Letters July 2: Harbour ferries; camping at Beacon Hill; rail travel

No help from city on harbour ferries

Re: “Victoria harbour ferry will sail again after Ralmax steps in,” June 29.

A big thank-you to Ralmax for stepping in to save Victoria Harbour Ferry.

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The sound of silence coming from Victoria city council on this important part of Victoria’s fabric was deafening.

Clearly, they are too busy protecting the illegal tents and camping vans in Beacon Hill Park and lobbying the provincial and federal governments on issues that are none of their business.

Chris Lawson
Victoria

Beautiful park wrong spot for encampment

I live in James Bay and walk in Beacon Hill Park regularly. The homeless encampment is getting bigger and spreading to different areas of the park.

The idea of letting people camp in the park to allow ‘physical distancing’ is rather weak.

The tents are close together and campers don’t seem to have any regard for safe distancing.

The stench is terrible, needles all over, trash overflowing, and people being abusive and exposing themselves. Is this what we want for our children and people who enjoy the park?

An area that is growing daily is right across from a school and I find it unconscionable that the mayor and council ignored a petition signed by 10,000 people to find alternate solutions.

Has the mayor learning nothing from the tent city at the courthouse a few years ago where it took thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to clean up afterward?

I appreciate the fact there is no easy answer. But really, why choose the most beautiful and well-used park to house the homeless?

When Beacon Hill Park was initially suggested as the setting for an encampment the idea was rejected by the public. And then what happened? A short time later, the major and council did it anyway. So what voice do the people have in decisions made by the city? None it seems.

For goodness sakes someone come to their senses please.

Karen Jensen
James Bay

Beacon Hill traffic changes not ideal

I have lived around Beacon Hill Park for 51 years. During that time I have made extensive use of the miscellaneous recreational activities it provides.

At 3 p.m. on Monday I walked over to the park to see what effect the traffic routing changes passed by council would have and was distressed to find the following:

• People with mobility challenges do not have easy access to the washrooms and none at all to the panoramic views from the flag pole.

• Families with young children do not have easy access to the water park, playground or picnic area.

• There is no parking at all for teams playing games on Heywood field and surrounding streets are all residential parking.

• The parking lot by the water park is closed. The only one that can accommodate a number of cars is the one by the petting zoo. Even at 3 p.m. on a Monday it was very busy. Add the increased traffic on a weekend and the opening of the zoo, plus the high percentage of young children and the mobility challenged and we have a recipe for disaster. Parking access will be a major problem for park users and park neighbours.

Peter Denby
Victoria

What’s the budget for Beacon Hill cleanup?

Rather than allow camping in Beacon Hill Park, why didn’t the city move them to the open space on Pandora?

Does this mean the park is open for tourist camping?

When the tent city at the courthouse was removed didn’t it cost a lot of money to decontaminate the lawn?

What is the budget for a similar clean-up in Beacon Hill Park?

Jim Ogmundson
Victoria

Independent study of E&N needed

Re: “What should we do with the E&N Island rail corridor?,” comment, June 21.

I am troubled by Guy Dauncey’s misleading statement about the subsidy if a restored passenger rail service operates on the E&N.

He cherry-picks numbers in favour of his cause of turning the E&N into a trail.

In 2010, the Fraser Valley, the Rail for the Valley group, tired of the same sort of rhetoric and the abundance of anti-rail studies by government bureaucrats, engaged Leewood Projects (U.K.) for an independent review of restoring a modern interurban service from Vancouver to Chilliwack.

Not only did the review deem the service to be viable, the cost from Scott Road Station to Chilliwack, 98 kilometres, was put at $492 million to operate a maximum of three trains per hour per direction.

In 2020, the cost, adjusted for inflation, would be about $576 million for 98 km or $5.9 million/km. This distance is comparable to a Victoria-to-Nanaimo service.

As ridership numbers would be far above the meagre number of 613 a day quoted by Dauncey, the subsidy per person would dramatically decrease. If designed properly, by knowledgeable professionals, a restored E&N rail line, would cater to more than 5,000 customers a day offering a true alternative to the car.

What is needed is a fully independent (no government involvement) study as to the viability of restoring E&N and the costs to operate a modern passenger rail service. Only then will the true costs be known.

D.M. Johnston
Rail for the Valley
Delta

Trail from Victoria to Nanaimo exists

Re: “The right approach for E&N corridor,” letter, June 24.

Although the writer claims that “most people know that a multi-use walking and cycling trail is the best use of the E&N rail corridor,” I am unconvinced by his arguments.

First, I wonder if all those letter-writers supporting this proposal are aware that such a trail from Victoria to Nanaimo already exists. In fact, The Great Trail runs alongside the E&N tracks in places. It was almost deserted on the few occasions I have walked short sections of it, and I certainly do not see any justification for its duplication.

Second, while a frequent bus service from Victoria to Duncan and beyond sounds attractive in theory, it would not solve the main problem with the Malahat, which is not traffic congestion but the fact that it is completely closed for hours several times each year. A frequent bus service is useless at such times.

Heavy vehicles are often responsible for blockages on the Malahat.

It is not only modern trains for passengers but also the movement of freight by rail that would do more to solve the Malahat problem than the typical B.C. solution of more roads and buses.

John Weaver
Victoria

Rail corridor key to greener commute

Re: “Faulty math and a faulty plan on E&N rail corridor,” letter, June 26.

I agree with the letter-writer. Unlike some who view the rail corridor as an alternative to cycling and walking, I view it as being integral to alternative modes of commuting, especially between Island towns.

Riders could bike to train stations, leaving their cars at home, and provide much-needed traffic relief on the Island Highway.

Better still would be the option to bring your bike aboard (much like the ferry), further reducing costs of travel, and travelling more efficiently and reducing our carbon footprint.

Cyrus Farivar
Saanich

Speed bumps needed on Ocean Boulevard

Re: “Ocean Boulevard stays closed to traffic through summer,” June 25.

Sixty-one per cent want Ocean Boulevard open?

The results are skewed by the commuters in the surrounding communities.

Whether Ocean Boulevard is fully or partially opened or closed, the critical issue is speeding.

The beach and lagoon area are enjoyed by many of all ages, walking, on bikes, with prams, pets, etc. There are unfortunately many who insist this is a commuting route or drag strip with little regard for the 40 km/h limit and the safety of others.

When asked, they decline to say how many seconds or minutes are saved driving at 70-plus km/h versus 40 for the length of the lagoon in their commute downtown. More importantly, what is the reaction time and stopping distance at 70 km/h when a vehicle suddenly backs out or someone steps out onto the road?

If they really are as concerned about our citizens as they profess, Colwood council must install traffic-calming speed bumps.

David and Mei-sheng Shanks
Colwood

Bring back ferry discount

Now that Dr. Bonnie Henry and Premier John Horgan have unlocked another chapter in the COVID-19 saga, they are urging us to travel within B.C.

My wife and I live in Nanaimo and own a travel trailer which has enabled us to explore all over Vancouver Island.

We would happily explore the whole province, but without the B.C. Ferries half-price discount on over-length vehicles we can’t afford any trips off the Island.

Reinstating the discount would encourage Island residents to visit the rest of the province and vice versa.

William Milne
Nanaimo

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