Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Letters June 13: Start using the E&N right-of-way; highway to Alberni is cut off by wildfire, a rail link would be handy

Disused E&N railway tracks near Lampson Street. TIMES COLONIST

Let’s stop talking about, and start using the E&N

Re: “Trail along old E&N line would cost $172.7 million,” June 11.

I have been living in Victoria for seven years and have followed closely the debate regarding development of the old E&N railway line. I have travelled up and down the Island and have seen first hand the benefits that would accrue to everyone living along and/or near the corridor, not to mention the towns it would connect.

I am astounded at the opposition, ­prevarication and delay in getting this great pathway transformed into a meaningful transportation route, particularly because of cost. The possibilities and potential for this amazing ribbon of land are endless, particularly given the steady increase in population and tourism on the Island.

And now it is facing fragmentation and further deterioration. A bold and imaginative government initiative, yes going into some debt, is needed to develop the line for the benefit of everyone, including the Indigenous groups whose land the corridor would cross.

Just exactly how and what this corridor would look like and the form the transportation would take is not clear, but something has to be done now or the opportunity will be lost.

If nothing is done, I can see future generations shaking their heads at the lack of decision-making today. The clock is ticking.

Robert Milan


Rail line to Alberni is a great alternative

Maybe it’s time to spend some money on the rail line, which would be a great ­alternative to transport goods and services to Port Alberni and beyond.

Since the rail line is on the opposite side of Cameron Lake from the highway, the route would not have been blocked by the fire.

Keeping the E&N line functioning as a transportation route along the east coast of the island would also be an alternative when the only highway is out of service due to accidents or natural events.

Keeping the rail line open is going to be costly, but it seems to me the wisest option.

Peter Sugden


All that potential, but no way to get there

We have four alternatives to Highway 4. Three roads are controlled by Mosaic Forest Company and one railway escaped the fire and floods but not decades of government neglect.

It is time for government’s stubborn, ideological resistance to expanding our publicly owned transportation networks to end.

The ministry has demonstrated its preference for the “Valley Link” between Cowichan, Alberni and Comox, including servicing Nitinat, Anacla and Bamfield, with its upgrades to the Bamfield road, so finish the job: Take over the forestry roads and extend Highway 18.

While you’re at it, compensate and work with First Nations to rebuild the railway and provide resilience and new options for all residents and businesses.

Billions of dollars in economic activity is being wasted by road closures because government has allowed our transportation networks to deteriorate and become reliant on single points of failure.

Chris Alemany

Port Alberni

How about another route to Port Alberni?

It was a brutal, bumpy, chokingly dusty time for those forced to detour around the closed Highway 4.

Times like this make you wish for another transportation option over the Hump; even a railway would come in handy for hauling those necessary goods we all depend on.

There is that alternative on the other side of Cameron Lake, but it has sat dormant for 22 years, gathering rust and rot while waiting endlessly for a revival and common sense to prevail among those benighted folk with the power to do something about it.

I suspect the wait will continue.

Jamie Masters


With AI upon us, we need to be careful.

Re: “AI – the good, the bad and the ugly,” column, June 11.

I can barely scratch the surface of “artificial intelligence” nor could Trevor ­Hancock, but he made a good start at it.

Its effects upon our world will obviously be huge. But our worries about whether AI will prove to be “good” or “evil” are clearly worries about whether we humans, its creators, are good or evil.

We have seen plenty of evidence on both sides of that question. We humans are creating this AI thing, creating what some see as the functional equivalent of God.

What irony! Us creating God in our image as some believe that God once created us in “his” image. Some human qualities come to mind.

We are unpredictable, unreasonable, intractable. We are driven by ever-changing hormones, pheromones, dopamines, serotonins, blood sugar levels, random glitches in our DNA, and by love, fear, greed, and panic.

It is no wonder that our creation, the still-embryonic AI, scares the beans out of us.

Martin Hykin


That artificial turf will worsen global warming

While much of Canada is burning and Americans are choking on the smoke, a school in Esquimalt is about to install artificial turf in their playing field.

This stuff is toxic, seriously polluting, and it worsens global warming. It’s not even safe for the health of the athletes who play on it.

Am I the only one who finds this insane?

Willi Boepple


VicPD could learn from Victoria’s teachers

Re: “School liaison decision should be based on accurate information,” June 10.

Victoria Police Chief Del Manak’s defence of his department’s school liaison program sounds almost reasonable on first read, but it unnervingly refuses to engage with the core issue of how such programs impact the most vulnerable youth in K-12, and relies so heavily on his own department’s data and lived experience that it’s hard to see room for the “meaningful dialogue” that he suggests is so critically missing.

Sadly, the cherry-picked words of individual school trustees that Manak cites, as with the subjective experience of police who have acted as liaison officers, remain very small windows into the problem.

A wider view shows increasingly robust research (admittedly, mostly from the U.S.) that demonstrates police presence in schools creates harmful and unequal outcomes for youth — a sort of schools-to-prisons pipeline that so far, we see little evidence of in Victoria.

It’s also a cruel injustice to ignore the context of this discussion, set generations ago by police-enforced separation of youth from their parents in Canada’s residential school system. This multi-generational heritage is, unfortunately, not ancient history at all — and its legacy of mistrust persists.

