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Letters March 29: Fly the maple leaf; health professionals deserve respect; surgical waits

A Canadian flag on a the shoulder of a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. A letter-writer urges Canadians to take back their flag from the protesters opposed to vaccine mandates. LARS HAGBERG, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Let’s all fly the Canadian flag

The maple leaf flag is our national symbol, seen virtually everywhere. It is flown high on government buildings — sometimes appropriately at half-mast — and is seen in the hands of young children on Canada Day and on T-shirts every day of the week.

It is a positive affirmation to the world that Canadians have confidence in their country and are comfortable with its place in the world.

But like the U.S. flag, the Canadian flag is seemingly being co-opted by some who are far-right conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis, QAnon, and it is being weaponized.

Protesters wanting to be seen as “true patriots” (as opposed to the rest of us who somehow aren’t?) use the country’s symbol as evidence of their patriotism, along with Confederate flags and swastikas.

As a result some people are becoming uncomfortable with displaying the flag because they think it represents precisely the opposite of what it’s meant to stand for: fundamental freedoms and democratic rights.

It is not only reasonable but also imperative to challenge those who appropriate the flag for anti-Canadian values. It is precisely the reason we should all fly the Canadian flag. We are one country, even when we disagree.

Pandora Nash-Karner
North Saanich

Be thankful for that health professional

A recent letter-writer complained that the James Bay Urgent Care Centre was staffed by “only an RN” and thought she’d find better staff at an “outpost clinic in the Arctic.”

I have had the privilege of visiting many Arctic outpost clinics (as a visiting GP), and they were all staffed exclusively by RNs.

These “only” RNs did a wonderful job 24/7 of meeting the complex primary care needs of their patient populations under the most challenging conditions.

So, do not find “only an RN” at your clinic to be “scary.” Be thankful that you have a skilled health-care professional to see to your needs.

Lawrie Fawcett, MD (ret’d)

Waiting for surgery for five months and more

I would like to thank Dr. Cassandra Lane Dielwart, president-elect of the B.C. Orthopaedic Association, for challenging Health Minister Adrian Dix regarding his interpretation of the numbers of patients waiting for orthopedic surgery.

Lane Dielwart spoke out on behalf of those who have waited far too long, in pain and living restricted lives, to receive life-altering surgeries. Contrary to Dix’s figures, we are in the thousands.

Lane Dielwart has given a voice to those of us who previously had no advocate, and I sincerely hope that the spotlight will remain on our health minister until all the patients, mostly vulnerable seniors, get the care they are entitled to receive.

I waited 12 months to get an appointment with a surgeon and have been on the surgical waiting list for five months, still with no surgical date. This is the reality.

Lynne Fridfinnson
Port Alberni

People matter more than parking and plum trees

Re. “Amid angst about a changing city, Victoria OKs housing project that means loss of mature trees,” March 27.

So there’s angst about the “loss of seven mature plum trees” and potential “parking nightmare”?

Meanwhile the displacement and homelessness of the current residents living in these apartments, who will now need to find vacant and affordable rentals elsewhere in the city (good luck), seems to not cause angst among people in the neighbourhood.

It is time to remove zoning bylaws everywhere in Victoria and surrounds. Attractive, affordable, walk-up apartments that fit in the neighbourhood are possible and need to be a priority. They can be built in creative ways that help and support everyone.

Or would you be happier with the trend of tearing down existing charming homes to build million-dollar executive mansions that house one resident, as current zoning bylaws seem to support. Would that be more suitable than saving a parking spot and plum trees?

Carolynn Broeke

Victoria council ignores James Bay concerns

Despite overwhelming opposition, Victoria council unanimously approved a large-scale, high-density development in the heart of James Bay.

Presenters at the public hearing expressed concerns about a six-storey, 137-unit complex with reduced setbacks, on-site parking 62 per cent below bylaw requirements, loss of 45 affordable housing units and displacement of existing tenants.

Presenters pleaded to save seven flowering plum trees, emphasizing their importance to the heritage and character of James Bay, the environmental benefits of mature trees, and the comfort and joy their beauty gives residents and visitors.

City staff admitted the trees were in fair condition and, were it not for the development, would be retained and monitored to maintain their health.

A reduction in the number of units and storeys offered the possibility of a win-win, but calls to consider alternatives fell on deaf ears. Alas, the notion that a development should complement the character and beauty of the neighbourhood was lost on council.

Once again council has pretended to consult and then imposed their own vision of a brave new world.

The mayor said she felt for the many neighbours who were experiencing “a sense of loss and worry at the prospect of change.”

I am sure that will be a great comfort to the people who will lose the homes they have lived in for many years. And for the people of James Bay to know that they will not be standing in the way of change for change’s sake.

Noreen Marshall

A warning to Eby from Oak Bay residents

Kim Colpman of Large and Co. has been grinding her axe in the media quite a bit about her development proposal (for the wee lot at 2326 Oak Bay Ave.), which has been repeatedly turned down by Oak Bay council.

According to the disappointed developer: “Minister David Eby is saying, come the fall, the hammer’s going to fall.”

There is a saying: To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail. Well, Minister Eby, the kind and gentle citizens of Oak Bay are not nails, please do not treat us as such.

Martha McNeely
Oak Bay

Oak Bay should take housing crisis seriously

Once again the majority on Oak Bay council voted to show the only thing they like less than deer on their lawn is any housing proposal with density greater than a single-family dwelling.

