Letters May 20: Security for security guards; deer on Sidney Island

Security guards need protection

When will security guards in B.C. be protected by our government?

Currently, the average citizen has more rights than a licensed security guard.

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B.C.’s public safety minister is far behind on our security guards compared with other provinces such as Ontario. With the appropriate training, security guards should be equipped with self-defence tools such as batons and pepper spray.

Security guards should also be mandated to work in pairs for their safety. Shoplifters and other criminals are becoming more brazen by the day using weapons against security guards.

On Tuesday, a security guard was stabbed when trying to stop a shoplifter. I used to be able to walk in Victoria unafraid for my safety, but the amount of violent crimes has become rampant making me second-guess before heading out.

Recently, there has been a spike in crime in Victoria due to the police budget request not being met requiring multiple provincial interventions, and it has put a strain on local businesses with the amount of theft.

Currently, the police do not have enough resources to deal with criminal activity, hence security needs to evolve from an “observe and report” role into a more active role in stopping crime.

Just like body armour, which security guards are allowed to use, non-lethal use-of-force options I think can put many security guards’ minds at ease that they have options to defend themselves when someone is trying to harm them.

Michael Fitzpatrick

Victoria

No deer problem on Sidney Island

Re: “To restore island’s ecology, a push to kill hundreds of deer,” May 16.

The article has incorrect information and an overall misleading conclusion.

Parks Canada controls 400 acres (not hectares); there are about 50 homes (not residents); private property is composed of 1,500 acres of common property and 111 lots on 300 acres.

The total island is 2,200 acres.

Sidney Island was basically a tree farm of Douglas and Grand fir. Uncontrolled deer population before 2005 caused further reduction of biodiversity.

From 2005 until present the deer population has been reduced by 90 per cent to its current number of about 300 (after spring fawning) and will require an annual 100-animal harvest to keep a stable balance.

Our island does not have a deer problem, but Oak Bay, Mayne Island and many other communities do.

Fallow deer are a valuable and desired source of animal protein; food security is important to us.

We have a vibrant hunting community and every year we get new hunters young and old joining us. If we eradicate our fallow deer, we will lose our hunting community and, within a decade, have a blacktail deer problem.

Sidney Island is unlike any other Gulf Island or coastal community and is in an enviable position with 1,500 acres of common property to safely manage both of species of deer.

Frank Nielsen

Sidney Island

Sidney Island owners eager for compromise

Re: “To restore island’s ecology, a push to kill hundreds of deer,” May 16.

As an 18-year resident and owner on Sidney Island, we would like to offer a different perspective regarding the fallow deer kill on Sidney Island being proposed by Parks Canada.

A number of owners on Sidney Island are feeling disenfranchised by Parks Canada’s plans to carry out an eradication of the fallow deer.

We acquired property on Sidney Island because of its beautiful setting and its flora and fauna. While we acknowledge that the fallow deer have and are causing damage to the vegetation, we want Parks Canada to offer the owners alternative solutions to a complete cull if they wish to get involved in a private property dispute.

From 2008 to 2013, our Sidney Island community carried out a partial eradication which has had a positive effect on reducing the grazing damage. More is required.

Parks Canada’s authority in this regard is ultimately provided by Sidney Island’s strata council through a vote by owners. Unfortunately, this council has been plagued by recent controversies involving disagreements with owners over their vision of the island’s future development and direction.

The arrangement between Parks Canada and our current council involves a pledge of $1 million to pay for the cull and carry out ecological restoration. It is not hard to see that owners, eager for compromise, are being disadvantaged and disenfranchised.

Ruth and Jack Albrecht

Sidney Island

Cruise ships are ideal for spreading COVID

Re “’All hands on deck’ over cruise ships — finally,” May 19.

The column glosses over one important issue. How long before we hear reports about a COVID-19 outbreak on an Alaska cruise ship?

Restarting this industry prematurely will do more harm than good. If sports teams, with Orwellian safety protocols, can’t prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, how successful do you think cruise lines will be?

While I have enjoyed cruising in the past, to pretend cruise ships aren’t the ideal breeding grounds for contagious diseases is naïve.

Let’s err on the side of caution. All the hardships we have endured for the past year should not be in vain. This is not a new problem. Throughout history, diseases have been spread by ships not following proper quarantine protocols.

S.I. Petersen

Nanaimo

We need a new way to attract cruise ships

The furore surrounding the decision of U.S. authorities to temporarily suspend the provisions of the Jones Act to require cruise ships to stop in Canadian (or other foreign) waters equals the brouhaha over bicycle lanes on Victoria streets.

As we lose another cruise season in Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver this year, it is worthwhile recalling that the fact that the ships come here at all is a bonus, and not an entitlement.

And there remains a vigorous debate as to whether the economic benefit of their port calls outweighs the environmental and other social costs to the ports they visit.

That said, should the Americans repeal the Jones Act, we will have to compete, if we want to, on a normal commercial basis in order to entice ships to call at our ports.

The cruise lines may want to come here anyway regardless of the Jones Act, or perhaps the call of a non-stop trip between American ports and Alaska and Hawaii will leave us in the lurch.

Are we planning for that possible eventuality?

