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Letters Jan. 2: Talking amalgamation, taxes and services, travelling in winter

Letters from our readers: Helping those with mental illness, talking about municipal taxes, questioning amalgamation
A City of Victoria snow plow is seen on Government Street on Dec. 20, 2022, after a snowstorm hit the region. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Community plan update process is flawed

Twice recently, Cadboro Bay residents rejected attempts to get heavy densification into the bay through changing the Local Area Plans. Now Saanich is claiming that Local Area Plans do not fit the Official Community Plan, and can thus be bypassed.

This is an interesting attempt at subverting traditions of local democracy, similar to the Missing Middle Housing Initiative in Victoria, which was born from flawed reasoning from the development lobby in an attempt to bypass traditional local input processes, a dangerous trend against local democracy.

This would be accomplished with what they euphemistically refer to as pre-zoning, something that would allow rezoning that can bypass traditional democratic processes including council votes, community feedback such as from resident associations, through public hearings etc.

The OCP update process, is itself deeply flawed, using once again a survey that was open to anyone in the world, who could fill out the form as many times as they would like without stating who they are, or where they live, something rife for outside manipulation.

Once again, using a phony “local survey” loaded with questions pushing a development/densification agenda looks a lot less like it is driven by local democratic input, than by wider political party interests aligned with the interests of the development lobby, who have communicated to Saanich on this subject.

A development lobby wrote to Saanich last year, saying that the organization “recognizes that planning on a neighbourhood level through Local Area Planning can be very divisive. The fracturing of the community for planning purposes allows entrenched interests in the neighbourhood to dilute the planning process, which in turn hinders progress on the overarching community wide needs, which are well identified in Saanich’s Housing Needs Report”.

With this direction of policy, are our elected officials pursuing an agenda driven by the residents, or by outside interests?

Sasha Izard


Municipalities need to raise more taxes

Re: “A municipal taxpayer’s belated letter to Santa,” Stan Bartlett commentary, Dec. 30.

Dear Stan:

Which municipal services would you like to have cut? If as you say inflation for food is at 10 per cent; how will municipalities be able to offer the same level of service with less money if they don’t raise taxes to at least keep pace with inflation?

I might add that there seems to be an awful lot of whining in your small city considering how lucky you are. I should know, after having just flown over the rest of the world. Perhaps you could all talk about some positive things in your city like the nice new fire station.

Wishing you all the best and a positive attitude in the new year.

Santa (courtesy Matthew Taylor, Victoria)

Stay home at Christmas, use Zoom or the phone

Re: “Not the best time to plan a vacation,” letter, Dec. 29.

I concur with every word of the letter. Our families live in the United States, Great Britain and Canada. It has never occurred to my partner and me to travel to visit our families at the busiest travel time of the year.

They know they are in our thoughts. We can make contact by Zoom and telephone. They also know that we will be alive after Christmas, God willing.

I don’t recall any major airplane crashes this past Christmas, but four people were killed in a bus crash on Saturday on the Okanagan Connector.

And unfortunately probably other crashes when people are waiting for their loved ones to arrive and instead a police car pulls up in front of their beautifully decorated homes, ready to welcome loved ones.

God bless us every one. And please stay home next Christmas.

Vivien Sansom

Qualicum Beach

Earthquake will go beyond boundaries

Re: “Amalgamation? Not in my lifetime,” letter, Dec. 22.

I have no idea what “lifetime” means for your correspondent, but considering my own age, I agree that the chance (or risk) of amalgamation is minimal, but not zero.

It all depends on the “big one,” the huge earthquake that 300 years ago wreaked havoc in these parts, and is certain to do so once again.

The crustal blocks on which we live are in constant motion, that with today’s technology has become measurable, and given the accumulation of stresses, will sooner or later become unbearable.

Greater Victoria, cut off from the rest of Vancouver island by the Malahat, and from the mainland by the Salish Sea, is in a poor position to sort itself out after being struck by the type of disaster that levelled Japan’s Fukushima.

Aid provision will only be justified for an amalgamated emergency response situation, municipal boundaries be damned.

Boudewyn van Oort


Amalgamation may save lives

Another good shake in northern California and a couple northwest of Vancouver Island in the past few weeks remind us to be prepared.

From the household to the government, not being prepared will result in unnecessary suffering, even death as we’ve seen in disasters like Katrina. I’m reviewing our household list of supplies.

Seismic experts tell us there’s a 32 per cent probability of a damaging earthquake here in the next 50 years, a one in three chance, which leads me to wonder about our governments’ planned response to this upcoming event.

Those of us living in the un-amalgamated 13 municipalities voted 70 per cent for amalgamation, twice, and the provincial government’s inadequate response was a report on shared services. If the poor governance and and lack of co-ordination detailed in this report is any indication, it’s now well documented that we’re not as prepared to survive an earthquake as we should be.

