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Letters Dec. 13: A closed-door start to Victoria council; Falcon's disrespect to sailors

Lekwungen traditional dancers lead Mayor Marianne Alto and Victoria councillors to their swearing-in ceremonies at City Hall in November. A letter-writer suggests council is starting its term with an alarming lack of transparency. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Transparency? No, closed doors

So, Victoria’s new council opens its new transparency regime with a secret, closed meeting on the myth of missing-middle housing.

In the star chamber with staff paid by taxpayers and heaven knows who else (surely not profit-making developers) the new council can let down its hair and say what they could not or would not say during the election campaign.

If they had said it then, then surely this would have been a public meeting, but no, they had to go in secret again so the people who pay the bills would not know.

This all under the gavel of a mayor who held secret meetings with special interest groups to give away tax dollars. Thus ends any pretence of democracy.

They will even pretend they heard the previous public hearings on the issue, which is strange since they were public meetings, an anathema to the current lot. For those who lived in Victoria, paid taxes to build the roads, parks and amenities: tough luck, suckers.

Patrick Murphy


Note to Kevin Falcon: Don’t disgrace sailors

It was reported on Thursday that B.C. Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon made the comment that Premier David Eby “is spending like a drunken sailor.”

I’m hoping that Falcon will issue an apology to all the proud sailors in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Coast Guard, B.C. Ferries and all other hardworking sailors across Canada for his derogatory comment about sailors.

These type of analogies are not appropriate.

Don Sutton


We need to know more about children who died

We are told by public health that, remarkably, six British Columbia children have already died this season from flu-related illness. As a result of this staggering and tragic reality, vaccination is urged on us in an effort to prevent illness.

We are also told by one bereaved mother that her child died after being sent home from one of our over-burdened hospitals and without receiving treatment.

Is the key message here that we are in real trouble if we have the misfortune to come down with the flu this season because our public health simply no longer has the capacity to offer us a timely cure? I would be interested to know how many of the six deceased children were on antibiotics before their deaths.

I dread that the real story here could be that none of those six young souls were offered timely treatment from our public health-care system.

Roxanne P. Helme, K.C.


We have that big surplus, so let’s pay down debt

With B.C. sitting at $97 billion in debt, and going up at roughly $1,000 every five seconds, there should be absolutely no question where this so-called “surplus” of $5.7 billion should go (never mind that the cost of servicing this debt is rising exponentially).

It won’t go there, of course: It will be spent, spent, spent.

Brian Brigden


Victoria’s esthetics were not a priority

Re: “Eulogy for a plum tree on Menzies Street,” letters, Dec. 9.

Never let it be said that esthetics were allowed to interfere with the agenda of Helps & Co. We had eight years of seeing our city get uglier and uglier under their watch.

Frederick Shand


Patios are welcome, monstrosities are not

Thank you, City of Victoria, for addressing the tsunami of garden sheds (sorry, I meant to say patios) that have popped up all over our city.

A patio by definition is a place to sit on a sunny day as you enjoy a bite and a beverage and watch the world go by. It is not a roof and four walls that blocks the street, adds nothing to the ambience of our fair city and remains empty much of the year.

I understand the motivation of Pagliacci’s and others looking to increase the square footage of their establishments, but not if those extra bums on seats look like they’re sitting in a construction trailer.

Murchie’s understood the idea of a classic European patio, but please don’t get me started on that monstrous carbuncle nailed to the side of the Janion building.

Patios are a welcome addition to our garden city, but let’s get the concept right so they truly add to the vibrancy of Victoria.

Paul Cunnington


Do nothing, create nothing, then sell it

So North Cowichan has been advised by the University of British Columbia that they can make more money through carbon credits rather than logging.

Let me see if I follow. By doing nothing you create something of value that isn’t real, which you then sell to someone who is actually doing something so that they (and everyone else) feel better?

Perhaps that should be our new patriotic rallying cry: “Money for nothing!”

I await with bated breath a forthcoming article that proudly announces housing made from carbon credits.

Thomas Maxwell


Greenhouses will help ease food crunch

We are facing a huge challenge to our food supply, this issue was surfacing even before COVID, inflation and supply-chain and distribution issues.

This thought is maybe too simplistic, but here goes.

Canada has only about 10 per cent of the population of the U.S.

What we have is lots of land, much of it public lands.

Vancouver Island, the West Coast and western Interior has the most temperate climate in our country. Is it possible to establish a massive greenhouse production area and systems that could produce specific foods and produce year round?

Do we not have technical ability and creativity to develop such a system? This could also be a boost to long-term employment, as well as sustainability in a number of other areas.

Partnerships with farmers, universities, the tech and scientific area of our government and other sectors.

Just something I have been mulling over, like mulled wine.

Steve Frankel


Strata rentals, health care are top concerns

One of our condo units in my building has just been offered for rent at the extraordinarily high cost of $4,200 a month.

This is an impossibly high price for the majority of people in Victoria looking for a home to rent. Total rental cost for this condo unit would be more than $60,000 annually.

