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Letters Aug. 19: More camping not a real solution to homelessness; shame those who abuse health-care workers

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The closure of Riverview Hospital in the 1990s began the cycle of government's hands-off approach to mental illness that continues to this day, a letter-writer suggests. GREG SALTER VIA WIKIPEDIA

Balance between rights and responsibilities

Re: “Psychiatric housing needs to be provided for homeless people who are mentally ill,” commentary, Aug. 15.

I would argue that there are homeless people who fall outside the confines of the three groups laid out in this commentary, but with regards to those coping with mental illness, the increase in drug addiction is spot on.

I began working as a mental-health worker in the early 1990s in Vancouver, and the closing of Riverview was indeed the beginning of the wave of people with mental illnesses attempting to find refuge in the streets and subsequently seeking solace in substance use.

We have never recovered from that failure to provide appropriate mental health housing and support. Now, more than ever, we are inadvertently and exponentially creating new addicts by lumping everyone together in the same “community” where there are few residential or social spaces outside of detox or rehab where drug use is not front and centre.

Ever widening the areas for the homeless to camp out, and relaxing regulations for tenting in public parks and spaces, is not a viable long-term solution to our growing problem of homelessness due to our increasing addiction and mental-health crises.

A couple of weeks back, on my own residential street in James Bay near the Five Corners, a fellow was camping, surrounded by his meagre possessions. Checking his cellphone, he looked up to ask if I might have a tent I wasn’t using. Two weeks later, he is still there with a companion and a growing collection of possessions laid out on the grass, including air mattresses.

Practically speaking, can we strike a workable balance between rights and responsibilities? Is personal agency growing in scope such that it weighs more heavily than attending to the mental and physical health of our population?

Soressa Gardner
Victoria

Quicker action needed to help people off the street

The cycle of mental health, substance abuse and homelessness are all interwined.

Society treats stray animals better than people, providing them shelter, food, health care, medication and re-homing when found wandering aimlessly on streets.

The homeless need our help to get back on their feet starting with shelter and food, the basic needs. Assessments for substance abuse and mental health and medical care.

Then mental health and addictions resources need to be revitalized and made more readily available to those people in dire need quickly. Not on long waiting lists that takes months.

Yes, bring back facilities that can treat people akin to a residential hospital, but for substance-abuse rehab and mental-health care. Rehabilitation care.

It seems impossible, but something has to happen for our homeless population.

You never know. We could also be on the street one day.

B.M. Wilder
Nanaimo

Abusing health-care staff is not appropriate

I read with dismay the recent letter about health-care staff being abused.

May I suggest those involved in abuse of health-care professionals are named, shamed and given community service wearing high-visibility yellow vests that all know means, “I have abused health-care workers.”

In more serious cases, substantial fines or detention.

My son, a young qualified U.K. GP, is taking Canadian health-care exams. Perhaps I should dissuade him?

Michael Pettifer
Mechelen, Belgium
On vacation in B.C. and loving it!

Saanich, be careful with the low-lying area

On Monday, Saanich council will be considering what form of Local Area Plan, or LAP, will be adopted for the Cadboro Bay area.

All four proposals wish to address affordable housing, something to be encouraged. One way to accomplish this is the reduction in minimum lot sizes to try to make the land cost portion of the housing equation less expensive.

There is a proposal to reduce lot sizes in the low-lying Gyro Park area. It is well-known and documented by Saanich that this area is subject to extensive and repeated flooding by winter storms.

The flooding will continue to increase over the next several decades due to rising sea levels. Saanich Emergency Preparedness is also aware of the potential for more severe flooding in the area in the event of a tsunami.

We believe that the lower half of the proposed new 780-square-metre lot zone, comprising about 96 of the 193 total, should be left with the current lot zoning (mostly RS-10, about 930-square-metre) and only the upper half be classified with the new reduced (780 square metres) size.

Without this change, the proposal before council would encourage more people living in more housing in unsafe areas. The reduction in minimum lot sizes in the lower half would encourage more people to live in jeopardy.

Is this change responsible?

Recall that in January 2018, Saanich emergency personnel went door to door one day at 3 a.m., awakening residents because of a possible tsunami triggered by an Alaskan earthquake.

Council’s first responsibility is public safety.

Our generation and future populations will understand why additional density was not pursued inappropriately.

Dwight and Diane Waring
Saanich

Remember Kimberly with new legislation

Re: “Murderer of Langford teen denied parole for second time,” Aug. 18.

This story brings to mind the 2011 Times Colonist editorial, “Why we must face the evil deeds of Kimberly Proctor’s killers,” which is still on point and quite valid.

Much of the content reflects exactly what the Proctor family had said at the time, and still stand by — and just why they sought to have a “Kimberly Proctor Law” enacted — much like the “Grant’s Law” that changed gas station payment to prepaid before pumping, after the death of gas station attendant Grant De Patie during a gas theft in Maple Ridge.

The Proctor family was very rightfully hoping to see new legislation enacted so as to identify and monitor potentially dangerous attitudes and behaviours in young students.

The family wants what the De Patie family wanted — to prevent something like this from happening to someone else, and to give at least some meaning to the needless death and widespread heartbreak it resulted in.

Unfortunately, there were election campaigns building when Kimberly’s killers were tried, so nothing was done.

G.R. Saunders
Sooke

Regional police service would be the answer

I am sure I speak for many, and it has been mentioned in this paper many times, when I say that the entire Capital Regional District should be funding the policing in downtown Victoria, not just the municipalities of Victoria and Esquimalt.

It is certainly not the downtown residents alone that are using up the city police’s time and energy. People are downtown to party etc. far more than in other municipalities.

I just hope that the very capable Chief Del Manak gets his wish for a regional policing policy, and is relieved of the totally unfair burden he now shoulders of trying to police Victoria proper with such limited resources.

Fingers crossed.

Sheila Drew
Victoria

ICBC remains a muddle to this driver

This week my car was hit at Hillside shopping centre, parked as I was off getting groceries.

I returned to find the owner of the guilty vehicle writing me a note with details etc. We exchanged notes and she was fully co-operative. My car has surface damage but it will certainly require a visit to a body shop.

I rang ICBC to file a claim which went well enough and I was given a claim number. The agent then told me I needed to contact my private insurer to arrange repair, etc.

I asked why given that I was not at fault at all in this case and commented that it should be the other person’s insurer who deals with it, and not mine. I was told this is not how it works.

So I rang my insurer and repeated most of the details I had given ICBC. I was given a second claim number and directed to an approved body shop which could do the repair.

I was graciously told that the deductible on my insurance would be waived as I was not at fault in the accident.

So I had to deal with two agencies providing much the same information and made to feel that I somehow shared responsibility in this whole affair, even though I am totally the innocent party.

This on top of the inconvenience of having to have my vehicle repaired. If this is what ICBC’s no-fault insurance is all about, I want no part of it.

David Collins
Victoria

Greater density will not make us better

Victoria council is planning on rezoning the entire city to make it easier to build what they call “missing middle” housing. Although they think that all these additional people will ride bicycles instead of driving cars, they are living in a fantasy world.

We are an automobile-centric society. When the price of gasoline climbed to hitherto unimaginable heights (more than $2 a litre), economic theory suggests that people would seek alternative means to get around. From my observations, traffic remained as heavy as ever.

Do we need more densification? The population density of Victoria is already 4,722 per square kilometre, higher than Toronto (4,428), but less than Vancouver (5,700). And unlike those other cities, we do not have even one rapid transit station.

Victoria is arguably the most livable city in Canada. But would it remain that way if we keep increasing its density?

Kenneth Mintz
Victoria

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