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Letters Feb. 6: James Bay doesn't need a village square; fear of crime; thanks for the help

Residents need a say in James Bay future

As a senior, I used to be able to walk up to James Bay Square and pick up my coffee and freshly baked treat from the local tea shop.

I would then walk a few metres to Irving Park, sit on a bench under a shady tree, and watch families enjoying the neighbourhood playground structure provided in our local community. Makes perfect sense to me!

Now, I do not feel safe to continue with this activity as there are an increasing number of homeless in their tents with the largest one under the tree by the play structure.

I walk by on the other side of the street as there have been frightening incidents; recently a resident was randomly stabbed and very often agitated tenters screaming foul language.

This behaviour carries over to the James Bay Square with loitering and garbage strewn about.

This summer, Victoria council added select parks to the Parks Regulation Bylaw prohibiting sheltering; it was immediately clear that Irving Park was high on the list.

Victoria Police Department data over a three-year period reported that Irving had four times the number of police calls as compared to Stadacona Park, which was approved for no sheltering. Irving Park did not receive this exemption!

Council is considering changing James Bay Square into a no-car zone resident gathering centre.

Is it not more reasonable to dismantle the Irving Park encampment and enhance this park as was the case with the encampment east of the provincial courthouse?

Personally, I would appreciate this beautiful open, well-treed, green, community park for residents to once more enjoy instead of a closed, congested, full sun, cement alternative.

It is my hope that there will be ample opportunities for constituents to have major, meaningful input with recommended actions included into any future projects slated for James Bay.

Elizabeth Kozak

James Bay

James Bay doesn’t need a village square

As a James Bay resident for 11 years, I suspect that the Five Corners pedestrian square idea comes from a councillor who doesn’t live here, and invented a solution to a non-existent problem.

I walk through Five Corners daily on my commute. It’s very well used by ­walkers and shoppers already, with public benches and even a tabletop chess board.

Closing it to vehicles would also mean that four bus routes (2, 3, 5 and 10) would have to be rerouted. Those buses are very heavily used by James Bay residents, many of whom don’t drive.

I respectfully disagree with the writer who thinks that the Thrifty Foods parking lot should be turned into a pedestrian square. I strongly doubt that the supermarket chain would allow this; the lot can barely accommodate its shoppers now.

The writer also proposes closing Toronto Street to traffic, which is absurd; closing just one block would cause five houses, three large apartment buildings and several businesses to lose their parking.

All that Five Corners needs to make it even more of a gathering space would be a few more public benches. Otherwise, don’t fix what isn’t broken.

PJ Perdue

James Bay

Public sentiment is key to changes

As a pedestrian mall supporter of many years on Government Street, I have come to know much of what is involved in assessment of such initiatives.

My sense the James Bay Square/Simcoe Street idea, as presented, would be a struggle.

As for more consistency of community and pedestrian fun around the mall in James Bay, that is a whole other story.

I closed Government Street to thru traffic 48 times over seven years for events in efforts of persuading council of its community pedestrian viability.

Best path to advance community initiatives is having general public sentiment behind you and initiatives that offer incremental evaluations on what works and what doesn’t.

John Vickers

Miramichi, New Brunswick

Not every homeowner can afford more taxes

Re: “Rising property values don’t help us pay taxes,” letter, Feb. 1.

We cannot assume that every homeowner has the ability to pay more taxes on demand. Unlike labour or dividend income, housing is non-liquid.

With rising costs including taxation and increased interest rates, a growing number of lower or fixed income homeowners and small landlords may be forced to sell their properties.

This could be a senior neighbour on a fixed income or a family facing increasing mortgage and insurance payments.

Deferring property tax is an option but there are risks with a government deferral loan.

Deferments can add up quickly and depend upon the home being worth more in the future. And someone will always pay the tax and interest, whether it is the owner or their beneficiaries and families.

Victoria Coun. Dave Thompson says that 30 years of underinvestment resulted in infrastructure deficits.

Were legacy and vanity projects deemed more important than basic services? Did strategic and financial management depend on ever-increasing future taxation? This leads to the concern of compounding tax increases. If increased eight per cent a year, paying $4,000 in year one is about $5,000 in year three, a 20 per cent increase.

Have we forgotten that a local government exists to provide the services and infrastructure under its authority that taxpayers are willing and able to pay for?

Grace Van den Brink


Offering more drugs is not the answer

Re: “Add heroin, fentanyl to safer supply, Henry says,” Feb. 1.

Seriously? How can adding more powerful drugs create safer supply in B.C.?

Instead of adding drugs, our government should be learning from the Oregon experience and following their example. They realize that the drug policies they have implemented in the past are not working and are changing the laws.

Our government, with head firmly buried in sand, has chosen to believe that including more drugs is the answer to the rapidly growing number of overdose deaths. How can this decision help lower the death toll?

Yvonne Andre

Campbell River

After all these years, another child has died

Re: “The top priority must be the safety of the children,” editorial, Feb. 2.

I am crying as I read this editorial. Why are children still dying in horrific ways?

I remember 1995, when Judge Thomas Gove led a provincial inquiry into the death of Matthew Vaudreuil, who died when he was six years old following years of neglect by his mother, despite being under the watch of dozens of social workers.

Gove’s inquiry found that about half of the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s child protection workers didn’t have appropriate academic requirements to do the job, and only about 20 per cent were subject to professional regulations.

Gove’s work led to the creation of a new ministry in B.C. for children and the independent agency to investigate child deaths.

I am not saying child protection workers still don’t have the proper training, but why am I crying as I look at a photo of a dear sweet boy, Dontay-Patrick Lucas?

Joy Adams Bauer


Government policies encourage new users

Re: “Add heroin, fentanyl to safer supply, Henry says,” Feb. 2.

It is extremely ironic that doctors are reluctant to prescribe pain medication stronger than a Tylenol 3 to a patient who is in debilitating pain, for fear they’ll become an “addict” … but they have no issue with prescribing hard “street” drugs to an addict to keep them addicted.

I find it highly regrettable that our government is doing everything they can to “help” keep those suffering from an opioid use disorder mired in the self-harm cycle. And it seems to be encouraging new users with policies regarding this issue.

Marianne Conley


One deer plan failed, but another plan worked

I am a former planning director for Saanich and subsequently a co-owner and developer of James Island, before its sale to the current owner.

The federal government recently attempted to deal with the problem of fallow deer on Sidney Island. The problem was real, i.e., not enough food to support the deer population.

The solution was to shoot the deer from helicopters. The result was a total fiasco, even for the feds. I’m surprised the farm animals and pets survived.

We had a similar problem on James Island years earlier and what did we do?

We developed a plan with our environmental consultants. What was this magic plan, you ask? We determined a population that Sidney Island could support, then rounded up the surplus and shipped them to a fallow deer ranch in Alberta.

Sidney Island — your tax dollars at work — problem not solved — optics terrible.

James Island — much lower cost — not taxpayer funded — problem solved.

Thomas Orr-Loney



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