Letters June 10: Harris Green project ignores Victoria's charm; show respect for the 215 children

Slow down, look to see where we are going

Re: “Residents concerned about scope of Harris Green project,” June 6.

Well, we’d better be, because Victoria will never be the same if Starlight gets their way. I’m a child of Toronto in the ’60s, Vancouver in the ’70s and ’80s, and now Victoria and I love this place.

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There’s something unique about it, not least the human scale which has remained since the beginning, which has preserved the city’s personality. And let’s face it, you can’t bring in a presence like Starlight’s Harris Green project without seriously affecting life and redefining what it is to be a Victorian.

Human scale? That’s when you still see couples talking on the street. It’s when there’s an observatory on Little Saanich Mountain practically in the middle of town; float planes and tugs working the harbour; as you enjoy an ice cream cone at the water’s edge.

What’s being proposed at the corners of Quadra/Yates/Vancouver/View is a very tall, very glassy series of towers that bear no resemblance to Victoria in scale, spirit or design.

It’s a density grab for Starlight and a revenue generator (read “tax grab”) for the city. The only thing it’s got going for it is that it’s for the rental market. Let your mind loose on that for a moment.

And don’t be afraid of the inevitable “You’re just afraid of change” comment. How condescending! I’m not afraid of change at all — as long as it’s thoughtful change (think Granville Island).

It’s something that advocates believe will be “cool” or “world class.” God help us.

For something as massive and expansive as the Harris Green proposal, you would expect at least a second public hearing so we can all climb out of the rubble of the past year before we have to debate yet another self-serving modification to the official community plan.

What’s the big rush, anyway? Why can’t we just take a breath and call a moratorium on changes to the downtown community plan for a year, and let Victoria be Victoria for a moment?

Here’s an idea: while we’re recovering, let’s take the time to actually see where we’re going.

Then all we need is a little inspiration.

Bruce Davis


Another one fights the dust

Count me among the residents who feel exhausted by ongoing and proposed ­construction in the Harris Green neighbourhood. Noise, dust and traffic are already having a nightmarish impact on our quality of life.

I moved into the neighbourhood four years ago. During most of that time, Johnson Street has been reduced to one lane, and will remain so probably for at least another year.

More recently, bike-lane detours on Vancouver Street have arrived just in time for water-main replacement on Cook Street. With planning like this, who needs chaos?

And now someone plans to set off an exponential increase in highrise construction, all the way from Cook to Quadra, between Yates and View.

These plans are evidently being embraced by local officials citing the need for affordable housing. Yet I have seen nothing other than wishful thinking to suggest that any new residential ­rentals to come from these projects will be “affordable.”

It is more likely that the entire neighbourhood will become unliveable.

It is disappointing to see our downtown area “repurposed” for the financial ­benefit of investors from Toronto.

It is beyond galling to read that Starlight’s director of development attributes the opposition of Victoria residents to “dislike of change.”

That is precisely the sort of insulting attitude one would expect from someone who sees our city as nothing more than an opportunity for profiteering.

David Vest


Please show respect for the 215 children

Remembering the 215 children missing at the Kamloops residential school on the afternoon of May 26, I was standing quietly along with others in front of the legislature steps lost in my thoughts of the 215 children represented by the ­little shoes, toys and flowers that had been placed on those steps in memory of those missing, their families, their friends.

And then the thoughts of all of us standing before these tributes were interrupted by the joking and laughing amongst the young employees of the legislature who work out of a kiosk beside the steps where the 215 tributes had been placed.

Hopefully these young folks, particularly the young man who was the loudest clown, receive more training in cultural awareness for their job as ambassadors for the B.C. government.

Ron Aird


Running water for First Nations

As the federal government investigates the residential school burials, let them be reminded that, over recent decades, successive governments have failed to properly address the treatment of First Nations in many respects.

For example, areas near Winnipeg still lack access to running water.

The money is there; funds are always found in times of crisis. The government has the opportunity to create jobs to ­provide fresh running water to all communities.

There is no reason whatsoever, in a country as wealthy as Canada, that anyone should go without running water.

If the racist policies do not cease, a hundred years hence people will be unearthing graves of those who died from infected water.

The racism must cease.

Let them build positive pipelines.

Paul Austin


Stopping anti-Muslim hate begins at home

For the past 20 years, if a Muslim family gave the wrong name to a child, they would be harassed, delayed, even held up every time they tried to travel.

So before our leaders start acting all high and mighty with their anti-hate-crime rhetoric, perhaps they should look in the mirror first.

Malcolm Dew-Jones


Reflecting on the tragedy in London, Ont.

As a youngster, I remember kids of various ethnic backgrounds congregating for baseball at National Little League.

Players came from blended families, the orphanage, single-parent families and various religions to join the league. I learned the names and hitting abilities of players before I ever discovered where they worshipped.

Skin colour and unique sounding names presented no challenge when we selected teams for summer scrub games. After winning a bat toss, the immediate concern for the team captain was ­selecting who could hit, run, throw and play defence.

Those scrub games were not without disagreements. Disputed calls happened and got resolved. Judgment regarding rules did occur, judgment about where you came from did not.

In my recollection, adults never had to inform us about racism because of some indifference with players of colour.

We recognized our similarities by wanting to be Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays. How could we devalue an individual based on skin colour when we would never discard possession of a cherished Hank Aaron baseball card?

It is not being suggested life was ideal or better back in the day.

Racism and intolerance did exist. Somehow that seed never sprouted in our neighbourhood park. Thankfully, we came together for a common purpose, on common ground, and grew friendships instead.

Perhaps it can be explained as kids having the good fortune to not be influenced by discrimination or bullies. Whatever the reason, when suiting up for game day, the only meaningful difference between players across the diamond was the colour of their uniforms.

Joe Cardle

Oak Bay

Trans Mountain pipeline purchase questionable

So the Trans Mountain pipeline is no longer insured, at least for the present.

The world’s largest insurance companies, who have a pretty good handle on risk, have decided that it’s “not currently within Argo’s risk appetite,” to quote one of them. In other words, it’s a disaster looking for a place to happen.

My question is, why did the Liberal government take it over? To make money? If that’s the case, why are the feds pushing environmentally friendly power with all their might, and a lot of money to boot?

To make friends in B.C.? Oh, probably not. Reconciliation? Ummm, don’t think so.

So that leaves to appease Alberta. But if that’s the case, it might rank among the stupidest decisions made by any Canadian government since Newfoundland gave its power to Quebec at 10 cents on the dollar, to run for 40 years.

The chance of Alberta electing a Liberal MP is slim to none, and slim left town long ago.

Anyone have an answer?

Ian Cameron

Brentwood Bay


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