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Letters June 19: Helping people of Pandora; whether to build a new pool

Victoria’s Crystal Pool was built in 1971. The city says many of the facility’s systems are near end-of-life or require substantial spending to repair. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

We need to act to help people on Pandora

I recently requested, through two ­freedom-of-information requests, the number of ambulances and fire trucks that are dispatched to Pandora Avenue.

The data provided by B.C. Ambulance and Victoria shows the following for the past year:

Average number of monthly responses by B.C. Ambulance for overdoses: 20

Average number of monthly responses by Victoria Fire for overdoses: 20

Average number of monthly responses by B.C. Ambulance for all call types: 110

Average number of monthly responses by Victoria Fire for all call types: 55

Usually both B.C. Ambulance and Victoria Fire both dispatch a truck and crew for a 911 call related to an overdose.

That is because Fire can usually arrive more quickly than Ambulance and can begin treatment. Once Ambulance arrives, the patient is transferred to the paramedics.

Twenty calls a month for overdoses is about one-quarter of the population on Pandora. After an overdose there are serious life-altering effects including brain injury, liver damage, cardiovascular issues and neurological consequences.

Those 20 individuals — each month — will have lifelong physical and mental-health issues.

In total there were, on average each month, 165 emergency vehicles dispatched to this area of Pandora for overdoses, medical incidents and fires.

Is this how we want to care for the 70-80 campers on Pandora? Wait until they have an overdose or other medical emergency and then send a fire truck and an ambulance?

Surely we can do better. We need facilities that provide a warm and dry place for sleep; meals; mental-health and addiction support and treatment; and other wraparound supports including employment readiness skills training.

And we can’t wait. Recently a letter to the editor suggested using St. Ann’s Academy for this purpose. If not St. Ann’s, let’s convert an existing facility and allocating the professional staff necessary to help these souls. And no drug dealers allowed.

Are we treating drug overdoses as urgently as we should? Each month we lose about the same number of British Columbians to drug overdoses as one 737 crash killing all on board. How would the authorities react to one 737 crashing at YYJ every month killing everyone?

Let’s show and demonstrate care and compassion now. And let’s not tolerate people driving down Pandora bear spraying campers out their car window….

Ian Munroe


Pool is at the heart of our community

Re: “Mayor supports Crystal Pool project but senses public hesitation,” June 16.

Victoria is, once again, in a pickle. Because it is basically the downtown of Greater Victoria and supports not only the entire entertainment district but also more than its fair share of social woes such as a large population of unhoused citizens. Its taxpayers are at the end of their rope.

Not another city expense in the tens of millions, I want to shout.

But I don’t. Because we deserve and need a decent pool in town. If we don’t fund places to recreate and have fun and relax and come together for swim lessons and fitness classes, if we don’t have a place to take the kids for some hooting and hollering, then how do you expect me to keep on working and working and paying taxes?

Community is why I live here and a pool is the living, beating heart of that community.

If it comes to a referendum, please, please everyone, remember all the fun and joy you have ever had when visiting your local rec centre and vote yes, so that your kids and your community can continue to experience this, too.

Christine Cosack


We have other priorities, so vote against the pool

Victoria city council is proposing to borrow $163 million to build a new Crystal Pool for $209 million, at a time when interest rates are still near its peak and the region is in the midst of a building boom, which makes all costs associated with building more expensive.

From an economist (Keynes) viewpoint, major public spending should be spent during a recession when private spending is low. And it is likely there will be major cost overruns.

This project is a “nice to have,” not essential. The region has several very nice pools located in adjacent municipalities that Victorians can access.

Our city taxes have been increasing much faster than the inflation rate over the past few years.

The additional tax required may force lower-income people out of their affordable houses. Developers will be happy to take advantage of that situation.

Let’s vote no on the referendum and encourage city council to work on essential problems, such as the drug epidemic, homeless people and downtown crime.

Kenneth Mintz


Major project costs always seem to triple

Re: “Mayor supports Crystal Pool project but senses public hesitation,” June 16.

Does anyone else wonder if the actual cost will triple, like every major project governments plan for, such as pipelines, hospitals, etc.?

John Miller

James Bay

Crystal Pool replacement would hit our taxes

Re: “Victoria residents to decide if Crystal Pool is replaced,” June 14.

Just for perspective, in 2023 the beleaguered residents of the City of Victoria paid $169 million in property taxes. City Council is proposing to borrow $180 million to rebuild the existing Crystal Pool. The potential impact on property taxes is alarming, to say the least.

George Acs


Rebuild Crystal Pool, don’t build a new one

Re: “Mayor supports Crystal Pool project but senses public hesitation,” June 16.

Readers have wondered why Victoria council didn’t decide to replace Crystal Pool next door to its current site, for uninterrupted swimming.

Answer: safety. The engineering report indicates digging and blasting next to a giant water tank (the pool) comes with considerable risk. A leak would be disastrous.