The benefit of amalgamation will not likely be lower costs for services, as proven in the numerous examples across Canada. The benefits of amalgamation, in countless ways, is better co-ordination, more efficiency, effective long-term strategic planning and execution. (Ever wonder why our transportation/transit is so challenging in a community of 450,000?)

By the way, the numerous examples across Canada were all amalgamations mandated by the provinces because it’s their responsibility. Municipalities are creatures of provincial law.

Unfortunately for those of us living in the 13 un-amalgamated municipalities, if the predicted earthquake arrives before our provincial masters relieve us of this embarrassing governance, and take the steps necessary to amalgamate our community, I suspect we are in real danger from this lack of co-ordination and poor governance.

Here’s hoping for leadership.

Stephen Ison


Bold action needed to unravel this mess

As Victorians and Canadians across the country see an escalation in crime, one factor that is conveniently omitted from the debate is the history of treatment of those with severe mental illness.

The roots of that crisis can be traced to the deinstitutionalization movement when the fight for human rights and hopes for new treatments resulted in the closure of public psychiatric hospitals, notably Riverview in B.C.

The theory was that treatment would be available in communities “closer to home” — but those services never materialized to the extent needed. This was predictable, considering the cost of replicating specialized services over many communities.

Layered onto this was a change in legislation, in the name of human rights, that made it virtually impossible to have a mentally ill person committed for treatment.

While it is true that committal may have had excessive use, the fact is that a person who is largely out of touch with reality is not capable of making a rational decision regarding treatment. The legislation is too restrictive and ties the hands of those who are in a position to help.

The third layer of the crisis is the availability of illicit, and increasingly dangerous drugs. The fourth is inadequacy in the supply of affordable housing, causing those living on the street to cycle through temporary shelters, jails and emergency rooms, with some becoming a threat to themselves or others.

Trying to unravel the mess that has been created by decades of poor decisions on the part of consecutive governments will take bold action on all these elements that have resulted in the crisis we now face. The question is whether any government has the spine or the stomach to do what it will take to correct decades of poor decision-making.

S.A. McBride

Cordova Bay

Message to humans: Evolve with Earth

Since the beginning of time, human population took until the 19th century to reach 1.6 billion.

In the 20th century we reached 6.1 billion.

One hundred years? Yes, 100 years of affluence and technology.

Pundits say the world population is slowing down. It is too soon to quote firm numbers. If true, the current population have become consummate tool users and consumers.

Mining, manufacturing, shipping and retail rule. Humans are oblivious to the chain of planetary destruction we support as we type on our computers and sip our imported coffees.

Guilty as charged.

We do have the tools to choose to limit humanity’s explosion of individual consumers. We are all consumers. Consumers drive technology.

Now we need to limit the consumption, and perhaps return Earth’s population to a pre-20th-century percentage of the Earth’s diversity.

The spinoffs of success:

Affluence contributes to overconsumption. War and greed drive manufacturing and production. Human existence needs sustainable local agriculture.

Ask yourselves, which part of the equation can I personally control?

This planet proved resilient, but resource development produces waste at all phases from exploration, extraction, shipping, manufacturing and post-use disposal.

Look in the mirror. Ask: what is my impact on the nature and function of the planet’s biodiversity? How can I minimize my footprint on the nature of this planet? This holiday season reflect on our own effect on the future.

The planet does not need us. Humans need a regenerative Mother, Earth.

Evolve with her.

Karen Harris


Major worries about old Bamberton site

I would like to raise my concerns and extreme displeasure with what is happening on the Malahat Lands, formerly known as Bamberton. I understand that there are leases in place permitting industrial use, but at what point do we consider the property to be overburdened by same?

The magnitude of the deforestation on the hillside and the potential runoff into the rivers and Saanich Inlet will be catastrophic. Recent atmospheric rivers of rain, caused by climate change, will probably continue to happen.

Saanich Inlet is the migratory path for salmon to Goldstream. What protective measures are in place to protect them and other marine life?

An independent environmental assessment needs to be done. Tourism is our area’s biggest industry, and the blight this project will put on the Malahat Lands will have a huge negative impact on the pride we have for our province.

Butchart Gardens, Willis Point, Brentwood Bay and Mill Bay, to mention a few, are areas that will be negatively impacted both visually and audibly. Our First Nations have always prided themselves on being one with nature and the land. Please let’s keep it that way.

We are deeply disappointed with the lack of public notice and consultation with local groups and residents of the Inlet, prior to events such as the clear-cutting being completed. We will continue to work in concert with our community to object moving forward with the quarry and foreshore expansion projects as currently proposed.

Please write to your MLA.

Larry McClung



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