Council’s record over the past 10 to 15 years offers unmistakable evidence of a narrow-minded approach to providing housing options within their boundaries.

I don’t believe council’s action is a true reflection of the majority of Oak Bay residents, but the lack of even the lightest infill housing solutions such as secondary suites and garden suites is shocking.

I live on a lovely quiet street in Fairfield and of my five immediate neighbours, three have a secondary suites without the slightest negative impact. Homeowners who live in their homes have a vested interest in selecting who co-habits their property.

If Oak Bay wants to avoid provincial government interference in their land use policies, council should adopt infill density regulations that permit secondary suites within existing single family homes and also the provision of free standing garden suites/coach houses.

These kinds of dwelling units can provide affordable housing choices in established single-family neighbourhoods. If they get their regulations right, they will also see some attractive units being created as the majority of homeowners in Oak Bay will want to add these units with quality and style.

When it comes to free-standing garden suites/coach houses, even the City of Victoria can’t be smug about their regulations as they have not resulted in the number and quality/style one would hope to have. Their regulations are too restrictive as to size and design control.

Oak Bay should get copies of the City of Duncan’s regulations on secondary suites and garden suites, the best on the Island. Adopting similar regulations would make a perfect first step for Oak Bay council in order to show they are taking the housing-supply crisis seriously.

Paul Osborne

There is danger in losing local control

It has been suggested that Oak Bay council unduly stopped a housing project. The Times Colonist should be complimenting the mayor and council for doing their job.

Oak Bay council has been consistent regarding the Quest development since 2014, when members of council expressed the opinion that the building was too big for the lot.

In 2017, when this development again came before it, council unanimously denied the application. The developer made a third application in 2022 for basically the same building. The same artist’s rendition was even used in the 2017 and 2022 applications.

The facts support Oak Bay council. The mass of the Quest proposal, as calculated by the standard floor area ratio, would be at least 60 per cent greater than the multi-unit buildings on either side. It does not comply with any of Oak Bay’s existing building zones, it is significantly higher than its neighbours, it would be placing a building with a mass similar to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel on a small, single-family-zoned infill lot in a transition area on Oak Bay Avenue.

The problem with the Quest is not Oak Bay council, it is a developer who refuses to compromise with a smaller building that fits the lot.

The slant on the Quest story should have been that this project shows the danger of taking decision-making on development away from local government, as the B.C. government is proposing.

Doug Manders
Oak Bay

Don’t blame Oak Bay for a national problem

Housing Minister David Eby recently tried to make an example out of Oak Bay over the so-called “housing crisis,” which is absurd.

Blaming/singling out a small municipality for a national “housing crisis” is mere scapegoating, without addressing the roots of the problem, including the elephant in the room: Canada’s artificially increasing population, based on federal government policy.

Municipalities should have every right to determine their own housing policy, rather than being bullied by the province and developers, to conform to NDP ideology and populist political theatre.

For all the sanctimonious talk about colonialism, here it is in front of us, as clear as day.

Democracy comes from the bottom up, not from the top down.

What is being referred to as the “housing crisis” is manufactured by the government. There would be no reason for it, if they weren’t doing everything they can to cram greater amounts of people into smaller and smaller spaces, at higher and higher square-metre costs. The math isn’t complicated and the developers know it.

Government population policy is unsustainable, not Oak Bay. If the locals don’t want development, that is their right. It’s called democracy. Get used to it.

There are more than 400,000 new residents a year to Canada and rising, which merely stimulates demand and drives up prices, creating a crisis where there shouldn’t be one.

Frankly, Oak Bay should be lauded for making a district that others are only green with envy over.

Sasha Izard

Look out, James Bay, Tesla owners are coming

In response to the provincial government eyeing housing approvals, there is a rumour that a group of Oak Bay Tesla owners are planning a convoy to the closest free charging stations near the legislature.

Noise levels are expected to be well over 25 dB.

Bill Carere
Oak Bay

Housing density should be sensitive

Oak Bay council is unjustly vilified for turning down the third development application for 2326 Oak Bay Ave.

It is not entirely accurate to describe this as “just another mid-sized housing project.” This proposed four-storey building does indeed sit between two other four-storey buildings, but there the similarity ends.

The Quest towers over its neighbour to the east by a full storey in height. It sits on a lot that is half the size of the lots occupied by the neighbouring buildings.

The developer has known from the beginning, nine years ago, that the building was too massive for the small lot and that its originally proposed “property line to property line” underground parking footprint would destroy a hugely significant Garry oak tree on a neighbouring property.

Although the recently refused version had scaled back the parking area somewhat to, hopefully, preserve the health of the tree, the issues regarding excessive size were not addressed.

This proposal required unique “spot zoning” to accommodate the many ways in which it does not comply with existing zoning bylaws for multi-unit buildings. If the developer had listened to community concerns and made meaningful compromises at the beginning of this process, an appropriately sized building could have been built by now.

Community conflicts with developers, whether it’s in Oak Bay or Victoria, are not about resisting increased density. They’re about creating density which is genuinely sensitive to the natural environment and to established neighbourhoods.

Nancy Barnes

Langford is isolated? Depends on your bias

Rugby Canada demonstrated their clear “Toronto-is-the-centre-of-the-universe” bias when their report said Langford was too expensive and too isolated.

The only point missing from the report was the Yogi Berra quip: “Nobody goes there any more; it’s too crowded.”

Stan Davis


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