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Letters March 13: Heritage sites need help; cost of broken windows; breezy Clover Point

Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens in Victoria, in August 2022. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Government help needed for heritage sites

Re: “Bateman closure should worry all museum fans,” commentary, Feb. 24.

Ryan Hunt’s reminder about the underfunding of small museums and heritage sites in British Columbia is timely.

As a former volunteer heritage interpreter at several sites, including St. Ann’s Academy, I’ve been horrified by the low level of formal support, including limited-to-nonexistent funding, for archival, restoration, and interpretive work in Victoria —a city that welcomes tourists, in substantial part, based on the attractiveness and historical interest of the region.

I teach Canadian Studies students who would benefit from visiting a range of historically relevant sites, but their access is curtailed: St. Ann’s, the Emily Carr House, and Point Ellice House all operate on severely curtailed schedules, limiting their availability to the public and to school groups who would benefit from weekday hours.

The situation at Point Ellice House is particularly dire. The work that’s been done over the past several years under the visionary leadership of Kelly Black and his staff has helped to make this underappreciated site central to how Victoria residents can learn about local settler colonial history and the displacement of Indigenous nations.

We need this education, but without a funding announcement, Point Ellice House is slated to close next month. This is unacceptable and shortsighted.

Other heritage sites would benefit from significant re-thinking. St. Ann’s Academy is a prime example: it needs professional heritage interpreters who can place the building’s history within a broader narrative of the role of religious orders in education in this province, a fraught and complex history.

The government has been operating it chiefly as a wedding and event site, and its wonderful gardens are tended by volunteers. But there’s so much more that could be done.

The City of Victoria and the province should be working together: and there is, too, a business case for preserving and sustaining heritage sites while in this era of reconciliation work proceeds to ensure that Indigenous perspectives are incorporated into updated narratives about the settlement of British Columbia.

Forcing heritage sites, museums, small archives, and other valuable cultural resources to the point of collapse is not a responsible stewardship of thiis province’s material history.

Dr. Heidi Tiedemann Darroch


Those broken windows have a steep cost

This letter is in response to the recent spate of vandalism which destroyed the large plate glass windows at the central branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Knowing some sources in the glass industry I have been made aware of how much this will cost to repair. Ouch! Tax dollars flying out the now open window.

I am sure insurance covers a large chunk of the cost, but that of course will raise the premiums for the coming year. Yes we may catch, prosecute, and punish the guilty party, with more tax dollars invested, but what overall does that achieve?

There will be more window breakers in the near future.

Iron grids to protect the glass? Perhaps change and educate our society on proper dissent and recourse to their anger?

What realistically can be done is to redesign and replace these windows with smaller attainable panes that are vastly more affordable for the library’s budget and future replacement.

Heritage overlords please take a moment to consider. The overall architectural beauty will still be there. As a downtown business owner over the past decade our large windows were broken several times at a cost of about $2,000 each replacement.

A heritage building with no allowance for change or redesign. We never applied for the insurance.

Retired now, but I can sadly see I’m still going to have to keep on paying.

Jack Pinder


Who is responsible for the housing crisis?

Harris Green is the latest example of the continuing failure by successive Victoria mayors and their councils to address the housing crisis.

On the surface, it would seem that such a project is a big win.

Eighty of the 1,584 units — about five percent — will be “affordable.” Flipping that statistic on its head, 95 per cent of these units will be unaffordable, or, at least, very expensive.

That, in a nutshell, is the reason for the never-ending housing crisis.

Developers continue to build accommodations that are priced well above the ability of young local median income households to buy or rent.

The statistics can be confirmed with a little bit of Googling.

By definition, this ensures that the housing crisis will never be solved. There’s no arguing with the math.

Across the region, councils have been complicit in this practice by continuing to approve these projects.

These facts should anger Greater Victorians struggling to afford a simple home. It suggests that councils and some planning departments have become too cozy with developers, and have forgotten who it is they actually work for.

Victoria’s new ‘missing middle’ initiative must have developers across the region salivating at the prospect of being able to replace single-family homes with multiple high-priced townhomes.

It means maximum profits with no pushback from the public.

Councils aren’t trying to solve the problem of housing affordability. They are the problem.

Michael Laplante


Clover Point is great – until the breeze comes

I recently visited the arrangement of parking and furniture at Clover Point and realized how pleasant it was to sit in the sun enjoying the view to the west. There were picnickers at the picnic tables and many others appreciating the fixed benches.

There were young, able people exclaiming about the lack of this and that, especially lack of thought and facilities for the infirm and wheelchair users – a thoughtful group who could have just as readily contented themselves with what had been built for them.

But as is normal at Clover Point, the still conditions quickly gave way to a cool breeze and as my wife and I rose to walk back we realized that all those seats were now empty and nobody was using them, let alone the 11 inaccessible parking stations which have no furniture on them.

Noteworthy was that the only improvement universally desired was a peripheral track around the edge of the point, but this remains a dirt trail.

Victoria council might have had a good idea for hot summer days, but come mid-September the barriers should come down, the furniture moved somewhere where it can be used, and the cars for all of us, including the elderly and infirm, permitted to park, their passengers enjoying a coffee and the view of the crashing waves and the effects of the blustery winds.

Maybe a return in May to the imagined accommodation of pedestrians and cyclists could make sense, but not during the winter months.

Michael Randerson


Langford could lead — with a bus connection

The main problem has always been the “last kilometre” — getting people to and from a railway station.

No matter where they propose the Victoria rail station to be, it’s on the wrong side of the Johnson Street Bridge.

A station isn’t just the track, platform and a hut. It needs space for taxis, buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians and Vic West doesn’t have that kind of space to spare.

It needs to link up with other forms of transit up and down the rail line.

Esquimalt and Shawnigan have no space for a station. Langford Station has the space and has a station but no transit feeder system.

Maybe Langford should at first try to get the naval personnel out of their cars and into buses to ease the crawl that happens every workday, before investing in the E&N.

Ray Powell



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