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Letters March 23: Victoria's bike lanes work; Air Canada winning race to the bottom

Cyclists ride on protected bike lanes on Harbour Road. A letter-writer from the U.S. says that the city’s bike-lane network makes Victoria a more welcoming place. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Take it from a tourist: city’s bike lanes work

I live in Washington state and have come to Victoria many times over the past 30 years. The fact that Victoria is such a wonderful place to visit, with especially friendly and thoughtful people, in a gorgeous setting is axiomatic to anyone who has ever visited there.

What is maybe less well-known, and is likely under-appreciated by tourists and residents alike, is how much a value-add, to an already fantastic place, is the plethora of bicycling paths, routes, options and general cycling culture.

Recently, my wife and I came over from Port Angeles with only our bikes and gear for a few days of fun.

Having lived in Amsterdam, we so appreciated how Victoria has only gotten better every time we visit, at being a cycle-friendly area where riders are safe and respected.

As people on bikes, of all ages and types, are working their way up on the transportation pyramid — in Amsterdam they are the very top; in much of the U.S. they are very much still the very bottom — Victoria solidifies itself as a world leader, boldy and successfully planning and building for a healthy and climate-conscious community.

What Victoria should be especially proud of is that it shows us all how a cycle-friendly city is of course great for public health and the environment, but it is the beauty, safety and simple pleasure of rolling around town (and beyond) which is what people love and will come back for time and time again.

Great work Victoria!

Russ Lehman

Olympia, Washington

No surprise in the list of air travel complaints

Re: “How air passenger complaints ballooned to 42,000,” March 21.

Gee, no great surprise here with the litany of issues. But aside from this, the day-to-day service Canadians can expect from its air travel businesses remains seriously flawed and overpriced.

I recently returned on a 4.5-hour flight from Houston, Texas, to Vancouver on our nation’s primary carrier.

The service was mediocre at best, and the only thing that was distributed, at no charge, were several glasses of water.

The nature of the service provided certainly leaves one wondering if the service crew like their jobs at all.

In addition, they charge for the earphones to use their visual/sound entertainment media, and to add more insult to the overpriced financial injury, load it with advertisements; the last thing on my mind is purchasing a vacuum cleaner at 36,000 feet.

More importantly, an inexpensive entertainment feature is a needed reprieve from the lacklustre service provided. Yes, you can eat an overpriced boxed treat.

Rumour has it that they are planning to issue a limited number of no-charge lavatory coupons based on your seat selection. They will also be selling additional vouchers as part of the boxed meal option as a purchase incentive.

This carrier continues to win the race to the bottom of Canada’s beleaguered airline industry, confirmed by its monopoly of customer complaints; let’s not forget it holds the monopoly of service, or lack thereof, complaints registered under the auspices of the Air Passenger Protection Act.

John Stevenson


Pay me now, Victoria, or pay me later

A few years ago a memorable TV commercial showed an auto mechanic explaining to a clearly frustrated car owner that he could “pay me now or pay me later.”

In other words, delaying much-needed work could only result in having to pay more later as the problem worsened.

I suggest that this “principle” is playing out now in front of our eyes as Victoria council pushes back against a proposed budget for the police in favour of putting a cap on property tax increases.

This strikes me as a false economy. We are all aware of the pressures resulting from recent cost-of-living increases. Reducing property taxes by a couple of hundred dollars per property may be good politics, but it costs the civic treasury millions of dollars.

That is money that could be used to deal with the serious issues of crime and violence on Victoria streets. The federal and provincial governments are taking some steps to deal with the challenges of homelessness and the health-care crisis.

The city council needs to recognize how the image and reputation of a beautiful city is being threatened by the fact that many visitors and residents feel that their downtown is no longer safe.

The police chief has strategies such as the school liaison program and more “cops on the beat” to address the challenges that he and his force see every day.

They need the support and funding from the city. It’s time to step up.

Andrew Lane

Qualicum Beach

Looking at the numbers, Victoria could shed staff

Victoria definitely has a budgetary problem. Let’s try to understand why.

Victoria is 7.52 square miles with 91,867 people, while Saanich is 39.94 square miles with a population of 124,639. With five times the area and vastly more parks and roads, Saanich manages with 1,213 employees while Victoria needs a similar number with 1,209 employees. (2021 numbers).

Both jurisdictions have about the same annual income. Victoria, $273 million and Saanich, $256 million. It is true that Victoria’s protection budget (fire and police) is larger at $84 million and Saanich is $64 million. Victoria requires $34 million to manage parks and recreation while Saanich with much greater responsibilities spends $41 million.

The real anomaly in Victoria’s budget is the $32 million spent on transportation, which has been almost impossible to derive details about. It seems that paring the costs of transportation management might be a better choice than the police budget.

That being said, the only logical conclusion you can come to is that Victoria has too many employees. The unions would scream, but they are the folks who delivered our present council.

Patrick Skillings


A raise for our MPs would be out of touch

With inflation as high as it currently is, MPs should be voting to take a cut in their present salaries rather than contemplating giving themselves yet another pay raise.

Our federal government, particularly our prime minister, is completely out of touch with the conditions their constituents are experiencing and suffering.

Canada has signed numerous agreements and pacts designed to ameliorate climate change without once achieving a positive result — we continue our head-in-the-sand approach while other countries, Europe in particular, manage to reduce emissions as they had promised.

We, politicians as well as the public, should be ashamed and embarrassed at the position Canada now holds in our world. What is our federal government doing to reverse this disgusting trend?

Cindy Alger


Paint the town red to fight tuberculosis

Have you ever wondered why the fountain at the B.C. legislature has run red on the evening of March 24 in recent years?

There are landmarks right across the country that turn red on that date. Why?

March 24 is World TB Day, an annual event commemorating the date in 1982 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes TB.

Great advances have been made in the fight against TB, but as with so many issues, we need political will to support the eradication of this often-ignored disease.

Let’s paint the town red on Friday evening and do what we can as individuals to educate ourselves and support the eradication of this preventable disease. See you at the legislature on Friday ­evening.

Connie Lebeau



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