Letters Jan. 21: Keep perspective on Victoria council lunches; create one police force

Free government food? Not in my time

Re: “Taxpayers to keep footing $10,000 bill for council lunches,” Jan. 18.

So it costs taxpayers $10,000 to provide catered lunches to Victoria city councillors, who claim that other government bodies provide such perks.

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Well, during my 42 years of employment, my employer (the federal government) never treated me to a catered lunch!

Perhaps Coun. Ben Isitt would be willing to make sandwiches for the gang and Mayor Lisa Helps could deliver them to city hall meetings on her bicycle.

Result: a healthier mayor and happier taxpayers!

Cheera J. Crow
Victoria

Keep the lunch cost in perspective

This large-font, top-of-the-fold story needs to be put into some perspective.

Assuming a 40-hour work week, a councillor’s $45,384 annual salary works out to $21.81 an hour.

For this paltry amount, they are expected to manage a proposed 2020 budget of $300 million. Providing them with a lunch is a small token of appreciation.

I have been to many council meeting over the years and am amazed at the diligence required to make informed decisions about complex issues. If we want councillors other than the financially independent, councillors need to be paid a salary commensurate with their responsibilities.

If you want to get irate about taxpayer dollars, consider the Nov. 25 story in the business section: “B.C. provided $830 million in fossil fuel subsidies in (fiscal) 2017-18.”

Jim Pine
Victoria

A shameless sense of entitlement

It would appear that most of the current elected residents of what should be known as the “Puzzle Palace on Pandora” have finally come clean on the meaning of “feeding at the public trough.”

Their shameless sense of self entitlement in consuming $10,000 of taxpayer money on working lunches, because they “have stressful jobs and don’t make a lot of money,” should enrage the taxpayers of Victoria who have to foot the bill.

The myth of there being “no free lunch” is apparently now dispelled.

Anne Varley
Brentwood Bay

Low-paid workers pay for own lunches

The comment that “other government bodies provide similar lunches” takes me back to my boyhood. I can just hear my mother saying “… and if other government bodies jumped off a cliff, I suppose you would, too.”

I would like to address the “small” amount ($45,384) that the councillors get paid for their work in two ways:

1. I work as security in the capital region at just a touch above minimum wage. To get my $30,000 a year (before taxes), I work between 40 and 60 hours a week and I don’t get a lunch break. I have to eat my personally purchased gas station sandwich and Coke on the run between my paid-for duties. Where’s my free lunch?

2. The Times Colonist reported on Dec. 6 that the renumeration a councillor receives is not limited to base pay. Several councillors receive additional money for attendance at committee meetings. This doesn’t seem to faze Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe, who was one of the advocates for buying her own lunches, even though she received only $200 more than her base salary in 2018.

I would also guess that several councillors have additional income not related to their council jobs. At least one owns their own company.

The suggestion that Indigenous peoples would be offended if they didn’t “break bread” before the meetings was just a way to blame Native Canadians for your free lunch. It must make your mom so proud.

Council’s lunches cost “about” $1,000 a month, and based on my experience with politicians, that translates into $1,200 to $1,499.99 a month. So they budgeted $10,000 for the year, and they will certainly exceed that.

If all of us low-paid peons have to buy our own lunches, why do they get exempt? Why, in a year where Victoria stands to go further in debt, does council insist on spending on a blatant luxury item?

E. Gordon Howe
Victoria

It’s a lunch break, it’s only a lunch break

So the taxpayers of Victoria are to continue to pay for lunch for our overworked councillors. One justification offered was that the freebie offered the opportunity for councillors to “break bread together.”

If council members ventured out of their entitled glass house and checked out any lunch room in this city they might be surprised as to what they would see.

Groups of hard-working Victoria taxpayers laughing, chatting, joking and enjoying a well-earned break from a day at work while recharging their batteries with a lunch they provided for themselves.

We don’t pretentiously call it “breaking bread together.” We call it a lunch break.

Maybe Lisa, Ben, Jeremy, Sharmarke, Geoff and Sarah could stop by and check it out sometime. You really do need to understand who’s paying for that free lunch you’re enjoying.

Paul Cunnington
Victoria

Photographers, leave Meghan alone

A photographer followed Meghan Markle to the airport, then took photographs of her with a telephoto lens from the short-stay car park. The pictures appeared in one of the British tabloids.

I hope I’m not alone in expressing deep disgust at this behaviour. While we welcome Harry and Meghan, paparazzi are not welcome on Vancouver Island.

Was the photographer a foreigner, in which case did they enter Canada on a tourist visa, or with a work permit? If they have a work permit, then why were they granted it?

If they don't have a work permit, they should be arrested and made to leave.

Even if they are entitled to be here, they need to be told in no uncertain terms that this behaviour (stalking) is totally unacceptable as well as illegal in this country.

Richard Taylor
Victoria

Forget the royals, we have other concerns

I have always been interested in the Royal Family, having emigrated to Canada in the late ’60s from Britain.

But all the press and television time being spent on Prince Harry and Meghan is unbelievable. I saw Harry on television speaking under an archway,with overhanging leaves. I turned the television on in the middle of his speech so couldn’t really grasp the content. But I don’t care, enough is enough.

Let Harry and Meghan discuss with the rest of the Royal Family what their plans are. I am sure the Queen is devastated, but if Meghan has persuaded Harry that this is what she wants, let them get on with it.

We can turn our thoughts to the families who were killed in the recent plane crash and all the other dreadful things, such as God save the world if Donald Trump is re-elected.

Vivien Sansom
Qualicum Beach

Province should create one police force

Re: “LoJo shops battle thieves amid policing dilemma,” Jack Knox, Jan. 18.

Jack Knox hit the nail on the head in his article about thefts in the LoJo area and the problems of relating to the current model of funding a patchwork of municipal and RCMP forces in Greater Victoria.

The full amalgamation of the region’s municipalities may or may not happen, but surely it's a no brainer to have a single police force covering the capital region.

The extra costs of policing the downtown Victoria core should be fairly shared between Victoria and its neighbouring municipalities whose citizens can enjoy all the benefits of the major events that happen there.

Added to that, a single police force would have more specialized units to deal with major crime and provide a more joined up, efficient service to all communities.

It’s high time that the B.C. government stepped up and showed some political courage to do the right thing in legislating this single Greater Victoria Police Department into being.

Our local municipal politicians will never make it happen by themselves.

Tony Boardman
Esquimalt

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