Letters Aug. 5: Face masks; music in the park; re-opening Topaz

Wear a mask when you go out to eat

We recently visited one of our favourite restaurants for the first time since COVID-19 came into all of our lives.

When I approached the door there were 17 in front of me and the line quickly grew behind me.

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That was good to see, but very disappointing to see that not one person other than myself had a mask on, including none of the staff. Outside, lots of people at tables, not one mask in sight.

Will we go back? No.

Not unless and until the restaurant owners start to get serious in encouraging people entering their enclosed quarters facility, including their staff, to wear a mask.

Allan Mactier
Sidney/North Saanich

A park that is music to our ears

Finally, some lovely sounds coming from Beacon Hill Park.

Thanks to the trumpet player on Monday afternoon playing beautiful melodic tunes drifting over the park’s landscape. Made for a soothing enjoyable holiday afternoon.

John Vanden Heuvel

How long before Topaz can be opened?

The province, in concert and with the full support of the City of Victoria, placed hundreds of people from the street in Topaz Park by mid-April.

The result was chaos and as most Victorians know, placement for many of those in Topaz across the street into the hotel formerly known as the Comfort Inn. As reported by the Times Colonist, Topaz Park was vacated on or about May 20.

Since May 20, the south area of the park, including the entire south field, washrooms, dog park and children’s play area, have been fenced off due to unsafe conditions.

The City of Victoria has told me that B.C. Housing is responsible for the remediation and cleanup of the park. B.C. Housing has told me that work will begin soon.

Will it be weeks or months until the park opens? If anyone knows, they are not saying.

In the meantime, the B.C. government, B.C. Housing and the City of Victoria were able to purchase multiple hotels to house the people who were camping at Topaz (and other parks). This happened quickly and cost millions of dollars.

Yet Topaz Park continues to be closed. Surely the cost to remediate Topaz Park is a fraction of what has been spent on hotels such as the Comfort Inn.

Further, it begs the question: When campers are removed from Beacon Hill and the city/province complete the remediation work, will all areas of Beacon Hill be fenced off? How long will this take?

Jeff Peters

Encampments might be endless

When Victoria city councillors meet to discuss falling revenues, hopefully delaying non-urgent capital projects (like new bike lanes, a “nice to have” from any perspective) will be a no-brainer.

Then there are the ever-increasing costs of endlessly moving encampments, followed by remediation of each disastrous mess that is predictably left behind.

The province has opted to spend millions to acquire hotels for the homeless, then more to staff and to maintain them, but camping on city property just isn’t going away.

Why not buy or repurpose a large field, fence and equip it with toilet facilities and running water, and make that the permanent and only place where homeless camping is allowed?

The bigger question is, are we fooling ourselves into thinking that urban camping is a short-term issue, or do we want to accept it as a permanent lifestyle that should be freely supported by tax dollars forever?

Thoughtful planning and longer term solutions seem necessary.

Cheryl Conrad

Islands Trust needs to have greater power

Re: “Development has put Gulf Islands in death spiral,” commentary, August 2.

Thank goodness Frants Attorp has the courage to speak up about the sad and divisive situation on the Gulf Islands.

The Gulf Islands are protected for all of B.C., yet island residents are expected to meet social and environmental obligations with fewer powers and financial resources than urban centres.

In addition to the housing crunch, challenges include spiralling property taxes; bylaw enforcement so weak that zoning is becoming a joke; and clear-cutting that threatens already scarce ground and surface drinking water sources.

If the islands are to be recognizable in the future as a unique and wondrous place, the province needs to step up with funding as it did when the protected area was created half a century ago, and to provide the Islands Trust with greater powers to designate housing for specific local needs and regulate logging on private land.

Maxine Leichter
Salt Spring Island

It’s a good time to quit Site C

Increasingly dire reports of the instability of the land on which the Site C dam is being built are deeply troubling.

Premier John Horgan blames COVID-19 for the increased costs and the failure to meet the dam’s timeline.

Nice try, but the geophysical concerns have been around for a good long time. They’re only getting worse.

The market for oil is down the tubes and unlikely to make a comeback soon or maybe ever. Site C is primarily in service of LNG. Its market is also in deep trouble.

Horgan missed his first opportunity to shut Site C down shortly after his election. He has a perfect opportunity now to pull the plug before further billions are invested in a dam which may be unbuildable, or if built, so expensive we will be up to our necks in debt.

On top of the economic impacts of COVID-19, this is not a pretty picture.

Halting Site C would save us from throwing good money after bad, honour First Nations’ sacred unceded territory, and save the great swath of rich agricultural land that will be ever more valuable as the climate warms. The time is now to get out while the getting’s good.

Dorothy Field

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