Letters Feb. 20: Clarity on Games bid; costs of cancel culture; Galloping Goose traffic

Plebiscite, plebiscite, plebiscite before Games

Re: “Hosting 2026 Games will bring major benefits to B.C.,” commentary, Feb. 17.

We neither support or oppose the region hosting any mega sporting event such as the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

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But we believe before a billion-plus dollars is spent — mostly taxpayer ­dollars — that all the facts including costs, benefits, obligations and risks for such a large-scale event must be on the table for residents to consider.

There must also be a rigorous business plan made public and critiqued by an independent third party.

That didn’t happen a few years ago when a Commonwealth Games bid was floated, rather initial support was garnered in secret around the Capital Regional District table and endorsed without the public weighing in. The province wisely declined to provide financial support and eventually the bid fell apart.

Contrary to the pitch by proponents, municipalities and local citizens will most certainly have to fund part of the budget.

The pandemic, and now uncertainty around several COVID-19 variants, have resulted in extremely challenging and uncertain economic times with many critical and competing priorities. All of us will indirectly pay through taxes as ­residents of B.C. and Canada.

Any dream of bidding for the 2026 Commonwealth Games must be done with full transparency and first be approved by ­residents through a regional plebiscite.

Stan Bartlett, past chair
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria

Tracing the roots of cancelling others

Re: “Warning of cancel culture is ­hypocritical,” letter, Feb. 18.

This argument suitable for five-year-olds on the playground opposed the Times Colonist’s own editorial against cancel culture in Canada.

Asserted a geography professor at the University of Victoria that because the people being cancelled now were themselves cancellers of others in their day, and in a very bad way, so we should be cancellers too, and expunge them from the public space.

What’s poison for the goose should be sauce for us ganders, goes this argument.

Here’s another argument: Were the Indigenous Peoples proposed as victims not themselves victimizers who cancelled, as in wiped out or enslaved, each others’ tribes when they could?

You started it! No you did!

Steve Weatherbe

Academic bigotry is a bigger problem

Re: “Warning of cancel culture is ­hypocritical,” letter, Feb. 18.

Not all of us attribute the sins of our less-than-correct ancestors to the evils of their white and right-winginess.

Isn’t it time to quit these rigid terms?

The University of Victoria professor of geography’s aversion to idolatry in bronze has some merit, but of greater concern is the academic bigotry so ­prevalent in our centres of education.

These epicentres of correctness seem oblivious to the consequences of institutional tampering. Anyone familiar with the internet can attest to search blocking from algorithms designed to favour and promote certain political points of view.

If these electronic Talibans or ­attitudinal Mafias don’t strike you as components of the same Group Think trends, then we are all in trouble.

Surely our tenured guardians of intellectual freedom can recognize that we are off course. Can it be that they are too impressed with themselves to realize tectonic shifts in technology have made everyone susceptible to misdirection?

There is an awakening gathering to combat these dangers, but I doubt if the anointed are allowed to speak of such things.

Russell Thompson

Anti-Canadian history on campus

Re: “Warning of cancel culture is ­hypocritical,” letter, Feb. 18.

One of the University of Victoria’s ­cultural geographers seems to believe that critiquing cancel culture is just “the tunnel vision of Eurocentrism” and “right-wing talking points.”

One would expect this esteemed ­professor to be a little more nuanced in his interpretations of history and ­freedom of speech than simply claiming that critiques of cancel culture can be distilled down to “white man, bad.”

As an American-born citizen, he doesn’t seem to realize that Canada has been built by — and not just “on the backs of” — people of multiple ethnic and racial backgrounds.

I can only guess that his lack of historical nuance had something to do with him leading the charge to take down Victoria’s statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in 2018.

It seems to me the more ­pertinent question to ask is why our local ­university hired what appears to be a race-obsessed American to teach an anti-Canadian ­history.

Mark Hecht, MCP
(Taught cultural geography at Mount Royal University for more than a decade)

We cannot erase our shared history

Re: “Warning of cancel culture is ­hypocritical,” letter, Feb. 18.

Cancel culture is a soft euphemism for doing away with history. History cannot be erased.

It stands forever; it happened. It should be celebrated as a series of road maps telling us how far we have come and perhaps how far we have yet to travel to become better than those who came before us.

Those who would cancel culture would have us believe that we who now inhabit this planet are the only right-thinking persons and that we must forever atone for wrongs perpetrated in the past.

We cannot do so if there is no history to atone for.

P.G. (Phil) Leith

Macdonald statue was also cancelled

Letters about cancel culture bring to mind the status of our statue of John A. Macdonald. I recall there were statements about seeking another locations for this excellent piece.

If only the cancellers (councillors) had looked a little deeper into the life of our first prime minister, they would have learned about just how much he ­accomplished in protecting the rights of Indigenous people.

Where is that fine statue?

Michael Fox

Cancelled white men helped bring freedom

Re: “Warning of cancel culture is ­hypocritical,” letter, Feb. 18.

Moral outrage does not constitute rational argument. This is one of the major problems with cancel culture, and it is on full display in the letter by a University of Victoria professor. Not only that, the ­letter has sexist and racial overtones.

