Letters Jan. 19: Dealing with the homeless; councillors and entitlement; tourists and COVID-19

Province is committed to providing housing

Re: “We must be better neighbours to each other,” commentary, Jan. 16.

I wholeheartedly agree that we need to be better neighbours to each other. And that compassion is important. I’ve been blogging on these very topics most Sundays since August.

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What’s also important are facts.

Steve Woolrich’s account of the Regatta Point Park removal of a man’s property and his assertion that “the man walked away with nothing,” isn’t entirely true.

Nor is the picture displayed with his article an accurate account of what the city’s parks staff, bylaw and police found when they attended the site.

There was garbage, household items and other unsalvageable items spread throughout the park. It took a team of staff 40 minutes to clean up the very small park. The owner wasn’t present until closer to the end, and when he returned, he wasn’t surprised that a clean-up was underway.

A VicPD officer on site personally helped to load a tent, tent poles and a few other items onto a cart for the resident.

The real tragedy is that he took what little could be salvaged after the rain and wind at that waterfront site, and likely moved to another park, rather than into housing with the supports he needs.

Over the next 73 days, the province has committed to providing indoor accommodation to this man and close to 200 others sleeping in parks.

The city is helping in every way we can. In the meantime, there can be no “us and them,” no “bad guys” — not the ­people living in parks, nor city staff on the front lines in a global health ­pandemic doing the best job they can in incredibly difficult circumstances.

Lisa Helps
Mayor of Victoria

Entitled councillors discourage the rest of us

Re: “Travelling council members should quit,” editorial, Jan. 15.

The editorial represented the views, I believe, of most voters clearly.

It is so discouraging to continue to view the politicians flouting the recommendations to restrict travel, and believe they can give a simple apology and everything is just OK, and the electors will be satiated.

Today the politicians overuse their new vocabulary: transparency, accountability, followed by an apology. This current speak is also built upon their new age political foundation of: It isn’t a crime unless you are caught.

Generally, most these miscreants were exposed. The Metchosin situation must be most discouraging to their electorate, when the mayor defends the transgression of a councillor.

The only current-speak word that was not quoted in these apologies was Entitlement, but I am sure that will be included in coming apologies. After all, aren’t the politicians the Entitled?

Roland Beaulieu

Most of us would have to resign

Re: “Travelling council members should quit,” editorial, Jan. 15.

Why stop with councillors? Here’s a short list of a few others to target:

• A Leger poll revealed that nearly 50 per cent of Canadians visited with friends and family over the holidays. It is unlikely most of them tested prior to, and after contact and quarantined for 14 days. That’s a lot of resignations!

• Special focus on those who travelled to the Interior to holiday with family in small groups. This has led to a demonstrable increase in infection in the region.

• Large industrial workplaces are the second-largest source of infections after long-term care. Who should resign here?

• Canada’s billionaires have increased their wealth by billions as service workers everywhere lost their jobs and workers in factories/resource camps put their lives on the line to feed their families. We called this profiteering during the Second World War.

This should cover most of us. Moral outrage is easy and requires no action on our part other than sharing our opinion.

The more challenging course of action is to tone down the outrage on individual actions and focus on getting through this pandemic collectively with our humanity intact.

Bharat Chandramouli

We expect more from elected officials

Re: “Travelling council members should quit,” editorial, Jan. 15.

Elected officials caught travelling against all advice should not resign.

They deserve all the criticism, but we cannot afford to toss away their experience and commitment to satisfy the outrage machine, nor can we take on the cost to replace them.

Instead, I would ask these people to look in the mirror and remind themselves that we are counting on them for leadership.

We should not be surprised if we soon see a viral spike timed to the breaking point of public trust in our leaders.

Steve Ireland
Denman Island

Dereliction of duty, with deadly results

Re: “Travelling council members should quit,” editorial, Jan. 15.

Widespread anger over Canadian politicians and other leaders travelling contrary to the recommendations of governments and health experts has been directed largely at the astonishing hypocrisy of their “do as I say, not as I do” behaviour — appropriately so, because their tone-deaf attitude of entitlement is outrageous.

But because we elected these politicians to lead us, their actions convey another message: “Do as I do, not as I say.” We expect the people we elect to behave in ways that indicate how the rest of us should act, so their flaunting of ­pandemic guidelines effectively grants their constituents permission to ignore them too.

If the general population were to follow this implicit “do as I do” advice, the devastating impact on public health and death rates would be unimaginably horrendous — and it would be a direct result of politicians travelling against their own governments’ pleas, thereby conveying the message that it’s OK for others to do likewise.

For such a deadly dereliction of duty, quitting seems an insufficient ­consequence.

Robin Farquhar

Dubow deserves a second chance

Re: “Travelling council members should quit,” editorial, Jan. 15.

There have been many letters and an editorial asking that Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow resign.

In his apologies to his constituents for having travelled to Somalia to visit family during the pandemic, he states that “I understand there is no good excuse and it is with humility and gratitude that I serve the people of Victoria.”

I believe his apology to be sincere. Dubow spent 20 years as a refugee and, after coming to Canada in 2012, worked with non-profit organizations and volunteered with the Coalition for Victims of Torture, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Crime Reduction and Education Program and Tenancy Rights organizations.

A year after becoming a Canadian citizen, he was elected as a councillor in Victoria. In 2020, Sharmarke received the RBC Top 25 Immigrant Award that recognizes outstanding work by immigrants to Canada.

There is no arguing that he has betrayed the trust of his constituents by his decision to travel, but I suggest that, instead of asking for his resignation, he be given a second chance to continue to be, in the words of the Immigrant Award, “an active voice for an affordable, ­inclusive, thriving city.”

Elizabeth Garrett
Oak Bay

Tourists still come to Revelstoke

I live in Revelstoke, a small city of about 7,000. We typically grow substantially due to tourism. We’re a resort community, like Whistler, and people come for snowmobiling and ski vacations.

Actually, people are still coming. Licence plates from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

I don’t blame them, I guess. Some visitors explained they came because bars are closed in Calgary and they miss going out. The local brewery they visited is now closed. The owner contracted COVID-19, but surely that’s a coincidence.

Some visitors explained there’s less COVID-19 here than Ontario so it’s good they can get away. And the restaurant that closed due to COVID-19 exposure couldn’t have been because of the rows of Albertan vehicles parked out front, right?

I know Revelstoke has the worst case per capita rate in the province and one of my friends had it, but they “recovered.” They don’t like to eat anymore because they can’t taste or smell and they usually like to ski, but the vertigo kills the vibe. But at least they’re alive, right?

You wouldn’t mind if I come vacation in Victoria there for a bit to get away from it all? My nephews and parents live there and, apparently, I’ve been hiding for no reason.

The Sandman Hotel chain ­literally emailed a promo for 45 per cent off standard room rates for “my next ­adventure.”

See you soon?

Ian Ward


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