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Letters Aug. 1: A bus driver looks after a confused passenger; animals at French Beach; role of Sir James Douglas

B.C. Parks staff at the French Beach campground after reports of a bear causing havoc. ANGELA FLETCHER

High praise for driver on bus route 72 from Sidney

On July 29 I boarded the No. 72 bus in Sidney, heading to Victoria. On arrival at the Uptown stop a number of people disembarked.

The bus driver noticed an elderly woman (who he remembered getting on in Sidney) had disembarked but he thought she looked confused.

He left the bus to talk to her on the sidewalk to see if she knew where she was going. She didn’t appear to, so he persuaded her to get back on the bus and he would look out for her.

He said he called ahead and would have someone meet her at the end. I didn’t get the driver’s name but his exceptional observational skills and caring manner for his passengers deserves recognition.

May he still be driving should I ever reach that stage!

Ann Fox


French Beach has a long history with animals

Re: “French Beach park shut after bear goes berserk, July 28.”

The local French family and wild animals share a bit of early history. During the First War, pioneer James George French kept a menagerie of circus animals on his property near Saanich’s Swan Lake.

Penned creatures included bears, an elephant and even a lion.

Property was later purchased along the West Coast Road near Shirley where cougars were housed in pens. In 1981 a large chunk of the family’s oceanfront property became the French Beach Provincial Park.

Cougars and bears still visit the site, but no lions or elephants of late.

Dennis Minaker


The real winners are our readers

Re: “Mayne Island tennis players lose turf war with pickleball,” July 28.

As I was enjoying my coffee and reading the Times Colonist, on the third page was the above headline and article.

I have never laughed so hard at 6 a.m.! That whole tennis/pickleball fiasco has now gone to a new level. Priceless!

Thank you Times Colonist for starting out my day with such humour. Toooooo funny!

Garth Klein


Old Town fails to note role of Sir James Douglas

It’s great to see Old Town reopening with more socially inclusive themes. However, in the Becoming B.C. gallery, which includes Old Town, there was never a mention of Sir James Douglas, who was half Black and more responsible than any other single person for the founding of colonial British Columbia.

He deserves a place with other Black contributors to the history of British Columbia

Bob Miers


Amid water shortage why are they watering?

Re: “Drought forces drastic changes for farming,” July 29.

My daily work life takes me all over Greater Victoria, and this “startling” headline was a little confusing to me.

In these daily travels, I pass by provincial, federal and educational facilities such as UVic/Camosun, several times per day. When I do, there are multiple sprinklers operating often more than once per day at these locations, or in completely empty fields full of overgrown brush.

If “farmers are being forced to make drastic changes,” why is it that these facilities appear to have such a falsidical approach to water rationing?

Mark McKee


No justification for changes on Richardson

I would like to see the person who criticized those opposing some bike lanes to look in the mirror and provide some numbers that justify a bikeway like Richardson Street.

Richardson is closed to all vehicular through traffic, causing 2,500 to 3,000 vehicle trips to be diverted onto neighbourhood streets, taking a longer route, burning more gasoline, and emitting significantly more air pollution, including GHGs.

It has been a disaster for traffic flow in Fairfield, Gonzales, Rockland and South Oak Bay.

Let me give you some facts first: there was no safety issue at all with bicycles and cars sharing Richardson. Never has been.

Richardson between St. Charles and Richmond is a good six vehicles wide between sidewalks. Richardson was the best example in Victoria of a street perfectly capable of accommodating all road users safely, and has a decades-long history of doing just that.

I looked and found no historical stats to even suggest a bike crash except for the poor cyclist who ran into a bollard during the bikeway construction.

More stats:

Seventy-one per cent of respondents in the city’s own engagement process were opposed to closing Richardson to through traffic. Only 15 per cent were in favour and the other 14 per cent didn’t care. The city didn’t care either, and blasted ahead with this ludicrous project.

I’m told that there are about 320 more cyclists a day now using Richardson than the 380 that used it previously. Those 320 are not new cyclists, the vast majority have simply diverted onto Richardson from nearby streets.

So, we have inconvenienced probably 4,500-5,000 people a day in those diverted cars for the benefit of what? Some 320 more cyclists. What a losing trade-off.

It is going to take Trump-style alternative facts for anyone to justify calling this Richardson cycling project a success.

And I am sure that anyone with a broken leg in an ambulance really appreciates going over a speed bump every 100 metres along parts of Richmond while on their longer, time consuming and more polluting trip to RJH Emergency.

This project needs a comprehensive review, and not by the staff that designed and advocated for it in the first place.

Chris Foord


Motorcycles should not be in bike lanes

The only surprise regarding the recent incident with an e-bike hitting a pedestrian is that is didn’t happen before now.

E-bikes are becoming more and more like small motorcycles in terms of their mass and speed, yet they are still being treated like regular self-propelled bicycles in the eyes of the law.

And unfortunately, some e-bikers seem to view it as their right to go as fast as they want, wherever they want.

This is an excellent example of technology outstripping regulation. Until there are clear-cut ways to make the presence of these machines safer for pedestrians and for the truly self-propelled, there will be more such incidents.

As they become increasingly more motorcycle-like, perhaps one option would be to consider prohibiting them entirely from bike lanes and absolutely from sidewalks.

