Letters Nov. 20: Hard to cast ballot; an islands bubble; the cougar solution

Making it hard to cast a ballot

I share the concerns, expressed by candidate Stephen Andrew and would-be voter Bruce Elkin, on mail-in voting for the Dec. 12 Victoria byelection.

As one who is concerned about catching the COVID-19 virus, I voted by mail in the B.C. general election. I am hoping to do the same now in the civic byelection.

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I requested my B.C. ballot the first day that they were available; the ballot package arrived the following Monday, and I completed it and mailed it the next day.

I applied online on Nov. 12 for my Victoria ballot. I was recognized by the program as being on the voters’ list (it filled in my middle name). I expected nothing less, having being on the list, at the same James Bay address, for the last 35 years.

Then came the demand to upload ID. Victoria uses the B.C. voters list. The province did not require me to upload anything; why did the city? Operating a home-based business, I have copiers and scanners and other devices that enabled me to meet the demand.

I paused, and thought about my clients, the median age of which is 76 years old. Many of them have email, but how many would be able to scan and upload their driver’s licence? Not many.

The message I received, after finishing my request, was that “ballot packages would be mailed starting the week of November 23.” Why the almost two-week delay?

Another concern I have is the location and hours of the advance poll. Crystal Garden has no parking, voters who can’t cycle or bus there will have to pay for parking, if they can find any. Also, only on two of the eight advance poll days is the poll open after 4 p.m.

As one who has worked for returning officers at more than a dozen provincial and federal electoral events, I must confess that voter suppression comes to mind when I see how this byelection is being conducted.

Fin MacDonald
James Bay

Apology to my Victoria neighbours

I’m sorry. This is partly my fault. The last municipal election went exactly the way I had hoped. So, you see, I caused this mess.

I didn’t really research the candidates. I thought the TogetherVictoria website looked pretty sharp, maybe a poet would make the council meeting minutes less boring, and bearded men are usually trustworthy.

I didn’t realize that “bold action to increase affordability” actually means “you won’t be able to sell your house because it’s next to a tent encampment”.

I didn’t realize that social justice could be weaponized by people who don’t understand it. Now I’m reading council meeting minutes, watching Capital Regional District meeting videos, and asking questions.

I want a council that effectively manages this city through smart policy and careful decision-making.

So, please, don’t make the same mistake I made. Educate yourself, talk to the candidates, and vote in the byelection on Dec. 12. It turns out, municipal politics are important.

Dan Irving
North Park

Henry is the right person for this time

Once again, Dr. Bonnie Henry has demonstrated why she is so well-respected and admired for her level-headed and calm approach to this pandemic.

In her latest pronouncement, she has taken the much needed step to make the wearing of masks mandatory by customers and workers in businesses and outdoors where people have gathered.

The only thing missing in this latest measure is a ban on travel from outside the province.

The Maritimes imposed a bubble that restricts travel into the region and I wish Henry would accept the need for a similar measure here as well.

Other than that I am confident that Henry is the right person in the right spot at this moment in time and we are lucky to have her.

Len Dafoe
Nanoose Bay

Protect seniors with an islands bubble

I agree with the recommendation of Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical officer, to create a requirement for 14-day quarantine for essential travel only when travelling to Vancouver Island and the other Gulf Islands.

It is very sound advice, epidemiologically. It has worked well in the Atlantic provinces and I believe an islands bubble is essential.

It is particularly sound given the age distribution on the islands. When one examines the 2016 census data for Vancouver Island and Coastal (which excludes the Interior and the Greater Vancouver region) 26 per cent of the population is 65 or older.

Further, when one explores the 2016 census data by B.C. municipalities and regions of more than 5,000 people, a more critical picture emerges.

Many of our towns on the island have large percentages of individuals 65 or older (and most at risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes).

For example, Qualicum Beach 52.1 per cent, Parksville 42.4 per cent, Sidney 40.9 per cent, Nanaimo 36.4 per cent and Cowichan Valley 34.1 per cent.

