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Letters Feb. 12: Fate of medical sculpture; Victoria's vanishing heritage

Medical sculpture’s loss was unnecessary When news of the destruction of the Rod of Asclepius sculpture on the side of the Fort Royal Medical building was posted on social media, the response was significant, quick and passionate.

Medical sculpture’s loss was unnecessary

When news of the destruction of the Rod of Asclepius sculpture on the side of the Fort Royal Medical building was posted on social media, the response was significant, quick and passionate.

About 200 posts poured in expressing outrage and disappointment that the sculpture, a neighbourhood landmark for more than 50 years, had been treated in such a disrespectful fashion and lay crumpled on the ground.

Ironic that toilets that had been previously removed from the building had been tidily lined up in the adjacent parking lot.

I was a member of Victoria city council when this project was first proposed. I pointed out the significance of the sculpture to the developer, both as a piece of art and as a neighbourhood landmark.

I was assured at the time that if it was not possible to retain the piece in the new development that an appropriate home would be found for it.

In an interview in the Times Colonist following the destruction of the piece, developer Donald Milliken of Milliken Real Estate stated that the piece was made of “flimsy” thin metal, possibly tin, that made it difficult to remove and retain.

In fact, the piece was crafted of stainless steel and believed to have been created by Ironcraft Art Metal and had been previously removed, and reinstated, when the building was reclad.

The developer might not have felt that there was a place for this symbol of healing in their new seniors’ residence, but an effort to let the public know, in particular the arts community, of its availability would likely have led to a new life for this piece and a far more respectful outcome.

Pamela Madoff

Try giving a damn about our heritage

One by one, little by little, the charm of Victoria slips away in favour of Soviet-style flat-roof cuboids.

And the pace is speeding up, with the disappearance from Cook Street of Pluto’s restaurant and the destruction of the elegant 1960s “healing” serpent and caduceus installation formerly on the wall of the Fort Street Medical Building.

It would be refreshing to see developers begin to “give a damn” about Victoria’s architectural heritage instead of regarding it as a nuisance.

Jon Blair

Vaccine system is prompt and professional

Kudos to Island Health and Provincial Health Authorities for their COVID-19 vaccine administration program.

I received the vaccine as part of the first wave because I am a physician who goes into nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Schedulers followed up appropriately.

I arrived for vaccination 10 minutes early and was processed, vaccinated and monitored quickly and efficiently. Everyone from schedulers to greeters and nurses administering vaccines were polite, calm and professional.

The health authorities and front-line staff should be commended for doing an excellent job immunizing people at risk despite the vaccine shortages and scarce resources.

People should feel confident that they will be properly immunized during their phase of the program, once more vaccine becomes available.

Ted Rosenberg, MD

Why walking on the right makes the most sense

On a narrow, two-way roadway, without a sidewalk on either side, pedestrians are requested to walk on the left, facing oncoming vehicle traffic, and for good reason, for survival, pedestrians are expected to move farther to the left — off the travel portion.

For a pedestrian to stand fast and hold their position within the travel lane when face-to-face with an approaching motor vehicle, it would be more than just foolish.

Let us now consider a similar situation on a multi-use trail, particularly since I am biking with my granddaughter in a double-wide child’s trailer.

Consider also that the blackberry canes have been cut back only as far as the trail edge. There is no available shoulder.

Will the left-walking pedestrian move in to the bushes, or stand fast and expect the cyclist to move face-to-face against a large pack of approaching cyclists?

However, if all trail traffic stays to the right, cyclists are now able to slow down to the advancing pedestrian’s pace and patiently await a suitable gap in oncoming traffic.

Right is right; right?

Jim Grayson

Tired of Victoria council and their followers

One assault after another from Victoria city council against the “truly” most vulnerable, which is to say, the people who paid the taxes and built this city and parks.

First Beacon Hill Park, now nothing more than a wasteland given to the unworking by choice.

Destroying Vancouver Street so that my neighbours are so confused on how to get to London Drugs that they end up in tears.

Now Clover Point.

Save it for the very healthiest of people who can walk and ride their cherished bikes, but keep the elderly with mobility issues off the point, in the same way as council has taken their beloved Beacon Hill Park.

I’m tired.

I lived here for decades, worked and retired from the city after 31 years of service, and I’m tired.

Tired of the one-sided debates, tired of the hidden agendas for change and so-called development, tired of having council cramming their goals down our throats without consultation, because a “warming tent” is just temporary.

I guess I’m just tired of our council, their leaders, and their followers.

Victoria is lost to the worker and the taxpayer of old.

Dewane Ollech

Ross Bay Cemetery has been inclusive to all

An incorrect statement appeared on the front page of the Feb. 4 edition of the Times Colonist.

Ross Bay Cemetery has always been inclusive in its burial practices and is the final resting place of First Nations, Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Hawaiians, French Canadians and many other European nationalities.

It is incorrect to say that Indigenous peoples were excluded from Ross Bay Cemetery.

For example: Chief Michael Cooper, whose name appears on the main road through the Songhees Reservation, and his wife are buried in Ross Bay Cemetery.

