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Letters April 17: Ferry committees unpaid, but dedicated; UVic event shows future is in good hands

A ferry travels toward Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. A letter-writer suggests criticism of ferry advisory committees fails to grasp the dedication of the unpaid residents who contribute to the process. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Ferry committees work for better service

Re: “Schedules work against Gulf Islands ferry users,” commentary, April 12.

Many members and chairs of ferry advisory committees are disheartened to see the statement that “the ferry advisory committees are sometimes run by people who are out of touch with the islands they are supposed to represent, and in some cases by people not even living on the island.”

The writer suggested that B.C. Ferries listen to local citizens, but he is obviously ignorant about the advisory committees. Has he attended any committee meeting or put his name forward for consideration for the committee?

Members of these committees are volunteers, nominated within the community, and appointed by B.C. Ferries. Many hours of our time is committed to listening to community residents and advocating for better service to B.C. Ferries, while also being an information conduit from B.C. Ferries to residents.

Although it is often a thankless “job,” we all do it because we want to make our communities a better place to live. Reading the uninformed comments made about FACs calls into question the integrity and relevance of all FAC members and diminishes the important work we do that, for the most part, our communities truly appreciate.

Thirteen Ferry Advisory Committees for Coastal B.C.

UVic champions event was an inspiration

Last week, as part of the University of Victoria’s Celebration of Champions, recognizing the top student-athletes at the school, I was honoured with the Times Colonist Publisher’s Award for Community Contribution.

This recognized my work as public address announcer at Vikes sports events. It’s a natural gift I was given, and goes to show that one never knows how sharing one’s gifts can have a positive impact on others.

But that’s not what I’m writing about. Being “on the mike” when athletes are generally “in the zone,” I don’t get to see much about them beyond how well they create space on the field or what their outside shooting is like.

The evening was an opportunity to see some 450 young people and hear about their accomplishments.

I came away in awe. I lost track of the number of national and conference titles UVic student-athletes won in the past school year, but beyond that, I found three important take-aways.

One was the unbridled enthusiasm these young people showed, especially as each team tried to out-do the others in cheering for their teammates.

Another was the dedication each of the athletes demonstrated.

But the most important point, to me, was the number of high grade-point averages, in fields like biochemistry and pre-medicine.

With so many awful things being reported these days, I left the event with a sense that — pardon the cliche — the future is in really good hands.

Drew Snider


We need more housing, but the land is taken

I am concerned about Central Saanich’s proposed expropriation of land on Hovey Road.

I don’t understand why the municipality cannot build the new facilities they say they need on the land they already own where the Municipal Hall is located. It’s a large piece of property, with a lot of asphalt and a grassy area.

It seems particularly strange to have council repeatedly telling us of the need for housing in our community while at the same time overriding plans for a facility that would house many people with plans that won’t provide any housing.

It is concerning to learn that the owners of the land would have proceeded with their plans earlier if Island Health had been more proactive.

Rosemary Harrison

Central Saanich

Don’t take that land for a new town hall

It’s hard to believe the district of Central Saanich is expropriating lands to build a new town hall, lands destined to be used to construct a long-term care facility. Insanity.

Rather than continuing to maintain the status quo and duplicating facilities, it’s high time the provincial government amalgamates Sidney, North Saanich and Central Saanich.

Carl Eriksen

Central Saanich

Socialism, regulation have stifled housing

My dad, David Hummel, was a lawyer and real estate developer in Victoria in the 1960s. He built, among other properties, Glen Gary and Glen Warren skilled nursing homes.

No Island Health permission or “request for proposals” were needed. He simply saw a need and responded to market signals. They both filled up immediately and were a financial success. He later built a third one in Prince George. Same result.

Dad became frustrated with the regulatory environment in B.C. and moved out of the country in 1971 and never did another project there.

My mom still lives in Victoria. Sadly, we had to move her into assisted living two years ago. There was almost nothing to choose from, and what little we found was about 50 per cent more expensive than a comparable facility here in the States.

Dad saw the writing on the wall. Creeping socialism and excessive regulation have resulted in the creation of a “shortage” of senior housing. This is part of the reason Canadian per capita GDP is roughly one-third less than U.S. per capita GDP. Coincidence?

Saanich should find somewhere else to build monuments to government and let private enterprise work its magic. Island Health should get out of the way.

I love the land of my birth, but God help you.

Michael D. Hummel

Portland, Oregon

Progressive ideas, not proven nor practical

What exactly is the City of Victoria doing in the jazz bar business?

It’s a question worth pondering as we see our city dive headfirst into the ownership of Hermann’s Jazz Club — a venture that raises eyebrows about the prioritization of municipal resources.

Last time I checked, the symphony enjoyed a banner year, showcasing that the arts can indeed thrive in Victoria without the heavy hand of government intervention.

