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Letters, April 2: Density in Oak Bay; reading about the Great Escape; the need for car parking; pedestrian safety

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An Oak Bay residential neighbourhood at Beach Drive and Gonzales Hill. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

No, density won’t result in lower taxes

Re: “Oak Bay residents, go for density,” letter, March 30.

The letter claims that Oak Bay residents could have avoided a 9.68 per cent tax increase if only they had said yes to density increases.

Langford residents getting a 15.6 per cent tax increase offers a counterpoint to that argument. Increased density does not result in lower property taxes.

Kim Christensen

Esquimalt

Try this book on the Great Escape

Re: “80th anniversary of the Great Escape,” letter, March 21.

“Scuffy’s War” would be well remembered by reading a great book by Blake Heathcote, The Survivor, on the ­experience of Flight Leader John (Scruffy) Weir while in ­Stalag Luft 111.

Yes, he was known in the camp as “Scruffy Weir.”

It is a riveting story of life in the camp. Weir was originally in the RAF 401 ­squadron (previously known as No. 1 RCAF squadron). He was a Spitfire pilot who was notorious at the controls of his plane. He was shot down and interned at Stalag Luft 111.

While attending university in Toronto he had a summer job working in the gold mines in Timmins, Ont., where they had him working on tunnelling. His work doing that put this experience in tunnelling to good use in the camp.

As I say, this book (hard to put down ) is a fabulous account of one person’s life in this prison, Stalag Luft 111. A very good read, in other words.

Richard Brown

Cobble Hill

Concern about parking is part of a frenzy

Re: “Churches and nonprofits are being squeezed,” letter, March 24.

The letter asks, “How can you provide services if you don’t have a place for people to park?” The human race has been around for, say, a million years. For the last few thousand years, people got to places of worship and community organizations just fine, long before cars came along. Arrangements can be made for carpooling, taxis etc.

The tax on parking lots is an opportunity. Sell the extremely valuable land for housing, use the money to provide more services.

An excellent new book by Henry ­Grabar is called Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World. It’s surprisingly interesting, and gives a close look at the car storage frenzy that makes our cities weird.

Louis Guilbault

Victoria

Don’t forget pedestrians and their need for safety

There have been many letters regarding which user groups should be allowed to use bicycle lanes. However, what has been missing from the discussion is consideration of how these decisions will affect the safety and enjoyment of what is by far the largest and most diverse user group of all: Pedestrians.

Incursions of bicycles and e-bikes onto pedestrian-only sidewalks in Victoria are increasing. Many of the people doing this appear to be inexperienced riders who are fearful of travelling on the road, or visitors who simply are not aware of the rules and find that signs are nonexistent or confusing.

Pedestrian safety on sidewalks does not seem to be a priority for local governments, especially in the City of Victoria.

I understand why cyclists are not keen to share bike lanes with e-bikes and e-scooters, particularly given the speed that some of these devices travel at.

However, if bike lanes were designated exclusively for the use of non-motorized bicycles, then this would likely lead to increased numbers of incursions of e-devices onto pedestrian-only sidewalks.

To my knowledge there are no industry groups or coalitions of walking clubs that lobby governments on behalf of ­pedestrians. But “pedestrians” includes most citizens of Greater Victoria, including all ethnicities, the young, the old, people with small children and strollers, dog walkers, and people using mobility aids such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs.

We deserve to have our municipal governments take seriously our safety on sidewalks and shared pathways. Clear signs would be a good start.

Paul Haynes

Victoria

Some vehicles are better on the sidewalks

I disagree with Victoria council’s proposal to amend the Motor Vehicle Act so that electric scooters, wheelchairs etc. become authorized to travel in bike lanes.

Coun. Jeremy Cardonna’s argument that this should be legalized because it is already happening is not convincing. Should we also legalize shoplifting because it is happening?

Coun. Dave Thompson’s argument that these devices should be on bike lanes because sidewalks aren’t safe places seems misleading. Sidewalks are not actually unsafe places for these devices, but they themselves become a safety hazard when they travel in bike lanes because they are oversized and are often operated without the care and situational awareness that is expected of cyclists.

