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Letters Sept. 30: Reject pay-parking at CRD parks; train physician assistants in B.C.; we need better ferry service

A pay-parking kiosk at Thetis Lake. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Keep our park system accessible to all

The proposal for paid parking in Capital Regional District parks would see existing rates at two parks increase by some 300 per cent in just three years, and nine parks where there is no charge to park would have fees.

One could be fairly certain that it would not be long before paid parking would be implemented in all CRD parks. For many, a vehicle is the only way for them to enjoy our parks, and our parks are meant to be for all regardless of the ability to pay an extra fee.

Just over two years ago, the CRD board of the day rejected this same basic proposal — and there were many good reasons for that rejection.

Every dwelling unit in the CRD pays a levy towards the operation of our regional parks and will continue to do so regardless of the additional parking charge. This is little more than a user fee with the funds collected not even being used to benefit the specific park they were collected in, but just to bolster general revenue.

While I understand the financial pressures that the CRD faces with our parks, I cannot support this proposal. The same amount of money, if absolutely necessary, could easily be raised by a small increase to the regional requisition.

I urge the public to write to the board and express their opinions and I urge the board to once again reject this proposal.

Let’s continue to keep our amazing regional park system accessible for all.

David Screech

View Royal

Our regional parks should have free access

Re: “Fees to park at regional parks to be debated next month,” Sept. 28.

Free access to the many parks and trails all over the Capital Regional District is a big part of what makes Victoria and Vancouver Island special.

Visits to parks are not always destination trips. Some people might drop in for a few minutes to walk their dog, take a little stroll, pull over to eat a take-out lunch, play with grandchildren for a few moments, or take a long hike to explore.

Parks should be for everybody. Dealing with the hassle/anxiety/enforcement/expense of pay parking diminishes those moments.

Think of the example set by the United Kingdom where one of their most significant assets, the national museums, are free admission. There is a reason for that.

Please, let’s stay civilized, and keep one of our most significant assets, our parks, free to access for everyone.

Jim McBride


True user fees in parks would apply to all users

The “user fees” being bandied about for access to the best Capital Regional District parks aren’t really “user fees” — they are “driving fees” since they target parking.

According to reports, new “user fees” are being considered only for the CRD parks which are served by transit. So make way for dogs, strollers, kids, paddle boards and kayaks to ride on the bus.

Of course, we can be sure buses will serve all those CRD parks every 15 minutes. Ha, ha, ha.

One of the most popular parks, Thetis Lake, has service every 30 minutes and hourly on the weekends.

Here’s a challenge: Ask Google Maps to get you to East Sooke Park using B.C. Transit. It qualifies as a present day saga.

No, if CRD parks need funding, then let’s introduce true user fees: Put a 10-foot fence around each of the CRD parks. Charge an admission fee to get through the gates and help pay for the fences.

Mike Mitchell


Let’s train our own physician assistants

Re: “Physician assistants could soon be licensed to work in B.C.,” Sept. 28.

Having lived in the United States for many years, I am familiar with physician assistants from a patient’s perspective. I strongly support their addition to the B.C. approved list of medical professionals.

I have two suggestions:

• Rapidly expand their use beyond emergency rooms.

• Immediately fund a physician assistant program in two or more B.C. universities or colleges. Ideally, there would be one in the Greater Vancouver area, one in the Interior and one on Vancouver Island.

Rapidly educating a new group of P.A.’s will be the most effective way, both in timeliness and cost, to address the chronic shortage of medical staff.

This problem will not be solved by raiding other provinces or countries for staff. That only shifts the problem. We can have a B.C.-based, homegrown solution.

Brent Bitz


Natural densification preserves neighbourhood

Victoria’s missing middle bylaw was a poor one, passed by a mayor and council who misled the public in the first place.

Dozens of members of the public who supported the bylaw changes spoke at length at council meetings of the desperate need for affordable housing. Dozens of others, against the bylaw, spoke of how building million-dollar townhouses would do nothing to help affordability.

The mayor and council were silent on this question, until a few days after, when Mayor Marianne Alto began to acknowledge that missing middle would not indeed help with affordability problems.

The mayor and council disingenuously misled the supporters of missing middle by not admitting this when it was presented and discussed.

The only thing missing middle will accomplish is to densify and alter the character of lovely neighborhoods which people have chosen to live in as they are.

During the 30-plus years I have lived in Fernwood, there has been a natural process of densification. Small older homes are replaced with larger new ones, often two to a lot, or duplexes, thus doubling or quadrupling the density.

I have had no objections. The changes have preserved the character of the neighborhood and usually the older homes razed have not been particularly appealing architecturally.

The new ones have not been too large, as will be the case when the missing middle townhouses are built.

Richard Volet


Ferry travellers deserve service standards

Re: “B.C. Ferries public consultations moved online after threats,” Sept. 28.

I have no tolerance for threats, keying of vehicles or abusive behaviour to staff or any one else. Yes, a zero tolerance policy.

However, when things escalate to this extent there must be a disconnect between the company service and the customer expectations.

Customers of B.C. Ferries should have an agreed-upon service expectation and penalties when they are not met.

Perhaps the airline travellers’ rules for compensation for cancelled flights might be used as a template for a similar set of rules for compensation to the travellers who have booked and paid for a reservation in advance and had their trip cancelled.

Pamela Day

Port Alberni

Customers are disgusted by ferry service

Re: “B.C. Ferries public consultations moved online after threats,” Sept. 28.

No wonder people get frustrated when they do not see any improvement and get fed canned platitudes by a spokesperson in Victoria.

Pay a decent wage that will enable crews, engineers and officers to earn a living. Like every other business, costs have exploded, so raise the fares and pay your employees properly.

I wonder if the people appointed to the B.C. Ferries board have ever attended a public meeting and listened to the public express their disgust with the service they are paid handsomely to provide?

M.J. Berry



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