Meanwhile, the Victoria Conservatory of Music, an institution woven into the cultural fabric of our community, continues to enhance our city’s vibrancy, on the most challenging corner of Victoria no less.

This organization has not only managed to survive but to thrive as a beacon of artistic excellence, all while navigating the challenges presented by a city that seems to glance elsewhere.

Why then, does the city deem the acquisition of a struggling jazz bar (albeit one with a proud legacy) — a private enterprise that couldn’t make it on its own — a higher priority than bolstering a proven stalwart like the Victoria Conservatory of Music?

This is not just a question of funding allocations; it’s about the principles of governance and the judicious use of taxpayer money.

Frankly, the priorities of Victoria council have in recent years always been a head-scratcher. It often seems that our city’s leadership has a penchant for the “progressive” — at the expense of the practical, proven and common sense.

Alejandro Ho


We need to get tough on drug use in hospitals

Re: “Falcon says he’d ban open drug use in hospitals,” April 13.

As a nurse with 44 years’ experience, I applaud this vision.

I was working as a manager eight years ago when a patient went into his bathroom and killed himself with an OD using a drug not prescribed by his physician.

The article says hospital staff will “ensure illicit drugs are only used … under direction of the health-care team.”

The five rights to ensure safe medication administration, which every nurse is held to as a standard of care, will not be possible when the patient pulls out a plastic bag of powder and asks for a free syringe to inject it with.

Matt King, RN-BC, BSN, MSN


Work at the hospital to get the real information

I was horrified to learn from the news and recent letters to the Times Colonist of the drug abuse and related issues overtaking our hospitals. The details are chilling.

To Health Minister Adrian Dix, whom I have respected and admired over the last few years:

This situation is absolutely unacceptable. You need to get this fixed without further delay, diversion or study. Perhaps you and your staff could help out in person by going on site, taking shifts a few nights a week.

Wait … that isn’t your job? That isn’t what you signed up for? Welcome to the health care club.

Here’s a suggestion for your upcoming hospital shifts: Wear a disguise so you can experience the full weight of this daily crisis. Then maybe, with your newly opened eyes, you could you start actually fixing something.

Mike Mitchell


Our medical system is second to none

Over a period of six days, my husband was in Emergency, the Telemetry Ward and ICU at the Comox Valley Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a very rare condition called swallowing syncope.

He was taken by ambulance to Royal Jubilee Hospital, had a state-of-the-art pacemaker put in, and monitored to make sure he was OK before being discharged.

Because this is such a rare condition, he underwent heart monitoring, blood pressure tests, EKG, X-rays and a CAT scan. He is home now, hale and hearty, looking forward to getting back on his motorcycle and getting on with gardening.

We are so thankful for all the care, patience, professionalism and kindness of all the medical staff both locally and at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

If you have any doubt about our medical system, you need only to have been in our shoes this past week to know that we are second to none in our medical care.

Karen and Karl Langenmaier


Pool short-term units, create a new business

Re: “ ‘Devastated’ short-term rentals owners battle B.C. and Victoria,” April 13.

The article mentions that the building used to be operated as a hotel. The owners of this and other similar buildings could just get together and merge their units into a new hotel business.

It could even possibly save them money, as administration and maintenance costs would be shared.

Alan Pater


When higher density helps pay for low density

Re: “Fix our problems with amalgamation,” letter, April 13.

Let’s think about all the shared costs of car use.

There’s the “free” roads, “free” parking, all the public health costs from accidents and inactive lifestyles, and increased housing costs due to parking requirements, to name just a few.

Cycling, by contrast, has a net long-term benefit for society. Bike lanes are significantly cheaper to maintain once built, cycling is wonderful for your health, and all the money saved by cycling is more likely to be spent at locally owned small businesses than at foreign-owned corporate big box stores on the outskirts of town.

One big shared cost of driving is the increased infrastructure expenses to sustain car-dependent residential areas. It simply takes more asphalt, piping and wiring per person to supply low-density areas, and maintaining that infrastructure is expensive.

The property taxes raised from suburbs do not come anywhere remotely close to the true long-term cost of maintaining them. Supposedly wealthy suburbs are running massive deficits once their infrastructure debt is taken into account, and Oak Bay with its half-billion dollars in infrastructure debt is a prime example.

Municipalities habitually service this debt with a Ponzi-like expansion of new developments. The unfunded maintenance costs take a few decades to really kick in, and until that happens the extra revenue — from taxes on the new properties — looks like responsible governance.

When this scheme stops working, perhaps because the ocean got in the way, they raid the coffers of sustainable and financially responsible urban neighbourhoods through measures like amalgamation.

Remember this context when you see arguments like those presented in the letter. The writer is effectively demanding that their lifestyle be paid for by others — by those who live in higher-density areas or get around without a car.

Michael van der Kamp



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