Letters May 13: School music still in danger; boundary changes a solution in search of a problem

School district music has not been saved

Recent headlines on various news outlets might have given the impression that extra money has been found and music programs have been “saved.” Unfortunately, music teachers, parents and students in the Greater Victoria School District know this not to be true.

While some funding has returned to Grade 6 and 7 band, the levels are still lower than previous years.

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Strings and choir, both incredibly popular programs among students, remain in danger of being completely eliminated. Roughly 70 per cent of Grade 5 students participate in strings when offered.

Choir is easily the most inclusive and cost-effective way to enrich students’ lives through music. Cutting such a program that boosts student mental health, especially now, is very misguided.

Teachers have even been told that they are not allowed to run strings or choir programs with the provided band funding, even if there are interested kids. It is arbitrarily cruel to students with these passions.

The school district has suggested that teachers volunteer their time to teach strings and choir. To ask them to run these complex and challenging programs in their free time, while in their new roles as general classroom teachers, is misguided at best, insulting at worst.

These thriving and robust programs took years to build, but they will be lost if this budget passes. They are not yet saved.

We encourage the board to seek more information, and to find savings that reflect the values of the community.

Winona Waldron, president
Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association

Redrawing the map will hurt Burnside Gorge

The proposed changes to Victoria’s neighbourhood boundaries are yet another solution in search of a problem.

It has been suggested that these changes will help improve engagement in the city. However, that claim offers no reassurance with a council that continuously ignores the feedback of residents.

Believe it or not, there are problems in the city that need immediate attention, such as the ongoing decay of our beloved downtown core.

Please leave Burnside Gorge alone. It has suffered enough. Adjusting the boundary is merely an excuse to circumvent the B.C. Housing moratorium and build more supportive housing at its doorstep. The neighbourhood is in the early stages of establishing a Business Improvement Association that will be able to reinvest and rebuild the ­community.

Allowing several Burnside Gorge businesses in Rock Bay that have already worked hard to establish their identity to be swallowed by the downtown core would undermine any progress that has been made and would wound the fledgling Business Improvement Association by cutting out a significant portion of its tax base before it has even been given a chance to fly.

Darryl Wilson, general manager
Days Inn Victoria Uptown

Surcharge would work better than rebate

When is the shell game of government rebates for electric vehicles going to stop?

While a manufacturer’s rebate might make a vehicle cheaper, government rebates don’t change the price of the product.

Providing government rebates just transfer part of the cost of the shiny new car, from the person who is going to get to enjoy it, to those who won’t (taxpayers).

While it might seem like governments are helping improve the environment by encouraging people to buy electric vehicles, if they used a stick rather than a carrot it would be a lot more cost ­effective.

Don’t give away tax dollars to EV purchasers. Instead put a surcharge on gas vehicle purchases.

Not only would it be a more effective policy, it would create government income rather than creating more government debt. When the sale of gas-powered vehicles plummets, you will be amazed how quickly cheaper no-frills EVs become available, and that will boost EV sales much more than government giveaways.

S.I. Petersen
Nanaimo

Support your local laundromat

As with public pay phones, public ­communal laundromats are going the way of the dodo.

The laundromat in the Cook Street Village is now a fast food joint. With the recent loss of Prestine Laundry, James Bay has none — it used to have two.

Soon, the redevelopment of the northeast corner of Yates and Cook streets could see the loss of another. That would leave just one laundromat within the city of Victoria (in Quadra Village).

The loss of these integral urban facilities will affect neighbourhood livability as well as the affordability of rental accommodation. However, a solution could reside in city policy.

Rather than accepting questionable public art and/or financial contributions as the community amenities required of developers, city policy could instead encourage the reintroduction of these disappearing facilities in neighbourhoods that need them.

Subsidized commercial space for a small laundry business, or even a co-operative model, perhaps.

Dave Nonen
Victoria

Ladysmith RCMP set a fine example

I was thrilled to read about the care taken by Ladysmith RCMP who safely escorted a young black bear out of town.

Imagine the message this sends to the Ladysmith community, and now to everyone who reads the Times Colonist. My heartfelt thanks go out to the officers who took the time to do the right thing. I hope that others will follow their excellent example, particularly as bears come out of hibernation in search of food.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that all life is intricately woven together; we humans can learn to peacefully coexist within that truth.

Val Murray
Cordova Bay

Better treatment for the mentally ill

“Am I missing something?” Judge Ted Gouge asked when he concluded that the violent, mentally ill man needed to be in hospital, instead of released into the so called “community,” in Louise Dickson’s latest report.

We are all missing something. Asylum, in its true definition, means refuge, shelter and care for those in need. Can we please give up the cuckoo’s nest distortion of the horrors of psychiatric institutions and remember the benefits for those suffering severe and persistent mental illness that an asylum can provide?

When I was beginning my career as a psychiatric occupational therapist, I chose to work at an asylum in Montreal, and experienced first-hand what was originally called “moral treatment” by Enlightenment reformers of 18th-century Britain.

Rather than leave the mentally ill to live and die on the streets, safety, nourishment and the chance to find meaning through participating in self-care and creativity were offered.

Psychiatry has advanced, but there is still no cure for schizophrenia and other severe disorders that ravage the brain, especially judgment and other executive functions that are essential for making appropriate decisions and restraining aggression. It’s no surprise that drugs, often used for self-medication, are such a contributing factor in the lives of so many. The biggest disaster of deinstitutionalization has been the assurance that life in “the community” would work just fine.

The lack of psychiatric services in just about every community in this country is shocking. Another man is now dead on the streets from an overdose. Violence and chaos are here to stay. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Can we please rethink moral treatment for the 21st century?

Isa Milman
Victoria

Add the maritime one to the Royal B.C. Museum

I frequent the Royal B.C. Museum at least once each year, really enjoying the Photographer of the Year exhibit.

As our family strolls through the dated cannery display, past windows full of old towne artifacts and climbing inside life-sized replica boats, I wonder why the Maritime Museum isn’t amalgamated into a new and improved exhibit within the Royal B.C. Museum.

Jason Adams
Saanichton

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