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Letters July 28: History and reconciliation; the ills of B.C. Ferries; too much cruise-related motor traffic

Anthropology students, from left, Darian Clayton, Juniper John and Gwen Evans work at an archeological dig in Agate Park that is revealing an ancient First Nations village site. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Embracing history as part of reconciliation

I appreciated Wednesday’s front-page coverage of the Tsawout-UVic archeological field study in the homelands of Tsawout at ȾEL¸IȽĆE, Cordova Bay.

This work has been vital as demonstrated action towards truth and reconciliation. Moving Indigenous First Nation learners and peers in a cohort together has created a rich and supportive learning community that has infected the surrounding neighbourhood.

Each day the students greet local elder residents who come with curiosity about the history being revealed for them, often hearing that they did not know this history or they had learned to be indifferent to it.

It has been in very recent history that aggressive development displaced a small strip mall, uncovering ancestral remains that were ravaged through accelerated excavation and many in the neighbourhood know this history as well.

So on Wednesday I took my paper to the sunrise and read about the impact of this wonderfully energetic learning community. I read Darron Kloster’s words beginning with reflections of Roger Charlie and am filled with emotion.

Our colleague Roger is at times a learner, but most times is a solid leader in how he cherishes and respects the history and great significance of place based learning as he uncovers a thriving life in our homelands.

To witness the displacement of colonial indifference through the awakening of learning hearts and minds open to each other is powerful.

Lifting the fog of deception on settlement of lands is sensitive work and is realized as Indigenous history is embraced in a context of truth and reconciliation actions.

Mavis Underwood

Tsawout, W̱SÁNEĆ Nation

UVic Ph.D candidate


Four quick ways to improve ferry system

We used to love the ferries. Reliable. Efficient. Pleasant staff.

Lately it seems like the corporation wants to be like the airlines. Mission almost accomplished: Our B.C. Ferries customer experience this year certainly rivals recent news from the air industry.

We’ve seen the development of the reservation system over the past few years. Now you can travel “standby” or you can travel with a reservation.

Unfortunately the rigid reservation system feels more like a cobbled together attempt at becoming a transportation company. The variable fares are confusing and inconsistent.

The ticketing shortcomings are exacerbated by an employee inflexibility that would make Air Canada blush.

While it’s easy to criticize, especially when the target is so big, allow me to offer some suggestions. These won’t solve the problems but they may alleviate some of the pain and restore some of our lost love and confidence.

1. The reservation system. Booking and paying in full in advance should always be the least expensive alternative for any sailing.

2. Ticket booth operators: It’s OK to smile.

3. Swartz Bay could use an upgrade. If I’m waiting for eight or nine sailings, I’d appreciate more variety in menus and commercial activities.

4. Communication. It’s OK to let your customers know what’s going on. It may be obvious to you, but it’s a mystery for us.

For instance, you have a system for loading and handling traffic; it doesn’t need to be opaque.

Mike Mitchell


Five ways to improve Island transportation

Unfortunately, B.C. Ferries cancellations and delays are likely to increase as retirements and resulting labour shortages continue.

Unless the problem-plagued vessels are thoroughly rebuilt — or replaced by simpler, rugged, easer-to-fix-designs — we fear that more will be taken out of service. Expect further delays in Delta and Richmond when construction begins on the new Massey Tunnel.

The suggestion of passenger-only fast ferries like Hullo is well-taken. The issue for southern Vancouver Island-Mainland journeys is that ferries cannot compete with road when they operate parallel to land.

Moreover, most people live away from the terminals. This was demonstrated by the failures of the Royal Sealink Express and V2V, and the old CPR steamships.

There are multiple answers to this conundrum:

1. Shift the B.C. Ferries’ focus away from moving vehicles to moving people and goods.

2. Design terminals with shorter walks for foot and bus passengers, like at Tsawwassen. Improve transit service: Duke Point, that B.C. Ferries is encouraging using, shortsightedly and shamefully has none.

