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Letters Feb. 3: Control of land; use Crown land for housing; sham consultation about biosolids

The domes of the B.C. legislature in downtown Victoria. TIMES COLONIST

Giving First Nations more land control

The NDP proposal to give Indigenous people, who comprise six per cent of the population, equal rights to control the use of public land is momentous, and will mark enormous changes.

Of most concern is its potential to be used in an extortive way. It is absolutely essential that the residents be presented with a clear and full accounting of the agreements reached pursuant to it, and a clear and simple question in a referendum to adopt it. Nothing less will do!

Terry Sturgeon


What’s the hurry to change the Land Act?

Re: “Democracy undermined by NDP’s Land Act plans,” commentary, Feb. 1.

For me, whether the result of this provincial government of the day’s public land plan changes is right or wrong for B.C.’s future is almost secondary versus the stunning disrespect for democracy being pursued.

This government did not campaign on this dramatic change to public policy when they were last elected; and indeed this premier has never been elected as the leader of government by the citizenry.

The surreptitious approach to implementing just reinforces that the premier and minister know they are advancing an internal ideology versus their electorate’s best interest. Otherwise, why not debate openly? What’s the hurry to pass by April?

There are only two ways this Land Act amendment should be passed into law:

1. Hold off on legislation until the next general election when it can be put forward as a major NDP plank for judgment by the electorate.

2. Post their “consultation,” put the proposal to the B.C. electorate via a binding plebiscite later in 2024 — and yes, the cost will be high, but it’s money well spent given such a fundamental decision affecting future generations.

If the referendum passes, then the government has effectively buttressed its commitment to democracy, and demonstrated its commitment to openly govern for all citizens. If it doesn’t, the concept can once again be pitched with considered amendments during the next election.

In these days of global unrest and challenges to democratic norms, this issue in our own backyard (literally) cannot be ignored.

Don Schick

West Vancouver

Housing solutions if we use Crown land

In the early 1970s, the NDP government of the time held land lotteries where potential homeowners could bid on lots on Crown land and build a home.

The land was serviced with a road and hydro, water and sewer, and hydro to the home was the responsibility of the homeowner.

Successful bidders had four years to build a habitable dwelling and then they could purchase the land from the province.

It allowed young families the ­opportunity to build a home. Outside of Williams Lake, more than 50 families got to have their own home on three- to five-acre lots.

It was an excellent affordable model. The government was putting their money where their mouths were.

Why not institute the same model on Crown land which is close to a town or city?

Pirjo Raits


Bollards would help deter this driver

Driving up Fort Street the other day and watched a car turn right out of the Shell station into the bike lanes and then down to Fernwood Road. Bollards anyone?

Nigel Beattie


Revise the CRD’s sham consultation

The Capital Regional District board was obliged to pass a motion instructing staff to provide information that “more clearly acknowledges the health and environmental risks of beneficial biosolid uses…,” meaning, among other things, the risks of land application as bagged fertilizer on urban gardens, use by landscapers, spreading on farmland and in forests, all of which are promoted in the public consultation that was launched in early January.

This motion was passed by our elected representatives because CRD staff had “cooked the books” with a flawed and one-sided online consultation package that had not been vetted by either the board or the citizens’ technical advisory council.

The consultation as currently posted online is a sham. Unfortunately, unless the options presented are substantially revised, the public will not be accurately informed, even if staff do reluctantly post a few more background documents that discuss why the board has consistently banned the land application of biosolids in this region.

One sometimes wonders who is really in charge.

Hugh Stephens


Let Alzheimer’s patients choose MAID in advance

Many are calling for a pause in the planned expansion of “assisted-dying” legislation, which is to take place in March, so that there is a stronger consensus on the topic.

That is well and good for those with “mental health” issues. However, it ignores those who are in dreadful situations now due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Applicants must be able to give “free and informed advanced consent” at the time they may need it, but this is not possible when the Alzheimer’s disease has advanced as their faculties have declined.

As a result, they and their loved ones are sentenced to an awful purgatory of meaningless suffering. That is obscene.

Please, allow this group of patients the right to make their own choice so that this palliative aid can be used when they need it. The Quebec courts now allow it.

Barry Rolston


Mental illness and option of a humane ending

This procrastination by the bureaucrats in the federal government, who obviously have no insight into the daily/hourly torment suffered by those with mental health issues amounts to human cruelty, particularly if the final decision is scrapped altogether.

Anyone who lives with a mental illness and has done for decades, who has tried with tremendous strength and courage to benefit from any medical intervention over many years to no avail, deserves the option of a humane ending to the torture.

Delaying a final decision on this subject will only result in botched suicide attempts, which exacerbate the mental torture.

I fully support Dying With Dignity’s statement:

“The necessary training and practice standards have been developed and after three years of preparations by providers, the country is indeed ready to move ahead.

“Depriving those with mental illness the chance to be assessed for an assisted death amounts to a breach of their rights.”

Sally Clarkson


Few answers about CRD’s $85-million plan

Eligible voters must decide by Feb. 5 whether to allow the Capital Regional District to borrow up to $85 million to increase affordable housing.

To ensure an informed vote, I went to the CRD website expecting helpful information. I was hugely disappointed.

Information was scant. The bylaw itself is brief, raising more questions than answers. The intended purpose “includes” support for housing partnerships and the increase of affordable housing. If these are “included” purposes, what else could the borrowed funds be used for?

There is also no definition for what is “affordable.” Affordable to whom? Who decides?

The lack of a definition for “affordable” has created problems in Victoria. Ever higher and ever denser developments claim to address the affordable housing shortage, but often turn out to be market-priced housing, justified on the questionable “trickle down” theory that these will in turn free up affordable housing elsewhere.

Multi-storey buildings get approved with a few token units designated “affordable” on the grounds that affordable units are not profitable. Scarce supply of existing affordable housing is fast disappearing as developers drive up property prices and demolish perfectly good buildings (including low-cost housing) for bigger buildings with higher priced units.

There is little public consultation and no accountability to communities for what is actually built and what is affordable.

“Affordability” rarely means low-cost, which is where the real housing crisis is. If the CRD really wants to make an impact, the new bylaw should focus on building low-cost housing, such as co-operatives. At the very least, they should be defining “affordable” to ensure housing for those most in need.

I asked the CRD to explain these loopholes in the bylaw. I also asked them if they considered the discriminatory impact of their “alternative approval process” on people who are socially or financially disadvantaged to access the complicated technological methods of this negative option voting.

I received no response.

(To vote, go to

Mariann Burka


More housing coming, but services are lacking

Yet again a greedy council is cramming more people in and building yet more housing — the Roundhouse project in Vic West is more than 1,800 units. But where are the services?

We still have no doctors, we need another hospital, we have no walk-in clinics and yet we pay more in property taxes and services every year.

This has got to stop. The Island cannot support any more population growth. The traffic jams are increasing and crime is on the increase. Stop, just stop.

Diana Atkin



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