Neither the specific Canadian context nor the broader research findings are addressed by VicPD statistics or the experiences of its officers in Manak’s article.

So in a school district where Indigenous educational outcomes continue to lag those of other students, and where teachers, principals, counsellors and other professionals are working with limited resources to create safe, supportive learning environments for those students — often in partnership with Indigenous communities themselves — board members may have more than reasonably adopted a “do no harm” policy in ending the school liaison program.

Teachers have long been trained to consider how well they help the least-well-served child in their classroom. VicPD would do well to consider that lesson.

Marc Christensen


Victoria school board shows its racist side

The inferences behind the statement by the chair of the Greater Victoria School Board, ratified by unanimous vote, that Indigenous children and children of colour are first in line to be frightened of policemen is so unbelievably racist and offensive at so many levels that it surely calls for the resignation of the chair, if not the entire board of trustees.

Geoff Johnson

Mill Bay

We are unprepared, as the wildfire proves

As I write this, the west side of the Island is cut off due to the Cameron Lake ­wildfire. The Malahat connects a population of 300,000-plus people to the rest of the island via just two lanes at its entrance.

Accidents or congestion often close or delay it. Communities on the Island only have a three-day supply of fresh food in light of an emergency.

These situations demonstrate how vulnerable our Island of mountains and forests is to a natural disaster. We are reminded constantly that we are overdue for a major quake.

It is expected to devastate the Pacific Northwest from Oregon to B.C. It will be the biggest natural disaster in history to strike North America.

In spite of their extensive preparations, the major Japanese quake of 2011 killed more than 18,000 people, and caused the meltdown of a nuclear power plant. Recovery costs were a staggering $220 billion.

B.C. is nowhere near as prepared as Japan was to deal with a major quake. The implications are frightening.

Against this backdrop we have the insanity of regional governments and the province pursuing unrestrained housing densification to accommodate tens of thousands of new arrivals.

No provisions are being made for the infrastructure to survive the quake, to evacuate, to feed ourselves if we are cut off from the mainland.

According to the NDP government, that will come. How long? Years? Decades?

Maybe never, if a future government doesn’t follow through. Disaster is looming.

Michael Laplante


Maybe they feel traumatized for a reason

Perhaps the reason some students and teachers are “traumatized and harmed” at the very sight of a police liaison officer in schools is because they are already guilty of a crime and are afraid of being caught.

Penny Linders


If there is trauma, we need to talk about it

Re: “Don’t close door and minds to the police,” editorial, June 9.

Thank you for a very thoughtful and important editorial on the Greater Victoria School Board’s “unfortunate decision” to end the police officer liaison program.

I would have used a far stronger word, especially after reading Police Chief Del Manak’s commentary correcting yet more misinformation.

It is scary to think that the people who make decisions about our children’s education do so without checking the facts with the appropriate sources.

It’s a wake-up call to voters to check the background and qualifications of the school trustees they vote for.

For the board chair Nicole Duncan to state that there is a need to “protect Black and Indigenous students from this form of trauma” — harm and trauma experienced with police present at their school — sounds like some knee-jerk reaction to the misinformation.

It is not only a very racist statement but precludes those students (and any other student “experiencing harm and trauma”) from finding out the reason for such trauma and dealing with it.

It also precludes our law enforcement agencies from finding out the reason for such trauma and dealing with it.

Open communication is more important than ever in this non-inclusionary atmosphere.

Natexa Verbrugge


Trustees have failed, so repeat the course

The Greater Victoria School District trustees have now been awarded a failing grade for their first term.

To improve their mark they are required to repeat the course on critical thinking, decision-making, and democratic process in order to pass.

Norm Tandberg


Be careful of words when talking of Uber

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto says, “Uber will add important choices to Victoria’s urban transportation system in terms of convenience, safety and reliability.”

Is she saying that the cab companies in Victoria are unsafe and unreliable?

Shelley Evans


Do not dismiss other perspectives

Has anyone writing these letters and editorials considered for a moment that perhaps the reason BIPOC students and their families feel unsafe having uniformed police officers around is because they are unsafe with uniformed police officers around?

Indigenous people in Canada are 10 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than a white person. Black Canadians are also more likely to die at the hands of the police than white people. Both groups are also vastly overrepresented in our prison system.

Time and time again police forces in Canada have been found to be racial profiling and have had to adjust their methods. Just two years ago, our own Human Rights Commissioner found “profound racial disparities” in policing in our province.

These aren’t a “perspective,” these are facts.

I’m not saying there are no good cops or no role for policing in our society. And I’m not saying I have all the answers. I am saying that perhaps just telling those with concerns that they need to change their attitude is not helpful. Not only that, but it re-victimizes them and tells them they are the problem. “You just need to learn to love police,” basically.

Perhaps it is the police who need to change. And here we have an opportunity to listen and do something different. But if we continue to dismiss the experiences and perspectives that don’t align with our own, nothing will ever change.

And that might be fine for the majority of us, but if we can open our ears, minds and hearts, we will find that is not true for all.

Kyle Wells



• Email letters to: [email protected]

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.