3. Alter pricing structure to make it more attractive to walk on freeing up space for commercial trucks and vans and for those who must drive.

4. Institute, or contract for fast passenger-only service from Swartz Bay to the Canada Line at Bridgeport or downtown Vancouver.

5. Finally, with reconciliation, revitalize the Island railway with trains to connect with Hullo at Nanaimo, like SMART rail in California that connects with the San Francisco ferries.

Alex Mandel


Transport Action British Columbia

Don’t blame feds for health-care problems

Re: “Platitudes: The invisible enemy of health reform,” commentary, July 26.

“Blame game” and “wringing of hands” are immediate thoughts that come to mind re this self-serving article.

As a twice dubbed deputy health minister, in Saskatchewan and B.C., Ken Fyke has both the audacity and temerity to lay the exceedingly obvious “shortcomings” of our existing “health care system” squarely on the shoulders of the federal government.

Nice try. Health care is primarily a provincial responsibility.

Increasing federal largesse is necessary but this bounty is under the quasi-medical care of a well fortified and established more local bureaucracy, including deputy ministers of health.

Ron Irish M.D. (retired)

North Saanich

Limit trips from cruise terminal to help James Bay residents

In February, I asked Victoria city council to make modest changes for responsible cruise ship land transportation practices that would assist in mitigating the noise and pollution levels for James Bay residents who bear the most of the negative impacts of this growth industry.

Ship passenger numbers have increased from 1999 with 40,000 passengers to more than 800,000 in 2023. Many of these tourists are transported to and from downtown via huge, double-decker, highway coach buses and countless taxis for seven months of the year from 9 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. They constantly circle Dallas Road with fewer than 25 per cent capacity at times, polluting the environment with intolerable noise and clouds of diesel fuel gases.

My appeal consisted of three reasonable changes.

1. Double decker buses run only when passenger numbers reach 75 per cent for each trip.

2. Returning evening bus trips are made along the Dallas ocean route. This allows for less impact on residents’ homes on both sides of the road on the Erie route.

3. The last bus leaves downtown at 10 p.m. This would eliminate the noise akin to a huge transport truck roaring by bedroom windows just before midnight.

I had hoped that, perhaps, this council would spearhead the creation of a Victoria-first approach to responsible cruise practices instead of those of more than 20 years ago.

There have been no changes — yet council recently decided to limit parking availability in new builds to less than 60 per cent.

Surprising that taxpayers are to abide by restrictions but the cruise industry enjoys free rein on land transportation despite the high level of noise and pollution to local residents.

Elizabeth Kozak


Sort out priorities on remuneration

I agree with the letter suggesting that the longshore pay scale is more than ample. To demand even more pay and benefits while negatively affecting the entire country’s economy and reputation in the world is wrong.

When the strike began and the report of the pay scale for these workers was presented I thought to myself, wow, that seems like a good wage — before they agreed on the increase.

Then I did a little research and found that the longshore pay scale is higher than both teachers (mean rate of $40.57 per hour) and nurses (beginning salary of $38.51 per hour).

These two occupations both require university education and are also in great demand, yet we choose to pay considerably more to workers who, although they may be skilled, have not received a university education and the debt that comes along with it.

We need to sort out our priorities.

Ernie Kuemmel

Oak Bay

Training is essential when fighting fires

Re: “Firefighters can’t just volunteer, need training,” letter, July 25.

The letter is quite right. A previous letter that implied that Ferry Creek activists should volunteer to take part in fighting our forest fires was amusing, but not feasible.

I have fought these fires, on many occasions, working under the Mars bomber, we were told to take cover, through radio message, when the bomber approached, quite a sight, for sure.

Having logged for just shy of 50 years, I was trained, with others, to work as safely as possible. The training was basic but did the job.

We have lost three brave souls, so far this summer, three too many.

Rob McKenzie



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