Premier David Eby’s decision to have condo building units rented is wrong. Owners of these units are gouging those who require housing. What needs to happen in B.C. is for buildings such as mine and also rental buildings to have their units rented on a sliding scale, geared to people’s net income at 30 per cent for housing.

Eby’s highly vaunted improvement in increasing the salaries for family physicians and making their working conditions more feasible is a drop in the bucket for our troubled health system.

One waits endless months for surgeries only to have them postponed again and again. More suffering and pain ensue as one’s health condition worsens due to these waits and postponements. Bookings for diagnostic tests also takes months.

To see certain specialists requires years of waiting. The most recent inter-provincial and federal meeting regarding improving the health system in Canada was a failure.

Canada ranks 26th globally in the availability of hospital beds. About 11,000 people die annually in Canada because of these failures in our health system.

They die because the provincial and federal governments have betrayed the people of Canada.

If Eby holds an election next year I am voting Liberal.

Margot Todd


The long, long wait for a lifesaving vaccine

I read the news regarding the recent surge in pediatric influenza deaths in B.C. with a mix of sadness and anger.

On Dec. 5, the CBC quoted Dr. Bonnie Henry saying: “I cannot stress enough the import of influenza vaccine right now” and referring to B.C. Vaccine Operations data showing “only 20 per cent of children under five have been vaccinated.”

The trouble is, our children were registered for their vaccine on Oct. 25, received their “invites” by Nov. 14, and we were still waiting fearfully for their Dec. 9 shots.

Many of our peers are in a similar situation. I do not consider this expeditious access to the flu shot and would encourage anyone reading the 20 per cent figure with disdain to contact Henry and their MLA to encourage better access to this lifesaving vaccine.

Melissa Bock


Ostrich governance and bad health care

The downside to democracy is that governments are never interested in solving problems that are years down the road as they are only interested in the near term and winning the next election.

Whether it be health care, affordable housing, homelessness, amalgamation, drug addiction or the environment, none are tackled until they become critical.

Unfortunately, when it comes to global warming, waiting till the issue becomes critical before anything substantive is done, all our other woes will seem small in comparison to the damage, disruption and costs involved worldwide.

Christine Benn


When you owe money and want to pay the old way

I received an email about an Outstanding tax amount. Dutifully I logged on to the Outstanding CRA website.

After accepting two or three Outstanding full page disclaimers, I was able to ascertain the amount. As a computer-capable boomer, much like the feeling I get when listening to most pop music created prior to 1973, I do enjoy paying by cheque and dropping it in the mailbox.

All I needed was the CRA address. Fortunately, I was on the CRA website. Outstanding!

I found the CRA search icon in veritable seconds — I think I mentioned I am computer-savvy. I wrote: “where to mail payment cheques?”

The search provided 3774 options, it was like hitting a vein of gold, this should take seconds. I decided to narrow things down a bit. I changed my request to “mailing payments.”

Diamonds, 19,980 hits. I stopped my search for half an hour to buy some lotto tickets because I had to take advantage of this streak of luck. Dare I?

With recklessness born from life in 1950s-60s Canada I input “mailing,” 138,841 hits. Bitcoin levels of appreciation.

Then I found out that there is a fuel surcharge on post, that and the fact that the new stamps stick to my tongue when I lick them, I logged on and paid online.

An Outstanding experience.

Bill Carere


Does ‘trust need a boost’ or the public need a boot?

Re: “B.C. responded well on COVID, but trust needs a boost: review,” Dec. 3.

Ashley Joannou, of the Canadian Press, reviewed report findings on British Columbia’s COVID-19 response. About 145 organizations were surveyed, resulting in 26 recommendations including “better communication, transparency, data collection and improved public trust.”

Those who perceived a lack of communication and transparency need to account. Regular COVID-19 updates by Adrian Dix and Bonnie Henry provincially and others federally were constant, commensurate with where we were within the pandemic. Clear tabular data served as a basis for recommendations, and were paralleled with reminders about online resources, 24-hour help and information lines.

That recommendations were based on changing data, was continuously reiterated. The pandemic was novel; the landscape was changing; uncertainty at times was inevitable.

“Deeper” survey questions that needed to be asked include: “When you review all the videos aired live and thereafter accessible online, and transcripts published over the pandemic, what was not communicated that you believe should have? What specifically would have made the information clearer and more transparent to you?”

Regarding improving public trust, what was the basis of distrust? Across dimensions of our lives, we rely on expert advice, those who have achieved levels of established accredited credentials in their fields (electricians, plumbers, accountants, as well as health workers and officials).

Our lives are too short for each of us to earn accredited credentials in all these fields. Indeed, across professions, mistakes can be made, but respecting established standards minimizes such risk.

Trust will emerge when the public assumes some humility and better appreciates the value of legitimate expert advice.

Elizabeth Dean


Pity those soccer players, so accident-prone

I have been watching the World Cup and can’t help but notice that the players often fall down in agony whenever they have the slightest brush with an opponent.

There can be only one reason for this. Soccer players are obviously the most accident-prone athletes in the world.

Bill Huot



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