Letters March 16: James Bay changes a plus; need for mental-health facilities

Life is almost perfect in wonderful James Bay

James Bay is home to families, young professionals, government employees, entrepreneurs, students and seniors (seniors do not make up the majority of the neighbourhood’s population).

I’m one of those seniors and I am happy with the City of Victoria’s initiatives in my community, including ongoing support for the seniors’ centre and neighbourhood association’s gardening program. I like the added walking spaces on Menzies and Simcoe and hope they become permanent.

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I hope the flex space on Erie Street becomes permanent, too. I’m delighted with the Dallas Road walkway.

I drive a car when necessary, but most of the time I walk to local grocery stores, health-care providers, pharmacy and coffee shops. What I can’t find in James Bay, I walk to find downtown.

I appreciate measures that make walking safer, including those that slow down traffic. New crosswalks, speed bumps and four-way stops all make me happy. Closing some roads in Beacon Hill Park makes me happy. Bike lanes provide a buffer between me and fast-moving vehicles and lower speed limits are safer for all road and sidewalk users.

I support them, too.

Some improvements are not a municipality’s responsibility, but cities still have influence. For example, Victoria can push for better transit service, upgraded bus stops, enhanced access to HandyDart and, most importantly for James Bay, eliminating the negative impacts of the cruise industry.

I’ll be ecstatic when that comes to pass.

Britta Gundersen-Bryden

Mental-health facility saved the life of Dad

Whenever I see someone leave their weather-beaten tent or watch someone wander down the street in a drug-addled state, I think of my eight-year-old self back in the early 1960s. Life dealt our family a harsh blow with the sudden death of our mother causing our stable small-town life to spin off its axis.

My father could not cope with the death of our mother, so he turned to alcohol for solace. Over a two-year period, he went from a respectable family man with a career job on the railway to someone people crossed the street to avoid.

He, drank, and drank, and drank, finally losing his job and developing alcohol-induced dementia as a result of relying on alcohol as his only source of nutrition.

But his, and my story has a happy ending. The province, Saskatchewan, stepped in and deemed him unable to care for himself or his children, and therefore he was admitted into a provincial mental-health facility.

My father did not just survive in that facility for more than 20 years, he thrived. He was even able to assist on the farm that was part of the facility.

Sadly, his memory never improved, but knowing he was safe, warm, healthy, even loved, was such a relief to all of his kids. There were times when we would visit and try and drive him to the Dairy Queen for a milkshake, but he would always resist because he didn’t want to leave his safe haven. Where are all those safe havens today?

I cannot imagine how life would have ended up for Dad had someone not made the compassionate decision that life was better under the care of the province rather than in a tent, under a bridge, or worse.

Al Morrison

The ‘Crown’ has no bias, and no opinions

The notion of the “Crown” and its importance to the way Canadians govern themselves is not something that is discussed or considered daily and is not well understood.

The conversation often focuses on members of a particular family or and individual. But the reality is the “Crown” that is at the apex of Canada’s system of government has been a symbol of the state in Canada for 400 years.

The Statute of Westminster established the independent Canadian Crown in 1931. Those who represent “the Crown,” including the Queen or King of Canada, (who is separate and independent from the Queen or King of any other realm), the Governor General and each of the Lieutenants Governor may approach and carry out their duties from different backgrounds and with differing talent, and therefore may generate both positive and negative reactions, are not “the Crown.”

The Crown has no opinions or bias, except that which has it been given by the people through the laws made by the elected representatives. Those laws are passed and enforced in the name of the Crown. The Crown is the font of all honours, it is the symbol of government, including the legistures, courts, police services and armed forces.

Gerald W. Pash

No, Steve, cars still run Victoria’s show

It’s clear from reading Steve Wallace’s latest column, “Room for everyone to embrace the Clover Point experience,” that he’s out to lunch (and probably at a drive-through).

His framing of the car issue and city council’s response is so sanctimonious I’m having a hard time keeping my lunch down. Like all cities in Canada, cars still run the show in Victoria. Any attempt by a duly elected city council to balance other transportation options is seen as “car-hating.”

I guess as a driver, when you’ve been privileged and entitled for so long, any attempt at moving towards equity for other modes of transportation seems like an attack on your basic rights.

This is automobile grievance at its worst, and this type of thinking is going to get us nowhere fast (but from the comfort of our SUVs).

Corey Davis

Concentration camps were in South Africa

A letter-writer has called it a “vile insult” for me to describe bottling up homeless people in the Pandora Avenue enclave rather than allowing them temporarily to set up tents in city parks as a “concentration camp approach.”

The letter-writer inferred that in speaking of concentration camps I meant the Nazi system. Actually, I had in mind the first concentration camps, developed by the British military in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.

In that case, confining tens of thousands of innocents led, inevitably, to an epidemic of measles that killed thousands, mostly women and children. Rampant spread of disease was exactly the danger that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control feared last year, when it recommended flexible policies for the homeless.

Finally, contrary to the letter-writer, I do not refer to Stephen Hammond as a Nazi. It is true that relying on force to solve complex social issues is one characteristic of Naziism. But there are other essential features of that ideology which do not apply in this case, I’m sure.

Larry Hannant

Health projections must be realistic

We should not underestimate the impact of job-related stress on our health-care workers. Often taken for granted are those at the top of organizations and agencies entrusted with public health.

They shoulder the burden of immense decision-making responsibilities, which can affect their own well-being.

In her job as provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry has inspired us through these dark days and earned our gratitude, even as controversial policies are undertaken. As a public-facing scientist, she must embody a unique handholding objectivity. She must thread a needle, weighing and balancing every word, to lead us forward into the unknown.

This is no time for magical thinking on the part of anyone, including those in charge of public messaging. Sustaining a rigorous commitment to science during the vicissitudes of this pandemic is mission-critical. Premature broadcasting of rosy projections of a post-pandemic summer risks spurring irrational behaviour among a weary public.

Let’s keep it real. Unmet expectations can diminish an already challenged morale.

Charles Harp
Oak Bay


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