The positive contributions to our civilization of such “white, European men” as John A. Macdonald, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Captain James Cook, all of whom have been cancelled, are so significant and have produced such free (for all races and sexual orientations), enlightened, and democratic societies that it is embarrassing to have to point this out to a member of the ­academy. Yet somebody must.

However, I commend the professor’s courage for writing and will defend to my last breath the right of dispute in our democracy, whose philosophical framework (John Locke, Thomas Hobbes et al) and defence in the Second World War against fascism were achieved primarily by astute, selfless and honourable people of many ethnicities, Indigenous, ­Caucasian and Black men among them.

Brad Bird

Leave the Goose, fix the streets instead

Recent proposals to widen the Galloping Goose are a valuable contribution to an important public debate. But it seems as if the trend is to turn what was originally a walking trail into a roadway not much different from a city street.

But wait, isn’t there already a vast ­network of city streets, currently dedicated to automobile use?

Surely the time has come to reassign some of those to meet the ever-growing needs of pedestrians and cyclists.

We could start with parts of Government Street. A well-planned network of repurposed pedestrian/cyclist commuter roadways could follow.

Leave the Goose as it is. Use those apparently available millions of dollars for a program to redevelop existing city streets to meet the real needs of the 21st century. The future beckons.

Tom Masters

Plenty of room to share the Goose

Re: “Trail-widening great, but let’s start with etiquette,” commentary, Feb. 18.

According to Patricia Coppard, the ­Galloping Goose is frequented by “speed freaks” and ‘jerks gripping handlebars.” Under the guise of “actively promoting trail etiquette,” she wants taxpayers to install hundreds of speed limit signs.

Eventually, she would like it if “experienced cycle commuters don’t use the Goose at all.” This isn’t trail etiquette, this is heavy-handed restriction, ­bordering on oppression.

I ride to work on the Goose more than 200 days a year, and have done so for almost a decade. I’ve passed about 10,000 other trail users with precisely zero crashes. You can call me a “speed freak,” but don’t claim that I’m dangerous. And I’m not alone.

According to Capital Regional District bike counts, there are 900,000 annual bike rides on the Goose. I am not aware of a single reported collision between a cyclist and pedestrian. Not one!

This suggests millions of peaceful passes occur for every imagined crash. Meanwhile, cyclists continue to be seriously injured at the five level crossings between Tolmie Road and Culduthel Road.

If we agree that enhanced safety is the goal, let’s consider improvements to the lighting, sight lines, trail surface and ­signage at these vehicle intersections.

I accept that pedestrians, dog walkers and leisurely cyclists have a place on the Goose. I would prefer they avoid the most congested areas during rush hour. Nonetheless, bikes have brakes, people have voices, and we can all find room to move.

Graeme Sykes

Common sense and courtesy are needed

Re: “Trail-widening great, but let’s start with etiquette,” commentary, Feb. 18.

Thanks, Patricia Coppard, for an excellent column on a sensible solution to Galloping Goose and Lochside congestion.

As an avid cyclist, I have noticed a steady increase in conflicts on the trails recently, particularly now with the pandemic dramatically increasing the traffic.

My experience before moving here five years ago was as a bike commuter in Calgary for 25 years, where I also saw conflicts increase on those narrow river pathways.

The main reason, as Coppard so eloquently described, is due to speeding and aggressive cyclists who should either stick to the roads or comply with trail etiquette.

Also, to all the newbie riders on electric bikes, please realize that the motor pushing your bike is also pushing the limits of your abilities. I have seen many inexperienced riders exceeding their ability to avoid unexpected situations due to excessive speed.

Coppard mentions the walkers in groups and dog walkers. It would help everyone sharing the trail if you would try to keep to one side.

Dog walkers, please consider keeping your dogs on short leashes on the side away from the centre, where conflict can occur.

Cyclists ride by the walkers at a ­reasonable speed and call out or ring well in advance so they won’t be startled.

If everyone used common sense and courtesy we could all enjoy the trail ­systems before widening and separation.

Mark Barnes

Was Clover Point a busy place in 1821?

I am trying to imagine what the First Nations people thought of what is now ­Clover Point back in 1821, and hundreds if not thousands of years before that.

Did they prepare and eat meals there? Did they gather their elders, babies, and disabled among them, and haul them down to the water’s edge to witness Mother Nature’s fury?

No, in all likelihood, most probably avoided Clover Point on typical days, because being exposed to the often-harsh elements there wasn’t a journey worth partaking in.

So, here we are in 2021. A paved route and dozens of parking spots for ­automobiles was established at Clover Point in 1956.

Literally millions of visits to Clover Point by automobile have taken place in the last 65 years. What is the problem here?

Mayor Lisa Helps, and many who make up the Victoria city council, demonstrably hate automobiles, plain and simple.

Imagine what they would do if they had control over Saxe Point, Esquimalt Lagoon, Oak Bay Marina, Cattle Point, Mount Tolmie and Mount Douglas.

A few years ago, Saanich decided to prohibit automobile access to the top of Mount Douglas before the noon hour so that the healthy and fit among us could make that road an exclusive hiking and cycling trail, at least for the first half of the day.

There is a cheap compromise to be had at Clover Point, and Lisa Helps and council should look to the Mount Douglas model that Saanich has successfully implemented for guidance.

Trevor Amon


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