Letters July 13: Indigenous leaders show leadership; separate dangerous from unfortunate

Screen the dangerous from the unfortunate

Willi Boepple makes a point, repeatedly, in her July 7 piece describing the homeless experience: There are a lot of violent criminals to be found in that population, who make the lives of the homeless much direr than they already are.

This is a point that commenters on this subject have also repeatedly raised in their complaints about the problem.

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People understand that many of the homeless are ill or down on their luck or have some valid explanation behind their condition.

But there is another group, the habitual criminals, including violent offenders, who have carved out a bolt-hole amongst the homeless, and use it as a base to continue their thuggish behaviour.

Of course, the homeless also constitute a ready source of prey to them.

These are the same people who break into our homes and cars and practise other crimes of convenience and ­opportunity, as well as confronting civic workers attempting to perform their duties.

We read about them regularly in the TC. The story invariably ends with the words “was released on recognizance with a promise to appear,” or “several outstanding warrants,” or that old ­favourite, “violation of the terms of parole.”

Not too surprising that they have come to understand that they can follow their chosen calling with impunity. Punishment consists, at worst, of a day in remand with a couple meals thrown in and a bed for the night.

What is wrong with this picture?

If there is ever to be any progress made on the homeless file, certainly it must begin with screening out the dangerous from the merely unfortunate, and finding some real method of punishing and preventing their activities.

Michel Murray
Saanich

Changes are needed in certain shelters

Thanks to Willi Boepple for her articulate, informed and brave commentary showing us her experiences of what unfolds behind the doors of certain shelters.

I remember her from several decades ago when she was caretaker of Francis King Regional Park. She was an excellent gatekeeper of this little oasis where she was respected for her diligence in overseeing the trails/boardwalk and for the nature centre.

How low we have descended as a society when the true homeless feel a tent is safer than the shelters we smugly and righteously create to put a good face on how we treat our impoverished?

Until, of course, a whistleblower exposes that all is not as it should be behind closed doors of certain shelters.

Why does the sheltering system house the true homeless with the drug abusers, the mentally ill and the criminals? Maybe it is time to make distinctions and consciously separate the categories, the need for more dedicated mental health and detox facilities being long-standing needs.

And if employees are stealing residents’ belongings and food meant for those in their care — shame on you.

Willi is indeed a feisty, gritty and courageous woman. And may her courage help shake up City Hall, provincial government and others with the power to truly make changes to this current appalling Band-Aid solution.

Bee Mackend
Nanoose Bay

Indigenous leaders show real leadership

I’ve been waiting for Victoria’s mayor and council to come forward and declare their position on vandalism, violence, illegal public demonstrations and destruction of public assets.

What are their plans for the safety of Victorians? Why are police standing by witnessing people breaking laws and not intervening? Why are there no denouncements?

Frankly, they seem incapable of intervening in any meaningful way. I believe their inaction is tacit approval that encourages more of the same.

It seems the mayor and council are abdicating their responsibility for keeping citizens safe and enforcing our laws. Their silence seems like a complete abdication of their duties and responsibilities.

Victoria is turning into a dangerous, lawless community. Businesses are turning to locks, cameras, gates and private security services to protect themselves. Residential developments are similarly forced to armour their buildings.

I’m grateful to the Indigenous nations who stepped forward and are filling the void created by council’s abdication of leadership. These Indigenous leaders are demonstrating real leadership, real concern and are stepping in to prevent further destruction.

It’s time for the mayor and council to step up or step down for Victoria. Victorians need safety and protection.

Jim Fliczuk
Victoria

Weep for children, not for a statue

After reading the July 6 letters about the Capt. James Cook statue, my reaction is that the letters are far worse than the act they deplore.

The defacing or removal of a statute that symbolizes the colonial conquest and oppression that First Nations have endured seems perfectly understandable.

The response of most of the letter-writers does not. Fear-mongering about anarchy is laughable; do these letter-writers ever go to downtown Victoria?

Unless one is poor or homeless, the streets of Victoria are as safe, maybe safer than most cities. No impending anarchy or chaos lurks around any corner.

Instead of worrying about “vandalism” and “anarchy,” one might think about why a statue of Cook was the target of Indigenous peoples’ rage.

One might instead feel humiliation, shame at the role that the making of Canada played in the suffering of First Nations peoples.

Residential schools were part of the making of Canada, part of the nation-building project that pushed the Anglo-European civilizing mission as “good for the natives,” a sort of thinking that not surprisingly led to the children of those who did not fit into the “civilized” mould being ripped away from their ­parents and forced into residential schools, where they all suffered and an unknown but clearly large number of children died.

Children. Rather than weeping over the destruction of a symbol of colonial conquest, we should be weeping for all those children.

Dr. Mark Baker
North Saanich

With the graves, are we being played?

It never ceases to amaze me how people can be swayed to believe without any research into what they now espouse as absolute fact. The virtue signalling and moral indignation, the shaming and calls of racism and the woke word of the day, “colonialism.”

