Letters July 23: Masks not required everywhere; treatment for addicts; carriage horses

Masks not required in all public spaces

Re: “Wear a mask or stay home,” and “Wear a mask to protect others,” letters, July 22.

I was shocked to read two letters berating people for not wearing a mask.

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What city are they living in? I watch Dr. Bonnie Henry’s announcements and not once has she told the public to always wear a mask in public spaces.

She does recommend that you wear a mask when physical-distancing might be impossible, in particular, on public transit and in small stores.

Every day, she reminds people to be kind and be calm. I, for one, am going to take her advice.

I wear a mask when I get my hair cut because that is the guidance our health authority has in place.

Be assured that the majority of British Colombians will follow the guidance of Henry and when she says that we must wear a mask, we will.

And we should all try to continue to be kind, be calm and stay home if we’re not feeling well.

Bobbi Sheridan

Mask protesters should waive free medical care

To anti-mask protesters: Yes, it is absolutely your right not to wear anything, including a mask.

It should also be my right as a taxpayer not to pay for your medical bill because of your negligence.

If you refuse to wear a mask in a public place, please sign a waiver to deny medical service if you do get COVID-19.

Wang Xie

Secure funds before decriminalizing drugs

Re: “B.C. premier asks Trudeau to reduce stigma of illicit drug use as deaths climb,” July 20.

Premier John Horgan wants illicit drugs decriminalized in order to better “support people to access the services that they need to stay safe.”

We heard the same argument when what were then called mental institutions — 999 Queen St. in Toronto, Riverside in Vancouver — were closed several decades ago; better delivery of services would be available in the community.

Of course, these were never properly funded, so we now have homelessness and addiction problems in the streets.

So, before we take the step, show us the money — sufficient funds committed to by the federal and provincial governments for at least 10 years.

Otherwise, why should your intentions be believed any more than those of your predecessors?

Roger Love

More treatment beds needed for addicts

The safe-drug-supply initiative sounds like an important addition to B.C.’s other harm reduction programs, including safe-injection sites, emergency medical services, counselling and detox facilities.

Yet, as an addiction counsellor in Vancouver recently pointed out, harm reduction will never be enough if we continue to overlook “harm elimination”; providing addicts with the treatment they require to get clean.

As things stand, government treatment programs have long waiting lists, while private facilities charge between $8,000 and $25,000 for a 30-day program; hardly within the reach of any street addict.

As a local homeless man wrote a few days before he died: “I need treatment, and it doesn’t exist for me.”

What does it say about us as a society that we see nothing wrong in Canada’s wealthiest family accumulating assets totalling more than $40 billion, or that we gift billions of taxpayer dollars to multinational corporations to produce LNG, but fail to provide treatment placements for otherwise doomed addicts?

Harm reduction is an essential, stop-gap measure, but we shouldn’t let that distract us from the greater need for treatment placements for addicts seeking to reclaim their lives.

Mike Ward

Protests would end at the meat plant

Re: “Who finances carriage protests?” letter, July 21.

The horse-drawn carriage protesters have little if any knowledge of horses in general, and certainly not about heavy horses in particular.

Heavy horse breeds such as Clydesdales, Shires, Belgians, Percherons and others were bred over hundreds of years for their strength and pulling power.

These magnificent animals are with us today thanks to businesses such as the carriage companies and some private owners who show their heavy horses at fairs and public events.

I would suggest to these protesters that if they are successful in their misguided efforts to have them banned, they are literally signing their death warrant.

These type of horses are incredibly costly to care for — stabling, feed, vet and farrier costs, to name a few. These heavy horses are not suitable for pleasure riding and casual ownership.

The only result of these protests, if successful, will be the meat plant.

Bev Highton
Oak Bay

Carriage horses are well cared for

I wonder how many members of the Victoria Horse Alliance have actually worked with horses.

I wonder if they have had any experience with the repetitive behaviours that result when a horse is bored — biting into the wood of a stall or fence, sometimes to the point of breaking their teeth, near constant weaving back and forth which causes damage to tendons and muscles, sluggish listless behaviour, pawing the ground, banging the head repeatedly.

When I see a horse-drawn carriage, my spirits lift. These animals have shining eyes, glossy coats and well-trimmed feet. They have a healthy pattern of work, regular exercise and a purpose to their days.

It is clear that they are well cared for, and they are a delightful reminder of the slower pace of an earlier time.

Jan Jeffers

Who would care for retired carriage horses?

I’ve written about this before, and now, like a bad penny, the issue turns up again.

If these draught horses were not used as working animals (for which they were bred), they would be destroyed; sent to the meat packers. Their ancestors hauled carts, plows and sleds for generations.

I have never heard a protester volunteer to take one of these huge animals home to care for it, should it be retired. The horses require an enormous amount of fresh hay and grain, an acreage for grazing and a barn to house them in foul weather. They must be brushed, bathed and their hooves cleaned. They have regular checkups with the veterinarian.

These horses have glossy coats, well rounded bellies and clear eyes. They are shod with heavy shoes to protect their feet from the asphalt.

Go and protest the puppy mills that ship their abused dogs by the hundreds to Canada to be “rescued.”

Sally Barker

Beacon Hill Park seems fine, despite campers

Recently I walked throughout Beacon Hill Park. While the tents were not as decorative as the flowers, fountains and birds, I found absolutely no evidence of the bedlam and destruction that is being aggrandized in the media and online.

Sadly, the loudest crowing is from the usual suspects who are still in a lather over the tent encampment at the provincial courthouse in 2016.

This mob attacking the homeless and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who is steadfast in leaving no citizen behind, is driven by ignorance and prejudice.

We must differentiate between the vast majority of homeless people who have real life struggles but are otherwise law-abiding citizens and the few bad actors who, while homeless, are most notably criminals and thieves preying on all law-abiding citizens — homed and homeless alike.

For those filled with anger, could you please take some time to learn about what is really going on? From July 27 to 30, the Canadian Urban Institute is offering multiple online seminars and two award-winning documentaries on the right to home. Visit canurb.org/right-to-home to register.

Joanne Thibault

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