Letters April 28: Macdonald statue; value of music education

Macdonald belongs in Bastion Square

The John A. Macdonald statue, an excellent statue presentation of Canada’s first prime minister (and Victoria’s MP from 1875 to 1882) was removed from its location at Victoria City Hall and placed in some dark and dusty place in 2018 without any public input or public understanding of its relocation site.

Cathy Blackstock said, at a public session, that “it is important to make space for both sides of an issue, to avoid reducing figures, such as ­Macdonald, with one-dimensional ‘evil doers’.” In other words, there is much positiveness in the life of ­Macdonald, while on the other hand, some negative positioning.

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Mayor Lisa Helps acknowledged at this session, for the first time, that it was important to find an appropriate home for the Macdonald statue.

I trusted her statement that something would be done, to select a location for the statue, but to date nothing has taken place to remove the statue from storage and to find a new location to place it, as hoped by many residents.

The time is good, so let us now invite our public, to support our mayor in finding a great new location for the statue. Before this year end, at the very least, the city should finalize the location.

Since the canoe structure once located in Bastion Square has been relocated to the Wharf and Pandora intersection, Bastion Square could be an excellent new location for the relocated Macdonald statue.

Donald Roughley
Former Victoria city manager

Land-based salmon pens are best answer

Re: “Salmon farming is clean, sustainable, innovative and local,” commentary, April 6.

Genny West’s commentary promoting industrial farmed salmon in the Discovery Islands area skirts around the major concern of both governments and citizens — using open-net pens to farm Atlantic salmon in critical ocean areas negatively impacts B.C.’s wild salmon stocks.

Fact: Disease, sea lice, contaminated seabeds, escaped Atlantic salmon all occur with open-net pens.

West’s employer, Norwegian owned ScaleAQ, produces the technology for the aquaculture industry and builds the pens.

In Norway, no new open-net pens are allowed; all farming must be land-based in the future as their wild salmon have almost been wiped out.

Only land-based recirculatory aquaculture systems are “clean, sustainable and innovative” and the jobs and fish product will still be available.

Isolating Atlantic farmed salmon from B.C.’s wild salmon stocks is ­critical now. Using closed containment pens with land-based recirculatory systems will cost industry more than using our free coastal waters, but it will protect wild salmon runs and stop the environmental contamination.

West commends ScaleAQ for “innovation and cleaner technologies,” so I have no doubt ScaleAQ can successfully transition to land-based pens in B.C, as aquaculture has done in Norway.

Our wild salmon stocks deserve this. I support our government’s long-overdue decision.

Sherry Saunderson
Cobble Hill

Encourage music, do not cut it

I have benefited from a life in music for 75 years as a student, teacher, parent, examiner, festival adjudicator, and performer and have seen first-hand the convincing value of music taught in the schools.

For many years there have been countless studies proving that the study of music, whether through listening, or in particular playing an instrument, has far-reaching benefits for all other disciplines as well.

Lawrie McFarlane’s logical solutions and Geoff Johnson’s insightful arguments should be read and re-read by all current school board members.

Music in the schools is not a luxury or a frill! It is an invaluable element of any student’s education and should be encouraged, not cut!

Dr. Robert Skelton
Cobble Hill

A lifetime of joy thanks to music in school

I have read many letters from students and teachers outlining the many benefits of music programs, and pleading with the Greater Victoria School District not to cut music programs.

I fully support them, and want to add a slightly different perspective: Music programs are not only a benefit during school years, but develop skills and a gifts that last a lifetime.

I am a senior now, and still as passionate about playing music as I was in the school band where I first learned to play.

There was money or opportunity for private lessons at that time, but I learned to play the flute from my Grade 8 band teacher, who was a trumpet player.

I did not make music my career, but as an adult I returned to serious flute studies at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

Since that time I have played in many ensembles and community orchestras, sung in many choirs, and even directed a flute choir and a handbell choir!

I have met many wonderful musicians who have become precious friends. As a volunteer I have played for countless community events, weddings, fundraisers, church services, memorials, music festivals and in long-term care facilities.

I still practise most days. I listen to a wide variety of music … instrumental and choral, classical, pop, folk. It is infinitely nourishing and I will never tire of it.

Every spring I step out on my deck to listen to the Reynolds Band prepare to march in the Victoria Day Parade. They start out scrappy, and end up sounding and looking sharp.

I am so grateful for all of it, and it would never have happened without the fine start I was given in a school band. To my former teachers, thank you! And please, no cuts to music ­programs in school.

Hanne Fair
Victoria

Music to our ears, and it’s worth paying for

Of course we can have music programs in our schools.

We just have to be willing to pay for them through increased taxes so that other worthy programs don’t get cut. Put me down as a yes to music.

Jamie Alley
Victoria

The value of music is a lifetime asset

I couldn’t agree more with Geoff Johnson’s commentary in Sunday’s Islander on the educational value of music.

Of the 12 years of public schooling, I think my two-and-half years in the high school choir left an impact on my life greater than any other subject and that was 70 years ago.

We were introduced to all sorts of music and had to prepare for school music conventions, operettas and special presentations such as for Christmas, Easter and Remembrance Day.

I remember vividly at a high school music convention, 450 of us students singing to an audience. What a thrilling and emotional experience.

Being in a choir, you are a part of the whole. You learn harmony, counter point, timing, and the skill of working with others and lastly an appreciation of music and the emotions than can be generated by it as well. It is a lifetime asset.

Robert Winkenhower
Victoria

Cut management and save music programs

A big thank you to Geoff Johnson for explaining the incredibly important role that music plays in the education of our children. It has been proven over and over again that a good music program increases the ability of young minds (and old!) to keep learning well and brings balance to our lives.

And a big thank you to Lawrie McFarlane for showing where the school district can start cutting costs! It is sad but true that top-heavy bureaucracies keep “protecting their turf.” It happens at all levels in large organizations.

Remember in the 1970s when B.C. Telephone (as it then was) faced severe financial disaster? The board of directors decided to “cut the fat,” got rid of one-third of middle management, and phone service did not suffer.

We need strong leaders who can make tough decisions and are not afraid to risk push-back from folks raised on entitlement.

Natexa Verbrugge
Saanich

Essential travel? Depends who you ask

Ferry passengers will be asked if their travel is essential. Do you truly believe that anyone who has packed the car and shown up at the ferry terminal, when asked: “Is this travel essential?” will reply “Well, no, not really.”

Just double the fares. That should discourage a few potential passengers. People with a genuine need to travel can submit receipts and proof of need later and receive a partial refund.

Sharon White
Victoria

A serious idea for cutting ferry traffic

If we are serious about cutting back on ferry travel, we could limit travel to millionaires.

Ferry workers would ask each driver: “Are you a millionaire?” If the answer is “Yes,” they would be allowed to board.

If the answer is “No,” they would have to turn around and go back.

This should solve our ferry travel problem.

Joel Newman
Victoria

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