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Letters Nov. 19: Wharf Street's air-pollution problem; damaged bridge a blessing in disguise

Letters from our readers: Deer and other wild animals, amalgamation, thanks for helping in crash.
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Former Victoria mayor Lisa Helps stands near bike lanes on Store Street in October. A letter-writer suggests the bike lanes have backed up traffic to the point where idling vehicles’ exhaust more than cancels any environmental benefit of the bike lanes. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Unintended consequences in downtown Victoria

A recent edition had a photograph of ­former mayor Lisa Helps standing where the Store Street and Wharf Street ­protected bicycle lanes meet.

The construction of the Wharf Street lane eliminated a lane for southbound traffic to turn left at Fort or Broughton streets. This has frequently resulted in a tailback of vehicles waiting behind a vehicle waiting to make a left turn.

As a senior who frequently was on my bicycle on Wharf Street, I never experienced the danger Helps presumably felt.

I do, however, share the former mayor’s concerns about automobile pollution. I always wanted to ask her how she felt about 12 to 20 vehicles idling behind vehicles trying to turn left.

A block east, Government Street could have done double duty for both pedestrians and bicyclists pedalling slowly. It took the COVID pandemic and the desire for outdoor dining and drinking to convince Government Street merchants to close the street to traffic.

Wharf Street tailbacks of idling automobiles and the closure of Government and Vancouver streets blocked traffic on three of the six main north-south streets that traverse the downtown. This means that Douglas, Blanshard and Quadra have to carry the load.

The unintended result is that often cars are unnecessarily idling while they wait for room across the intersection. Given this increase in carbon dioxide, is it possible that the new council might convert one of the EV charging spaces to an oxygen station?

Help, I can’t breathe…

Andrew Beckerman

Victoria

Bridge removal was really a favour

So, the Island Corridor Foundation has chosen to replace and likely heighten the Shawnigan Lake rail bridge that was recently dismantled by a truck, even though the bridge hasn’t been used in 11 years.

My thinking is that the driver actually did them a favour — after all, they’re planning on selling the steel for scrap.

And I’m eagerly anticipating imminent ads to hire conductors.

Dave Kirk

Nanaimo

A grateful thanks after a Malahat crash

My wife and I would like to express our grateful thanks to all those who came to our aid following our accident on the Malahat on Nov. 10.

While on our way to Victoria, we were struck by a dump truck and hurled across the highway in front of oncoming traffic. It was a miracle that we survived and did not hit anyone travelling on the northbound lane.

A witness to the accident told us that she was amazed we didn’t hit her as we flew across the road, rolling three times before striking the cement barrier and coming to rest upside down on the northbound lane.

Finding ourselves hanging upside down, my wife alerted me of smoke coming from the car, so I unhooked myself and kicked the door to get myself out. At the same time, the door was pulled open by two gentlemen in uniform who helped us out and had us sit on the concrete ­barrier. Our first two angels.

A minute later, two ambulance ­attendants arrived, took us into their ambulance to check us over and to see to our needs. Fortunately, they were driving north on the Malahat on their way back to ­Nanaimo when they got the call. Our ­second two angels.

They drove us into Victoria, where we were kindly attended to by the wonderful nurses and doctors in the emergency department. Each one were as angels to us, for which we will be eternally grateful.

We shouldn’t have survived such a horrendous accident, but we are grateful we did. Please, wear your seat belts, and drive cautiously and at the speed limit or below. I am told that accidents are ­common on that highway.

Each person who drives on that highway is someone who is loved by family and friends and are precious. All of us need to do our part to keep that stretch of highway safe.

Thanks once again to our first responders who have dedicated themselves to serve us.

Greg and Miko Pedersen

Cobble Hill

Amalgamation is long overdue

Thanks to Peter Diamant for his Nov. 16 commentary “Province must take the lead on amalgamation.” He provides excellent analysis and notes how amalgamation happened in many parts of Canada back in the 1990s.

Indeed, in some cities, it occurred much earlier (such as 50 years ago for Winnipeg), due to the proactive efforts of other provinces.

Amalgamation in the capital region is long overdue, and Diamant wisely emphasizes it is the province that has the power to make it happen. Waiting upon the municipalities to accomplish this has not gotten the desired results.

Allan Saunders

Victoria

Many COVID questions need to be answered

Re: “NDP urges independent review of federal COVID-19 response,” Nov. 15.

Finally a federal politician with the good sense to call for a national, independent inquiry into the COVID-19 response. By any metric the pandemic was an unprecedented health, social and economic catastrophe, and Canadians deserve a deep dive into the decisions made, not least because the next pandemic (which could be far more lethal) could be moments away.

Canada had national inquiries into the tainted blood tragedy (1980s, 8,000 deaths) and the SARS outbreak (2003, 44 deaths). COVID-19 is on track to kill 50,000 Canadians. Those 50,000 preventable deaths deserve more than a political shrug.

The inquiry might start by asking how well the Public Health Agency of Canada performed, since it was created in the aftermath of the SARS crisis to improve national preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks.

We could ask why we stumbled to get a mask mandate in place and then needed home sewers to make enough masks for health-care workers. We could ask why we let Canadian vaccine-manufacturing capacity evaporate years ago.

And if any provincial leaders have the courage to come to the table, we can ask what they think about national standards for institutional care of seniors.

Finally, let’s ask why an evidence-based response became a political finger-pointing exercise, undermining Canadian unity and fuelling civil disorder.

Rory McAlpine

Oak Bay

It’s not a deer problem, blame the settlers

Re: “Two decades to fix a deer problem, nothing done,” letter, Nov 16.

Yes indeed! Blasting out the sides of hills, cutting down forests that provide food and shelter, constructing oversized homes, driving into cyclists, committing heinous crimes against humanity, installing fences and concrete, and allowing domesticated animals to defecate on streets, vocalize loudly, and kill wild birds.

And then rage because the native black-tailed deer that have lived here for thousands of years successfully survive and navigate human-constructed habitats by eating the capital you planted when you moved here for a hot second to benefit from their land.

During settler colonization, animal agriculture and domesticated animals asserted the settlers’ home and boundaries, and non-domesticated animals were considered “wild” and represented a concept that needed to be tamed. Native black-tailed deer are fringe animals and never left this place.

The Lekwungen-speaking people would set grass fires in the area known as the Uplands to burn off dead grass and weeds to improve the pasturage for deer (see Larry McCann’s book Imagining Uplands).

I have seen deer here since 1970. Density, development, and fencing have pushed the deer into the streets. They, too, need to travel from one place to another (and don’t burn fossil fuels to do it).

In 1970, there were 250,000 black-tailed deer on Vancouver Island. Current numbers are at 45,000. Sadly, two black-tailed deer are lost for every four humans arriving on Vancouver Island. Look in the mirror to see who the real “invader” is in this story.

Carolynne Rykhlo

Victoria

Where is the logic in the way we handle deer?

In what rational world would you be allowed to kill deer out in the wild where they are peacefully minding their own business and bothering no one, and yet find killing deer in cities, where they are a nuisance and often a problem, unthinkable?

I guess it makes sense to somebody.

Jim McClennan

Saanich

We don’t condemn them, but we certainly kill them

A letter-writer says we don’t condemn bears and wolves for eating meat.

But we kill bears for eating your garbage and shoot wolves from a helicopter with high-powered rifles for eating meat.

Donald Boyce

Victoria

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• Email letters to: letters@timescolonist.com

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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