Many of these places do not have the critical care facilities to care for severe COVID-19 illness.

The case counts on the Island are starting to surge upwards and we have had our first outbreak in a long-term care facility in Port Alberni.

Our government and health authorities need to act now to avoid a health catastrophe on the islands given the ages of its residents.

In Western Australia the health authorities created several regional bubbles in the state with restricted travel between these bubbles to prevent the spread.

In addition to border measures, to date, the state has had only nine deaths since the start of the COVID‑19 epidemic and avoided a crisis in their long-term care facilities.

Given the unique demographics on the islands it is also sensible to have a mandatory mask policy on the islands as there is still widespread non-use of masks in indoor venues.

Dr. Richard K. Ladyshewsky
Esquimalt

Parents, guardians left out of discussion

Re: “Assisted-dying bill sparks debate among Canadians with disabilities,” Nov. 14.

I was happy to see so many persons with disabilities coming forward to make their respective cases regarding MAID.

But there is another group that’s being left out of this debate, and that is parents and guardians with legal responsibility for making medical decisions for family members who have been deemed incapable of ­making those decisions for themselves.

Under the present MAID law, neither the dependent-handicapped person nor his/her guardian has authority to request MAID — even if death is “reasonably foreseeable” and/or the person is undergoing extreme suffering.

As a senior with a history of cancer, I’ve attended several sessions on MAID as part of my personal estate planning but when it comes to my disabled son, my hands are tied because even if he understood MAID, he cannot legally request it and nor can I request it on his behalf.

While I realize there would have to be something included in the legislation to prevent guardians from achieving any kind of economic or other gain as a result of making such a request, the vast majority of us are not ogres but people who have spent most of our lives tirelessly advocating for our loved ones and are ­terrified that we will fail them by having to stand by helplessly and watch them suffer with a critical and/or incurable medical condition.

Ann Jessey
Qualicum Beach

All road users should be held accountable

I agree that all crashes need to be thoroughly investigated, the ­severity of each crash dictating the level of investigation.

One thing that I believe would help bring this into reality is licensing and insurance.

There are countless folks right now that are calling for my head. How dare I suggest that cyclists be held to the same standards as motorists.

It is unbelievably naive to suggest that all crashes are caused by motorists in part or whole. One only needs to watch any street at any hour of any day to see cyclists ignoring traffic laws.

The same laws that if they were adhered to would help in preventing crashes.

It’s time that all users of roadways be held to the same standards. There are no special classes of vehicles or operators.

Ron Sleen
Victoria

Another idea for dealing with deer

Let’s bring cougars back to Victoria. After all, they were here before us; we have forced them out of their territory. For too long we have put out the welcome mat for deer; but if a cougar ventures into a Victoria neighbourhood, what do we do? We shoot it dead. This is rank discrimination.

Cougars are handsome, with that tawny, furry coat and striking blue eyes, and their kittens are as cute as can be.

They don’t carry ticks or eat the stuff in your vegetable garden, and they’re too smart to run out in front of a car.

Think of the benefits if we decided to let cougars take their natural place in our world: Gardeners would stop whining to the city, ICBC auto premiums would go down, your neighbour’s cat would no longer be using your rose bed as a litter box, and you might be curiously untroubled by the sound of yapping dogs and clucking chickens.

And Victoria council would no longer have to suffer invidious comparisons with Oak Bay.

It’s time to allow these magnificent creatures to once more roam free in our urban forest.

So what about it, Mayor Lisa Helps and council? Be the first among Canadian municipalities to vote for fairness to cougars.

Victorians have told us they want to to see nature in their city.

But true nature is not a zoo or a theme park; it’s “red in tooth and claw.” By restoring nature’s balance and re-installing a top predator, we would be providing a wonderful educational opportunity for our children. Well, for the ones who are able to make it to school and back safely.

Barbara Abercrombie
Victoria

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