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Letters May 26: Museums and other priorities; free transit a worthwhile idea; highway protests a dead end

Letter-writers have a variety of opinions on the province's plan to replace the Royal B.C. Museum. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Other priorities need our attention first

I understand that the letters page was flooded with protests by outraged ­readers who could not understand how the ­government could have its priorities so muddled, and I agree. Now is not the time to spend $789 million for a state-of-the-art seismically safe new museum when we have about 260 schools still in need of seismic upgrading.

Experts warn that it’s not a matter of “if” a catastrophic earthquake will strike B.C., but when. In an article posted by CBC Radio in 2017, Patti Bacchus, a former trustee and former chair of the Vancouver School Board, is quoted as saying: “Even though we know this and we’ve known this in B.C. for many years now, we still have thousands of students in B.C. who spend their school days in buildings that have been assessed by engineers to be high risk of significant structural failure or collapse, even in a moderate earthquake.”

B.C. schools aren’t built to resist earthquakes, they’re often old, unreinforced masonry buildings that are brittle and heavy, sometimes over 100 years old. They are much more likely to fail in an earthquake than your typical wood-frame house would be, Bacchus said. Some of our most dangerous buildings in earthquakes are our schools and that’s where our children are. Yet this premier seems to be more concerned about a seismically safe new museum than his commitment to upgrading all B.C. schools.

I don’t think Horgan understands the needs of British Colunbians, with record high gas prices, rising inflation, a housing affordability crisis, B.C. schools still waiting for seismic upgrading and a health-care system that is crumbling. Now is not the time for this huge expenditure when we have far greater needs and far better ways to spend this money.

Lilian Andersen

Consider a museum for First Nations history

There have been a large number of ­letters that express negative views of the announcement that the Royal B.C. Museum is to be demolished and replaced by a $789-million facility that has no ­obvious foresight or planning and seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the present chaos around how to achieve ­reconciliation with First Nations.

Consider the events that occurred in Alert Bay. The local Indigenous people practised the potlatch, which was a ceremony to tell their stories and to show social changes such as birth, marriage, name-giving, standing up a new chief and death.

However, the potlatch was banned in Canada between 1885 and 1951. The masks and other regalia associated with the potlatch were all confiscated.

In 1951 the Indian Act was revised, and the ban was lifted. The regalia was repatriated and are now housed in the U’mista Cultural Society Museum, a world-class museum in Alert Bay, and is over seen by the U’mista Cultural Society to ensure the survival of all aspects of the cultural ­heritage of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw.

Perhaps the museum issue could be separated. There could be a new unique museum dedicated exclusively to exhibiting the culture of the First Nations. The Royal B.C. Museum issue could be addressed as a separate issue.

Jennifer Wellborn

A common-sense view of the museum

One column I always make a point of reading in Sunday’s paper is by Charla Huber.

Once again, she has written a respectful, calm, well-thought-out column that demonstrates use of common sense.

As she points out, there are many things money could be spent on, but that doesn’t make the museum project less valid.

Do I agree with the museum project entirely? Not necessarily. However, I try to differentiate between the faulty method that it was announced with the need and what could be gained in the long run.

Everywhere in Canada is trying to deal with physician shortages, and answers are years away, although that doesn’t stop the government from ensuring our family physicians are adequately paid for what they do.

Do schools need seismic upgrading? Absolutely, and the museum project should not stop that.

Are housing costs, rental and ownership, getting out of hand in this area? Absolutely. Is not having a museum upgrade going to change that?

Does the government deserve a rap on the knuckles for the way they announced this project? In my opinion, absolutely.

I expect a fabulous museum that will be adaptable for multiple years when this is done.

I expect that museum to portray a variety of peoples, work and stories, as well as B.C.’s environment and wildlife. I expect all of these histories to be treated respectfully and truthfully.

Gail Blais

Museums help with lifelong learning

Martin Segger’s article is yet another voice of someone who knows what he is talking about who supports building a world-class museum in an inclusive, ­participative way.

Museums, libraries and art galleries are the people’s universities that foster lifelong learning for all and celebrate our shared history and gradual accumulation of knowledge of our environment and ways of life.

A world-class museum would — like all cultural initiatives — provide a return on investment to our governments and the local/provincial economies.

