Letters Dec. 31: Keep our focus; restrict travel; protect blind pedestrians

Let’s stay focused in fighting this

I think it’s time we start banging our pots again. It feels like we’re losing our grip and not quite getting the message.

People are dying.

Right now, our behaviours — everything we touch and every move we make — are key to prevention and curbing the pandemic. Why anyone would think of air travel or flying anywhere right now — unless for work, emergency, ­business or ­government matters — is ­perplexing.

We have the means with new routines to be functional and stable while we work collectively to get past tomorrow. Yet, it seems there’s still an undercurrent of resistance to the measures we all need to follow, consistently.

This New Year’s Eve, I’ll bang a pot in sympathy for patients, with gratitude for our health leaders and workers and the hope that we stay focused in 2021.

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Peter J. Smith
Mayne Island

Restrict travel to stop the spread

After spending the holidays without getting together with any of our extended family members and being in absolute compliance with all of the COVID-19 orders and rules, I find myself rapidly losing respect for our elected officials as they ­continue to allow people to travel within our health regions, between provinces and internationally.

Government needs to define just what “essential travel” is and is not, and then come up with a workable method of stopping those who choose to break the rules. Simply asking people to drive safely is not enough.

That is why we have posted speed limits and ticket drivers who choose not to comply with the law.

There seems little point in ­asking people to stay home and avoid all unnecessary travel when at the same time we encourage other ­Canadians living in provinces with very high COVID-19 infection rates to come and vacation in B.C.

Hardly a day goes by without some kind of alert going out regarding airline passengers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 after landing in Victoria.

If our government is truly ­interested in preventing the spread of this pandemic, their current ­practises leave a lot to be desired.

Bruce Cline

Dumb it down so we can understand

There is a lot of talk about the ­government spending or borrowing billions of dollars these days.

The experts probably do not even know if this is a good or bad thing to be doing. The vast majority of ­people cannot get a handle on what a billion dollars represents.

However, the concept of what a million dollars represents is in most people’s minds. It could represent a million-dollar home or a million-dollar lottery win

This is the kind of thing people dream about.

I think when a government speaks or an article is published on this subject, the number should be dumbed down for all of us to ­millions of dollars. That way when we talk about 5 billion dollars it is written as 5,000 million dollars.

It is the same amount of money, but at least we might get the point of how much money this represents, or is the government trying to ­bamboozle us!

Bill Ritchie
Oak Bay

Pay the price for endangering others

If I get caught distracted driving, an activity that could endanger myself, cause physical damage to others and even death, I can expect a healthy fine.

If I leave my community for non-essential travel and bring back a COVID-19 virus or variant of same, an activity that could endanger myself, cause physical damage to others and even death to many others, why am I not due a healthy fine for my selfishness?

There must be some restitution for the greater population who pay attention to the rules laid out by Dr. Bonnie Henry against those who flout the rules to our greater risk.

David M. Caul
Central Saanich

Blind pedestrians need a safer way

If Victoria’s goal is to find a least-cost way of addressing the Canadian Federation of the Blind’s human-rights complaint about bike lanes, then installing flashing lights before the floating bus stops on Pandora Avenue will likely be successful.

However, if the goal is to make it safe for blind and visually impaired citizens to take public transportation, then the city needs to continue looking for a better solution. I believe that the flashing warning lights could make a bad situation even more dangerous by giving the blind a false sense of security.

I am a friend of Oriano Belusic, the blind individual who initiated the human-rights complaint against the city. In August, during the tribunal process, Oriano asked me to film him as he tested the lights installed for the floating bus stops on Wharf Street.

The design-crossing requires that the blind locate the pole with a beeping button at the crosswalk to the floating bus stop. They push the button, which triggers flashing yellow lights, advising cyclists coming in both directions that someone wishes to cross the bike lane to get to the bus stop.

The first obvious problem was that most cyclists using the bike lane weren’t familiar with the lights or their purpose. Once, if Oriano had walked out shortly after pushing the button, he would have been hit. However, if Oriano showed any hesitation in crossing, the cyclists continued though the crosswalk regardless of the flashing lights or his white cane.

We filmed for about 20 minutes, but stopped because I was terrified that Oriano would be hurt. In the 20 years I have known him, he has always been a very capable pedestrian, but this new bus lane configuration is dangerous. We need a ­better solution.

I have heard from members of the blind community that this is a problem in other countries as well. Surely the professional planners somewhere in the world must be working with blind pedestrians to develop a safe and solid ­arrangement?

Thelma Fayle

Greatest disaster is yet to come

Re: “New Year’s resolutions, and how we choose the right recovery,” comment, Dec. 27.

According to Trevor Hancock, pursuing a Lawrie McFarlane styled rapid recovery is the wrong way of dealing with “the worst natural ­disaster of our time”.

However, even if one agrees with the retired professor, he fails in identifying the steps we must take in choosing “the right recovery” plan.

Tackling symptoms (wealth inequality, poverty, racism and social isolation) doesn’t contain the causes (neo-liberalism’s political and corporate propaganda designed to create disunity, fragmentation and incoherence) keeping the public in the dark; where we remain convinced the current corrupt authoritarian system we call representative democracy is better than the ­totalitarianism of the past.

So where do we focus our efforts? Rebuilding economies and communities using political and economic systems that make global pandemics a certainty fits Einstein’s definition of insanity.

However, even if we start valuing undervalued workers and reconnecting with our community, once this pandemic wanes, we will have done nothing to prevent an even greater disaster.

Will COVID-19 change the way we think?

Will it force us to question the structure of the systems responsible for our indoctrination and the ­dystopian world we live in?

Given the trillions of dollars in government handouts to support businesses and appease voters on the way back to business-as-usual, we can rest assured the greatest natural disaster of our time is yet to come.

Ken Dwernychuk

Keep an open mind to combat Big Lies

Re: “Students should learn about the consequences of Big Lies in history,” comment, Dec. 20.

Ironically it is Big Lies (or “fictions” in the words of Yuval Noah Harari) that make us human. Only man in his capacity to imagine things not rooted in reality is capable of creating and believing in Big Lies.

It allowed us to develop culture and organize into large groups based on shared mythology and religion. It happened some 70,000 years ago, with emergence of the Sapiens brain.

Geoff Johnson points out the affinity of Big Lies with politics and religion. Both lend themselves to strong beliefs, often based on ­fictions, Big Lies and “spin.”

How to combat Big Lies? We need to keep an open mind to views contrary to our own. Given the wealth of information online, keeping informed should be easy.

Yet there is a tendency to favour sites supporting our own prejudices, while dismissing alternate views as “fake news.”

Recently, a more alarming development is the censoring of “fake news” altogether.

When the decision about what we can and cannot see has already been made, even an open mind won’t help.

K.R. Lynch

Pandemic inspires a new dance step

With the pandemic upon us, I’ve been forced to change my daily exercise habits. With the nearby swimming pool difficult to access, I am forced to walk the streets to try to keep fit.

The other day, I was walking along Esquimalt Road. There was plenty of traffic but no pedestrians, until a woman appeared on the corner ahead of me, on my side.

Being a gentleman, I immediately knew it was my duty to step off the sidewalk to let her safely pass me away from my “epidemic zone.” Just before we began to pass, she burst out laughing — and so did I — and waved to each other while doing our ­pandemic duty. Made my day.

A new song perhaps? The “Pandemic Two-step.” Pandemics can be fun!

John C. Smith


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