Letters July 29: Beacon Hill and campers; affordable housing

Guidelines not blocking action

Mayor Lisa Helps continues to resort to obfuscation in trying to justify her position to allow camping in Beacon Hill. She claims that she is simply following the direction of Dr. Bonnie Henry but Victoria council stopped enforcing the no-daytime-camping bylaw in March, three months before Henry issued her guidance.

Furthermore, the guidelines do not prevent municipalities from requiring campers to leave during the day. The guidelines do, however, require municipalities to manage the encampments to ensure health and safety, something Victoria council has consistently refused to do.

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Alan Humphries

Province not doing enough about housing

Re: “Premier disagrees with Victoria’s decision to allow camping in Beacon Hill,” July 27.

I hope Premier John Horgan’s ill-considered remarks against homeless people — which directly contradict Dr. Bonnie Henry’s guidelines — were spontaneous and the result of understandable stress and frustration, and not deliberately crafted by his communications team.

Either way, I’m sure Victoria and other municipalities would be happy to “step up” and address the crises of homelessness, mental health and addictions if the province granted them more taxation tools and ways to raise money other than just property tax increases.

Despite significant recent investments, Horgan and the B.C. NDP are still failing to provide the money and resources needed to properly address the crises of affordable housing, mental health and addictions, all of which are mainly provincial responsibilities.

Graham Briggs

There must be a better spot for the homeless

Premier John Horgan is quoted: “So is it leave the encampment … or is it find alternatives? It is clearly about making as many people happy as possible.”

I have a suggestion: surely the Crown has a piece of land somewhere, away from it all.

It would have a temperate climate, arable land, a forested area and a supply of fresh water, preferably with fish.

The government could supply farming tools, seed for food plants, fishing gear, first aid kits and the necessary equipment (ropes, axes, tarps and other tools) that would be needed to live outdoors year-round.

The government could transport the campers and their belongings to this site.

While we’re at it, take those individuals currently being housed on the public’s dime in former hotels and motels who simply cannot or will not follow the norms of society, evidenced by the strewing about of needles and feces, vandalizing homes and businesses, terrorizing residents, driving away shoppers and driving down property values.

Drug addicts would no longer be available to drug dealers, and would be able to detox; the campers would be able to live together in peace and not be disturbed. The park’s ecologically sensitive areas would have a chance to come back; the park would once again be available to everyone.

As Horgan said, “as many people happy as possible.”

Lorraine Lindsay

Urban transportation is changing

Re: “Council deserves praise for Richardson work,” letter, July 28.

A very well stated letter. Let’s hope that it resonates through the community. The vast majority of Richardson Street put themselves out as being experts on cycling but have not been on a bike for many years, perhaps decades. The whole urban transportation situation has changed in recent years.

We have to embrace change, accept it and live with it. Death, tax and changes are the only constants in our life times. Nothing is immune to change, not even the mountains.

R.D. Townsend

Two lanes each way, shared with bikes

Two recent letters on the Richardson Street bike lane referred to two-way vehicle traffic being forced onto a single lane.

Perhaps the writers were confused with the advisory bike lanes on Humboldt Street, which do have the single-lane configuration for cars.

However, the proposal for Richardson Street is a shared bikeway, with one lane in each direction being shared by cars and bikes. Traffic calming is being used to slow vehicle speeds and reduce volumes in order to make this safe for all users.

One of the letters also states that “any adult cyclist who is not comfortable riding on Richardson Street today” should take a cycling skills course to build their confidence.

The whole point of the All Ages and Abilities cycling network is that cycling on these routes should be an option not just for confident adults, but also for an eight-year-old or an 80-year-old.

Rob Maxwell

Questioning the logic of decriminalization

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

Premier John Horgan supports the recent call by Canada’s police chiefs to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use as the best way to battle addiction.

I suppose that same logic could be applied to handgun possession to reduce murders.

The article quotes Dr. Bonnie Henry saying: “Nobody grows up thinking ‘I want to be addicted to substances.’ ”

Well, I would add that nobody grows up thinking: “I want to be a murderer.”

Roger Cyr

Carriage workers have right to call police

Re: “Bullying and dishonesty: protesters’ antics not OK,” comment, July 24.

If someone came to my place of work to harass and push their own political agenda on me, I would quite rightly call the police.

These carriage protesters seem to think they can do what they want without consequence.

David Findlay

Street checks are a vital part of policing

I’m a retired police officer with 34 years police experience in the RCMP and the Central Saanich Police service.

In my experience, and I would have to say most in policing would not argue with me, street checks are a relevant, necessary part of effective policing.

Police members who see someone at 3 a.m. wandering the streets think to themselves: “What is that person doing out here at this time of the morning?”

So a check of that person is warranted.

If that person has a reasonable explanation as to why they are there at this time, and it checks out, the matter is concluded.

If not, this person needs to be checked into further as he/she may have been involved in some criminal offence that needs to be investigated further.

That’s just good, basic policing, no matter what colour, racial origin or sexual orientation exists with that person, and really, before the approach by police, we don’t know any of that.

I recall an experienced police officer in my early service who commented: “Decent law-abiding taxpaying citizens aren’t wandering the streets in the early morning hours, so they need to be checked to see what they are up to.”

It’s really just common sense, and in my experience what the public expects of police members. And rightly so.

Don’t take that away from them. That’d be a big mistake.

Len Nolan
Cobble Hill

Bicyclists shouldn’t be on some roads

There are a lot of people cycling now. But they are cycling on unsafe roads.

Just like skiing, there should be a rating system.

Prospect Lake Road and Old West Saanich are double black diamond. Post signs so cyclists know.

Tell cyclists that these roads are not bicycle friendly.

D.J. Garner

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