After nearly 16 years of systematic underfunding of our education, health and cultural systems by a previous regime, surely the increased provincial investment that is occurring in education, health and non-market housing can be increased at the same time as funding is increased in our cultural industries as we evolve into a province in which all share in the benefits of our emerging knowledge-based economy and society.

Martin Segger’s excellent and informed contribution to a wider discussion is invaluable and I trust people who are concerned about working together to build a B.C. that celebrates and invests in economic, social and environmental ­justice will read it and respond.

Ron Faris

Proposed museum plan a financial bomb

The first inkling that John Horgan was out of touch with us was when his throat cancer was detected and he appeared on television to announce the prognosis, and begged British Columbians to ­contact their own doctor with any health concerns. That went over well with the thousands in the province who do not have the luxury of a family doctor or the ability to have a health concern dealt with as promptly.

When gasoline prices shot up, he thoughtfully suggested we should cut back on our driving, combine shopping trips with our friends or neighbours and other such platitudes, overlooking the fact that for thousands of British ­Columbians driving is their livelihood.

The final proof he has lost touch with voters across the province was when he announced, like a bomb out of the blue, that the province was preparing to spend nearly a billion dollars on a new museum for the people, all people. It will be a billion at least by the time it is finished for there is never a project in Victoria, it seems, that comes in on time and on budget. Hundreds of readers, voters, have voiced their concerns and their anger.

To me there is only one way this project can be made palatable: If were to be built as a “pedestal,” as it were, for a highrise apartment building to be built on top, with rents based on income or some such method where by some much needed housing could be included. It can be done, around the world there are examples of apartments over shopping centres, hotels built into airports, it just needs the supporters of this Horgan ­Monument to use their imagination.

The proposed museum is an outrageous financial bomb to drop on us. At least do something to make it more palatable as we prepare to say “Sayonara” to the ­Horgan NDP party at the next election.

Pamela Jackson

Make bus rides free, and more frequent

I’m in full agreement with the Green Party’s idea of doling out free bus passes (at least temporarily), and also Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ move to provide the same for youth. The latter should induce in future generations the fact there are viable alternatives to what I’m sure most, drivers included, experience as an epidemic of automobiles, particularly at rush times.

During my childhood in the innocent 1940s, when cars were still a luxury, I would travel all over Victoria by bus, to art classes and to and from school. No harm ever came to me.

Over and above riding the bus free of cost, for some at least, I suggest increasing the frequency of buses on all routes would double the attractiveness of this option. Having to frequently wait at least half an hour, in many cases after missing a bus, makes me appreciate why many are reluctant to give up using their cars.

For the sake of the planet, as well as affordability, I would like to see more buses on our roads. In time, they would hopefully pay for themselves.

Mary Andrews

Blocking highways is a criminal offence

Monday saw the first Victoria Day parades on the Island since 2019. An event that takes months of planning and loads of volunteers to ensure the safety of not just participants, but also those who come out to watch. I was happy be able to join in the Cumberland parade with my horse London. Watching the children smile at the sight of a horse makes all the preparation more than worth it. Even the adults were smiling.

However, the same did not hold true for Victoria’s parade, which included the Save Old Growth crew with a banner vowing to resume their annoying and hazardous highway blockades starting June 13.

It is a criminal offence to block a highway, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Nearly 900 people signed the Clear The Road petition since the last bout of illegal road actions. We call on police organizations to utilize their powers to keep traffic flowing so that residents can make the ferry, get to work and school and appointments, and otherwise go about their business unhindered.

Tamara Meggitt

Need more coverage of girls’ and women’s sports

I have been disappointed for a long time about the lack of stories in the Sports section about girls’ and women’s sports. I wrote you about this a few years ago, with no result or reply. So, to quantify the contents of the Sports section, I counted the stories from March 20 through May 20. There were 405 stories ­relating to men and boys, 51 stories relating to women and girls (sometimes only a ­picture and caption) and 38 that referred to both.

Surely girls and women played more sports, there was more happening in organizations involving female athletes, and more about individual athletes and even female sports reporters that the Times Colonist could, with a little interest and effort, write about. Six of the 51 stories were about the same women’s curling team throughout one tournament.

A paltry effort. You can, and should, do better — for the athletes, those who ­support them and the 51% of the population who might read your publication if there were more in it that reflected us.

Lee Ann Porteous


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