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Letters May 13: Embrace boulevard gardens; repair health care

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Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps attends the opening of a community garden on the boulevard outside Our Place on Pandora Avenue in 2016. A letter-writer who enjoys a garden on their boulevard points out that the city actively encourages use of boulevards for community gardens. TIMES COLONIST

Boulevard gardens follow city guidelines

Re: “Taking the boulevard — then you are a thief,” letter, May 11.

I am a senior citizen on a fixed income, who plants, weeds, tends and harvests a boulevard vegetable garden, along with four other seniors. We live next to the boulevard and follow Victoria’ s “Boulevard Gardening Guidelines.”

We are not wealthy, and have most certainly not used a “power base to steal public land.” The Times Colonist has chosen to promulgate we are also “thieves” by publishing that letter.

This is an outrageous and irresponsible comment. We did not “steal” the land as the letter-writer states. We asked for and were given permission. The City of Victoria says boulevard gardens “add vibrancy and promote local food security.”

As senior gardeners, we eat the produce we grow. The vegetables are organically produced without fertilizer or pesticides. Instead, we use tree leaf mulch and manure to enhance the soil.

We do not have the garden “fenced in,” we have a short six-inch high border we made ourselves from recycled boards and even recycled the screws recovered from those boards. The border keeps the soil in place, and off the sidewalk.

Our garden is full of bees, and the soil is full of earthworms. Small birds (and the occasional deer) also forage from the garden.

The city comments: “Boulevard gardens can create more beautiful, interesting and diverse streets, add character to neighbourhoods and increase community pride. They can also support environmental benefits such as increasing ecological diversity and providing bird, butterfly and pollinator habitats.”

Yet the Times Colonist carelessly publishes an uninformed commentary that calls us “thieves” and tarnishes what has proven to be a helpful, beneficial, supportive activity for many Victorians.

Greg Gilbertson

Victoria

Bold action needed to repair health care

Health care in B.C., as in the rest of Canada, is a sinking ship. I know everyone is bailing as fast as they can, now we have to fix the leaks.

We need bold transparent governments to act in our long-term interest now by:

Reviewing the funding and execution of the Canada health act;

Prioritizing what we can do; and

Dismantling healthcare silos and making the components work together more efficiently.

We need informed citizens to make their voices heard.

I could and should have written this letter 20 years ago.

Dave Bell
MD (retired)
North Saanich

Lantzville proposal does not fit the plan

Re: “Lantzville asks developer to address community fears over large project,” May 10.

The lengthy report of the recent Lantzville council meeting went astray with its headline.

The Lantzville community does not have fears that the proposed large project will violate the Official Community Plan: the community knows that the project violates the plan, and wants the proposal revised to fit the plan.

This is an important distinction: if the developer believes that all he need do is allay fears, possibly misinformed or superstitious fears, he can just tweak and resubmit the same proposal, accompanied by soothing phrases and glossy pictures of smiling people.

But my impression from the council meeting was that the community objections run much deeper than this.

There is a petition with 1,169 signatures and an immense amount of material on the public record detailing ways in which the proposal falls short of the plan, and a majority of councillors indicated at the meeting that they were ready to take these objections seriously.

John Jones
Lantzville

Reduce lot minimums to allow more housing

A May 10 letter points out the need to increase the number of houses available to improve housing affordability by reducing the minimum lot sizes for each house thus created. The letter spoke of the issues faced to create a second livable house on a 6,600-square-foot lot. This may be a common problem, but there are many worse out there.

There are three adjacent lots I know of in Saanich just off Gorge Inlet whose combined areas are 90,395 square feet and yet can legally contain only four single family homes due to ridiculous minimum lot sizes imposed on them by previous municipal councils.

If the 6,600-square-foot barrier was in place in that area, 13 homes could be legally accommodated on those three lots. One can only guess how many new young families could move into the area if Saanich council merely enforced the standard 6,000-square-foot lot size at that location.

The May 4 Times Colonist quoted Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes saying that “the entire council wants more affordable housing.”

If this is correct, then how does maintaining such huge lot sizes help achieve that objective; or are such statements strictly political rhetoric to be trotted out at election time?

Jim Knock
Victoria

Education needed on Nanaimo’s blue bins

Absent from the recent scolding of bad Nanaimoites for contaminating their blue bins is an admission from the City of Nanaimo that they are also part of the problem.

Upon looking closely at the city’s lengthy online list of what does and does not go in the blue bin, what emerges is that the time residents must put into figuring out how do the right thing will soon take almost as much time as government staff to draw up such lists. The lists on the bins are partial at best.

Many obviously don’t use the city’s helpful What Goes Where? online tool. How many Nanaimo residents know that paper napkins go in the black cart, but paper towels go in the green cart? That facial tissues must be “securely bagged” and go in the black bin? Or that broken houseware glass goes in the black cart, but broken window panes will not be collected?

Currently, only those residents passionate about or committed to recycling will put in the required time and attention to know and do it right. Better education and increased clarity and simplicity from the city are required.

We all have to do better to tackle this problem, and that includes municipalities like the City of Nanaimo.

Paul Walton
Nanaimo

Help your neighbours with food donations

Just behind Sir James Douglas Elementary School, up the hill on Fairfield Road, there is a small box outside the community association building where people can drop off non-perishable food for neighbours to take if needed.

The last two times I have dropped off food, the only things in the box were tins of cat food.

I realize that inflation is hurting us all, but I believe that we as a neighbourhood can do more to help those who may otherwise go hungry. The next time you go grocery shopping, please consider buying something extra and take it for donation.

Alanna Wrean
Fairfield

SEND US YOUR LETTERS

• Email letters to: letters@timescolonist.com

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.