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Letters March 30: Concerns over Telus building; underappreciated medical heroes

Worried about Telus building’s wall of glass I am very concerned about the Telus Ocean building, and Victoria should be, too, but not for heritage or height reasons, although those concerns are real. I am also not against the jobs it would create.
An artist’s rendering of the Telus Ocean, a proposed commercial office and retail building in downtown Victoria at Douglas and Humboldt streets. TELUS

Worried about Telus building’s wall of glass

I am very concerned about the Telus Ocean building, and Victoria should be, too, but not for heritage or height reasons, although those concerns are real.

I am also not against the jobs it would create.

Rather, my concern is about the “wonderful glass wall facing Douglas Street.”

Glass buildings are a climate disaster. No matter what the developer may say, there is no way to make a glass building that is not bad news for the climate.

Remember Victoria’s declaration in March 2019 that we are in a climate crisis?

It would be hypocritical to make that declaration but then to allow a mainly glass building.

I also say this, quoting Telus itself: “We are proud of our global leadership in sustainability and our dedication to exploring new and innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint and minimize our impact on the planet while creating sustainable value for the communities where we live, work and serve.” (Doug French, Telus executive vice-president.)

Of course, buildings do need some glass, but there are reasonable compromises between some glass and climate considerations, and these compromises are known to responsible designers.

Let’s not be blinded or dazzled by the artist’s rendering. There is much more to a building than a bright image with a few trees sprinkled around the building’s base.

Don’t believe assurances such as, “All will be OK, with special glass.”

The energy losses from a largely glass-faced building associated with winter heating and the summer cooling far outweigh any sort of double-glazing or argon-filled spaces, etc.

Don’t be misled by statements such as, “We are doing great things elsewhere,” or “Our goal by 2030 is to …” Do the right thing now.

As an important side issue, fully glazed fishbowls are not fun for the people who have to work in them.

Let the design be interesting, let it be great, but design this building so that it does not compromise Victoria’s own climate crisis declaration or add harm to the planet for the next century or two.

Robert Gifford, professor
Psychology and Environmental Studies
University of Victoria

Do not forget anesthesiologists

Health Minister Adrian Dix has congratulated a variety of health-care workers for catching up on the most recent surgical backlog. He specifically thanked surgeons and nurses, but surprisingly failed to mention a key group of specialists, anesthesiologists, supposedly lumping them in with “other” health care workers.

This is a huge oversight. Without anesthesiologists, the surgeries simply wouldn’t happen.

Anesthesiologists are actually the group of health-care workers in charge of our surgeries. This group of physicians are dedicated, hard-working and often underappreciated.

They are not simply technicians, but rather are fully qualified physicians with an additional five years of training in their field after medical school. They don’t “just” put people “to sleep” for surgeries and wake them up.

They take patients’ lives in their hands, providing pain relief and managing their bodies while surgeons operate.

Without them, modern surgery could not exist. Due to advances in technology and equipment, surgeries can now be completed on increasingly complex patients with a significant number of co-morbidities.

When things go right, their job often looks easy to others and some people think “anybody can do this job” (similar to an airline pilot flying a plane).

But when things go unexpectedly sideways, which can happen during surgery, it’s the anesthesiologist who gets us through. As patients having surgery, our contact with anesthesia is often brief, and we don’t often think about them after it’s all over, but it’s thanks to their skill during the surgery that most of us get through it safely.

Thank you, anesthesiologists!

Jane Effa, BScN

Isolation is the abuser’s best friend

When society shuts down like during a pandemic, women as well as children all over the globe are being exposed to more and rougher abuse by their male partners. Forced to work from the often narrow spaces a home can offer, often lead to drug and alcohol abuse, which becomes contributing factors for increased violence.

One can only imagine what that does to a child who is more or less locked into the unhappiness of its parents. It would probably be helpful if more men were speaking out on women’s behalf, but the silence is deafening.

Ulla Ressner

Make Richardson for walkers and cyclists

I am a resident of Richardson Street, a driver and a cyclist who has an intimate view of the situation here.

Richardson was never seen as an arterial roadway for traffic to and from downtown. It is a neighbourhood residential street, almost exclusively single-family and duplex homes. From Foul Bay Road to Cook Street there is only one small apartment building, a church, a private school and a pre-school.

Traffic on this street combines cars and commercial vehicles, at times heavy. While cars are usually courteous, the trucks aren’t, having less clearance for manoeuvre. As an unusually flat, level street, it has historically been the east-west route for cycling to and from downtown and is heavily used for that.

Now for my impression as a cyclist: When I leave my driveway, I find myself acting like a fighter pilot, swiveling my head looking out for traffic as I cross the road. While riding up the road, I can’t hear traffic behind me, and have to constantly check my mirror.

Most cars give me a wide berth, but there are points where “traffic calming” obstacles or parked vehicles squeeze them against me. Recently at one of these pinch points two large box trucks of the same business rushed by me, only inches away, at full speed. Breathless describes the experience.

I favour prioritizing this as a route for walkers and cyclists. But the city also has to extend some consideration for Oak Bay traffic. It needs proper signalling installed at the Foul Bay/Fairfield Road intersection, especially as this is by an elementary school, and left-turn signalling at Fairfield and Moss streets, where gridlock often occurs.

John Hutchinson

Supportive housing must come sooner

The pending 192 units “with around-the-clock-supports” for people without homes is good news, and the provincial government deserves kudos.

But the targeted completion for the first 132 units is “the summer of 2022 or earlier,” meaning we could have more tent-camping in parks next winter, which is not good enough.

A March 5 letter was titled “Permanent park camping is inhumane,” which hits the nail on the head. Police Chief Del Manak reinforced and widened this message in a front-page story in the same issue by labeling the lack of mental-health support “inhumane.” The word humane tells us what we should do.

The provincial government is on the right track, but it needs to pick up the pace and advance the deadline for the new units. The development of COVID-19 vaccines shows what we can accomplish with sufficient determination.

Patrick Wolfe

Let’s work together to build our community

Since the 1800s, Chinese immigrants to Canada, members of their families and individuals have faced racism and legislated discrimination in the forms of head-tax legislation, restricted immigration laws, segregation, denial of the right to vote and other basic human rights.

Yet we have studied, worked hard to build livelihoods and raise families, build our communities, share culture and contribute in numerous ways to Canadian society. It is very difficult to dismantle the ideas and ideology, the systems and institutions that maintain discrimination.

And then, since the onset of the COVID‑19 pandemic, there has been an alarming increase in personal attacks — racist slurs against Chinese and Asian people, Black, Indigenous and racialized people.

We know of members of the Chinese community who have been accosted on hiking trails, or out and about in the community on errands, who have received taunts such as “go home, go back where you came from,” “your people caused this,” “how dare you show your face here” and “what are you still doing here?” This escalation of violence and recent murders in the United States are causing a lot of fear and despair in our community.

As we send deep condolences to the bereaved families in Atlanta and all who have lost loved ones to violence, we of the Chinese Community Services Centre denounce all forms of racism and discrimination. Racism must stop.

Let us work together to build a community of peace and understanding, kindness and compassion.

Gilbert Cheung, president
On behalf of the board of directors
Chinese Community Services Centre of Victoria

Essondale provided help when it was needed

Re: “Closing institutions abandons those most in need,” commentary, March 18.

I certainly agree with, and thank Gail Simpson for her commentary.

A member of my family was confined in Essondale for several months, many years ago. Without the intervention, he may not have had 30 more years of a loving and productive life in Victoria.

Let’s return to loving and respecting those in need and stop the abandonment.

Gail Brighton
Nanoose Bay


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