Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for April 2017

Weekly Photo Challenge: Security

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Policia Especializada Cuba Comandancia

I did a bit of searching to try and find out what the Specialised Police might do. But it seems likely that security concerns prevent that information from being released. Wikipedia had some generalised information about policing – but does not give much information. And some maps identify the location as The Old City Police station. It is clearly some ancient fortification – one of several around the entrance to the port. Which, at one time, needed protection especially from British privateers – the original Pirates of the Caribbean. Of course modern weaponry made such fortifications obsolete and in most places they become museums and tourist attractions. Cuba, of course, is different. Castles – like the Tower of London – have always done double duty as places of confinement – again usually in the name of “security”. One of those splendidly flexible and ill defined terms, and deliberately kept that way. All kinds of things are done in its name including deliberately overstepping all the formal controls most countries place on the power of the state to spy, detain and maltreat those it feels might be threatening it. Security of the state trumps security of the person not just in places like Cuba – for 50 years condemned by the United States for its supposed excesses in limiting the freedom of its citizens and supposed threats to its far bigger, more powerful neighbour – but also the location of the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay and site of some of the US’s most egregious (and illegal) excesses in the name of security. It doesn’t look anything like this, of course.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 5, 2017 at 11:53 am

Posted in photography

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Expanding the BC license plate program

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IMG_2048When the BC Government announced that they were launching a new license plate program to support BC parks, I signed up the next time my car insurance needed to be renewed. I actually think that it would be reasonable for the government to increase spending on BC’s provincial parks – but of course that would mean raising taxes. In the same way that we support food banks through donations instead of increasing welfare payments.

They have now announced that this initiative was so successful that they are going to extend it to other worthy causes. This is going to be limited to “charity and not-for-profit organizations”.

Well I have a serious proposal. A lot of us have been saying that we want to see better transit, including better provision for people with limited mobility. We want to see increased spending on things like greenways, and we would also like to see increased levels of bus service. Senior levels of government seem to be happy to spend tax dollars on capital projects – especially when the announcements can be made just before an election. But they seem unwilling to provide adequate funds for operations and maintenance. One option was going to be a regional transit levy funded by a tax sticker on license plates. That was cancelled by Ujjal Dosanjh. Why not a regional transit license plate? It is run by a not for profit, after all. And no-one can argue that there isn’t a need that government has been ignoring. And it could be collected for other regional transit systems that are also in need of support like Victoria, or Abbotsford. It will also be a way for those of us who think we need to have a way to say that we would rather be using a more convenient transit service than driving ourselves. Or just a reminder to government that not everyone agrees that the answer to every issue in politics is to propose a tax cut – especially those aimed at those already much better off than the average.

Of course the sad thing is my new I Support Transit license plate will replace my I Support Provincial Parks plate. But you can’t have everything.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 3, 2017 at 11:29 am

Posted in Transportation