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Letters June 30: Police deserve our thanks for robbery response; Horgan a premier to be proud of

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Police respond to Tuesday's bank robbery at Shelbourne and Pear streets. Letter-writers salute the response of the police departments that brought the situation under control. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A sincere thanks to police officers

Thank you, Saanich and Victoria Police, other supporting departments and first responders.

At 11:10 a.m. Tuesday I was driving north on Shelbourne Street as police cars with sirens active roared by me. One stopped on a side street sideways to set up a block. Another stopped in front of a restaurant while a third pulled into the shopping centre parking lot.

I could see many officers with guns. I suspected that a robbery had taken place at the bank, but I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation.

What a wakeup call to our community. It’s no longer a cliché to say “it can happen anywhere.” It has happened here.

The police saved many lives.

What if the police weren’t able to bring this situation to an immediate conclusion? Armed killers at large? Passersby or innocent bystanders in the crossfire? An entire neighbourhood at risk? Hostage situation?

None of these are out of the realm of possibility.

To the men and women in blue: Thank you for being so brave. Thank you for all the training you do to prepare yourselves mentally and physically for a once in a career tragic situation. Thank you for putting your life in front of mine and the hundreds of citizens that were within harm’s way when these lowlifes exited the bank.

Six members of our community were taken to hospital after putting their lives on the line. They risked leaving their partners, children and loved ones behind — for me. Someone they will probably never meet.

Just doing their job. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

Brad Shorter
Victoria

A close call on Shelbourne Street

I was 75 feet away when the bullets started to fly at the BMO on Shelbourne. I was standing beside a very distraught young girl.

I took her to the ground and we huddled underneath a bush until there was a break in the gunfire. Then we moved behind a truck until the gunfire stopped.

She was crying her eyes out. She was heading for the bank and had she been there 10 minutes earlier she would have been in the middle of the shootout.

There were at least 40 to 50 shots fired.

I have been struggling with what could have motivated these people to do this.

This is not Chicago. This is Victoria, but people are becoming desperate to the point that they would do something like this. I don’t know what the answer is, but an answer has to be found.

A fellow that I met after the shooting told me that he does work for the BMO and that this has been the third robbery attempt this month at that branch. The other two attempts were minor by comparison, and never made the news.

Paul Arnold
Saanich

Horgan has earned a change of pace

When I read that Premier John Horgan intends to step down, my first thought was: “Where is B.C. supposed to find another premier with John Horgan’s integrity?”

With the benefit of hindsight, many will point out where Horgan’s decisions could have been better. In private, I bet Horgan is among the worst of these critics.

Unlike every other B.C. premier in my living memory (I’m a youthful 40-something), Horgan makes it a point to square his actions and words. When things go awry, Horgan doesn’t backpedal or prevaricate. He simply admits he was wrong and gets on with his job.

Not even his harshest critics dare to question Horgan’s leadership in this regard, a privilege that previous B.C. premier of any party simply did not enjoy.

Whether I agree with his priorities or not (often I do not) Horgan’s words always satisfy me that I understand his intent. As a voter, this quality is all I want from any MLA or MP; its importance exceeds party affiliation and policy preferences.

Horgan’s approach to public service and politics should serve as an example to all of us that good leaders don’t need to be right every time. If they have integrity — their actions and words being one and the same — a politician can be wrong a lot and still command both my respect and my vote.

While I am not fortunate enough to be one of his constituents, certainly Horgan has my respect.

Enjoy the change of pace. You earned it.

D.W. Roland Stacey
Esquimalt

Horgan leaves a unique legacy

I am both saddened and pleased to hear of John Horgan’s decision to retire.

I was skeptical as to how he would make out as premier. He had a rather checkered political history and was sometimes quick to anger. Would he be able to manage the office with a level of decorum, balance and tolerance required of it?

Yes, he has.

He led us through the difficult COVID pandemic with sensitivity, a sincere level of care and caring. Most importantly, he set aside politics and let our public health officials run the show.

It was not here, as it was in several other provinces, a political football that was tossed about at the expense and well-being of citizens.