Gerry Buydens, president
Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria

Many possible uses for old cruise ships

The cruise ship COVID-19 debacle is solvable if we can get rid of our regulators who smother private enterprise in the guise of protecting us.

Instead of sinking these floating behemoths, they could be converted into numerous beneficial uses.

The obvious is the need for independent wellness and surgical centres.

For some time, we have been blocked from access to private care in the deluded belief that the socialized monopoly is the only ethical choice. We just go elsewhere.

The day is now coming when a ship full of highly competent medical/dental specialists will anchor offshore and fix what ails us at a fraction of today’s costs.

Think of the reduced burden to our already collapsing system.

Here are a few other ideas worth floating:

• Emergency preparedness refuge centres for “the big one”;

• Aqua farming and hatcheries. Oceanography learning labs, etc.;

• Charter schools for specialized learning and other skills;

• Correctional centres for early release candidates;

• Wellness and habit reform for the chronically addicted — diabetics particularly;

• Mind and body cleansing tune-ups for personal discovery.

Our land-based institutions have become too self-serving, inefficient and expensive.

The globalization of offshore skill sets has already outsourced much of our once local economy.

It is only a matter of time before bureaucratic unions of containment cannot prevent us from finding floating “dollar stores” and Amazons for our every conceivable need.

To float is to be free. Just wait and see what kind of cruiser you may choose to be!

Russell Thompson

A great opportunity for Esquimalt First Nation

The land purchase for the Esquimalt First Nation is good news for the Esquimalt people.

I love Esquimalt Harbour for its combination of pristine wooded and rocky shoreline and islands, and post-industrial ruins.

I hope the Esquimalt people will transform the ruined wastelands into housing and economic development.

Imagine a resort that opens up the beautiful waters to tourists and local kayakers, paddle boarders, sailers, canoeists and fishermen and women, while providing the Equimalts with jobs and ongoing income.

Imagine a museum-cum-artistic and cultural centre tied to their close ties with the sea.

Steve Weatherbe

Small acts of kindness stay with us for years

I really enjoyed Adrian Chamberlain’s “note from Tony Bennett” column on Feb. 6.

It not only reinforced my impressions of Bennett, but also reminded me of a similar experience I had with the actor Burt Reynolds.

I was his driver for the weekend when he appeared as a guest on a TV talk show in Vancouver in the early 1970s.

While it was exciting to meet him and to be invited to join him and his publicist for dinner, it was his follow up “thank-you note” that elevated the experience and left such a lasting impression.

I’ve come to realize how small acts of kindness can deeply affect and stay with us a lifetime. Thanks for rekindling those memories.

Alan Walton

Ideas for more safety on mixed-use trails

I have enjoyed the multi-use trails in our region for years. Even on rainy and cold January days, there are many bikes, joggers and walkers.

It was good to hear that there is a plan to widen the trails in the more congested areas.

I feel that the best way to improve these trails would be to offer a pedestrian area alongside the trail similar to the one found on the section south of the Selkirk Trestle.

The system of sharing the walkway is not working with the current rules.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the signage asks walkers to keep two metres apart and in single file. Absolutely no one is walking in single file.

As a result, people trying to keep two metres apart are taking up the entire bike lane. We use our bike bells to give people a warning (as required) so that they can move over so we can pass them safely.

Some move into a single file at that point, but most do not. Then there are the joggers and single walkers with their earbuds in that do not hear our warning bells.

We try not to startle people as we go by, but as they are not facing the bike traffic, it is not always possible.

Ideally, a separate pedestrian strip would allow for a more enjoyable and safer outing for all users. For sections that do not have room for such a strip, walking on the left facing the bike traffic seems more logical.

Melanie Wakelin

Fixing a problem that does not exist

Like other “improvements” Victoria council has pursued over the past decade (bike lanes that clog main thoroughfares, vehicle closures in Beacon Hill Park, and other vehicle-free areas elsewhere in the city) banning vehicles in the Clover Point loop would solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

Thousands of Greater Victoria residents simply won’t visit Clover Point anymore if they have to get out of their cars, especially when the weather is poor — but perhaps that’s the point.

The City of Victoria should level with the rest of Greater Victoria, acknowledge the sentiment behind these initiatives, and say plainly: “Only people who walk or bike deserve to enjoy this place. The rest of you can take your cars and go elsewhere.”

Doug Stacey

Museum board had a role to play

In the sorry tale surrounding the Royal B.C. Museum and the now seemingly endless departures of senior staff, one aspect of the affair has received scant attention: The role of the board of directors as the situation unraveled.

While a board should not be involved in day-to-day operations, a good board takes the pulse of the institution it governs. Early warning signs of difficulties should have been apparent to the board months or years ago but there is no evidence that they were.

Even more puzzling is the appointment of the chair of the board as acting CEO of the museum. There seem to have been management failures at the museum from the board down.

Is enough being done now to start with a clean slate as the mess is cleared up?

David Collins


• Email letters to:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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