Letters Jan. 23: Arrogance of protesters; paying taxes but no vote

Arrogance will cost them support

Re: “Want to change my mind? Don’t punch me in the head,” Jack Knox, Jan. 21.

It’s 3:30 on Wednesday morning. I was sleeping soundly until 1:30 and was woken up by what I thought were some rowdy drunks going home from a bar.

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I live downtown. They usually go away quickly and I can get back to sleep. Not so on Tuesday night.

I gave up at 3:15, as they were still chanting once in a while, but the police obviously made them quieten down.

From what I heard, they are the same group that shut down B.C. Ferries. Funnily enough, after getting coffee, the first article I read was Jack Knox about the protesters.

He is right on when he says you can’t win people over if you punch them in the head. I have protested causes before, but the ones I participated in didn’t disrupt people’s lives to the point these people are.

Protest all you want, but don’t think your cause is more important than the people you are trying to sway.

Some of us agree with the cause, but it’s your methods that will alienate people.

Other people went to work exhausted on Wednesday because you thought it would be powerful to protest in the middle of the night.

You might have lost a few supporters … not because of your cause, but your arrogance.

Carol Dunsmuir

Protesters violated travellers’ civil liberties

Re: “Pipeline protesters block ferry traffic,” Jan. 21.

Monday’s demonstration at Swartz Bay ferry terminal was extremely provocative and as such, could not be regarded as a peaceful assembly. The fact that violence did not break out was due to the forbearance of those waiting to reach the ferries, and possibly the presence of the RCMP.

By physically barring travellers from entering the terminal, the demonstrators were, in effect, committing an assault on those individuals’ civil liberties and freedom of movement.

A lawfully approved gathering on the grounds of the legislature would have been appropriate, and the public would have listened without being antagonized and individually inconvenienced. As a result, sympathy for their cause was compromised.

David A. Clark

Hereditary chiefs, premier lose credibility

There are two entities that have suffered credibility loss as a result of the issue that inspired Monday’s ferry-traffic blockade.

First credibility-loss award goes to the Wet’suwet’en. With their usurpation of the five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils, they have no doubt lost considerable support from many in both native and non-native constituencies.

Second award goes to our premier. John Horgan believes that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) doesn’t apply to the Coastal GasLink project, because the project was authorized before B.C. adopted UNDRIP.

The relevance of that reasoning may well be best judged by both native and non-native constituencies in conjunction with our next provincial election.

Ron Johnson

City council should pay for business losses

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

Sorry Jack, this isn’t a “dilemma”! It is incompetence by the city’s elected councillors, who have no problem approving catered lunches, but who wince and whine when it comes to cutting the cheque for an appropriate level of policing for their constituents’ safety — those same folks who pay for their pizzas.

A class-action lawsuit might get their attention, for knowingly exposing the citizenry, that they are elected and entrusted to serve effectively, to criminal activity.

When these items are pilfered from businesses, these same businesses should send an invoice to city council for their replacement costs.

I suspect this council spends more time on the stress of deciding what kind of toppings they want on their subsidized pizzas than dealing with pressing issues facing our city.

John Stevenson

Paying taxes but not getting a vote

Jack Knox’s piece on per capita policing costs got me thinking about the city’s disenfranchised taxpayers who share the bill. I’m referring to all those who own or rent commercial real estate. Here’s what’s wrong: Either directly or indirectly, they pay a significant portion of the city’s annual tax assessments, yet they don’t get to vote.

Provincial legislation treats these taxpayers unfairly. Unlike the city’s residential tenants, who pay property taxes in their rent and are properly allowed to vote, commercial tenants typically pay their property taxes in the same manner, yet are prohibited from voting. To add insult to injury, the city’s commercial tenants and property owners pay more than three times the residential mill rate.

The city’s shop owners, professional firms and service providers, business owners and commercial property owners should have the right to vote. It would bring fairness to municipal elections. Effective engagement would assist in bringing forward council candidates with business expertise for consideration by all voters at election time.

Enfranchising the city’s business and commercial property owners would be a double win. First, all taxpayers would have the same right to vote. Second, an engaged business segment may result in future city councils having a more informed and focused way forward, including addressing the city’s challenges around policing.

Bill Wellburn

Unrelated residents in one home

The most contentious issue up for discussion at the Jan. 20 Saanich council meeting was concerning the number of unrelated persons legally allowed to live in a home in a single-family zone.

The current limit is four. The vast majority of municipalities in our area also set four as the limit.

Saanich staff have recommended that the limit be increased to six. But councillors Ned Taylor, Nick de Vries and Rebecca Mersereau advocated hard for no limit. None.

Let’s take a four-bedroom home in Gordon Head, move in four to five bunk beds, charge $650 per head and you’ve got yourself a tidy little business. No oversight, no business licence, no concern for neighbours.

That is the direction they seem to want to take in Saanich. I oppose that vision.

Upzoning, or eliminating single-family zoning, is a recent strategy being implemented in some western U.S. states. The basic idea is that if you remove all barriers to housing types, more multi-family units will be built, or existing homes will be replaced with multi-family units across all areas, thus increasing housing stock and hopefully lowering prices. It’s a noble thought, but not a solution for Saanich.

I believe we are moving forward in Saanich to increase our housing stock. Cottage homes, replacing a single home with two smaller lots/home, granny suites, increasing the height of apartments in transit zones, introducing a “boarding house zone” to allow for multiple persons living in one house, restricting on-street parking, I support all of it.

What I do not support is unregulated, unchecked growth in our family neighbourhoods.

Vernon Lord

No queue-jumping for Meghan and Harry

In all the discussion over who will pay for Meghan and Harry’s security costs, the media in Canada, and particularly in the U.K., seem to forget that Canada has strict guidelines for who can and cannot immigrate to this country.

There is a clear application process for receiving “permanent residency” in Canada, which Meghan and Harry will need to follow if they want to stay here longer than six months in a year.

Whatever immigration avenue they pursue, they had better be explicit, because if there is one thing Canadians hate more than paying for someone else’s bodyguards, it’s queue-jumpers. Even wealthy ones.

With simplistic media coverage like this, is it any wonder that thousands of people around the globe show up at the Canadian border with their luggage in hand assuming that they can simply “move to Canada,” or that visitors extend their stay indefinitely, hoping no one will notice….

David Rumsey
Salt Spring Island

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