He wasn’t perfect and garnered criticism but, in this job, it just comes with the territory; and so it should.

Thank you, John Horgan, for your hard work and commitment to all of us so fortunate to live in this province; you leave a rather unique legacy that will be respected and valued.

John Stevenson
Victoria

Premier retiring from a thankless job

I thank Premier John Horgan for his service in most challenging times in British Columbia. He has served us well and has made the right decision to retire. He has more than earned retirement and time to enjoy life with his family.

I don’t recall such turmoil in our province for a premier to deal with. The COVID-19 crisis, reconciliation crisis, forest fire crisis, atmospheric river crisis, housing crisis, overdose crisis, old growth crisis, pipeline crisis, inflation crisis, doctor shortage crisis, money laundering crisis, museum crisis, budget crisis, climate change crisis.

On it goes. Continuing challenges.

Who would want the job?

Phil Harrison
Comox

Raeside cartoon could be hate speech

Saturday’s Adrian Raeside cartoon included an image of the person who is experiencing mental illness, as well as a caption.

I don’t understand how this is not discrimination or even hate speech; if the caption and image referred to or discriminated against someone who is black, or Indigenous, or female, or queer, etc. it would never have been printed in the Times Colonist.

Why is it OK to discriminate against people who are experiencing mental illness? Breaking the stigma and getting those suffering the help they need is already difficult enough.

This cartoon does a disservice to everyone in our community struggling with mental illness, which is many people these days — including many youth — after the two-year stress of the pandemic.

Lisa Helps
Mayor of Victoria

Cartoon perpetuates stigma and harm

The Times Colonist recently published a cartoon by Adrian Raeside that depicts mental illness, homelessness and addiction in a highly stigmatizing manner.

These very real and devastating issues are not a joke. How is the loss of life and suffering remotely humourous?

In the midst of an opioid crisis, homelessness, poverty, the ongoing impacts of colonialism on vulnerable groups, mental health crises and needed reform, as well as health care’s significant limitations with current staffing shortages and needed change, images like these perpetuate serious stigma and harm for our society’s most vulnerable, multi-marginalized individuals.

That this cartoon made it into publication reflects the degree of bias, judgment and misunderstanding present in our city (from privileged individuals). This is not appropriate and we need to do better for people.

Shaely Ritchey, RN
Victoria

Clean up the mess left by Pride Parade

It was so great to have the Pride Parade back in Victoria on Sunday. The vibe was positive. The crowds clapped and cheered. The weather was incredible. Kudos to the organizers and participants.

It was not so great to walk to work on Monday through the holding area on Kimta Street. There was glitter, plastic streamers, empty drink cups and garbage in the gutters and on the boulevard.

City of Victoria, please send a street sweeper and some workers to clean up this area (and all along the parade route) so that this plastic doesn’t end up in the ocean.

Allison Stofer
Esquimalt

High praise for lower speed limits

I drive when necessary, which is not often, otherwise bus, walk, jog, cycle or kick scooter around our small urban area.

I say only three things about lowering residential street speed limits: yes, yes and yes.

Gerald Rotering
James Bay

Use all that water to avoid another fire near Lytton

A lot of money is going into rebuilding Lytton. They should get the help they need.

But I hope that there will be some heavy thinking about how to prevent it from happening again. Lytton has been waiting to burn down since the day the first building was erected. If you have ever been to towns like Lytton in the summer, you see lots of uncut grass that is a major fire hazard.

These towns are bone-dry in the summer heat. Every stick of wood is so dry it is like a bomb waiting to go off.

Since one of the biggest sources of water in British Columbia runs right by their doorstep, they need to use it. North of Lytton you see huge hay fields that are green all summer.

With so much water easily available, that is possible in Lytton or Boston Bar. Maybe a system that can wet down the whole town should be considered.

Pumps with backup generators should be installed. The delivery systems could be dismantled in the winter to avoid freezing. Remember the green hay fields have a much greater area than the smaller community’s.

Since so much taxpayer money is going into the rebuild, it should be a priority. That’s not too much to ask.

Tim Young
Sooke

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