Stop telling me to read about history when it’s clear from letters claiming genocide and newly found unmarked graves, those letter-writers never bothered to read the Truth and Reconciliation report. I’m sure you all believe there were axe-wielding nuns at this point.

As the report states, the schools were government-sanctioned and farmed out to various religious groups. They were all underfunded, and they were not given budgets to send the children home for burial.

The deaths were mainly from disease, and were not all First Nation. The graves were not mass burial pits, and were marked with crosses of wood that deteriorated.

So I hope all the indignation you propagate, fomenting those who would rather destroy than repair has you preparing your apology to society.

It appears some of these letters are so off the mark they should be emblazoned at the base of the statue called “the woke enabler.”

When the big payday comes and 20 years pass, people will ask, did all that rhetoric and money really change anything?

Ask yourselves: What has everything we have done so far netted?

It will never be enough, so it will never end. Do you ever feel like you’re being played?

Tim Murphy
Esquimalt

So, have you seen the other countries?

Again and again, yet another letter-writer claims: “Canada is the best country on Earth … Victoria is the best place in Canada.”

I’m amazed that so many people have visited and lived in the 195 countries in the world and the 10,000 cities, to be able to proclaim loud and clear that Canada and Victoria are the very best.

I wish I had travelled that far and wide to be able to make such a proclamation.

John Vanden Heuvel
(Very happy to be in Victoria)

Seek consensus on Canada’s name

In 2018 and 2019, New Zealand held referendums on the formal adoption of the original Maori name, Aotearoa, as the official name for New Zealand.

The move was defeated, but the use of the term is commonplace throughout the country with Maori and Pakeha (white) people.

I think it is high time that Kanata, or Canada as we Pakeha now call it, held a similar consensus-seeking exercise.

Also, the unofficial Canadian flag redesign, with its Indigenous origins and motif, would be a beautiful and much needed further step towards reconciliation.

I know some will disagree, but we can’t build a moral future on an immoral past.

Len Dafoe
Nanoose Bay

The mob will not be satisfied

A progressive mob destroys the statue of Capt. James Cook. Cowardly police and politicians do nothing.

They probably hope that giving a little will satisfy the mob. They are wrong.

If you are not prepared to give everything, do not give anything.

Kris Zmudzinski
Victoria

Will Deuce Days appeal to social-justice warriors?

Wonderful news that Destination Greater Victoria is stepping up to continue the Deuce Days event.

Let’s hope that our local warriors for social justice (as they would define it) do not see the assembly of fine autos as an opportunity to graduate from ­defacing and destroying public statutes and churches to vandalizing private ­property.

Richard McCandless
Saanich

Simple pleasures help us to live the dream

A warm Sunday afternoon. The dappled sunlight pushes through the Garry oaks. A light zephyr breeze moves the air to keep us cool.

Here we are, two golden oldies, sitting together on our small patio. The water fountain gurgles away and the pots of roses and geraniums surround us with a blaze of colour.

We have our books and a salted caramel choc ice each.

What could be better than this? Simple pleasures.

We are “living the dream.”

We count our many blessings, we are grateful, and say “thank you” every day.

Keith Murdoch
Victoria

Justin Trudeau and his spending

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau learned well from his spendthrift father how to use the public purse to pay his electioneering expenses.

Not only has he doubled our national debt in only a few short years from $650 billion to about $1.3 trillion, but the promises continue during this pre-election blitz where he saves the Liberal Party’s purse by using the public‘s money for his travels in the guise of official government business.

His uncontrolled spending to save us during COVID-19 was not enough (it continues) as he promises B.C. billions more, for which more debt will be heaped on the federal treasury.

I’m only glad I won’t be around to witness the wrath of our children and grandchildren who will have the burden to repay the excesses of this government for decades to come.

Stanley Brygadyr
Saanich

Update Victoria’s bylaws regarding construction

It’s time that Victoria updated its bylaws relating to building permits. I’m not talking about those where zoning changes are required and the community must be consulted. I’m talking about construction on an individual property.

I have three suggestions to make.

First, there is nothing in the building bylaws that pertain to digging a trench. There is a bylaw about how close to the property line a finished structure can be built.

But during the construction phase, a trench must be dug larger than the finished structure so the foundation or pipes can be laid. Thus, a trench can be dug immediately adjacent to the property line. This can negatively impact the neighbour’s trees, plants and fences.

A bylaw must be written establishing a minimum distance from the property lines that a trench can be dug.

The second suggestion is that if the protected root zone of a neighbour’s protected trees falls within the construction area, tree protective fencing must be built around the area.

The third suggestion is that before a building permit is approved, it must go to the adjacent neighbours for their input.

There are too many conflicts between neighbours over construction taking place on someone’s property, resulting in bylaw officers and police being summoned. Animosity between neighbours arises.

By requiring a building permit to first go to the adjoining neighbours for input before being approved, it would result in a longer initial process but far less use of bylaw officers and police.

A further advantage is that someone’s dream development would be tempered by reality, leading to fewer conflicts.

Louise Manga
Victoria

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