Letters July 4: Keeping the border closed; bike lanes not needed

We need separate ferry kiosk for Americans

Re: “ ‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as Covid-19 U.S. cases rise: B.C. premier,” July 2.

As a Victoria resident and registered nurse, I ,too, am alarmed at the increasing number of American licence plates being seen on Vancouver Island.

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In order to ensure those who cross the border actually do go directly to Alaska, perhaps we need a separate kiosk at B.C. Ferries terminals for non-B.C. residents with a Canadian Border Services Agency official to cross-reference information from the Canada-U.S. border crossing.

Also, only local residents should be able make ferry reservations.

B.C. residents have worked hard to keep our COVID-19 spread at a level envied by many. We need help to keep it that way.

Joanne Wiggins

More oversight needed at border

Re: “ ‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as Covid-19 U.S. cases rise: B.C. premier,” July 2.

We live in North Saanich and regularly take Highway 17 into Victoria. We have seen cars with American licence plates coming off the ferry, and no doubt many of them are entirely compliant with the rules regarding their entry into Canada. Others, however, are skirting the rules and seemingly lost on their way to Alaska.

Given the explosion of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., more oversight is needed at the border. The drive from the Peace Arch Border Crossing to Alaska is some 2,100 miles and takes a few days at the best of times, so why not restrict the drive to a single route (with some limited alternatives) with pre-set stops for fuel and accommodation.

Those authorized stops would be pre-selected and use protective protocols to reduce the chance of viral spread.

These cars would display a sticker identifying them as in transit and, if found off the approved route, they would be dealt with by local law enforcement officers.

Of course, more high-tech solutions exist, including GPS tracking, which should be considered.

Howard and Cynthia Brunt
North Saanich

Americans can take ferry to Alaska

Re: “ ‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as Covid-19 U.S. cases rise: B.C. premier,” July 2.

I am curious as to why travellers transiting Canada to Alaska are exempt from travel restrictions, including the 14-day quarantine.

The reason I ask is that, apart from air travel, I understand that there is a ferry service between Bellingham and Alaska. There are ways to do it without travelling through Canada, so why is this permitted?

It is a three-day trip by car, so officials saying they must not stop is disingenuous.

Terry McGinty

Two great columnists in sync on social issues

Re: “How teams, with police on board, wrestle with crises on Victoria streets,” Jack Knox, June 28.

Re: “Neoliberalism is a major threat to well-being,” Trevor Hancock, June 28.

Kudos to Jack Knox for his superb “slice of reality,” in the paper on June 28.

The cries of the public to “defund” police departments are cries to treat distressed persons who are threatening violence as distressed persons, not as criminals.

The ACT teams in Victoria and the Integrated Mobile Crisis Response Teams, according to Knox’s report, do exactly that.

It was a relief to read his report, revealing that Victoria is dealing in a caring and helpful way with vulnerable people who can become a danger to others.

But it was distressing to read that “there simply aren’t enough resources to meet demands.” There are four ACT teams now, but “we need another five.”

The core problem here is not the police department or city hall, but the attitude decried by Trevor Hancock in the same edition of the paper. It “leads us all to focus on paying as little as possible in taxes” and “results in underfunded public services.”

Jack Knox’s deft human touch reveals the truth of Trevor Hancock’s broad view of social principles. Great columnists both.

Bruce Lemire-Elmore

Many police officers are like Nancy Saggar

Re: “Police officers serve for all the right reasons,” commentary, July 2.

Kudos to RCMP Const. Nancy Saggar for writing about the vitally important service most police officers perform in keeping the rest of us safe and protected.

Of course, the majority of us have always known that what she wrote is the case, although one would never get that impression from all the negativity and sometimes downright venomous criticism that has been heaped upon virtually all law enforcement personnel in America, Canada and many other countries of the world over these last few weeks.

The sweeping generalizations about police brutality, insensitivity, and unprofessional behaviour expressed so constantly and so blatantly must be leaving a lot of police really questioning why they bothered to enter their profession.

How many of us realize how much risk of harm to themselves the police face almost every day that they perform their duties — quite often unexpectedly and while answering the most routine calls?

Yes, there are many men and women in the police forces of the world that most certainly should have chosen another occupation; and, as is often the case, that minority has given a bad name to the majority. The same applies to every other occupational group.

We know that there are a lot of police officers like Saggar. Like our health care workers during the pandemic, we ought to show her and other police officers how much we appreciate all that they have to do to keep us safe.

Barry Gaetz

Hotel purchases just don’t add up

It is official. To the obituary of common sense we can now add sanity. One need not look far for the many things going on today, around the world, that are examples of this, however this will focus on our B.C. government and B.C. Housing.

I refer to the latest round of hotel purchases to accommodate homeless tenters in various communities, including Victoria.

To date there have been four properties, that I am aware of, purchased for this purpose at a total cost of over $55 million for a cumulative total of about 220 units, or, on a cost per room basis of almost $250,000.

This far exceeds not only the appraised value but the market value of any of the properties purchased and was certainly a huge payday for the owners of the properties.

In addition, this purchase price does not include renovations to the properties, including government-run drug sites, and conversion to low income housing.

By the time this is all done, the actual costs will be well in excess of $100 million.

The average cost to build a medium-range condo today is apparently about $150 per square foot.

In other words a new 800 square foot condo/apartment would cost about $120,000, but our government whiz kids decide to spend double that!

How does this make any sense, let alone simple economics?

That $55 million could build more than 450 low-income housing units. I do not question the need for low-income housing, but it must be addressed in the proper manner.

I believe it was P.T. Barnum who said “there’s one born every minute,” referring to suckers.

This latest waste of our tax dollars certainly gives credence to that.

Ron Grant

Bike lanes should go to bottom of list

Re: “Victoria council approves designs for next phase of bike lanes,” July 3.

Has Victoria city council ventured out of city hall and talked to the residents of the streets they plan to put bike lanes on?

Especially on Richardson Street, where finding street parking is challenging even without bike lanes. They talk about decreasing traffic flow to about 1,000 cars a day from the current 2,800 to 3,800. So, where do the 1,800 to 2,800 cars go? Have you talked to the residents on the streets that will get the extra traffic?

Let’s get the city back on track to welcoming tourists and the citizens of Greater Victoria back into the downtown core; $6.5 million would go a long way with fixing roads in Victoria that desperately need attention.

Steve Harvey

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