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Letters March 11: A role for mental hospitals; railway is key to Island's future

Caring for those who can’t care for themselves Re: “People are living in squalor; we need to do these things to help,” commentary, March 9.
Tents have been pitched along the Galloping Goose trail near Burnside Avenue. [Adrian Lam, Times Colonist, March 8, 2021]

Caring for those who can’t care for themselves

Re: “People are living in squalor; we need to do these things to help,” commentary, March 9.

Kudos to Joni Hockert for an honest and insightful comment on our homeless, mentally ill and addicted population.

I worked in psychiatry in Victoria in the late 1980s and it was a revolving door for those who returned to the community without a stable and secure environment once their hospitalization ended.

The victimization and criminality that is being experienced today had not ­materialized to today’s levels, but then, as now, it was inhuman to watch the never-ending cycle: hospitalize, stabilize and release.

Governments and society must acknowledge that there are those among us who do not have the capacity to care for themselves and we as civil society must care for them.

We have allowed this social experiment to continue over the last 40-plus years under the guise of self-determination and mitigation of structural costs.

It has been an abysmal failure, inhuman to those who need to be cared for, and has exponentially increased ­victimization, criminality and societal costs.

If building forensic psychiatric facilities will help end this inhuman experiment, then as a civil society, let’s get on with it.

Laura Neil

Mental hospitals have a role to play

Re: “People are living in squalor; we need to do these things to help,” commentary, March 9.

I write in strong support of Joni ­Hockert’s commentary.

I am a retired psychiatrist who started my career in Great Britain in the 1950s, when the great old Victorian mental hospitals were still around.

They were filled with patients with chronic mental illness, mainly schizophrenia. At the time, few people lived on the streets. That started only when chronic wards in the mental hospital were shut down in the 1960s and 1970s.

There was a lot to criticize in those old hospitals. The wards were dreary, stale and depressing.

But the patients were treated humanely, housed and fed. Most were unable to care for themselves, so they were looked after responsibly by trained staff at the state’s expense.

In closing these old institutions, we have thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

Those in our society without homes are our responsibility. We need to create two or three levels of housing, with different degrees of supportive care, where homeless people are assigned according to their needs.

Living on the streets or in tents is unacceptable in our affluent society.

François Mai

Vast majority have no say without amalgamation

Re: “Fussed about resident-only ­parking? Curb your enthusiasm,” Jack Knox, March 9

In his recent column, Jack Knox missed a central point about resident-only parking.

Placing resident-only parking around large regional institutions places a huge extra burden on people trying to use these facilities.

The Royal Jubilee Hospital is the best example. There is simply not enough parking on site to accommodate people visiting patients or having tests or outpatient procedures.

Taking transit is not a good option. I live in Royal Oak, for example, and by bus it would take an absolute minimum of an hour each way, as opposed to no more than 30 minutes by car.

People living on streets near the hospital have gotten huge benefits from their proximity to the hospital — for example, through rising property values. They all have driveways.

I come from downtown Toronto, and grew up in neighbourhoods with no driveways, so residential-only parking was a necessity, but in Toronto, it only applies to overnight parking. Otherwise, non-residents can park for one to two hours.

Here, the oligarchy that rules the individual fiefdoms we call municipalities are not accountable to the vast majority of people using these regional facilities.

I live in Saanich, and have no say in parking regulations for places like the hospital.

Similarly, the plans for Clover Point and Dallas Road appear designed to curtail the use of Victoria parks by people who do not live in Victoria.

I and the vast majority of residents in Greater Victoria have no say in the changes being made to downtown.

The lack of real democracy in Greater Victoria is glaring.

As has happened in every other province, only if the B.C. government forces amalgamation will we have municipal democracy.

David Zimmerman

Harry and Meghan of no actual importance

For more than a year now, I have been cloistered in my cabin in the woods, relying on the media to keep me informed about what matters in the world, enduring the decline of American democracy and a constant barrage of information about the raging pandemic while praying for the day when a more important story rises to blot these tragedies from the front page.

Today, we have Harry and Meghan, two minor celebrities of no actual importance who are being treated as if their struggle with wealth and privilege actually matters, and I have to ask:

Can we talk about COVID-19 some more? Are there no homeless people in the park we can interview? Isn’t our inept city council planning another costly improvement that will destroy the Victoria I grew up in?

Harry and Meghan? Seriously? Can’t we talk about the Trumps some more?

David Lowther
Mesachie Lake

Railway is the key to Island’s future

A reader says electric buses, not trains.

Yes, electric buses are the answer to much of the commuting needs of the South Island, but the future of Vancouver Island involves much more than the movement of people in the South Island area.

The Island’s future involves the connectivity of the whole of Vancouver Island and the key to that lies in the E&N’s rebirth. The Trans-Canada Highway cannot handle what the future will bring in the way of traffic.

It barely does the job now in terms of reliability and the cost to maintain safe passage. The future of the Victoria area will depend on being connected to the whole of our vast Island, or it will suffer from being tagged as a tough shipping and travelling destination.

The cities and districts in the rest of the Island will grow over time and need us just as we need them.

A railway connection will bring prosperity to all of the Island’s residents when those impeding the E&N Railway can no longer defend their position.

Ed Monteith

Keep ideas coming for Clover Point

A giant green clover-leaf-shaped multilevel parkade may not be quite right for Clover Point, but thoughts like that could help stimulate our collective imagination.

I would like to hear more ideas on the topic before the city moves ahead.

Mine so far, realistic or otherwise, include: an open-sided tram (solar or electric or mechanically powered) circling the point, stopping at shelters set up along the way; rickshaws transporting pedestrians and wheelchairs down from the parking lot or from a Dallas bus stop; westerly viewpoint parking along the present path from below Moss Street, down past the neck of the point, as far as the second ramp.

Consider all aspects of Clover Point — the kite-flyers, cyclists, pedestrians, elderly storm-watchers, families with younger children and, of course, the natural environment itself.

The design could even incorporate an educational element where we could all learn more about alternative forms of energy, including that provided by Clover Point’s abundant supply of wind!

Marion Boucher-Yas
James Bay

Contact seniors for vaccine appointments

Re: “1.7 million calls in less than three hours; phone lines for vaccine swamped on first day,” March 9

Why is it that a government that can send out a million-plus letters to homeowners for house tax assessment can’t send out letters to seniors who require vaccinations?

The Medical Services Plan can identify all those who are 60-plus. Most have doctors and all certainly pay taxes.

About 1.7 million phone calls on day one? Why not write and call with a choice of two appointment dates at your local pharmacy or medical centre?

And why do we keep getting those daily reports of new cases? They will never change until we take the step of inoculating people.

Let’s at least exercise some common sense and do it in an orderly and expeditious fashion.

Anthony Rose
senior in waiting


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