Second, it’s more expensive: That $6 million might seem like peanuts when we’re talking $200 million, but it’s a lot of money.

Third, there is no guarantee that swimmers would have uninterrupted swimming in the next-door scenario anyway. (See potential for a disastrous leak, aging facility.)

Regarding the claims that there are plenty of other sports fields if the south corner facilities were to be trashed for a rebuild:

Where else can you find a state-of-the-art Steve Nash basketball court in the inner city neighbourhoods?

Where are the tennis courts? The playgrounds? What about the trees? Mature London planes and Garry oaks would be sacrificed for a south corner site.

Where’s the concern for the urban canopy, heat mitigation, climate change and green space?

Council is remiss in offering two sites. They could have shown leadership by landing on the cheaper, safer, less disruptive rebuilding in place instead of handing the decision over to referendum.

They appear once again to be more beholden to regional swim clubs than to the city’s downtown neighbourhoods.

D.A. Gotto


Councillor needs direction, not all the time

Re: “Victoria residents to decide if ­Crystal Pool is replaced,” June 14.

Just love Victoria Coun. Jeremy Caradonna’s statement that “We work for the public and we need direction from the public.”

Too bad he didn’t think of that when he voted himself a 25% pay increase.

Jill Picard


Using electricity helps reduce pollution

Re: “We need more electricity, but where will it come from,” letter, June 17.

It’s all well and good to question where the electricity is going to come from, to replace the fossil fuels causing climate change; but I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that pollution is a serious issue that will get worse if we do nothing.

Electric vehicles: I and most other owners charge at night, when demand is lowest. B.C. Hydro actually controls my charger.

Gas stoves: the evidence is in – burning methane in an enclosed space is actually dangerous for your health. Commercial kitchens have powerful vents, while domestic kitchens don’t. Gas stoves aren’t banned in B.C. yet, but would you really want one if you had to spend thousands more for a proper air extractor too?

Heating and hot water: once upon a time, gas was cheap. With the advent of heat pumps, it’s cheaper to use electricity.

When the writer refers to B.C. Hydro being a net importer of electricity, it would be helpful to clarify. Electricity generation is a process which creates fixed amounts of power, whereas demand fluctuates by time of day, as well as by season. When we have too little, we import, and when there’s a surplus, we export. Site C is coming on stream next year.

Electricity, whether used by a car or to heat a home, is far cheaper than the alternatives. It also helps with pollution.

David Cottrell


Just keep to the right and let the bicycles pass

The debate around speed on the Galloping Goose Trail highlights the folly of our current transportation planning processes: first consider cars at the expense of everything else, make a vague gesture or two to transit, then jam everything else (light electric vehicles like e-bikes, mobility devices like powered wheelchairs, bikes, pedestrians, and dog walkers, to name a few) into the same bucket and hope it works out.

Major non-car infrastructure is always planned for “everyone,” with the assumption that commuting and transportation uses can mingle with more leisurely recreational uses.

This assumption – that a non-car road like the Goose can be both a cycling highway and a leisure path – underlies the conflict about the Goose.

The cyclists people have been complaining about are doing nothing wrong — the Goose is a major road and cyclists have every right to be moving at cycling speeds (as long as they’re not on an illegally modified high speed e-bike).

The pedestrians are doing the equivalent of walking down the middle of Douglas Street and complaining about the high-speed cars all around them. They wouldn’t walk down the middle of any other major road, why are they walking down the middle of the Galloping Goose?

Let’s quit the bad suggestions about crippling cycling commuting in the Capital Regional District by limiting cyclist use of the Goose and suggest something sensible to those walkers: the Goose is a road and you’re slow moving traffic: keep right and single file so bikes can pass.

Garrett Therrien


Some of us still have concern for others

Four writers in the June 13 Comment page express the safety effects of walking on the left, permitting others use the right side of the trail.

Brings back my 1940s youth when our paved highways used a statement: “Walk on left facing traffic.”

Good to recall my days of careful scrutiny when a truck approached and we called “Truck!!” before we confirmed that safety was needed.

Good to know that care of others is still present in some of our citizens. Well done, folks.

Mike Meagher


Share the local trails for the safety of all

Recent letters opposing walkers on the left on the local trails are generally speaking from the perspective of the cyclists.

As a walker I would rather see what’s coming toward me so that I can prepare rather than being surprised by someone flying by from behind.

Heaven forbid that the biker or the scooter might have to actually slow down to navigate their way between walkers on either side.

The trouble seems to be that those on wheels of some sort seem to feel they own the trails.

The trails are supposed to be a safe and pleasant way to enjoy a leisurely walk with your dog, or a safe way to walk to school or work as well as a safe off-road way for bikers to commute.

They are not supposed to be a racetrack or a training ground for the Tour de France!!

Folks complain about the unsafe conditions on the Malahat because they are “over-driving” the mountain road.

Don’t “override” the trails. Share them wisely and compassionately and we’ll all be happier and healthier!!

José Pereña Pratt

View Royal


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