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Letters May 21: COVID took steep toll in B.C.; premier's blithe response to gas prices

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A letter-writer suggests the province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was not as comprehensive as many B.C. residents believe. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

B.C.’s COVID death rate higher than Ontario’s

Re: “Give credit where it is due for COVID success,” letter, May 14.

As is often the case with the Horgan government, the letter-writer compares B.C.’s COVID results to places that have done worse than B.C., but none in Asia that has done better.

Facing Asia on Canada’s west coast, B.C. was fortunate in the first wave to get our COVID directly from China. Quebec, on the other hand — which is often cited as having had the worst record in Canada — was seeded with a more infectious COVID variant from Europe, New York and Massachusetts. And, as Dr. Bonnie Henry herself has observed, B.C. also lucked out with a later spring break that spared us many deaths that Quebec suffered in the first wave.

Unfortunately, B.C. then caught up with the tragic results seen elsewhere.

Missing the evidence on Feb. 20, 2020, that a pandemic was upon us, Health Minister Adrian Dix continued until March 11 to support the Trudeau government, insisting that border measures were useless if not racist.

Meanwhile, Henry allowed the Vancouver dental conference to go ahead in the first week of March, which brought the more transmissible European strain of the virus to our province.

Then, B.C. had a particularly deadly second wave after Horgan called a snap election to capitalize on the perception that thanks to his government, B.C. had done better than everyone else.

Looking at B.C.’s sixth COVID wave, one finds that there are more British Columbians in hospital than at any time during the pandemic except in the fifth wave. And, sadly, our death rate continues to increase. It is now about half again as great as in Quebec per capita, and about triple the rate in Ontario.

Norman Spector
Victoria

Another way to get there? Not the best response

Premier John Horgan’s solution for out-of-control gas prices is “find another mode of transportation.”

The “Let them eat cake” philosophy is alive and well in B.C.

Bob Beckwith
Victoria

Richardson Street is safer and calmer

A letter-writer misses driving on Richardson Street, but I don’t miss him.

In the past year, residents of Richardson have seen traffic calming initiatives — crosswalks, speed bumps, parking on both sides, and concrete barriers preventing cars and trucks from travelling directly from Oak Bay to Vancouver Street and return.

Slowing vehicular traffic on what was once the five block “straightaway” between Moss and Cook streets is especially welcome.

Our street is now much safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and quieter for those of us who live there. Kudos to City Hall and planners for making these improvements.

Dick Proctor
Victoria

Visitors love it, yet it has to go?

I am a destination expert for the TripAdvisor forum for Victoria. I respond to many questions and comments from prospective visitors and cruise-ship passengers about visiting the south Island.

The most-asked questions are about Butchart Gardens. The second-most-asked questions have been about the Royal B.C. Museum. It has had more than 7,000 reviews on TripAdvisor, of which 95 per cent rated it Excellent or Very Good. But since the closure of the top two floors, reviews have rated it much lower.

For this we have Tourism Minister Melanie Mark to thank. She closed the museum precipitously and unnecessarily, when she could have easily smoothed a transition to a more inclusive institution over a reasonable period of time, while keeping it open for all, and keeping the revenue stream alive.

Now she has announced that the museum will be closed, torn down, and rebuilt — at a cost of $789 million — by 2030. By which time there won’t be many questions and comments from tourists about it, will there?

Economics, even common sense, and the NDP government are complete strangers.

Bill Birney
Victoria

Honour First Nations with a longhouse

Asbestos is in a lot of old buildings, and I am pretty sure the asbestos in the Royal B.C. Museum, like all of these, is not exposed.

The priority in B.C. is doctor shortages and clearly affordable housing, not a new museum. If the museum really wants to honor the traditional territories of the Lekwungen people in this new vision, they would raze Thunderbird Park and commission Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to build a longhouse there.

Former museum head Jack Lohman really missed out on the opportunity to exhibit any of the local Nations’ artifacts, and a little welcome sign high above the cash registers recognizing them is bland and honestly offensive.

