Letters June 30: Campers at Beacon Hill; reflecting on Canada Day

Move Beacon Hill campers to old playing field

Re: “Campers don’t have to pack up at Beacon Hill, Victoria council decides,” June 25.

At least one letter to the editor in the past few weeks has proposed using the erstwhile playing field at the extreme south west corner of Beacon Hill Park edged by Douglas Street and Dallas Road to accommodate homeless campers who can’t be housed.

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Given the insistence by Victoria city council and other authorities that the campers stay put in the park’s sensitive Garry oak and camas meadows, in spite of considerable opposition, I add my voice in support of using the old playing field instead.

The field should provide plenty of space for the required social distancing among the 187 campers tallied to date. At least those camping in the meadows should be required to move.

Campers in the playing field may not be a pretty sight from outside, but at least the meadows, which ought to be regarded as the park’s essence, would be spared from further damage they cannot take, and the rest of the park could be enjoyed in relative safety.

Another consideration would be easier access to help campers who may overdose on drugs.

The playing field seems like an obvious fix to the complications COVID-19 has injected into the perennial problem of homelessness. Until more hotels or other accommodation can be made available, I ask city council to please consider its merits.

Mary Andrews

Packing up the RV for a Beacon Hill vacation

With our European vacation scrapped and no camping spots left at B.C. parks this summer, it’s great to hear we can now pack up the folding chairs, the barbecue and the dog in the RV and head to Beacon Hill Park for our vacay.

The in-laws, my poker buddies, our bridge club, the neighbours and all my Facebook friends across Canada are packing their motorhomes as we speak.

Thanks, Victoria council.

See you soon.

Brian Lepine

Campers better off in athletic parks

Re: “Don’t let challenge of homelessness divide us,” Lisa Helps, June 20.

Here are my suggestions to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and her council for addressing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Stop allowing campers to keep their tents and structures up 24/7, because there is little or no evidence that permanent encampments are improving social-distancing compliance. Other municipalities have not allowed camps to remain in place during daytime. Furthermore, the permanent camps seem to promote more anti-social and threatening behaviour, as occupants lay claim to “their” piece of Beacon Hill Park.

2. Move the encampments to an athletic park. Beacon Hill Park is the city’s flagship park with the highest use levels and an array of amenities that are not conducive to being shared with homeless camps, including children’s playgrounds, a children’s farm, water parks, lawn bowling, horticultural displays and extensive natural areas. While I would hate to impose a park-based tent city on any neighbourhood, the impact on an athletic park would be much less than at Beacon Hill Park.

3. Acknowledge that there are significant elements of criminality associated with tent cities, and that those residents that are becoming frightened to use the park have legitimate concerns. We do need a police force, in addition to the other social supports that homeless campers have access to. Please desist with this ideological nonsense of defunding police forces.

Doug Johnson

One facility, different levels of care is best

Re: “Separate kinds of care needed for seniors,” letter, June 18.

While I agree with many of the letter-writer’s observations and recommendations on long-term care, I disagree with his suggestion that there should be three separate types of care facilities. My views are shaped by the experience of my own mother, who moved first into assisted living and then later into residential care.

Yes, there need to be different levels of care depending on the needs of seniors, but these can be accommodated in a single facility. Independent living is designed to meet the needs of a senior who no longer can or wishes to live at home, but is able to live independently with some housekeeping and meal supports.

As time goes on, the senior may need some additional help with bathing, dressing, medications, and assistance to go to the dining room or activities. These services are usually included in assisted living.

Ideally, as the senior ages and needs more assistance, these additional services can be added as required, while the senior continues to live in the same room or apartment.

The continuity is of great benefit socially and mentally, as moving to another facility can be disruptive and confusing, particularly if the senior is also experiencing cognitive decline. The person can still participate in the same activities as before and see friends made while living independently.

Joan Mason

Puzzling over populous protests

Why are mass protests allowed while Canada Day public celebrations are cancelled?

Just askin’.

Audrey Stibbe
Pender Island

Think of less fortunate on Canada Day

Considering the recent media coverage of rampant civil unrest and a dim political future south of the border, it feels easy to lionize Canada in all its socialism and politesse.

But after reading about mental illness on Victoria’s streets, the omitting of foster children from pandemic response plans and the slinging of “unwelcoming words” on P.E.I., it became obvious that our country, too, lies far from perfection.

So as we sing our national anthem on Wednesday, let’s remember that citizenship does not equal self-congratulation; rather, it means caring for and bolstering up our community members and thinking of those who cannot enjoy our level of justice and freedom.

Kate Soles

The wise words of Wayne Ngan

During our many years of camping on Hornby Island, one of our favourite things to do and a must for every summer was to visit Wayne Ngan’s studio.

Almost always Wayne would be in the studio or come in from the house, many times carrying a bowl of soup. He would always stop and talk, inviting us to go into the garden which was a magical place with a beautiful pond.

Once, picking up a vase that really appealed to me and discovering that it had a price tag that I could afford, I noticed a small line on one side. “Oh,” I said to Wayne, “this is beautiful but I think there’s a flaw here.”

Wayne replied: “That is not a flaw, that is learning.”

I purchased that vase, it sits still on a shelf in our living room. I have never forgotten that message. What a wise, kind, gentle man. He will be missed but, thankfully, lives on in his art.

Ann Wilmut

Teams working with police are good news

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

Jack Knox’s piece on the teams caring for vulnerable people on the streets of Victoria is very, very good news.

It’s wonderful to learn that we have these compassionate and skilful teams, especially after the flood of horror stories about police brutality — involving both the RCMP and municipal police forces.

Eric Manning

One Northern Junk building worth saving

Re: “What’s next for the Northern Junk buildings?” June 28.

Has restoring one of the Northern Junk buildings and getting rid of the other ever been considered?

They should keep the attractive, stone-finished one nearer the bridge — the Fraser Warehouse — and level the Grancini Warehouse right down to its only redeeming feature, the stone foundation at the waterside end.

And they should forget the “monolith” proposal. The property owners have lost any right to turn a profit by failing to halt the pathetic deterioration of the existing buildings.

Charlene Brown

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