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Letters May 12: Housing proposal too complex; war in Ukraine

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An aerial photo of a residential neighbourhood in Victoria. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Forget the 2,000 pages, boil it down to one

The more I try to unravel the hundreds of pages of the Missing Middle Housing Initiative, the more confused I become.

What exactly will be permitted on my block? Which corners will offer up sufficient space for lot assembly to build 12-unit townhouse projects? How will neighbouring property owners be alerted to the potential for very major changes on their very doorstep?

How will specific parking managements plans be implemented? What happens on streets where parking is only permitted on one side? How did we get from talk of duplexes and triplexes to a plan that indicates that only massive townhouse projects are likely to be built?

In talking to my neighbours, it is clear that they are unaware of the implications of the initiative. When I point to the staff report, they respond with: “I need a one-pager, not 2,000 pages to plow through.”

This is not informed consent, not even close. Moreover, by any accepted polling industry standard, the public engagement process as been deeply flawed. How do staff verify the authenticity of responders to the online survey? How do they determine if someone is using multiple emails?

Please send this back for repairs — with instructions to bring it back to council in a clear and concise way in language that can be understood. If council then likes what it sees, it can authorize a plan to communicate directly with property owners and renters who might be affected. Then legislation can be drafted and public hearings can be scheduled.

Only then can we have a coherent conversation on increasing the much-needed density in all of our neighbourhoods.

Ken Roueche
Victoria

Neighbourhood voice would be silenced

The overall premise of the Victoria’s Missing Middle Housing Initiative is to curtail the voices of residents concerning the size and scope of development in their immediate neighbourhoods.

City planners and employees will decide how a neighbourhood evolves. How decidedly Kafkaesque!

The powerlessness that Kafka’s main characters face when trying to contain an unknown administration forms the basis for the desire we all have to actively participate in the democratic process. At the most fundamental level, we seek to engage to shape our neighbourhoods and our lives.

It is important to explain the many details and its repercussions now that the initiative is a plan. It is important to hold many neighbourhood meetings over the course of a few months to ensure communities are on board before the it becomes the new reality.

The ramifications of the initiative and its potential impact on residents’ lives deserves the same level of active participation that the city initiated to put together the few community plans that have been updated since the Official Community Plan was originally created. The process of updating the plan has been put on hold. The initiative has effectively replaced it.

Not only does this plan dramatically lessen active community involvement in land-use concerns, the rush to approve it suggests that the city would prefer to do an end-run around active community engagement about the plan’s implementation as well.

This will ensure that there is little community participation thereafter. Three birds with one stone. Kafka’s world three; local democratic involvement zero.

Don Cal
Victoria

Insane to fight wars over ancient prejudices

Dave Obee dips into history to explain why he’s sending dollars to Ukraine, to augment the billions that the U.S., Canada and European countries are pouring into the conflict.

“The people I am helping,” he writes, “are in the homes and on the lands that were stolen from my ancestors before I was born.”

The theft of land across what is today Ukraine has been going on for centuries, perpetrated by countless waves of imperialists, invaders and settlers. The region of northern Ukraine that was home to Obee’s German ancestors has at various times over the past 500 years been claimed or contested by the Kingdom of Poland, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Tsarist Empire, the Second Polish Republic, Hitler’s Reich, the Soviet Union and now Ukraine.

Little wonder that what is described today as Ukraine is an amalgam of people of Ukrainian, Russian, Hungarian, Jewish, German, Tatar and Polish ancestry.

Russia had no right to invade Ukraine under the pretense of protecting the Russian minority from a virulent far-right Ukrainian nationalism. But, equally, NATO had no right to try to bring into its fold one aggressively ambitious faction in a state that is so historically and ethnically divided.

Mr. Obee, if you wish, please continue to send assistance to your suffering friends. But please also use your considerable influence as editor of the Times Colonist to raise the alarm that in an age of hypersonic missiles and nuclear weapons, fighting wars based on ancient prejudices and hatreds is insanity. Demand that NATO cease pouring arms into a dangerous conflict.

Call on the Canadian government to use every diplomatic means at its disposal to remove Russia from the arena and give it the security it requires to recognize the futility of a military solution there.

Larry Hannant
Victoria

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