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Letters Oct. 3: Action along with the acknowledgement; power and depth of the South Island Powwow; a waterfront inspiration from Oslo

The Opera House in Oslo, Norway. A letter-writer says it’s an inspiration for what can be done at Victoria Harbour. Rafał Konieczny, via Wikipedia

We need action along with acknowledgement

For some time I have felt that the customary acknowledgement in public and private gatherings of Indigenous people’s history, their husbanding of the land and their rights and entitlements does not go far enough if it is intended to contribute to reconciliation.

What is missing is a statement of commitment to actively engaging with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with a view to changing the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the dominant settler-created society.

By actively engaging, I mean anything from familiarizing oneself with the experience and current position of Indigenous peoples to donating to organizations which work for Indigenous well-being to joining such organizations.

Simply acknowledging Indigenous people and their history in what has become a routine procedure, albeit modified from time to time, may not take us beyond raising and maintaining awareness.

Rennie Warburton


Connection to humanity on display at Powwow

On Saturday I attended the Powwow at Royal Athletic Park. I am not Indigenous but have European ancestry. I am not religious but maintain a deeply spiritual practice.

Upon entering the park, the drums, dancing and singing began. The power and depth of this was so strong that I was brought to tears with no words, mental understanding or images that came to mind.

Only tears and a sense of belonging and yearning.

Later I reflected about how one culture could, through abuse and ignorance, desire for material gains, and an uninformed sense of superiority, attempt to eliminate another culture that had so much to offer spiritually and environmentally.

I feel so blessed and grateful, that after years of experiencing abuse and cultural suppression, the First Nations are cultivating a return of their heritage, and are still willing to share so much of their beauty, knowledge and strength to all who are interested, in spite of our ugly history of interaction with them – a testament to the Indigenous Peoples’ deep connection to humanity in its purest form.

Thank you to all those involved in the Powwow.

Elfrida Schragen


Oslo’s opera house could be an inspiration

A performing arts centre at Ship Point? The Sydney Opera House has been ­suggested as an example, but a more applicable one would be the Oslo Opera House.

This innovative example of architecture and urban design has people walking all over it and even skiing down it in the winter months.

Imagine at Ship Point a performing arts centre accommodating acoustically tuned rooms on the inside and a series of landscaped terraces on the outside.

Imagine interior spaces that would celebrate and accommodate the abundance of musical and performing art talent on Vancouver Island.

Imagine the exterior being a series of landscaped terraces that would celebrate Victoria as “The City of Gardens.”

Imagine Victoria as “The Prague of the Pacific” celebrating and accommodating cultural tourism.

Imagine the decks and terraces with restaurants and coffee bars.

Imagine an architectural composition, a quartet of significant buildings: the Legislature, the CPR building and the Empress Hotel, all designed by ­Francis Rattenbury, and a new performing arts centre encircling our Inner ­Harbour.

Imagine that the landscaped terrace could celebrate, in the form of a ­permanent exhibition, our native plant materials.

Imagine the final terraces as they meet the water, in the form of an amphitheatre, accommodating various performing arts venues.

Just imagine what we could achieve. A literal and cultural landmark for the capital city.

Terence Williams



The goal is nirvana, but the result is slavery

Re: “We need a great turnaround in ­societal values,” column, Oct. 1.

Once again, Dr. Trevor Hancock has presented a collectivist thesis arguing for communal living concomitant with the end of individualism, personal gain, and the private ownership of the means of production.

In short, he is determined to bring us to the collectivist nirvana as practiced in the past by V.I. Lenin and Josef Stalin.

He cites as proof, or at least as sources, three international think tanks, whose members range from dozens of economic thinkers to five guys in a room, all being led by The Tellus Institute for a Great Transition.

This organization’s goals seem credible on the surface until you drill down to the methods of achieving those goals.

The methods? Complete change in cultural values (which are the core of any individual’s life), and in the ways we produce, consume and live.

No longer will we be able to decide for ourselves what and how we produce; a higher power will do that for us. No longer will we be able to consume as we wish; the higher power will do that for us, too.

No longer will we be able to live where and how we choose; we will be told where and how to do that. There will be no individual anymore; just the collective good.

This is not life. It is physical and emotional slavery.

