An ‘umble observation about community spaces

To my Tofino councillors:

Gadzooks! Is freewheeling, resort-destination Tofino becoming a no-fun town? Are we encouraging our residents to cocoon at home in the evenings with insipid Bill Murray videos and jumbo bowls of salt-and-vinegar chips, instead of getting together as a community for joint pursuits? Continue reading “An ‘umble observation about community spaces”

Tiny house = affordable house

Given Tofino’s longtime agonizing over our affordable housing crisis — played out for years as summer staffing shortages, now escalating to the threat of school closure — it’s interesting that tiny houses have not been looked at as part of the solution.

As far as i know, there’s a minimum square footage requirement on habitations in the district. (Can anybody confirm that?) Which, combined with the price of land on the West Coast, pretty much guarantees that truly affordable housing cannot be achieved within the free market paradigm. Hence the resulting contortions of the Tofino Housing Corporation, now five years and some $300,000 into its mandate (per this Westerly News article), with groundbreaking for the first units now set to start early in 2010.

I see it as a “rung” effect: For an affordable-housing strategy to be effective, you can’t just build a handful of units and fill them up, because then everything comes to a stop and the affordable housing issues reappear. Affordable housing has to be seen as the introductory rung on the accommodation ladder. The idea is that, once people have built up some equity in the affordable house, they can use that to move up to market housing, thereby freeing up their affordable unit to enable others to hop onto the ladder.

But with entry-level market condos starting at $265,000, and houses at $349,000 (figures from realtor.ca), it seems that most Tofitians — with a 2006 median income of $22,696, per the community facts page from BC Stats — will find even the lowest of existing rungs out of reach.

I’m not being critical here, just pointing out that the system the THC is working within does not lend itself to quick solutions. It does lend itself to ghettoized affordable housing, clumped  together in one area, and not spread out through the village (which strikes me as a superior approach).

Tiny houses have evolved into a well developed field of  design, and can be eminently liveable for one or two people. There are a slew of websites devoted to the subject. One of the best is TinyHouseDesign.com. From that site, here are the free plans for an 8′ x 16′ Tiny Solar House (4.9 Meg PDF download) — a 128-square-foot gem that (the plans say) could be built for $4-8,000 US. That would go a long way toward getting some people, at least, off the money-pit of renting and onto the escalator of ownership.

More sites: TheTinyLife.com …  SmallLivingJournal.com

Road’s End–Tales of Tofino

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while: my review of my friend Shirley’s new book. This is the dry, newspaper review; the Tofino Time one is more fun, but it ain’t on-line yet.

Road’s End, Tales of Tofino
— a review

by greg blanchette, Tofino

It has been her labour of both love and obsession for years, and now it’s finally out. Locals will recognize Tofino man-about-town Turtle smiling from the cover, as well as appearing in a couple of the stories within.

Many other locals, past and present, may see themselves in the pages of Road’s End—Tales of Tofino, a new book by Tofino’s own Shirley Langer.

It’s a fun read. Shirley’s got a knack for digging up good stories and telling them. It’s like a lazy walk around town, bumping into people on the sidewalk or eavesdropping on them in a coffee shop.

There are twenty tales in all, on a wide variety of subjects. Some are profiles, some are little adventures. There’s one about a dog and one about a chicken; also beachcombing, latkes, driveways and tsunamis. One is almost an investigative report on the problem of plastic trash in the ocean. Others smack of a sociology text on the town, in which the writer makes note of details that everyone knows but nobody notices. Continue reading “Road’s End–Tales of Tofino”

“Sound” for all

This came up at the book launch two days ago, when someone asked Margaret about the nautical definition of “sound” (her title being Voices from the Sound). She couldn’t say, nor could anyone else in the audience. In the interests of ready reference, i thought i’d put it down here. I don’t have my precious Canadian Oxford to hand (somebody who does, please plug it into the comments below!), but here’s some on-line elucidation:

Dictionary.com says, among several other meanings:

sound –- noun  1. a relatively narrow passage of water between larger bodies of water or between the mainland and an island: Long Island Sound.
2. an inlet, arm, or recessed portion of the sea: Puget Sound.
3. the air bladder of a fish.
Origin: bef. 900; ME; OE sund act of swimming; akin to swim

Excerpted from the Wikipedia page:

In geography a sound or seaway is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, wider than a fjord, or it may identify a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land (see also strait)….
There is little consistency in the use of ‘sound’ in English-language place names….
A sound generally connotes a protected anchorage.

I’m still looking for some official nautical definitions.

POSTSCRIPT: Compulsive research maven Heather delved into the Canadian Oxford for an entry that, alas, seems no more germane to Clayoquot or Barkley Sounds than either of the above. Here goes:

sound –- n. 1. a narrow channel or stretch of water, esp. one between the mainland and an island or connecting two large bodies of water.
2. an arm of the sea.