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Letters Jan. 24: Maritime museum, Victoria's budget

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The CPR Steamship building in Victoria’s Inner Harbour would be an ideal home for the Maritime Museum of B.C., letter-writers say. TIMES COLONIST FILE The CPR Steamship building in Victoria’s Inner Harbour would be an ideal home for the Maritime Museum of B.C., letter-writers say. TIMES COLONIST FILE

CPR building key to our maritime history

During this new year of continuing challenges on the global scene, we see another opportunity for Victoria and B.C. to exercise some forward-looking leadership to promote the country’s, and the province’s, connections to the world.

I am speaking of the changing tenancies at the CPR Steamship Building, which once again offer an opening to get the Maritime Museum of B.C. back on the waterfront.

MMBC has been pursuing this goal for some years. Its current development plans involve a planned partnership with local First Nations to enable the telling of a balanced story of seafaring from ancient and traditional mariners right up to the modern, technical enablers of international trade and migration.

At a time when the federal government is pursuing an agenda (Oceans Protection Plan 2.0) that address the complex harmonies between economic, cultural, environmental and technical aspects of the sea, what could be a better signal of engagement than restoring the MMBC to a prominent, spacious location in which to display its world-class collection?

As one whose early career aspirations were fed by recurrent visits to the MMBC, I urge widespread public and ministerial support for what is not just a cultural or tourist destination, but is an important element of sustaining B.C.’s pre-eminent role as a maritime portal to Canada, and a window on the world.

Let the CPR Steamship Building once again play a central role in promoting Canada’s marine history, and our maritime future.

Rear-Admiral Nigel Greenwood, CMM, CD, RCN (Ret’d)

Master Mariner

Victoria

Museum decision is long overdue

Re: “Bateman Gallery, Maritime Museum looking to trade spaces,” Jan 20.

With the Bateman Gallery deciding to move elsewhere, and with the public announcement of the Belleville project, the stars are perfectly aligned to restore the magnificent and historic CPR Steamship Building to public use as the much-needed permanent waterfront home for the Maritime Museum of B.C.

The space being vacated by Bateman Gallery provides the opportunity for the museum to establish a beachhead operation in the Steamship Building in ­co-operation with the provincial government while the building is used as a temporary terminal facility for several years during the construction of the Belleville Phase 2 project. Following completion of the Belleville project, the museum could then take over the entire building.

In that building, the museum would inject significant new energy and vitality into cultural attractions in the central downtown area for tourists and for residents. It would contribute significantly to the development of a cultural precinct around the shores of the Inner Harbour.

The museum could continue its multi-year strategy to engage and collaborate with local First Nations to use the waterfront lease in front of the Steamship Building to tell their stories of their ancient and continuing maritime culture.

This would be a very overt and powerful public example of reconciliation in action: A blend of settler maritime culture on land joined at the high tide line with Indigenous peoples’ maritime culture on the water.

The Steamship Building is the unique and ideal permanent home for the museum. This opportunity has many ­compelling aspects, and timing is ideal. This has been a good idea for a good ­number of years. Let’s finally make it happen.

Tim Rendell

Victoria

The obvious location for the maritime museum

Re: “Bateman Gallery, Maritime Museum looking to trade spaces,” Jan 20.

Ever since the Maritime Museum of B.C. was obliged to leave its Bastion Square base in 2014, it’s been obvious to most of us that the CPR Steamship Building was the ideal venue for it.

It’s heartening to see the province and City of Victoria doing the right thing, after exhausting all other options.

Jonathan Stoppi

Saanich

Lots of extra money from new properties

The tax base in Victoria has a risen a lot in recent years with all the new construction. These new buildings lead to more tax revenue on their own accord.

Surely the extra money derived from this source should result in a lesser requirement for tax on existing properties. Certainly city costs have had inflationary issues, but the tax increase should be able to be somewhat less than that cause.

There are a lot of issues causing strain on people’s budgets, and a big property-tax increase only adds to that problem. This issue is also another reason for the sale of rental properties.

Larry Ware

Saanich

Huge budget increase comes at a bad time

As Stan Bartlett pointed out in a recent letter, Victoria’s proposed budget increase is much higher (almost twice as much) than either Vancouver or Kamloops, despite the similar difficulties facing all three cities.

The previous council is partially to blame. They knew the lost revenue associated with COVID would have a drastic effect on city finances and they should have cut expenses on all discretionary projects.

They didn’t, and now the present council has inherited a worse result than necessary.

However, it appears that this council, seemingly supported and financed by the same people and groups as the last, and following the same agenda, will do nothing to alleviate the burden to the taxpayers and will raise our taxes by nine per cent.

This comes at a bad time for homeowners. Many are retired and living on fixed incomes, and already face rising costs due to inflation. Others face rising interest rates on their huge mortgages.

Richard Volet

Victoria

Want to trim costs? Here are three ideas

With the City of Victoria predicting a tax increase of about nine per cent, Mayor Marianne Alto and councillors are looking at essential services that cannot be reduced.

I would suggest three non-essential items that should be cut from city budget.

1. Cancel the contract with the private contractor that plows bike lanes during snow storms but ignores sidewalks. What is the sense if only bike lanes are cleared — does one carry his/her bike from ­Fairfield two miles to access three blocks of plowed bike lanes? Makes no sense.

2. Artist in residence. What is actually accomplished with this position during difficult times, while homeowners are being taxed out of their homes?

3. Poet in residence. Another silly position. The mayor and councillors do not need poems read to them during meetings. What we need are people who can make sensible decisions.