David Collins

Victoria

Cyclists, please stop when the sign says stop

Re “Pedestrians need a better sense of safety,” letter, May 18.

While I agree that an increase of bicycle transport is good for the environment and climate change, I am disheartened and appalled by the very large number of cyclists in Victoria who do not obey the rules of the road, particularly at stop signs.

These mean stop — and yet most cyclists do not do so. A few slow down a bit but many continue at the speed they were going, sometimes very fast.

These may not be heard or seen by a pedestrian crossing the road who may see them at the last second and may not be able to avoid them. Also, there may be cars crossing or about to cross that may not have time to avoid the cyclist.

In most car/cyclist accidents the cyclist comes off worst, so the sign is meant for the cyclist’s own health as well as for the car driver.

Most cars do stop or slow right down (they should stop completely) and very few, compared to cyclists, ignore the sign or do not slow down much.

The only solution to this problem is that bicycles should have a licence with the owner’s number clearly displayed on the bicycle so that this illegal, dangerous and selfish behaviour can be enforced with fines and/or impounding of the bicycle.

Charles Simpson

Oak Bay

Voices of Victorians have gone missing

It’s been over two weeks since 24/7 camping ended in Beacon Hill Park. There are 20-plus tents remaining and I am still not feeling safe. Too much has happened.

The next step for the much-loved park is a day in court. The city will ask: “Can the land known as Beacon Hill Park, held in trust by the City of Victoria, be used by persons experiencing homelessness for temporary sheltering?”

At the invitation of the city, I submitted a letter on May 5 for the upcoming court case. It was due May 7.

As with many decisions related to the park, I often wonder who is making them and how they are being made.

Using the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, on May 8 I asked the city for all letters submitted. I received 54; my letter was not amongst them.

After further reviewing the document I noted the letters were by date from April 15 to 25 with the exception of the first two letters (dated May 7) and the last letter dated April 22. Two weeks of letters were missing.

I asked the city about the missing letters. FOIPPA grants them 30 days to respond. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is also reviewing the request. They will respond in three months.

The Beacon Hill Trust case just around the corner. There appears to be two weeks of missing letters. Will the voices of the citizens be heard?

Susan Simmons

Victoria

When were our jail cells closed?

Re: ”Unease after arson fire near just‑opened shelter,” May 18.

The story quotes the communications director of Our Place as saying: “And he’ll [the arsonist] be released back onto the street, because there is no place to put him.”

I am an assiduous (and sometimes acidulous) reader of the Times Colonist, but I must have missed the story that told of the closing of all the jail cells in Victoria. When did that story run?

Ian Cameron

Brentwood Bay

Supportive housing is an important step up

Safe, affordable housing is at the base of so much of what contributes to a functioning society. Unfortunately, in this beautiful place, our cost of living has reached a point that can be near impossible to maintain.

As someone who is employed and has a spouse to share the burden, we still find ourselves on the edge of what is considered affordable rent simply because there are few options, and the definition of affordable is unrealistic.

In 2015, my husband and I lived in Vancouver with no savings to speak of. After I lost my job, my husband got sick and was off work for two weeks without pay.

It’s the kind of thing that can be a catalyst in someone’s life. We had supports — family in Victoria and a sympathetic landlord.

Luckily, I did eventually get a job. When I reflect on this period, I see we could have lost our home and our lives could have changed dramatically.

There is no one reason a person might end up homeless or in need of supportive housing. Many of us have held (or do hold) assumptions of who a person in supportive housing might be. It could truly be almost anyone who doesn’t have a support network on their own.

Many of the fears around supportive housing are already issues in every neighbourhood. They’re simply hidden, allowing us to pretend they don’t exist.

There is strong evidence that supportive housing creates an environment that allows residents to grapple with whatever challenges their ability to have a safe place to live.

It allows them to get the help and resources they need, providing them with the possibility of becoming independent again.

Sidonie Buicliu

Victoria

Praise for Our Place, but not for B.C. Housing

Re: “Unease in Vic West after arson fire near just-opened shelter,” May 18.

During my interview, I emphasized that I thought B.C. Housing had left Our Place out in the cold to absorb the public response to the arson and that the 29 other people in the shelter might be facing increased stigma during a very sensitive time.

I emphasized that it is frustrating that B.C. Housing, not Our Place, mainly selects residents when Our Place has to figure out if staff have the capacity or training to help people with complex needs or people who may make other residents feel unsafe or insecure, noting that living with an alleged arsonist could have been very uncomfortable indeed.

I emphasized that many residents have felt uneasy about the shelter opening on their street but that confidence was increasing with Our Place as the provider because I have been stressing to community members that Our Place is the best provider in the city.

I stressed my frustration about the delays in creating the community advistory committee and B.C. Housing’s approach to community engagement and that I felt it had been left up to volunteers like me to identify and establish relationships with the various stakeholders and providers in order to help me these housing projects roll out as successfully as possible, to make sure that the community feels they can collaborate and seek information and share feedback in order to make this a community building opportunity and to make shelter residents feel welcome.

I have worked very hard — at this point giving 75 hours of my own time since March — to much personal sacrifice, to build positive relationships.

Justine Semmens

Victoria West Community Association

Victoria

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