Letters Nov. 28: Density in Fernwood; unpleasant bus ride

Too much density for Fernwood, North Park

Re: “Vic High land swap for affordable housing OK’d,” Nov. 27.

Many in the local community of Fernwood are less than pleased with the now approved land swap that will lead to construction of housing on Victoria High School property.

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All agree that more affordable housing is needed. Why it is being crammed into one area? Just look at the amount of density that is being pushed into Fernwood and North Park at this point. Traffic is already hugely increased in the small lanes and “traffic calming” roads that exist. Adding another 160-plus car spaces with no view to protecting residential roads from those rushing to and from work and schools is ludicrous. I feel this approval decision process was slanted from the beginning.

I’d also like to know why B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union sent out a blanket email of support to its thousands of B.C.-wide members asking for their support in approving this swap. Since when does a provincial union speak for one small residential area of Victoria?

Jennifer Carlstrom
Fernwood, Victoria

A senior’s unpleasant bus ride

Earlier this month, I was feeling proud of myself for taking the No. 3 and No. 50 buses to fetch my newly repaired hybrid car. The start of the trip was uneventful, even pleasant.

After a downtown transfer to a No. 50, not so. Scrambling aboard, I was at first berated by the harassed driver in an unpleasant way for not holding my day pass the right way. I can’t say I heard much of his message, for the noise level on board, or my hearing aid, wasn’t working properly.

The double decker was more than full, and even after I almost fell down a stairwell when the bus accelerated, I was offered no seat. Twice more, my cane saved me from falls in response to rapid acceleration and braking before I got off at Finlayson Street.

My feelings these days about using the bus system are a little more, sorry to say, tentative. Even reluctant. But on the positive side, I am feeling less guilty about driving my gas sipper.

Ken Orchard
Victoria

Indigenous rights need to be supported

Re: “UN Indigenous rights bill approved unanimously in B.C.,” Nov. 27.

The province’s plan to recognize Indigenous rights deserves our support. Not only because of the historical injustices done by our settler ancestors to Indigenous people over many years — the promises broken, treaties ignored, the residential school abuse, the list is long and shameful.

There is, however, a pressing reason that directly affects us now: If we continue to deny Indigenous rights, we are heading for more conflict and uncertainty. The status quo is not working. It is time to work together.

There are huge problems, such as climate change, that need to be approached with all the wisdom available. Indigenous leadership can offer fresh perspectives that arise from thousands of years of living co-operatively with the land. Indigenous communities are involved in an impressive number of projects across the country to create new jobs with renewable energy. We can learn from this experience.

We need to join our Indigenous neighbours in building a just, sustainable economy all over B.C. and ensuring that all children have clean drinking water, good schools and secure housing. A province where Indigenous families can thrive is a better place for all of us.

Judith Rees-Thomas
Saturna Island

Bill 41 a step in the right direction

All British Columbians need to support Bill 41, which recognizes Aboriginal rights, a small step toward righting the wrongs of the past.

I have had the privilege of working with many different native communities throughout Canada for the last 20 years in my role as clinical counsellor.

Most Canadians believe that things are pretty much OK in native communities now and nothing could be further from the truth.

While many are doing well, a great many more are struggling with extremely high rates of suicide, addiction, poverty and crime, high mortality rates, unsafe living conditions and much, much more.

How Canada has treated native people will continue to have effects for a few more generations.

In my opinion, every person in Canada who enjoys a position of privilege, or who owns property, has attained that on the backs of native people.

We all owe them a debt of gratitude that could never be repaid, no matter how much compensation money we give them.

I had a client several years ago who received compensation for her experiences at residential school. Her hope was that she would be able to travel around the world with that money.

However, when it came time to leave, she couldn’t bring herself to go up the hill from her village because she would go into a panic attack any time she tried.

How much online shopping does it take before trauma is healed, I wonder?

Pierre Morais
Victoria

BCTF got along with Barrett government

Re: “NDP, teachers split at convention,” Les Leyne, Nov. 24.

Les Leyne’s claim that the B.C. Teachers’ Federation “has yet to find a government with which it can get along” is not correct. During the NDP’s Dave Barrett years, 1972-1975, the BCTF got along with Education Minister Eileen Dailly very well. Minister Dailly, who had experience as a teacher, trustee and Burnaby school board chair, understood the dynamics of classrooms very well. Also, contracts were negotiated locally and were much more easily settled.

However, it is true that since 1987, when the BCTF achieved full collective bargaining rights, the government’s B.C. Public School Employers’ Association representatives and the teachers’ union representatives have never negotiated without considerable conflict.

During my years as a teacher in Vancouver schools (1974-2002), I experienced three teacher strikes.

One of these strikes was finally settled with teachers taking no pay raise to secure class size and composition language. In 2002, the Liberals broke this contract, and it took the BCTF almost 15 years of court battles before the Supreme Court restored the language.

During those years of NDP Opposition, then-education critic John Horgan made fiery speeches in the legislature about how wrong the Liberals had been to break the teachers’ contract by taking away class-size and composition language. Teachers rallied to the NDP and helped the party to defeat the Liberals in 2017.

Is it any wonder, then, that during the present contract negotiations, teachers are upset that these vital clauses are being resisted by the NDP government’s representatives?

Dr. Starla H. Anderson, EdD
Victoria

Take your gardener off leaf duty

From what I understand, leaves are best left where they fall, as they fertilize the ground and the trees that they fall from and suppress the growth of weeds.

They can also be spread on garden beds as mulch. This is the easiest and most ecologically sound way to deal with autumn leaves and it doesn’t cost anything. And it would kill two birds with one stone — noise pollution and noxious exhaust fumes.

Perhaps property owners in Oak Bay who use the services of garden maintenance companies might consider taking them off leaf duty. And if they really want to rid their yards of leaves, or clear them from walkways and sidewalks, they could pull out a rake and enjoy some time in the yard.

Raking leaves is good exercise and relaxing and the smell of them is heavenly.

For less able-bodied people, how about asking family members to help out, or neighbours, or call one of Victoria’s volunteer agencies to see if there is anyone who can lend a hand with this chore.

Ann Wilson
Victoria

If salary too low, councillor should quit

Re: “Pay-raise push is evidence of a council ignoring public sentiment,” editorial, Nov. 23.

I wish to endorse the many good points made in your editorial, including your observations on the “follies” engaged in by some members of council. That the time spent on these follies is used by an experienced councillor, for whom the time commitment could be no surprise, as a basis for wanting to grant himself and a small number of others a raise, greatly aggravates the sin. The time to have brought this up was before the election.

Many of us would welcome a decision from Coun. Ben Isitt that he can no longer work for such a paltry sum and will therefore resign. He should feel free to make that effective immediately.

Roger Denley
Victoria

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