Letters Dec. 27: Use ferries as Malahat alternative; Centennial Square lights go dark on Christmas

Ferries could be viable alternative to Malahat

Re: “Malahat detour alternatives no alternative at all: report,” Dec. 17.

I read through the report on the feasibility of alternative routes between north and south Vancouver Island, and wondered why the most obvious route was not taken into consideration.

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Southern Vancouver Island is no longer a cosy haven for the wealthy who can afford to travel by private plane or boat if they choose not to drive or be driven. The population has grown. More ordinary people live here now and everyone recognizes that the transportation infrastructure has not kept pace. Most of us suffer the consequences every day in horrendous commutes and inadequate bus transportation and parking.

The ocean is a viable means of transportation. One can get to the mainland faster than one can get to Duncan by ferry. Why is this? Why were direct ferry routes not considered as part of this study?

Ann Teekasingh
Central Saanich

Set up photo radar on Malahat

Re: “Drivers are the problem on Malahat,” letter, Dec. 20.

This letter to the editor was one of the shortest yet best letters in a long time. The letter-writer is bang on when he says: “No new multimillion dollar highway is going to fix stupid driving, only enforcement will do that.”

Think back to the days of photo radar — fewer accidents, which resulted in fewer injuries and deaths. Would that not also help to lessen ICBC’s money problems?

It is time for our current government to get their heads out of the sand, stop spending fortunes on more studies and do something about the speeding and stupid drivers. Bring back photo radar and make the fines big enough to make the drivers sit up and take notice.

Bob Larson
Parksville

Nature has become too silent

For years I have marvelled at the raucous migratory birds in our harbour during winter, but I was struck by the silence this year. There are very few birds in the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary now. This echoes the silence I experienced on the west coast of our island earlier this year when a hike took me through a silent forest with very few spiderwebs or insects to a shoreline with no starfish, no mussels, and only one seal and eagle.

The feeling was eerie and continues to haunt me. I fear we are over the edge and the scarcity of the biomass is crashing over us. I urge everyone to take action to help restore our coastline. Probably the best thing you can do is clean up garbage, restore salmon spawning grounds and plant some native trees and plants.

Unfortunately, those actions will seem like whistling in the wind if corporations and government continue with business as usual. The clear-cuts, the ghost nets, the overfishing, the production of plastics and ocean garbage dumping dwarf individual efforts to restore the planet. Perhaps we should outlaw plastic containers and return to reusable containers. Perhaps selective logging should leave the larger ecosystem intact. Perhaps tree farms should not be a monoculture of standing lumber but planted to encourage biodiversity and an appreciation of all the things a forest does for the planet.

The solutions are possible, but can we pull it together before the entire planet goes silent?

Eric Pittman
Director, Canadian Orca Rescue Society
Esquimalt

No Christmas lights on Christmas night

After a quiet and satisfying Christmas Day, in which we contacted our families who couldn’t be with us this year, we opened gifts and had an excellent Christmas dinner for just the two of us. Then we had a bright idea. We would drive downtown from our Broadmead home and view the lights in Centennial Square. In news coverage, they looked fantastic, cost somebody a lot of money, and the Pat Bay highway would not likely be its usual Olympic slalom course. So we ventured out.

It was great. Hardly any traffic, lots of Christmas lights on the way, easy parking in the Fisgard parking lot at no cost, not too cold.

What a shock. Nothing. No lights. A few confused people wandering around. There was a friendly guard who said there weren’t enough volunteers so they closed.

Given the thousands of dollars it cost to put the display up, you would have thought a few dollars could be found to hire someone to turn on the lights on Christmas Day.

Edward Hickcox
Saanich

Our city has lost its charm

2019 will be remembered as the year Victoria lost its charm, its most tangible asset, and major factor for attracting tourists to this once lovely city. In 10 years we will have the feel of any other big North American city, full of expensive high-rise towers catering to the wealthy. We decry the demolition of our iconic and beautiful classic buildings, to be replaced by sterile boxes of glass and steel. At street level, impervious concrete or asphalt have shut out the functions of nature. Going, going, gone are the little things which made us unique and charming.

We have been warned by the scientific community that we have only until 2030 to turn away from the unsustainable paradigm of limitless growth, yet continue to act like it’s 1950, all over again. If now, at the end of 2019, we are unable to solve such basic issues as homelessness, adequate incomes, doctor shortage, food security, rising costs of living, transportation issues, plastic and chemical pollution, loss of community, drug addictions, deforestation, salmon depletion, corporate hegemony, etc., what will 2030 bring?

It is high time we took stock of what we do have, what is working, and how the entire community must agree upon what we must do now, including the reasons for living here. We cannot wait until 2030; the rapid changes in the climate alone should be sufficient reason for finding a new, moral and ethical imperative.

It will require a new kind of eco-humanism, where we all come to realize that only intact natural ecosystems are able to provide the necessary conditions to sustain all life, including humans, on this spaceship we call Earth.

Deep adaptation requires us to cherish charm, and eschew false modernity. We cannot cure our ills by destroying that which makes us whole.

Thor Henrich
Victoria

Fill dump undermines salmon efforts

Over the past 40 years, the Mill Bay and District Conservation Society has moved coho salmon from the estuary and past a few impassible waterfalls into Lower Shawnigan Creek. The fish then swim up the creek, into Shawnigan Lake and then into the lake’s inflowing creeks such as Upper Shawnigan Creek where they spawn. The eggs hatch and after one or two years the young salmon return to the ocean. This effort has helped to maintain the coho population in the Salish Sea.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has approved the dumping of fill onto Lot 23, off Stebbings Road, Shawnigan Lake. This is the site of the contaminated-soil landfill recently taken over by the Crown over unpaid property taxes.

Upper Shawnigan Creek runs through Lot 23 with the run-off from the contaminated landfill entering Shawnigan Creek via several routes. Dumping of fill has just commenced. I note that this now is the rainy season. The dumped fill is uncovered with the rains now flooding sediment into Upper Shawnigan Creek and from there into Shawnigan Lake.

Sediment is well known to interfere with the ability of young salmon and other fish to survive. It is time to change the name of the ministry since it is too Orwellian to continue to call it the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Bernhard H.J. Juurlink
Mill Bay

Pretence of adopting Bill 41 a travesty

Re: “B.C. leads the way in passing UNDRIP,” Charla Huber column, Dec. 22.

That the columnist finds positive aspects of Premier John Horgan is fine. I don’t doubt that our premier has many positive qualities. However, to admire that B.C. has adopted Bill 41, the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), is appalling.

As a British Columbian, I am ashamed. What can it mean if we trumpet adopting UNDRIP while, at the same time, dispatching Mounties to remove Wet’suwet’en people at gunpoint from their own land? What does it mean if the Site C dam drowns Treaty 8 lands, while the Office of United Nations High Commission for Human Rights asks what steps we take to suspend Site C pending Indigenous consent?

Given our ongoing utter disrespect for Indigenous consent, the pretense of adopting UNDRIP is a travesty.

Greg Holloway
Saanich

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