This government needs to get its head out of the sand and deal with the crisis of doctor shortages, and affordable housing first, then play super-museum hero after the needs of the many are taken care of. Think of Mr. Spock in Star Trek: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”

Derek Sanderson
Victoria

Put museum along the E&N rail line

Let’s combine the new rail proposal with the museum proposal.

The new museum could be distributed along the rail line using the historic stations (refurbished and expanded) from Courtenay down to a new station/museum where the roundhouse now is in Victoria.

This would also allow for stops as chosen by First Nations for museum displays or whatever.

The long-term excitement for Island residents and visitors would be enormous and growing as the project developed.

The project would also have global implications for new museum design.

The site of the existing museum could later be repurposed to downtown residential or whatever was deemed appropriate after full public discussion.

Surely this would be a project for all people to get behind.

So much better than a secretive billion-dollar boondoggle with no info or process as proposed by Tourism Minister Melanie Mark.

Brian Williamson
Victoria

Safe spaces needed for sharing stories

Some may find it politically astute to slam a cultural infrastructure project when people are struggling to find affordable housing or to fill up their car, but once the headlines are gone, all that’s left is a role for Canadian museums in educating, uniting and healing our country devalued in the eyes of the very people they are meant to touch.

Legislators and political leaders have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

But at a time in our history characterized by deepening social and political divisions, the preservation and dissemination of our common heritage and the creation of safe spaces for the sharing of the stories that make us who we are should never be dismissed as “vanity projects,” but acknowledged as an investment in our future together.

Massimo Bergamini
Executive director and CEO
Canadian Museums Association

Touring exhibits would help all areas of B.C.

As a former longtime resident of northern B.C., I think their voice is missing in all this Victoria-based debate about the provincial government’s plan to modernize the museum.

Victorians need to remember this is the Royal B.C. Museum, not the Royal Victoria Museum.

As I understand it, while the museum is closed in Victoria, displays of material from this central museum will circulate throughout the province, giving many B.C. residents their first opportunity to see some of our provincial archival treasurers.

Victorians forget that, for many families who live in northern and interior B.C., a trip to Victoria can be very costly given the additional cost of the ferry and accommodation. Their children may never have the opportunity to visit their B.C. museum that you and your children can visit whenever you wish.

I remind you, taxpayers throughout B.C. are paying for this new building, and they deserve to benefit from that project, although the benefit will end after seven years. My hope, as part of their long-term plans, the museum will continue to have circulating displays when the new building is open.

I am also surprised by the B.C. Liberal leader’s announcement that, if elected, he would cancel the project. He needs to be reminded many of their members come from those areas that, while the museum is closed, will have a chance to benefit from the tax dollars they’ve contributed for years to maintain the museum.

Beverley Christensen
Victoria

Many urgent priorities facing our province

A billion-dollar museum. Are you people crazy?

Think of green energy production, affordable housing, homelessness, family doctors, medical equipment, teachers, mental health, university tuitions, depleting fisheries, aging workforce and dwindling tax base, inflation, COVID recovery and the next pandemic, underfunded military, over-stressed police forces, population increases and related pressures, apprenticeship and attracting skilled workers, to name only a few more pressing issues than building a monument that only a small percentage of British Columbians will ever see or appreciate.

The above more-pressing issues affect First Nations as much if not more.

I voted for John Horgan. It won’t happen again if he continues in this reckless pursuit.

Please stop the madness.

Brian Cross
Nanaimo

No diagnosis for pain, but we get a museum

Now I know that the world has swung off its axis.

$800 million to rebuild something that isn’t broken? And there will be nothing in its place for eight years, maybe?

And during this time of no doctors, no affordable homes and no extra incomes, this is how the government spends my money?

My 93-year-old mother can’t get a diagnosis for severe stomach pains, the lab lost her results, so now she has to wait five more weeks on opioids for pain to get them done again.

What is wrong with this picture, and is there no one who can lead us with some common sense?

Chris Leischner
Youbou

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