Letters April 7: High marks for Victoria council; this council does not speak for all

Give high marks to Victoria council

Re: “No, Victoria council is not the devil incarnate,” commentary, April 4.

I appreciate Trevor Hancock’s energetic defence of the initiatives taken by Victoria city council to improve the quality of urban living in Victoria.

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As Hancock noted, Mayor Lisa Helps and the other members of council, particularly the most outspokenly progressive, received a strong public mandate at the last election to pursue their reform agenda.

The Times Colonist comment pages have mainly served as a forum for the city’s conservative and mostly privileged residents to counter even the most modest efforts to improve the urban environment and the living conditions of the homeless, the working poor and historically marginalized minority communities.

Council’s efforts have necessarily been modest, given the lack of resources and powers available to effect meaningful change at the municipal level.

But it gets high marks for trying to move in this direction, and I’m hoping it will continue to enjoy widespread public support despite the best efforts of its opponents to generate a backlash against it.

Marvin Gandall
Victoria

Those bike lanes protect my body

Re: “No, Victoria council is not the devil incarnate,” commentary, April 4.

I don’t agree with every decision members of Victoria city council make. I certainly think they should put more energy into preserving heritage buildings and be more cautious about the construction projects they approve, so that our city keeps the beauty that visitors and residents alike enjoy.

But I agree with Trevor Hancock that the election results show that a majority of Victoria voters support, as I do, a city that values all its citizens, not just the well-to-do ones, and which takes environmental concerns seriously.

I am not able to vote in Victoria council elections, living just over the Saanich/Victoria border.

But I cycle into Victoria frequently to shop, go to church, meet friends there and appreciate the bike lanes that protect my 75-year-old body from harm.

Hancock’s column makes me realize it is time to drop the “silent” in my silent majority position, and hope that many others will join me in expressing their appreciation of the good things that Victoria council is doing for the city we love, and which is facing problems caused by historical decisions made way above the municipal level.

Chris Bullock
Saanich

Pedestrian advocates are not democracy deniers

Re: “No, Victoria council is not the devil incarnate,” commentary, April 4.

Trevor Hancock believes that Victoria’s municipal leadership deserves praise for its efforts to create a community that is more “walkable” and “bikeable.”

Worthy as these two objectives may be, they are too often rendered mutually exclusive by council’s approach to them.

Hancock pillories the numerous letter-writers who object to the city’s zealous “actions on bike lanes,” suggesting that they are somehow undemocratic for disagreeing with our elected leaders.

He apparently assumes that these objectors are all car-loving, exercise-averse climate-change deniers.

This ill-informed presumption ignores the fact that some of us who have written the letters he disparages are primarily pedestrians, who feel increasingly threatened by the city’s seemingly myopic focus on cycling at the expense of walking and running.

Enlightened transportation planning gives preference to travellers on the basis of their vulnerability, with foot traffic thus accorded the top priority.

One need only observe the chaos at the Government-Wharf corner or the new “shared” pathways along Dallas and elsewhere to realize that Victoria has misunderstood this “complete streets” concept.

Many of the complainers Hancock criticizes are not defending the automobile as “king,” as he implies, but rather are advocating for pedestrians who feel victimized by the continual imposition of biker-first council decisions.

This is a legitimate disagreement, not a discounting of democracy.

Robin Farquhar
Victoria

Negative rhetoric close to inappropriate

Re: “No, Victoria council is not the devil incarnate,” commentary, April 4.

I would like to thank Trevor Hancock for his opinion piece on current events and Victoria city council.

At a time where we are supposed to be kind and supportive of each other, the constant negative rhetoric being directed at council is becoming borderline inappropriate.

The homeless situation, compounded by the pandemic and the lack of secure housing, is well beyond the control of council. These struggles are not new and are a direct result of past inactivity by higher levels of government.

Infrastructure upgrades to the Dallas Road causeway are beautifully done, the Blue Bridge with adjoining boulevards and gardens are esthetically pleasing and the bike lanes are always full of cyclists and families taking advantage of the connections to the Selkirk waterfront.

The abundance of outdoor patio spaces accommodating downtown restaurants are a direct example of how the city is supporting business, employees and patrons alike.

Victoria council has far more complex issues to manage than other Greater Victoria municipalities, and I ask folks to reflect and take into consideration the context of a problem before criticizing.

Brian Hayward
Brentwood Bay

Victoria council does not speak for all

Re: “No, Victoria council is not the devil incarnate,” commentary, April 4.

Trevor Hancock’s opinions would be a little easier to accept if he began by recognizing the subject of his defence is but a district in a region.

The regional governance model imposed by the province provides no opportunity for the 400,000-plus residents to debate and reach consensus on any of the matters raised.

Beyond the region, the policies and actions of the “Little Victoria” council are seen by too many to reflect the will of voters in a regional community of 400,000.

Why the province permits this situation to continue defies reason.

Hancock, who teaches at what should be the University of Saanich, is correct to point out the election outcome gives Victoria council legitimacy, just not the right to appear to be speaking for the undersigned.

John Treleaven
Chair, Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater ­Victoria
Sidney

Press pause button on Richardson plan

As a property owner and taxpayer in both Oak Bay and Fairfield, I must register my protest at the ill-conceived plan to change Richardson Street.

To advance the concept of shutting down a decades-long successful arterial feeder route that has allowed bikes, cars and pedestrians to traverse the municipality with no reported problems, and force 80 per cent of existing traffic onto either Fairfield Road, Oak Bay Avenue or through adjoining Fairfield side streets makes little sense.

It appears to me that ideology has trumped common sense with this initiative and will surely play out badly in practice.

By all means, put in the bike lanes, but to block the legitimate need for car traffic to flow, even if every car were electric, will just create other serious problems for area residents.

And the idea of blocking off Foul Bay Road vehicular traffic is just plain foolish, as many residents in the immediate area have already stated.

The majority of residents will either rarely or never get on a bicycle for a variety of reasons, let alone the elderly and mobility-challenged, but car traffic will continue to be the only viable option for most.

Please press the pause button for more consultation and a redesign, as otherwise, the next council will surely have to reverse this down the road.

Tom Pink
Oak Bay

Amsterdam risky for pedestrians

Recently, someone praised the bike lanes in European cities.

From personal experience two summers ago in Amsterdam, the bike lanes are very well-marked and the traffic light systems integrate bike-lane movements, vehicle-lane movements and pedestrian crosswalks exceedingly well.

All three have their own green, amber and red lights.

The problem lies in the fact that many cyclists ignore their own red lights when pedestrians have the green light to cross streets safely.

The marvellous lane layouts and light systems are useless when some of these cyclists decide they can go whenever the vehicular traffic is stopped and totally ignore the rights of pedestrians.

Pedestrian safety seems to have low priority in Amsterdam, and you cross bicycle lanes at your own risk — always need to look both ways — do NOT assume that it is safe to cross.

David Hogg
Saanich

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