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Letters May 11: Who should have a say on downtown Victoria?; cash not welcome at airport parking

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A lack of ability to have a say in downtown Victoria’s direction caused former Oak Bay residents to decamp for the Comox Valley, and the couple writes that they have no regrets in their decision. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Don’t like little Victoria? Comox Valley beckons

In October 2013, my wife and I moved to Victoria. We found a perfect home in Oak Bay, close to all the amenities. To retire in Greater Victoria had always been our plan. The short distance to downtown made the location perfect.

We soon learned about small, fractured municipalities, whose local governments, not surprisingly, focused on very local issues, which seemed to cater to a neighbourhood feel. Initially, this seemed positive.

Then I realized that I had no input in the direction downtown was taking. This was as much my downtown as anyone’s, or so I thought.

Little Victoria, the city, elected a mayor and council whose views and actions regarding downtown were diametrically opposed to my own. I was happy in our little enclave of Oak Bay.

Nine years later, I still love Greater Victoria. However, we chose not to visit little Victoria nearly as regularly as we once did.

The lovely Inner Harbour, the restaurants, the bookstores, and so much more that we used to regularly frequent, we did not bother with anymore.

There are streets we would not walk, drive or ride bicycles on. It was embarrassing to take visitors downtown. Oak Bay, Saanich and View Royal became our go-to places.

My support for amalgamation was initially an economic argument, but then became a philosophical one as well. I am a resident of Greater Victoria. Why shouldn’t I should have some say in the direction that downtown takes?

Toronto, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal all include areas well beyond “downtown.” They are governed by a mayor and have councillors representing wards.

Fast forward to May 2022. We have moved to the Comox Valley. We are happy and becoming part of a vibrant community. Perfect, no, but with fewer problems.

I don’t think we are the first residents who became fed up with Victoria and moved.

For Greater Victoria’s sake, I hope that amalgamation talk becomes more than just talk.

In the meantime, I highly recommend the Comox Valley.

John McMullen
Comox Valley

Don’t have a card? Park elsewhere, please

On May 4, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. With my loonie in hand, I drove up to the gate of the short-stay $1 parking at Victoria International Airport.

Oh dear, cash is no longer accepted! Not having a credit card nor a debit card with me, I pressed ASSIST.

ASSIST told me that I should find somewhere else to park. This is where the laugh or cry comes in.

I had a traffic bar in front of me, and cars beside me and behind me. Do I leave my car here and walk or taxi home to get a card? I’m old and it’s quite far.

It turned out that the woman in the car beside me was having trouble working the parking meter machine.

Quickly, I jumped out of my vehicle, dashed to her, asked for her credit card, dashed back to the machine, dashed back to her and explained what she should do to raise the traffic bar, dashed back to my vehicle, jumped in and the traffic bar was raised.

I hope for two things. First, that the person who failed to help me when I rang ASSIST twice is replaced. Second, is that a CASH ONLY sign is added early enough in the airport approach to allow a person without the necessary cards to take another route.

Dr. Barbara Kelly
Saanichton

Let oil companies absorb the high costs

Re: “Record profits from oil should be invested in climate action: minister,” May 5.

Amidst a firestorm of media attention to the rising price of gas at the pumps, a paragraph buried deep in the article offers an key piece of information.

Imperial Oil has just reported its highest profits in 30 years, and other companies are also “making record profits.”

We’re being bombarded by news suggesting only one cause of the gas price hike: Shortages due to the Russian war in Ukraine.

What about those profits? Not only do oil companies have the money to invest in greening our fuel sources, they could easily absorb costs of our current pain at the pumps.

Lori Hanson
Shawnigan Lake

On the front lines, health care gets better

There has been a lot of valid coverage recently about the sad state of our health-care system and the need for it to better serve B.C.’s citizens. But improvements are being made through the ingenuity of the doctors and nurses on the front lines.

I recently underwent my second hip-replacement surgery in two years. In 2020, I was wheeled into the operating room where the anesthesiologists administered the anesthetic (in my case, sedation and a spinal) before the prep work for the actual surgery began.

This year, the same anesthetic was administered in a separate area within the pre-op ward. I was told the change was made to save time in OR.

Now when patients arrive there, the surgical team can immediately begin surgical prep.

You’d think such a change would not have a significant impact, but my surgeon says he can now perform up to five hip replacements a day compared with three or four under the old system.

That’s a 20 to 25 per cent increase in surgeries and a similar decrease in waiting time for those on the hip replacement list.

Multiply that by all the orthopedic surgeons operating at Royal Jubilee Hospital, and a relatively simple procedural change has a significant impact.

In the midst of all the challenges our health-care system is experiencing, its front-line professionals are finding ways to improve it.

Patricia Pitts
Victoria

National solution needed for the homeless

A growing population of drug-addicted homeless people are ruining public spaces in Victoria.

Some are mentally ill, some are just aimless, some are truly evil people. None of them seem able to look after themselves or follow simple rules.

I’m heartened that the province is finally admitting the situation is out of control and unsafe. What discourages me is my belief that no single province or municipality can solve this widespread problem.

Until we have a nationally co-ordinated network of secure institutions where these people can not only get some help but be kept away from functional society, nothing is going to get better.

It will be expensive, just as the mental institutions our grandparents built were, but those institutions existed for a reason and we need them back.

It makes absolutely no sense to try to house these people in the most expensive real estate markets in the country.

Bryan Tronsgard
Victoria

Is it worth it to leave an accident scene?

I feel for the woman who got hit in the crosswalk in the snow and the woman, also in a crosswalk, who looked like a human pinball as she tried to scramble back to the curb.

We are always shocked at how the drivers speed away. One case in Vancouver last week even showed the driver backing up to get around the limp body of the person they just hit.

Why do people hit and run, how can they just drive away? The fact is, it’s cheaper and easier. Right now “failing to remain at the scene of an accident” is worth it. The fine is small, especially compared to the cost of an impaired driving conviction other infraction.

Why don’t we make it expensive? How about a mandatory five-year driving suspension for failing to stay when you’ve hit someone? Then triple the fine.

Instead of $1,000, make it $3,000. In addition, any damage and rehab costs incurred by ICBC should automatically be charged back to the hit-and-run offender regardless of their insurance coverage.

These aren’t draconian steps when you compare them with the policing cost of tracking down the offenders and the pain and suffering of victims and their families.

As long as it’s worth it to leave the scene of the accident, we’ll keep seeing these deeply disturbing stories. Let’s put an end to it.

George Matthews
Victoria

Taking the boulevard? Then you are a thief

Throughout history, people wealthy enough to own property have used this wealth as a “power base” to steal public land.

It is happening all across Victoria now, with homeowners fencing in the public space in front in their houses for their own use and benefit. Like all thieves, they try to normalize their behaviour by encouraging others to join in the plunder.

Some homeowners save taxes by taking responsibility to maintain the boulevard, but then, like the corrupt treasurer of a local boy scout club, they somehow think this control of the assets means it is theirs to do with as they please.

Obstructions at foot level next to the sidewalk are a tripping hazard. Homeowners installing these impediments on the public boulevard may wish to check their liability insurance. I am amazed the city allows this.

Perhaps the thing that annoys me most is the hypocrisy. If a person who truly needed land — perhaps a homeless person — pitched their tent on the boulevard, the homeowner would be the first person to complain to City Hall about the squatter taking public property for their own use.

If we are not careful, then public space will disappear. If someone wants to plant pretty flowers that encourage bees then that’s great, but unless the vegetables you are growing on the boulevard are destined for a food bank, then you are a thief.

Malcolm Dew-Jones
Victoria

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