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Letters Feb. 13: Gaza conflict; airport fee increase; maritime museum at Northern Junk; bigger reservoirs

Palestinians walk by a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

Let’s indulge in verbiage about the Gaza conflict

In respect of the Selina Robinson controversy, everyone needs to take a long hard look and take some time to reflect.

First, albeit overstated, Robinson was correct in her reference to the fact that much of the land in question was not productive. It was largely a subsistence economy.

For instance, northern Palestine forming part of modern day Israel was previously largely characterized by totally barren territory and/or mosquito and disease infested swamp land.

True, there was agricultural land, including pasture land and groves elsewhere, that provided a valuable resource to the resident population. However, so much of the land that today is productive agriculturally, was not so earlier.

I believe this was what Robinson was referring to in her poorly worded remarks.

Second, per the fiasco with the Langara college instructor Natalie Knight, it was high time that someone expressed the disgust that so many of us, especially Jewish persons, feel.

That individual has spouted the worst type of racist vitriol. It’s bad enough that so many impressionable young people are easily swayed by facile narratives and catchy slogans.

It’s a sad day when dedicated politicians such as Robinson are subject to further reactions and actions by a pseudo “lynch mob.”

The tragedy of Oct. 7 and the ongoing tragedy in Gaza does not need any more victims.

And speaking of words, perhaps it’s long overdue that the precise intent of the protesters’ phrase “from the river to the sea” be redefined to represent peaceful and respectful coexistence of all persons residing in that region.

Farley Cates


A steep increase that could be worse

Victoria International Airport’s increase in improvement fees feels like one more hidden tax.

The airport has raised the fee to $25 per person from $15.

In 2023, 1.74 million passengers departed from the airport.

This equals $43.5 Million in estimated revenue for 2024.

Of course, this is not quite as bad as Toronto:

• Departing passengers: $35, plus applicable taxes

• Connecting passengers: $7, plus applicable taxes

Daryl Hobbs


Put maritime museum at the Northern Junk

Instead of just another dull condo tower blocking the public’s view of the water, the site of the two historical Northern Junk buildings could be a challenge to Victoria to build something that would be imaginative, creative, internationally admired, and a major tourist attraction.

That lot is the perfect place to build a maritime museum.

The old stone buildings, refurbished, could stand out a bit from the main museum to keep their identity, one serving as an entrance with a historical maritime theme, the other, the exit and gift shop.

The main building could be brick on the road side in keeping with the style of Old Town. It could stand out to the sides and be extended back and several storeys down towards the water, as the foreshore appears to be rock for foundation.

Alternatively cantilevered. Some water views from the road could even be saved.

It could have walls of windows looking out to the harbour and the new bridge. At night, the lights would be beautiful.

It may be costly but it would be worth it, enhancing Victoria’s reputation while delighting generations that live here.

The city has only one chance at this.

Tony Keble


Kudos, North Cowichan, for fighting the harm

Finally a government working for the betterment of its people. North Cowichan council’s refusal to accept a cell stack on the water tower is a good first step.

God knows all the studies that have been done to prove the harmful effects (not that any of these studies have managed to do that).

Doesn’t everyone have a cellphone? Have they ever made a call on it? If so they have been bombarded with more radiation than this tower would have given in a lifetime. But this is a good first step, if we don’t have any transmitters we won’t be able to use our phones, and we will throw them away.

While the municipality is at it, what about all the smart meters B.C. Hydro installed? No one would listen to us about all their radiation. Maybe they could go to work and get them removed.

All our homes are equipped with wi-fi, just imagine the radiation we get from this! The municipality should use their powers to get this banned as well.

Seeing as the municipal council is such experts in this field, these are just a few of the areas they should undertake to get changes made.

Greg Mathews


Budget shortfall? Start by cutting fat

The University of Victoria has to deal with a budget shortfall of four per cent in September. A typical reaction would be cutting teaching positions and courses, and then letting go of tradespeople, janitors, etc.

The logical solution involves a more targeted approach — to take a very close look at the bloated plethora of associate directors, assistants to directors, managers, assistant managers, supervisors, etc.