Only three locations might be considered for such devices to travel — roads, sidewalks or bike lanes. They shouldn’t be on roads where they are threatened by large, dangerous vehicles.

On bike lanes they are the safety hazard, a threat to the cyclists for whom the bike lanes are designed.

So the best place for them is sidewalks where they can flow with the pedestrian traffic, and they should not behave there like they are some sort of manic ­performers in stunt movies.

Peter Spurr

Victoria

Police liaison officers? Ask those who know

Over the course of our careers as vice-principals and principals in the Greater Victoria School District, in which we collectively served in every secondary school in the system, we all were strong supporters of the Police Liaison Program.

The program had a positive impact in our schools.

Liaison officers participated in all school special events from the Remembrance Day ceremony to Breakfast with Santa, Career Days, school dances and grad class functions.

Day by day they supported the athletic program and some even coached school teams. Liaison officers were invited into classes and frequently make presentations to the students.

They got to know the students and provided good counsel to students in need. Often you would come across a group of students during lunch having a friendly conversation with the liaison officer.

Administrators, on occasion, when students, staff or liaison officers were being recognized noticed the cheer response for the liaison officer was just as loud as it was for the student or staff member. They were a part of us.

The decision to end the program was made without proper consultation. Why didn’t the board ask the administrators, current and retired, what they thought of the program?

Wayne van Osterhout

Rick Higgins

Doug Shaw

Rob House

Dave Allen

Kevin Costain

Rienold Zimmer

Rick Humber

Students respect officers in schools

I taught in schools for 37 years at the middle and high school levels as a classroom teacher, counsellor and phys-ed instructor.

Having seen police officers in the school both in uniform and as off-duty coaches, I can’t believe that the local school board took the stand they did against liaison officers.

Naivete in spades.

Experience has taught me that students literally flock to officers who are in the school, whether in uniform or sweats as a coach. On occasion I’ve seen an RCMP officer running a basketball practice in uniform (less the hat) because duties as a law enforcement officer kept them at work late.

He/she was left with two choices: cancel practice or attend as is while keeping 25 kids off the street.

The small percentage of students who do find officers intimidating are generally those who have an officer at their home on a regular basis, thus propagating the “intimidation” factor.

The cautious student generally warms up while developing a trusting relationship. Never a rule guy, but “common sense and respect” was my go-to.

Once seeing it, the majority of students buy in, no matter who is doing the delivering. Victoria School District can and should do better.

Geoff Sutcliffe

Cordova Bay

Set an example with Goldstream Park

I would like to thank the four letter writers to the March 13 edition regarding the highway through Goldstream Park. They all gave excellent reasons for not expanding the highway through this ecologically sensitive area.

There has to come a time when the environment comes first over highway expansion. This is the time.

Train and frequent bus service should be provided to up-Island points. This also would help alleviate the housing situation by spreading out the workforce.

There is a daily bus to and from Duncan. This service could be more frequent.

An ecologically sensitive area such as Goldstream has to be the priority. Unqualified support for preserving Goldstream Park should be given to the First Nations.

There is an opportunity here to set an environmental example for present and future generations.

Ian Baird

Victoria

Easy way to kill the provincial carbon tax

All of Victoria’s gasoline, natural gas, diesel and propane comes from up-Island, through the prehistoric Goldstream route.

An export tax at Nanaimo, Chemainus and Cherry Point, or better yet embargo on Victoria deliveries, would soon have those low-information anti-oil electors and politicians cold and immobile.

Hhhmmmmmmmm.

Grant Maxwell

Nanaimo

Who is responsible for an appalling situation

Re: “Victoria today: A requiem for my city,” commentary, March 14.

Make no mistake, we have entirely ­enabled this appalling situation.

Elizabeth Williams

Victoria

Carbon tax and its impact on emissions

Environment Minister George Heyman has said that 100 per cent of the upcoming carbon tax increase will go to lower-income households.

Try as I might, I cannot for the life of me figure out how this will help to reduce carbon emissions.

James MacDonald

Coombs

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