer economic to maintain.

Another question I have is how this project will make us look to the outside world.  A replacement should be anathema to any concerned environmentalist. Building a new bridge before cleaning up our sewer system shows that our priorities do not include good environmental stewardship and sustainability. This is especially true when we consider the environmental impact of demolishing the current bridge and building a new one. Do we know what constitutes the older layers of paint?

Finally I would like to inform you that I feel so strongly about this issue I will not be voting for any councilors that continue supporting this very unnecessary project.

Saren Calvert