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Letters Feb. 7: Free speech and sensitive issues; getting rid of underground oil tank; ships for shelter

The Five Corners at James Bay’s commercial centre, at Simcoe Street, Toronto Street and Menzies Street. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Allow free speech on sensitive issues

I support Selina Robinson’s free speech right to express her opinion on the sorry economic state of Palestine when part of it became Israel in 1948.

She probably overstated how bad it was, since it did provide a hand-to-mouth living to perhaps hundreds of thousands of farmers and herdsmen.

But then so much discussion do with Palestine these days is hyperbolic (dare I mention ” genocide”) that Robinson’s words seem restrained by comparison.

And even if they were not: Free speech. Again I say, free speech.

Steve Weatherbe


Succumbing to history revisionism

History revisionism at its best. Selina Robinson was forced to retract a factual statement.

In the 1800s Mark Twain visited what is now modern Israel and commented how much of it looked like barren unpopulated desert and swamp.

It was the Jews that were already there plus Jews returning from a 2,000-year exile that transformed much of this land into productive industries, cities and agriculture of fruits and vegetables.

Tel Aviv is a city created out of nothing in the early 1900s. Most of the coast was very sparsely populated.

The irrigation of the valleys of the deserts had not produced anything for millennia. It was the Jews who made the desert bloom.

The fact that a government minister in Canada is forced to retract a factual statement is indicative of rewriting history to deny that Israel has a claim or right to any part of modern Israel, including the coast, the Aravah, the Negev, the Golan.

It is not just Judah and Shimron, or Jerusalem. It is all of Israel. This revisionism would deny us Gadera, Hadera, Beersheba, Netanya, Haifa, Acco, Caesarea, all the kibbutzim, the Kinneret and so on.

The funny thing is that when Israel left Gaza in 2005, it was full of greenhouses, which Hamas destroyed. We left them means of food production and they turned the land it was on into production of death.

Israelis take great pride in new technology that help agriculture and medicine and industry and things that help societies worldwide (i.e. the Intel chip).

New weapons are a necessity with our neighbours, but bring no pleasure.

Avi Ickovich


Along with ‘no fault’ we have ‘no compensation’

On Nov. 16, my 74-year-old husband was the victim of a hit-and-run accident while biking in the bike lane on Douglas Street.

His left hand was badly smashed, requiring extensive surgery. He experienced trauma and a considerable amount of pain following the incident.

After the police released a photo of the car caught on closed circuit TV, the driver turned himself in.

My husband has begun extensive physiotherapy to give him back some use of his left hand although the surgeon has warned us his hand will never be the same.

He is still unable to drive, to remove lids from jars, to grind pepper, to fasten his seat belt. It turns out that the use of both hands is essential for so many of our daily activities.

After filling out numerous forms to get coverage from ICBC for physiotherapy and other related expenses, we have been informed that the corporation will not cover all those costs, as some of them are considered “excess user fees.”

ICBC implemented “no fault” insurance several years ago, so the victim of an accident is unable to sue the negligent driver.

We must accept there will be no compensation for pain and suffering, but we are shocked and angry that ICBC will not pay the bare minimum in costs associated with my husband’s care yet there are no consequences for the perpetrator.

Christine Sanders


A better bike route, one block to the west

Re: “Parking on part of Shelbourne could be sacrificed for bike lanes,” Feb. 2.

Perhaps the current council is unaware that previous councils approved a significant number of multi-family town house/ apartment developments on the this section of Shelbourne Street.

Most of these have been completed in the past decade. While it appears that these hundreds of suites have on site parking spaces for occupants, there were few spaces required or provided for their visitors.

I believe they use the parking spaces on Shelbourne Street.

I wonder if council has looked one block west of Shelbourne Street and noticed Scott Street, which runs parallel from Hillside Avenue to Bay Street.

It is a quiet residential street and already has two traffic calming round­abouts.

When bicycling from Fairfield to medical appointments at the offices on the corner of Hillside and Shelbourne, I avoided busy Shelbourne and always pedaled up and down quiet Scott. There was little automobile traffic on Scott when I was on my bicycle.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to use quiet Scott for bicycle travel where only signage and perhaps some sharrows would be needed for complete safety and comfort?

This would avoid the pollution involved in mixing concrete for a typical City of Victoria “protected” bicycle lane as proposed for Shelbourne Street.

Using Scott Street for bicycles would allow the parking on either side of Shelbourne, a much busier street, to remain available for the people who actually live on Shelbourne.

Andrew Beckerman


Consider shoppers in James Bay plans

As a resident of James Bay for nine years and shopping at Thrifty for that time, I read with great astonishment the letter by a resident from Ladysmith about how lovely it will be one day when the area between Menzies, Simcoe, and Toronto Streets and parts of the Thrifty store parking lot will be converted into a pedestrian/park area.

I doubt, however, that someone from Ladysmith should have a say about people in James Bay and our preferences and choices. Every hour, the parking lot at Thrifty is full with shoppers, single and families, from the many large multi-storey buildings in James Bay and probably beyond.

It is absolutely hilarious to suggest Thrifty should provide cargo-bikes or shopping carts or rely on delivery services for all those people who shop there.

These means of transportation would never replace the large crowd who regularly buy large amounts of daily necessities and need to haul their goods home – wherever that may be.

With winters becoming warmer and warmer, how many days would one be able to skate on an ice rink here in James Bay? Two or three days a year? Or: none!

The idea turning this area into a pedestrian Village Square is harebrained considering the needs of shoppers at Thrifty. It would turn many other streets into a heavy traffic “autobahn” with considerable noise, congestions and chaos.

Residents of James Bay, please say “NO” to the latest attack on cars and on buying our daily necessities at the only large supermarket in our neighbourhood!

Hermann Helmuth

James Bay

Removing an old underground tank

Re: “Do you have to remove your ­underground oil tank? It depends,” Feb. 3.

Homeowners should be aware that if they have an underground inerted and sand-filled oil tank on their property, they may not be able to sell their home until it is removed.

Offers to purchase that require financing will include a subject requiring documentation that there is no underground oil tank on the property. Purchasers may find it impossible to get required mortgage insurance for a property with an underground oil tank.

This happened to an acquaintance. Fortunately for her, when the tank was removed, the ground underneath was not contaminated. When I purchased my Oak Bay property in 2008 there was a record of the location of the underground oil tank and it being inerted and filled.

I forgot about it until last year when it was located when the perimeter drains were being checked. To avoid future problems when potentially selling the property I decided to have it removed.

Unfortunately for me there was contamination. The total cost of removal, testing and disposal of the contaminated soil came to $15,000 but now there will be no impediment to a future sale.

Phil Dauphinee

Oak Bay

Understand the past before we trash it

I would like to thank both Pamela Madoff and Martin Segger for recent comments regarding the preservation of the Centennial Fountain.

As one-time councillors and keepers of the “flame,” they bring thoughtful and reasonable discourse to a course of action that shouldn’t even be up for debate.

They are filling the gap in what appears to be a lack of institutional memory in some members of the present council, well intentioned as they are.

Trashing the past, without understanding it, seems to be on the rise these days, on many fronts. Wise counsel from those with experience and revealed commitment should be listened to and countenanced.

It is to be hoped that whatever shape the renovations to the Square take, the revitalized fountain will be part of it.

For a more complete account of our present City Hall and Centennial Square I would recommend the book Test of Time, The Enduring Legacy of Victoria City Hall, by Donald Luxton and Victoria Civic Heritage Trust, particularly the section on the Centennial Fountain.

Tom Palfrey



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