Letters Dec. 12: Religious services, vaccinations and shopping locally

Why take aim at religious services?

The Dec. 9 order by Dr. Bonnie Henry to close entirely all religious services, both indoor and outdoor, in any form, is deeply disappointing to many.

The principle problem with this order is that there is no scientific evidence that the risk of COVID-19 transmission at such religious gatherings is higher than the risk at equivalent non-religious gatherings, if the same appropriate social distancing, number of attendees, mask wearing and other measures are diligently observed.

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The virus does not distinguish between the secular or religious context of a gathering. The order also ignores or discounts the importance of worship for the improved mental health of participants.

This order is not only unsupported by evidence, but deeply discriminatory when secular gatherings on a large scale in a wide variety of contexts continue to be permitted.

We can go the mall or to a support group but we cannot carefully worship with 10 or 20 of our fellows? The church, temple or mosque is a support group!

AA is not more deserving of official preference than the worship of God. This is flagrant bigotry and discrimination, not a legitimate public health measure and it brings the reputation of our public health officials into disrepute.

Henry should rescind this order and permit religious gatherings that follow exactly the same guidelines as you have laid out for secular gatherings. We can worship carefully and contain the spread of this virus at the same time.

Anthony Roy

Victoria

Spiritual life is absolutely essential

Current religious leaders of synagogues, churches, mosques and other faith communities have a rare opportunity to declare the essential nature of spiritual faith by writing an open letter to our provincial health officer requesting the necessity to be granted a special exemption as an essential service at this time of great need.

Such an exemption would include an assembly of less than 50 people practicing social distancing, handwashing and the wearing of masks.

The practice of one’s religion is not an entertainment or exercise “event” to be grouped with holiday shopping or hot yoga.

We have permitted the bureaucratic mind to overwhelm us. In a time when peoples’ psychological and physical health is threatened by extreme isolation the communal practice of religion is even more of a fundamental need.

It seems what we’re lacking is imagination. Nothing is more essential than the spiritual life of a human being.

Doug Beardsley

Saanichton

Global effort needed for global challenges

It was inspiring to see a frail 90-year-old woman in Coventry, England, being the first person to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

About a year ago, the virus claimed its first victim. It has raged since then, ravaging life on our planet, a year etched in history. A global effort was needed to respond to this threat and although many lives were lost, we will be able to defeat the threat.

This, more than anything else, shows that we are a global community that is affected together and can work together. I wish we could show the same resolve to other global challenges like the climate change and poverty.

Surinder Kumar

Victoria

Jack says: Shop local, and follow the rules

Thank goodness that Jack Knox can bring a bit of clarity to complicated times.

A few days ago, he clearly and effectively explained the need for all of us to support local businesses rather than contribute to Jeff Bezos.

Then he provided a clear and simple explanation of what Dr. Bonnie Henry’s rules mean you can and cannot do, and why we should all follow them rather than trying to figure out ways around them.

They are there for my health and safety, and yours. Keep up the good work, Jack (and Dr. Henry).

Barry Sparkes

Colwood

When did the NDP become Liberal?

The upcoming clawback of disability support by Horgan’s NDP is unconscionable. Maybe it was politically inexpedient to raise rates before the pandemic, trying avoid the old label of the tax-and-spend party, but once rates had been raised it would have been very easy to just keep them there.

Disability rates are far, far below the poverty line and hardly enough for even the essentials of life — food and shelter, never mind any other needs.

Despite NDP rhetoric, when it comes to supporting the poor, this government is not much better than the Liberals have been, and is contributing to homelessness at pretty much the same rate.

Nathaniel Poole

Victoria

Scare developers out of Victoria

It’s so disheartening to read the nightmare Aragon Properties has had to deal with in trying to provide new housing.

All we hear about is housing problems and the Together Victoria councillors, in their naive intransigence, think they will bend developers to build, losing money, to fulfill their immature dreams.

It’s like dealing with petulant children. I honestly wonder how they don’t feel ashamed for literally scaring anyone thinking of building away from Victoria.

Look at the numbers and you will see developers for years have been moving away from the horror of trying to deal with Victoria and Saanich.

I guess as a builder I should be thanking you Victoria council for keeping housing stock so low and therefore prices so high.

Remember, you get the government you deserve.

