Friday, November 24, 2006

Sidney; The Town Of Movers & Shakers!

- Remember - you can usually enlarge a photo by double-clicking on it -

Sidney is best understood, (geographically, at least), by the fact that it located near the northern tip of the Saanich Peninsula, (north of Victoria), sits on the eastern shores of the Haro Straight, (with Vancouver to the North and Seattle to the south), and is largely jammed between the highway and the Victoria International Airport to the west, (Canada's seventh-busiest in terms of aircraft movements), an Indian Reserve to the south, and the Vancouver ferry terminal (Schwartz Bay) to the north. As such, the town runs mainly north and south along the water, and is deepest at its main drag, Beacon Avenue, which is just seven blocks in length from the highway to the Government Pier. For example, our home (at left), is on 4th street, and since the water curves westward in a small bay at the Sidney Marina, we are just one short block to the water. To orient yourself, if you wish, refer to the area map on my first Sidney Post, By Gawd, Its Sidney! (a.k.a. BGIS). You can identify the location of the major landmarks mentioned in this post by blowing up the map, (not literally, you clot!).

There are several major landmarks in town located on or just off Beacon Avenue. These include the beached and bleached Wanda at the MacDonald's situated at the western end of the town, (at the intersection of Beacon and Pat Bay Highway - see BCIS for a photo), Tanner's Bookstore, (it is the yellow building in the background of the photos posted on my last blog; Canada Day, Out Sidney Way), and The Legion on 4th street (see the photo at left), the Big Moo ice cream shop, and, of course the harbour end, which includes the new Hotel/Condo/Marine Museum, and Government Wharf with the Fish Market, and the Bistro (at right).

The major north-south landmarks are found along the sea-walk, which runs for about 2 km from our house north of Beacon, to a point approximately 1.5 km south of Beacon, near where the old highway turns off to the Pat Bay Highway, (which, curiously, runs to Schwartz Bay, completely bypassing Pat Bay), and the entrance to the airport. Walking the length of the seawalk southward from our home are to be found such things as the Sidney Marina, (at left); a cluster of buildings at the waterfront including an art gallery; (one of at least three major studios in town), three restaurants - The Breakwater, The Rumrunner (below), and Captain's; and the Scratch Patch - a gemolgical store/kids centre for rock hounds, the aforementioned Government Pier with the Fish Market and Bisto, the big and currently-being-constructed Hotel/Museum/Condo just to the west.

On the otherside of Beacon Avenue at the water is The Cannery, with the magnificient Beacon Landing Dining Room & Pub, and next to it, the Sidney Hotel.

Photo below: at dusk, looking at the Scratch Patch, Captain's and The Rum Runner.

Continuing south along the seawalk one come to the Fishing Pier, (although almost all of the fishing takes place on the old Government Pier, where you just lower a net and bait and haul in fresh crabs and shrimp) the Ana

cortes Ferry Dock, the boat launch, Tulista Park and then Lockside Drive, which leads out of town. All have magnificient views are ju

st offshore; the many Gulf & San Juan Islands, (the US border runs only a few miles offshore), the Olympic Mountains to the south, and, of course, (when not occluded by storms, clouds, rain-squalls, sleet, fog and the ever-increasing pollution), the superb Mount Baker.

Thus, Sidney is compact little corner of paradise

on the beautiful West Coast of Canada.

On moving here just over a year ago I had been told that Sidney is a town on the move, but I didn't realize that this was meant literally!

Sidney is full of scooters tearing down the sidewalks and roadways, with their driviers hell-bent for something-or-other. Sidney, (or Scooter-ville, as I call it), is home to hundreds of the little personal transportation devices, and they are in evidence every day. There appears to be some sort of fashion statement to be made, in that most have a Canadian Flag trailing prominently from what I think must be a radio antenna protruding from the back, a wire basket in front, and even a horn to ensure the right-of-way, (or not). The drivers vary from the skilled and curteous to the downright reckless. I have been told of serious injuries resulting from pedestrials being mowed down from behind, toes being run-over, and an instance of a run-away scooter being driven through the glass window of a store in town. (Photo above; scooters parked in front of a store in town).

In the pages of the local newspaper, the Pinensula News, in recent months there was an account of, the RCMP, who, responding to reports of a scooter being driven erratically on the bike-path, discovered a person lying in the ditch beside an overturned scooter. A breathalyzer was administered on the spot, which result in the person being charged
with operating a vehicle while impared!

I have been told of squabbles in the underground parking lot of the Landmark Building, (right across the street from the

hotel/museum/condo), where residents compete for access to the plug-ins in order to recharge their scooters for the next day.

So numberous are the little run-abouts in town that the Legion actually has a scooter drive-through window conven

iently located on the sidewalk, and restaurants even offer scooter parking!

The second thing that moves in Sidney, are houses!

As mentioned earlier, Sidney is very limited in space; confined by a combination of natural barriers such as the ocean, and some man-made considerations such as the highway, the airport and the Indian Reserve. Land is therefore becoming scare. As a result, the stock of old houses in town is rapidly being bought-up, and replaced with four-story walk-ups, townhomes, or luxury monster homes. For example, our townhouse sits on the site of the original Sidney schoolyard, and most recently was the Masonic Lodge.

As a result of all of this furious in-fill flurry, the population of Sidney has shot up from 8,000 just 5 years ago, to almost 12,000 currently. It has been estimated that, based on existing by-laws, the total populatio

n of Sidney will top out at 16,000.

One consequence of all of this is that the old houses are being wrenched from their permanent locations in order to make way for new housing stock. Many of these houses are in good shape; as a result, Sidney actually has a used-house lot! Complete houses are offered for sale; many end up on nearby islands, and in the State of Washington. It looks very odd to see a complete house sitting on a barge, heading out to sea and to its new owner.

So frantic is this in-fill activity in town that you can see a house sitting on a lot one day, and find it gone the very next! In the year that we have lived in Sidney, three complete houses have rolled down our street, and out of town. Last photo: a house rolling by our house at 2 a.m.!

Yes, Sidney has a huge per-capita number of Movers & Shakers. Unfortunately, the movers are either on scooters or are relocating a house, and the shakers mostly have palsy, or some similiar infirmity!

Well, maybe there is one other Shaker in Sidney, but it is usually found with the oliver jar and the martini glasses, and that is another story for another time!

Douglas A., Out Sidney Way

Saying 'No Worries' for now!