Letters July 8: Richardson Street bike lane; privilege and racism; institutions for mentally ill

Richardson not a quaint street

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

I live near Richardson Street and drive and cycle on that road weekly.

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As a driver I don’t have any issues with cyclists, and as a cyclist I don’t have any issues with drivers.

Moreover, Richardson was designed to move traffic east and west efficiently. Not a main artery, but certainly an important vein in the overall transportation scheme. It certainly wasn’t intended to be turned into a quaint neighbourhood street.

I don’t think we’re quite ready to go back to the horse and buggy yet, and I think Victoria Coun. Geoff Young has the right idea to try to make changes in bite-sized pieces.

The unintended consequences of re-routing vehicles is real and Fairfield Road, which is already an unpleasant thoroughfare, will become even more congested and frustrating as a result.

By all means add a bike lane and rearrange some parking streetside to accommodate if necessary, but be careful about fixing a problem that might not exist.

Chris McGraw

Lower taxes instead of building bike lanes

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

With so many projects that need an infusion of tax dollars in Victoria, I don’t understand why the city is building new bike lanes.

Maybe policing, affordable housing and even road repairs could be a more important use of the taxpayers’ dollars.

A lot of people are financially worse off right now. If there is so much excess money to spend on bike lanes, maybe less should be charged for property taxes.

If there was a vote on what the taxpayers of Victoria would like done financially, I doubt bike lanes would come up very high on the list, especially when the bike lanes are probably used more by people that live in other municipalities.

Maybe the adjoining municipalities should be the ones funding the bike lanes. I wonder if their residents would be happy with that kind of use of their tax dollars.

Larry Ware

The privileged unlikely to notice racism

Re: “B.C.’s education system no hotbed of systemic racism,” comment, July 5.

Retired educator Ian Cameron writes that the B.C. school system has not been systemically racist for at least the past 40 years, and that he has “never once seen any sign of racism either systemic or on the part of any individual” at the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Education.

Without being a person from a visible minority or person of colour, Cameron would not experience being a target of racism or discrimination and therefore believes racism was not present during his long education career.

During 30 years of dental-health work I, too, believed there was no racism in my field. Then I changed paths and began working with oral health and Indigenous families.

Only after gaining their trust did I hear of racist experiences Indigenous people had endured from dental staff and offices that deterred them from returning again.

Some of these staff I had worked with in the past, yet I would not have been aware of nor “seen” this behaviour because it was not directed at me, an English/Scottish settler’s great-granddaughter.

Institutionalized racism becomes invisible, then, to those who would deny its presence.

Sherry Saunderson
Cobble Hill

We need institutions for the mentally ill

Re: “Drug-addicted son ‘would have been better off in an institution,” July 7.

The “I” word has seemingly disappeared from our conversations about mental health, drug addiction and homelessness, but not the dictionary.

It was with sadness and interest that I read Louise Dickson’s report on Sam Stuart.

So often, when talking with friends about such issues, the word “institution” arises. The days of Riverview — its heartlessness and ignorance being sins to be forgotten.

The amount of money being spent by governments today, with constant proof of solutions not working, is scary. There is general acceptance of safe, free drugs, and our knowledge and scope of care work today is so much more expansive than ever before.

The time has come when authorities should be at least exploring the idea of institutions for people with mental illness.

The final admittance by Sam’s mother that she could no more change that “addiction for him than fly to the moon,” says it all for parents who have or had children with similar needs.

I would suggest we deal with this issue and we would be more able to deal with other, arguably, more solvable segments of the homelessness question.

Ian MacLean

Mentally ill people need hospital care

Re: “Drug-addicted son ‘would have been better off in an institution,” July 7.

Sam Stuart’s life shows how our mental-health care system is fundamentally flawed. It assumes that hospitals for people with mental illness are bad, and that patients would be better off free and active in the community, whether homeless or in supportive housing.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The negative environment of street life inevitably trumps worker care and guidance. Leaving mentally ill patients on the street, as Sam’s grieving mother, Judith, says, is “not doing the right thing.”

Hospitals are needed and fill a crucial role in the safe care of mentally ill patients.

William Tate

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