Tim Murphy

Esquimalt

Celebrate Christmas with photographs

Christmas season is a time for families. A time to get together. This is going to look a little bit different this year. Having Christmas supper with very few loved ones is mentally affecting many.

I have a suggestion which I feel may take away some of the heartache.

At Christmas dinner, place photos of your loved ones on the table. That way, I think it will be a little bit as if they are sharing.

You are not alone. It gives me a lift and something to look forward to. It’ll work for me and I hope it will for you too. Merry Christmas everyone.

Blanche Barrett

Port Alberni

Let those in need get the benefit first

While all people in B.C. can apply for the B.C. Recovery Benefit on Dec. 18, I would like to ask that anyone who is financially secure (or who can afford to wait a bit) not rush to apply.

That way people who are in dire need of this benefit will be first in line to receive it.

Tracy Davies

Saanichton

Extreme pressure for local retailers

I have been a staunch supporter of Dr. Bonnie Henry throughout this horrible ordeal. She has brought hope and calmness and I thank her for that.

But I wish she had not have dictated the rule to not enjoy Christmas with your adult family who live in their own homes, or not even go for dinner with anyone who doesn’t live under your roof.

That change to Jan. 8 is going to put a lot of small businesses under extreme financial pressure. I was in retail for 30 years and if we didn’t have a great October, November and especially December, we would have had to find ways to cut costs for the rest of the year. Staff reductions would have been the quickest way to cut costs, but we never did that because we always had a really successful fall.

This Jan. 8 dictate is going to severely affect restaurants and small local businesses, many of which will not survive into the New Year, especially if the tourism industry takes another huge hit next summer.

Meanwhile, if you are not allowed to meet with your family and friends at your home, you can just meet with them at Costco with the other 300 strangers crammed into the store.

Paul Arnold

Saanich

City’s youth passes were a good deal

Re: “Who is looking out for Victoria’s taxpayers?” commentary, Dec. 9.

Bill Cleverley complains that under Victoria’s Youth Pass program, “thousands of passes” purchased by the city “went unused.”

Clearly, he doesn’t understand how the pricing system for the program works. The city negotiated a bulk purchase agreement with B.C. Transit, under which it paid only one-quarter of the normal price for each transit pass.

The city was given this highly discounted price per pass precisely because both parties knew that, like any universal program, not everyone would use the passes being provided.

While the pandemic has impacted transit ridership, just as it has impacted so much else, the Youth Pass program was working well before that.

Under its bulk purchase agreement with B.C. Transit, the city purchased 7,200 passes at $11.25 per pass per month, for a total of $81,000 per month.

The city issued an average of 2,367 youth passes per month over the winter, so yes, “thousands of passes went unused.”

However, if instead the city had just purchased the 2,367 passes actually issued at the full cost of $45 per pass, it would have cost $106,515 per month for those passes, $25,000 more each month that what the city paid under the agreement.

Rob Maxwell

Victoria

We want the city we have always had

Victorians, it’s time to take our city back.

No more high-rise buildings downtown. If we wanted to live in the Manhattan of the West Coast, we would have moved to Vancouver. These behemoths don’t offer lower-cost housing for young families; instead, they represent a cynical tax grab by council.

No more blocking views of the water. No more plunking modern buildings on top of old ones or parking them behind leftover facades and calling it heritage preservation.

No more taking city-owned green space andallowing developers to build housing on it (Vic High). That’s recreational land that will never come back to us.

No more allowing developers to cut down 20 bylaw-protected trees at a time in order to build town houses (902 Foul Bay).

No more expensive and pointless public works projects like the sidewalk on the north side of May Street.

No more lecturing citizens about what they should want. What we want is the city we have always lived in.

Barbara Abercrombie

Victoria

We must still work together

Re: “Man fined for refusing to wear mask in restaurant, directing cough at staff,” Dec. 8.

I am sick and tired of these people who simply refuse to abide with the COVID-19 rules that are designed to protect all of us.

The arrogance of their selfish, narcissistic behavior is outrageous and would be bothersome at the best of times, but under these circumstances it is appalling.

If you don’t like the rules here in Canada, then I suggest you move to another country. The bottom line is that we must collectively work together to subdue this pandemic.

If we don’t, then we need only point our collective fingers to ourselves for that failure; no one else!

John Stevenson

Victoria

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