This top-heavy and very expensive administration has grown absurdly in the past several decades, and is due for a significant trim. Keep the people who actually face the students by delivering all classes on the books, and those working to keep the physical facilities operating. Cut the actual fat.

Roel Hurkens


Bigger reservoirs would solve water issues

Re: “ ‘It’s dire:’ Low snowpack raises drought fears on Island,” Feb. 9.

I checked reservoir levels for Victoria and they are already 100 per cent full. With a lot of winter and spring rain still to fall, it seems the real issue is not snow pack but the size of our reservoirs.

Nanaimo and other Island communities have the same issue. Summer water shortages on the Island are not due to lack of precipitation, they are due to inadequate storage facilities.

We allow huge amounts of fresh water to run into the ocean during the wet seasons, where it becomes polluted with salt, making it useless.

Then, in summer, we have watering restrictions that limit gardeners’ abilities to grow plants that benefit the environment. Letting your lawn and other plants go dormant, or landscaping with gravel, does nothing for the environment.

Our problem isn’t that there is a water shortage on Vancouver Island, it’s just an issue of unequal annual rain distribution.

Since water is a commodity, water sales would cover the cost of making our reservoirs bigger.

S.I. Petersen


The great wealth transfer using warm hands

Regarding the article about the massive wealth transfer soon to happen between baby boomers and younger generations, my mother-in-law subscribed to the idea of passing along some of her wealth while she was still alive so that she could see the money being used as she desired.

She called it “giving with warm hands rather than cold.”

Alanna Wrean


Not everyone is willing to be helped

A recent commentary by a woman whose mentally ill nephew died of a drug overdose was very sad. She felt that psychiatrists and others did not provide an acceptable level of care for the young man and that he could have been saved.

Modern medicine has not yet reached the stage where every sick person can be cured or their illness arrested. For care to be effective, a patient usually has to be an active and eager participant.

Unfortunately, many people cannot or will not give themselves over to treatment. It is too difficult. Many will die. No government on the planet can save us from ourselves or legislate sobriety.

Psychiatrists help thousands of people every year and get little thanks. Unfortunately, miracles are outside their level of expertise.

Cheera J. Crow

Brentwood Bay

We can’t discuss many new developments

A seismic event is coming to the neighbourhoods of Victoria.

On Feb. 8, city council voted to undertake an abbreviated civic consultation of the Official Community Plan with the intent to greatly increase housing, social, rental and privately owned, by thousands of units to accommodate the 47,000 additional people, or 26,000 new households, projected to live in Victoria in 2050.

It is critical that anyone who has concerns about what their city and neighbourhoods will become get involved in the upcoming consultations.

In a highly disruptive convergence of policies, the addition of four, six, possibly up to 17 storeys, will be allowed across literally all of Victoria including ­traditional neighbourhoods in an updated Official Community Plan.

But you will no longer be able to go to the previously available public hearings for rezonings with your insight, input and feedback for council consideration.

Why? Because, the province has a new law that says local governments are prohibited from holding public hearings on a proposed zoning if the bylaw is consistent with the Official Community Plan. You can no longer go to council to discuss or speak about a project next or near to you.

You have been gagged. If a project rezoning fits with the Official Community Plan, you will no longer be able to discuss it at council.

Please voice your opinion, and solutions, in the upcoming Official Community Plan engagement process.

Bob June


Check for rules on assistance in dying

Re: “Declare an advance request if we want MAID,” letter, Feb. 8.

The letter is correct in saying that no one desires to pass their “final days in confusion and despair,” and that advance requests for MAID should be a legal option for those who want to put one in place.

At present, they are not, although 82 per cent of Canadians have expressed support for such an option.

However, some people with neurocognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as dementia, can qualify for MAID under the existing legislation, if they meet all the criteria.

MAID legislation can be complex; further clarification can be found at the Dying With Dignity Canada website.

DWDC is the national human-rights charity committed to protecting end-of-life rights and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering.

Gwen Anholt and Lynne Van Luven

Co-Chairs, Victoria Chapter, DWDC


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