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Letters Aug. 11: A poorly drafted business case for new Belleville terminal; fix the square, keep the fountain

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Concept drawing for a new Belleville ferry terminal in downtown Victoria. The Coho and Clipper ferries would dock here. B.C. MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Belleville terminal case raises many questions

The business case for the $303.9 million Belleville terminal project on the B.C, government website raises issues that should concern taxpayers.

1. It appears that the B.C. taxpayer is exposed to liability for a significant chunk of the $303.9 million with no funding commitment from the federal government, no agreement with Black Ball and the Clipper as to their contribution to the redevelopment costs, and no agreement has been reached of future usage fees.

2. More geotechnical work is required and the detailed engineering is not complete, implying a significant risk of cost overruns.

The table on project costs is very high level and most numbers have been redacted. Supporting appendices have been omitted.

3. There is no comparison of current and future operating costs.

4. The extent to which future operating costs will or will not be covered by revenues and how much taxpayers may or may not be required to fund each year of operation is not disclosed.

5. The discussion on alternative ways to meet the project requirements is very thin. In fact, the section is shorter than the sections on gender-based analysis and child care. Note that the section on labour objectives runs to two pages.

In my experience of life in a public company, if we had published documents like this we would have encountered the wrath of the directors, regulators and the shareholders.

Taxpayers and voters deserve and should expect a lot, lot better.

John Bailey

Victoria

Fix Centennial Square, but keep that fountain

Having grown up with the privilege of meeting most of Victoria’s Limner Art Group, celebrated during the 1960s and 1970s, I am disappointed in the suggestion to tear down the iconic Jack Wilkinson Fountain in Centennial Square — a part of our artistic heritage.

Mid-Century Modern is enjoying a resurgence in B.C., as seen recently at the West Vancouver Art Gallery, with lectures and tours by artists and architects known for their West Coast Modern design. It was a sold out event.

The Art Gallery of Victoria has just closed its show, curated by Steven McNeil, focusing on West Coast Modernism in Victoria and showing works of the accomplished Limner group, including Wilkinson.

I find it curious that heritage homes are protected but not heritage sculpture.

I was born in Victoria and have lived here all of my 77 years. Downtown breaks my heart. Fix it up, welcome residents again. Treasure our history, all of it — whether from 60 years or 600 years ago.

Tell the stories associated with all of it — the positive and the negative. Help Victoria become vibrant again.

Victoria council should think carefully before destroying another piece of Victoria’s history. Centennial Square could be reconfigured with its Wilkinson sculpture as a highlight rather than an eyesore.

Wendy Lovitt Warren

Victoria

Sad day for ping‑pong enthusiasts?

I note that the outdoor ping-pong table, which a previous council thought was a good use of public money and space that used to be a roadway — Humboldt just east of Douglas — has been removed.

What will outdoor table tennis enthusiasts now do? Perhaps take up pickleball, as another formerly much-used roadway and parking lot nearby on Arbutus Way in Beacon Hill Park has been turned into three courts that are routinely underused.

Then again, were there ever even any outdoor ping-pong players here? I never saw that table used except as a bench.

Could this possibly be an admission by current council and staff, albeit only indirectly and silently made, that that ping-pong table was a dumb and embarrassing idea!?

Stephen Hayward

James Bay

Ping-pong table belongs at Beacon Hill

As I work near the corners of Douglas, Humboldt and Burdett, I have noticed our ping-pong table was removed at its location on Humboldt to give room for the present construction of the Telus building.

I have a splendid idea to ponder, and perhaps to act upon so our ping-pong table does not sit in storage any longer.

Please relocate the sturdy table to Beacon Hill Park. The perfect place is the old shuffleboard space/former basketball court, and it is right beside the relocated pickleball courts.

This is a valuable space not being utilized, and the table can add to the rich history of the park.

I believe it was a misconceived notion to put our ping pong table in the middle of downtown. Right beside a busy bike lane. Metres away from one of the busiest intersections in downtown Victoria — in a natural wind tunnel due to the tall condos and hotels.

I look forward to relocating our ping-pong table to a location where one can safely find an errant ball. Having a lost ball flattened by city traffic ends the game, and then some.

Mur Meadows

Victoria

Electric fire truck is a waste of money

The City of Victoria’s decision to buy a new electric fire truck for $1.7 million is a waste of taxpayers dollars.

If the city is determined to go down the electric vehicle path, should not the money be spent on vehicles that are intended to operate full time on the road?

What good is an environmentally friendly vehicle going to do for global warming sitting in a fire hall most of the time?

Apparently the province is paying for a third. As a taxpayer I don’t really care which pocket the money comes out of to pay for it! I also find it hard to believe a new conventional fire truck would not be considerably cheaper at this time.

We need to be smarter with the few dollars we have to spend.

Ralph Street

Saanich

We need an outdoor swimming pool

As Victorians anticipate the long-awaited resolution of the Crystal Pool replacement, a broader question emerges amid a population surge of nearly 15 per cent over a decade: Can a single public pool suffice for the growing community’s recreation needs?

As referendums on location and funding loom, many would rightfully balk at the idea of going through another decade-long odyssey to get built a second indoor pool the size of Crystal, thus the idea of a smaller, outdoor public pool is attractive.

While concerns about the region’s often-cloudy weather linger, ­successful ou tdoor pools in Southern Ontario operating for four months or more offer insights.

This prompts us to consider Victoria’s friendlier climate, suggesting a prolonged swim season. This summer has proven that Victorians could soak up Vitamin D on an outdoor pool deck much longer than our friends in Ontario.

Vancouver’s five outdoor pools for a population of 650,000 compared to the CRD’s zero for more than 400,000 residents underscore the potential for diversification of swimming options.

Thoughtfully placed, perhaps in a south-side neighbourhood like Fairfield to complement Crystal Pool on the north side of town, an outdoor pool could have a small physical footprint and operate on solar heating and reduced ventilation, saving money and emissions.

Or perhaps the under-used gravel patch on Beacon Hill Park, where attendees could relax in a hot tub while gazing out at the Olympic Mountains.

An outdoor pool could support growing need for recreation with spatial efficiency, climate-consciousness, and fiscal prudence while creating a popular amenity.

Quinn MacTavish

Victoria

Council priority should be people who live here

Re: “Victoria needs an effective, efficient code of conduct,” commentary, Aug. 9.

Very few professions, governments or entities successfully investigate themselves or require complaints to be vetted by the very members a complaint is directed at, but, the majority in our city council have already voted to limit the public’s participation in the development process and they continue their attack on democracy.

They think democratic participation begins and ends at the polling station, and please note that public records show that none of them were voted in by even 20 per cent of the electorate.

Victoria would be so much cleaner and inviting, so much safer and prosperous, if the well-being and interests of those who live here became council’s priority.

Dave Helm

Victoria

Deer can swim, island cull won’t work

Attempts to eliminate the fallow deer on Sidney Island have never succeeded. They will just swim over again from James Island where they were established for hunting about 1903.

A friend who lives on the bluff looking west toward James Island has watched deer swim across several times. The cull won’t work, just as shooting and sterilization (at great expense) didn’t work on James Island.

I once read a report about an island in Sweden which was very similar to Sidney Island and it took more than 20 years of aggressive shooting and trapping to eliminate the fallow deer.

Thus six million tax dollars would be wasted.

Keith Taylor

Victoria

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