Letters July 21: Protests against horse-drawn carriages; rethinking cruise ships

Who finances carriage protests?

There is an organized and well-funded program of harassment underway each weekend against employees of the horse-drawn carriage businesses at the corner of Menzies and Belleville streets.

Each protester carries a large professionally printed sign and they line the three sides of the intersection, far outnumbering the carriages and drivers. While they do not verbally intervene, their presence close by is designed to dissuade prospective riders.

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This has to be stressful for the drivers, and that stress can easily be felt by the horses. Those horses are obviously well-fed, well-treated, well-groomed and apparently content to perform their task.

Come on, this is Victoria, specifically James Bay. The terrain is flat, the routes easy, the pace never more than a walk and the climate benign. The horses show no signs of distress and, in the years I have observed them, seem to be treated with affection and respect by the drivers.

Who is financing this campaign? All those nice big signs, the same protesters each week?

If there was ever the slightest hint of mistreatment of the horses, I’m sure it would be splashed across this newspaper’s front page and campaigns promptly organized to remedy it.

This weekly harassment has all the trappings of a nascent political campaign, so the question now is: Who is running, for what office?

Ken Sudhues
James Bay

Offer free masks on buses after rush hour

Re: “Transit staff to hand out masks across capital region on Monday,” July 18.

While the idea of B.C. Transit handing out free masks sounds nice, not everyone takes buses along the Douglas corridor or at the Colwood or Langford Exchanges. More importantly, not everyone works a day shift.

The vast number of riders who need masks are those who use the buses frequently, but not for travelling to and from work. Why not put the free masks on the buses after rush hour and let those who really need them have access to them.

Nice idea, just ill-conceived.

Judy Barnett
Saanich

Time to rethink cruise-ship industry

“Re: Cruise ships put marine life at risk,” letter, July 18.

I agree with the letter-writer that a benefit of the pandemic is that cruise ships have been stopped. The waste streams of cruise ships are toxic to coastal waters and ecosystems.

We have witnessed how cruise-ship passengers are vulnerable to diseases such as COVID-19. Cruise ships have become much too large and their circulatory systems cannot prevent the spread of disease. They exemplify how a good thing becomes horrible in excess.

I have travelled to some of the world’s great cities; destinations that become chaotic when thousands of cruise-ship passengers are set loose — swarming and rushing before they must return to their ship. Our host in Bruges counselled us on routes to avoid the “cruise-ship people.” Butchart Gardens is lovely except when the cruise-ship passengers are there.

I love that tourists visit Victoria. My concern is with the excessive size and low environmental responsibility demonstrated by large ships in this industry. COVID-19 gives us an opportunity to rethink the industry with a focus on environmental and social responsibility.

Limit the size of cruise ships allowed to dock at Victoria: a special small-ship market for a special small city.

Develop supportive niche businesses for cruise ships in Victoria that demonstrate environmental and social responsibility.

Insist that cruise ships that dock here get a percentage of their own power from wind or sun.

Patricia Beatty
Victoria

Mentally ill people can lead productive lives

It is distressing that mentally ill people are routinely categorized as drug addicts and criminals.

Lots of folks with brain-chemistry disorders lead productive lives. We hold jobs, pay taxes and recycle our garbage.

We aren’t likely to mug your granny or throw used needles on your lawn.

Get with it, everybody.

Cheera J. Crow
Brentwood Bay

How many businesses vandalized in Victoria?

Victoria is becoming unsafe. Readers need to see in print on the front page every business in Victoria that has been vandalized.

Theft and property damage is getting worse by the day. The mayor and council should be taking responsibility.

Business owners are now expected to pay for their own extra security. We all pay taxes to have police protect us and our property.

It has never been this bad in Victoria. Business owners are too afraid of repercussions from the mayor and council to speak out. Let us hope that the Times Colonist is not afraid.

Ann Nelms
Langford

Predictable outcome for residential schools

Re: “Capital should right a past wrong about treatment of leper population,” commentary, July 19.

Lawrie McFarlane makes a valid point about the need to acknowledge Victoria’s role in sending dozens of Chinese-Canadian lepers to a virtual death sentence on Darcy Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

But he’s entirely off the mark in suggesting that Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and his advisers never foresaw the negative effect of expanding the residential school system for Indigenous children.

Immediately after being re-elected as prime minister in 1878, Macdonald appointed Nicholas Flood Davin to inquire into industrial schools for Indigenous children in the United States. In his report, Davin recommended that Canada follow the U.S. example.

As he wrote, industrial boarding schools were the best means for Indigenous people “to be merged and lost” within an expanding Canada.

To administer the schooling system, Macdonald promoted a family friend, Lawrence Vankoughnet, who became deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs. Vankoughnet informed Macdonald regularly through the 1880s about his program of overseeing residential schools.

He laid out his agenda explicitly, describing it as “advancing the Indians in civilization” by destroying their children’s traditional culture.

In short, Macdonald and his advisers knew exactly “what would follow” in establishing residential schools. Their intention was to eradicate Indigenous culture in Canada, making their goal nothing less than genocidal.

What Macdonald did not foresee was the capacity of Indigenous peoples to resist his assimilative agenda and retain their traditions. But that success has been achieved only through the incalculable sacrifice of more than 150,000 Indigenous children over many generations.

Larry Hannant
Victoria

Give U.S. vehicles date sticker at border

Any vehicle entering Canada with United States licence plates should have a date sticker attached to the back, with hefty fines if it is removed, that lets everyone know when it entered Canada.

If the drivers are off-route to Alaska or not self-quarantining, then everyone will know about it and they can be reported to the authorities.

Pat Rosin
Langford

Deposit fee now just another tax

Since COVID-19 has led retailers of products sold in returnable containers to ban their return, the deposit fee has effectively become just another tax.

Sure, we can endure the long lineups at the Return-It centres, but that’s just another tax on our time.

This nonsense must stop. Cancel the deposit fee or mandate that retailers take back their containers.

Bennett Guinn
Victoria

Seniors in pandemic lockdown need books delivered

Re: “Providing service during pandemic,” comment, July 17.

In her recent commentary, the chair of the Greater Victoria Public Library board, Deborah Begoray, described the ways in which the library is providing services during the pandemic.

There was no mention in her commentary of the invaluable volunteer library service which delivers books to those who, due to increasing age and decreasing ability, are unable to visit the library.

As a serious reader age 90, locked down in a seniors’ home since March, unable to escape, visit or be visited, and with little else to do, I trust that the volunteer delivery service will be restored soon.

Judy Trousdell
Victoria

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