I realize eliminating these positions/contracts is a drop in the bucket of overall expenses, but the perception is that these are a total waste of money.

Paul Baldwin

Victoria

Publish the salaries of Victoria’s employees

The City of Victoria’s proposed 8.9 per cent tax increase is on top of an already bloated budget.

The first step in a review should be to publish the list of salaries, benefits and pensions paid to staff earning more than $80,000 so we can see how they compare with what the rest of the world lives on.

Jason Austin

Victoria

Don’t ignore advice from city staff members

Re: “3 houseplex, townhouse projects clear hurdle at Victoria council,” Jan. 20

We found the statements by Victoria councillors Jeremy Caradonna, Dave Thompson, and Krista Loughton on their respective rationales for overriding the staff recommendations on the Belton Street housing projects quite ­troubling.

Councillors Margaret Gardiner and Stephen Hammond’s responses appear to us to be much wiser, with a sense of wider experience and perspective.

It is difficult to support a position that would ignore the experience being offered by city staff, who are hired ­ostensibly and hopefully because of their educational and experiential background.

There is much more to be said, but we’ll address that directly to council.

Susan Nickum

Margaret Narain

Victoria

Farmer community says cull is long overdue

The Peninsula and Area Agriculture Commission would like to express dissatisfaction with the methodology of the Capital Regional District’s Canada goose cull survey.

We think a more appropriate approach would be to have a decision from a panel of stakeholders, scientists and experts in the field. The population of the CRD is largely urban, and very likely unaffected by the overpopulation of resident Canada geese.

The negative opt-in survey method does not accurately represent the disproportional burden that the farming stakeholders carry.

Farmers are collectively spending thousands of hours dealing with geese and their fallout: stringing fields, chasing flocks, evaluating damage and flagging off contaminated crops to maintain food safety and testing water.

We lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, which over the past decades has totalled into the millions. We are monitoring for avian flu, which is carried by geese, having to destroy flocks and undergo assessments from the Canada Food and Inspection Agency.

We are choosing not to plant fields, and our soil protecting cover crops are annihilated. The list goes on.

The psychological burden of this threat that is becoming more severe every year weighs heavily on a population already known to be under mental-health strain. We can’t begin to calculate the impact on Island food security and on the costs that farmers are carrying.

Some farmers now have given up planting certain crops.

We must have a resident Canada goose cull in the CRD. It should have happened years ago. There is solid research across many sectors, and from many special interest groups from salmon, to wild birds, to native plants, and to human health — that there are far too many resident Canada geese.

Yet again, we are sending a large ­portion of our commission’s yearly ­education budget to support GOMIES/GOOSE (a small Canada geese control group) to support their goose control efforts.

We should not have to do this, but we loathe the repercussions from yet another year of inaction from the CRD.

Robin Tunnicliffe

Chair, Peninsula Agriculture Commission

Let’s try kindness before we start culling

Re: “Finally, tough action being taken on our geese,” editorial, Jan. 20.

If these are truly “our” geese, why are only a handful of Capital Regional District residents allowed to take part in the planning process of goose management? It’s correct to state that wildlife belongs to all British Columbians.

In fact, as per the Migratory Bird Convention Act, fines of $270 per offence can be imposed on anyone interfering with an egg, a bird or a nest.

Municipalities can sidestep the act by acquiring a permit from the federal government. That leaves the municipalities to justify to the federal ministry the need for a cull, presumably having conducted studies of most recent science on wildlife management, and having engaged all residents.

The editorial states: “Bizarrely, using this solution, only residents who oppose the scheme are allowed to vote on it. Those who might support it have no voice.”

It can be seen another way. More than 33,000 (10 per cent of the population) signatures on the electoral response forms are required for opposition to killing, leaving 90 per cent of the CRD population to simply remain silent and allow the CRD board to assume that they are the majority with a cull agenda.

We have experience in the CRD with compassionate, non-lethal wildlife ­control. We also know that the research needs to be much more vigorous than it has been. Kinder methods really work, let’s make that the first response.

Kelly Carson

Victoria

Parents should look for warning signs

The details released about the Auchterlonie brothers’ actions are shocking but, sadly, not all that surprising.

Going back to Columbine in 1999, we’ve seen the same picture of the assailants emerge, time and again.

The families never had a clue as to what was going on in their own homes with their loved ones, until after the tragic event had concluded, usually resulting in one or more deaths, not to mention the wounded officers and their families and the traumatized bystanders.

Shyness can be outgrown or overcome; a person with an introverted personality is simply someone who feels more comfortable focusing inwardly, and enjoys spending time alone on hobbies or in the company of one or two people.

These are normal personality characteristics.

If you’re the parent of a teen or young adult, please take a long, sober, honest look at them. If they’re loners, have ­trouble forming friendships or are ­downright anti-social; or if they’ve been bullied at school — these are all warning signs.

We’ve seen these characteristics reported in the media, time and again. Respect for privacy is one thing, but building explosive devices in one’s home, and amassing a small armoury — what possible good end could that come to?

This poor family has received a life sentence; what would they give to be able to go back in time and talk to their loved ones, find out what they were interested in, what they thought about and how they spent their time.

Could there have been a different outcome? We’ll never know. One thing is certain, though — no one wants to walk in these folks’ shoes.

Lorraine Lindsay

Victoria

Boudreau’s firing shows what the Canucks lack

Hopefully, part of the proposed rebuild of the Canucks organization will start with some class.

Tony Southwell

Saanich

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• Email letters to: letters@timescolonist.com

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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