Brian Whiting


At very least, e-bikers, get a bell and use it

Many cyclists — mostly, in my experience, e-cyclists — motor by at alarming speeds and pass without warning. I often feel unsafe and I can only imagine what it is like for pedestrians being passed.

While I appreciate the general benefits of e-bike use on a societal scale, our trail infrastructure was not built to accommodate motorcycles — gas or electric.

So, what to do? We could widen the trails, but this would be a costly solution that would simply accommodate rather than address the problem of unsafe cycling.

Alternatively we could ban e-bikes from the trails and direct them onto the road with their moped brethren, but this would be needlessly penal to those who ride their e-bikes responsibly.

The best approach might be to post speed limits to the trails, require the use of bells when passing, and police compliance.

At the very least, as an interim measure in advance of a more concerted solution, the Capital Regional District should liberally put up some kind of “Use Your Bell” signage on the trails to encourage a more respectful and safe regional cycling culture.

Andrew Komlodi


No monster towers in quiet neighbourhoods

Re: “Proposed 17-storey James Bay tower deemed too high, sent back for redesign,” July 29.

What a delight it was to read that Victoria council has vetoed the 17-storey ­monstrosity proposed for James Bay.

I shook my head in disbelief at the news since we have all been convinced that there is nothing we can do to stop yet another incursion into our quiet neighbourhood.

James Bay was meant to be an enclave of “human proportions” — of buildings of no more than six storeys on green, leafy and mostly quiet streets.

As Coun. Stephen Hammond pointed out: “James Bay is already punching over its weight for density” and 112 units on the already busy Quebec and Kingston corridor toward Dallas Road would be disastrous.

Surely an attractive row of townhomes like some that have recently risen in the area would provide enough density as well as profit for the developer while retaining the human proportions of a city we can enjoy living in?

So bravo to council for thinking of the future. Build up your density in the high rise areas of downtown and by doubling up on larger city lots, not by throwing up monster towers into quiet family neighbourhoods.

Mari Peepre

James Bay

When city councillors ignore the planners

Re: “Proposed 17-storey James Bay tower deemed too high, sent back for redesign,” July 29.

My neighbours and I attended Victoria City Hall to observe the majority of ­council dismiss the planning department’s recommendation to decline a rezoning application for a 17-storey, 112-unit apartment complex on a parking lot at Kingston/Quebec/Montreal Streets in James Bay.

The location’s current zoning is R-K (missing middle style housing). The ­Official Community Plan (OCP) — ­created in 2012, with a vision 30 years into the future — suggests three to six storeys.

Instead, council opted to invite the developer to “take another kick at the can” (as Coun. Jeremy Caradonna said), and find a way to squeeze that same excessive density into a few less storeys.

Coun. Chris Coleman rationally pointed out that a more reasonable build of 80 suites would still be a huge gain. Once again, councillors Coleman, Marg Gardiner and Hammond seemed to be the voices of reason, defending the value of urban planning over spot zoning.

We left the meeting asking ourselves, why do some councillors have such avid inclination to dismiss the informed advice of city planners?

Soressa Gardner


Massive structure would cut off the vista

Re: “Proposed 17-storey James Bay tower deemed too high, sent back for redesign,” July 29.

Referring to the proposed condo development on the Kingston/Montreal/Quebec St. parking lot in James Bay, this article states that “council directed staff to work with the developer on a modified proposal that would likely include a shorter tower, but ideally have the same number of housing units.”

Later in the story, Victoria Coun. Stephen Hammond is quoted as saying that “at 112 units, this is too many units.”

So what council wants regarding density in the project’s revised proposal remains unclear, but it makes a huge difference. If municipal authorities truly prefer “the same number of housing units” in a significantly lower tower, the outcome will be disastrous for surrounding residences with respect to their views and sunlight (not to mention traffic, parking and safety).

This is because if the building’s height is reduced by half to more closely approach that of the neighbouring Har bourside condo towers (seven and nine storeys above street level, respectively), then its “footprint” will have to be doubled in the amount of area covered.

The resulting massive structure would permanently cut off the eastern vista for most of the Harbourside units currently enjoying that prospect, an outcome that the proponent’s originally proposed narrow tower largely avoided.

Council needs to get its act together on this density issue before sending the proposal back for revision, and it would do well to proactively engage local residents in these deliberations.

Robin Farquhar


Where are the leaders to improve our health care?

I am a family physician who has practiced in B.C. for 28 years. I can assert with certainty that the core problems in primary care are lack of proper organization as well as lack of accountability at multiple levels.

The organizational problem was identified 20 years ago and has only worsened with the advent of telemedicine and private ownership of primary care services.

The lack of accountability resides not only with government which spends money ineffectively and also for political reasons, but also with Physicians who all too often take the easy way out to make money.

Lastly, it resides with people who often use the system inappropriately through telehealth or walk-in clinics. People often demand tests and specialist referrals inappropriately. Lack of accountability and failure to judge value for dollars spent is crippling us all.

Putting more money in the system without addressing the fundamental organization of services and accountability of all three stakeholders will only increase our public debt without delivering any demonstrable benefit to society at large. Sadly, I do not presently see any insightful leaders who will accept this reality and work incrementally to improve our system.

Robert H. Brown M.D., C.C.F.P.

North Saanich


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