Brought to you by Dr. Trevor Hancock and friends.

David Hansen


It’s time to move the Goldstream highway

It is long past the time to re-engineer and replace the most sub-standard single-lane, 60 km/h section of the Trans-Canada Highway through Goldstream Provincial Park.

No other place in Canada would tolerate such a substandard and only main road into a community of 400,000 residents.

What is the matter with us? We have already built a road in the most sensitive part of the Goldstream Watershed, namely along the river.

And we dumped 40,000 litres of diesel fuel into the river some 20 years ago and killed lots of fish, thanks to a crash. Remember?

We need to relocate the road, which we call a highway, farther uphill into the Goldstream River watershed and continue the alignment west of Shawnigan Lake and into the Cowichan Valley north of Duncan.

There are logging roads all through that area. The fish in the river would thank us.

The new road would not go through the Sooke Lake Watershed, the source of our drinking water. The right-of-way should be wide enough for six lanes, a future double-track rail line, and room for future infrastructure needs. We’d finally get the chance to do it right, once and for all.

In the mid-1990s the B.C. government transferred lands between the Sooke Lake Watershed and Shawnigan Lake to the Capital Regional District for recreation purposes. The CRD, in its wisdom, renamed these lands The Watershed Reserve Lands.

None of it is in the Sooke Lake watershed. It is in the Goldstream River Watershed, where the existing road is as well.

Relocating the highway would solve the issues with a single-lane road incapable of safely handling 30,000 vehicles a day – and probably 40,000 or more passengers in those vehicles daily.

It would also offer Goldstream River much more environmental protection than it has now.

Let’s get over this absolute nonsense that all roads are somehow evil. If you truly believe that, maybe someone will remind you of that if you are ever in an ambulance needing to get to a hospital.

Chris Foord

Retired transportation planner

Oak Bay

No one really knows opinions in Saanich

In response to Saanich’s amendments to the implementation of the People, Parks and Pets strategy, some decried a lack of democracy in the process.

Rest assured, democracy is alive and well.

First off: Those outside the district are entitled to their opinions, but are not on the hook for the $7 million capital and ongoing costs of this plan. Nor are these likely their nearest parks. Saanich is firstly accountable to its own residents.

On the strategy, Saanich commissioned a report from a firm outside the community with no stake in the community. Input and feedback on the report were solicited from Saanich residents, be they in support, concerned with some measures, or entirely opposed.

In response to public input, which Coun. Colin Plant described as “90 per cent in opposition,” council proposed changes to mitigate some of residents’ concerns.

Perhaps short of a referendum, this seems perfectly democratic.

Furthermore, calling those opposed to the draft pets strategy “special interests” or a “vocal minority” is simply wrong.

I am categorically opposed to Saanich’s original draft pets strategy. In my opinion, it does not fit with my neighbourhood.

Yet, I am disappointed to admit I have not written a letter to the editor, have not attended a council meeting, nor have I stood at a protest.

How many more are quietly opposed to the plan, or in support? Let us at least agree that no one really knows.

Shaun Cembella


Give off-leash dogs a couple more hours

In drafting a new animal bylaw, Saanich council is to be commended for trying to find a compromise that balances the needs of park users who walk their dogs off leash, people who walk their pets on leash, and park users who prefer, for a variety of valid reasons, not to encounter off-leash dogs.

Council is proposing that its natural parks can be off-leash between 6 and 9 a.m. My suggestion is to extend that time slot to 11 a.m. Nobody wants to walk their dog in the dark.

Sunrise these days is after 7 a.m., effectively cutting the allowable window by one hour, and by late winter sunrise is 8 a.m. It would also help seniors who have a slower start to the day.

Theresa Kerin


Put responsibility on the dog’s owner

Regarding problem dogs and leash laws, what is needed is a law – but not about leashes or parks.

A simple law of general application enacted by the province that says the owner of an animal is responsible for any loss or damage caused by their animal.

Manitoba has had such a law for decades (now called the Animal Liability Act).

That law places the responsibility where it belongs: “… the owner of an animal is liable for damages resulting from harm that the animal causes to a person or to property …”

I am advised that B.C. has considered such a law, however the farming community poses a political obstacle. We are left with a patchwork quilt of municipal bylaws.

Robert A. Reimer




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