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Letters Nov. 30: Let's be civil and talk face-to-face; transportation that makes sense; who should be wearing leashes

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B.C. Transit buses at the University of Victoria exchange. TIMES COLONIST

Whither civility? Let me check my phone

A correspondent asked the question: “What has happened to the notion of civility in today’s world?”

The concept vanished when the cellphone keyboard replaced face-to-face speech.

Joe Harvey

Victoria

Public transport the key to the future

A letter writer puts Copenhagen as the standard to be followed for personal transportation due to its segregation of transportation modes. And he is correct.

But then he goes on to tell us that we are the victims of history: the Copenhagen system was built in the 1900s, and it is too late for us.

Looking at pictures of Amsterdam and other cities in the Netherlands from the 1970s would immediately remind the viewer of contemporary Victoria: The core of the system is car-centric, with crumbs left over for pedestrians and cyclists. But the Dutch decided that they needed change, so they completely re‑engineered their infrastructure to give cyclists and pedestrians separate spaces, effectively bringing it in line with Copenhagen.

But we don’t need to go back 50 years: in the past decade Paris has remade its infrastructure so that instead of having car-clogged streets, now there is room for people, be it on foot or on bicycles.

A congested road on the banks of the Seine now is a park with a cycling boulevard. Change can happen even now. And it can happen in Victoria if we have the will.

One more thing: all those cities mentioned have excellent public transport — maybe we can start with this!

Andres Moreno

Saanich

Yes to public transit, no to road expansion

Re: “Metro Vancouver mayors say they need billions of dollars from feds to grow transit,” Nov. 23.

The No. 61 Sooke bus has been downgraded from double-decker to standard buses. It is now often so overcrowded that I and my family members have to stand most or all the way to Sooke.

This trip takes well over an hour when traffic is bad.

It is no wonder that people choose to drive, making traffic congestion and the climate crisis worse and worse.

The $85 million of federal and provincial money just spent to widen the Sooke highway seems to have made traffic worse, not better.

Have Greater Victoria’s mayors sent a letter to the federal government asking for increased transit funding? Are they aware that the provincial climate plan targets reducing car traffic (vehicle ­kilometres travelled) 25 per cent by 2030?

It is time for the mayors and councillors of Greater Victoria, especially Sooke’s, to shift gears and do what it takes to make public transit faster, more reliable, and more comfortable.

This includes shifting federal and provincial money away from highway expansion, which makes traffic worse and increases greenhouse gas pollution, to public transit. Will they follow the lead of their peers in Metro Vancouver and speak out?

Mike Strong

Sooke

The wrong mammals are wearing leashes

Given the choice, I’d rather the dogs were unleashed and the humans held to account for the future they’ve been making as they drove their fossil-fed beasts to the park.

I’d rather it were that people were only unleashed after they’d learned to restrain themselves.

Al Rathbone

Victoria

All taxpayers involved in providing housing

The most distressing point about the ­government’s muddleheaded approach to the housing problem is their isolationist attitude; assuming that we have to develop our own unique solution since no one has had the problem before.

In fact, many cities have wrestled with the issue for decades, in some cases for centuries.

The 2023 solution adopted now by most of them is to provide subsidized accommodation of a standard that avoids the social problems of overcrowded high-rise apartment complexes.

In the western countries, France, ­Finland, Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands and the U.K. all have an overall average of between 10 and 20 per cent of all households living in subsidized ­housing.

In the big cities the proportion is much higher. The choice of housing mode is to have low-rise apartment blocks, well separated, together with townhouse groups.

The necessary building costs are reduced by building on publicly owned land, by relocating inappropriately sited activities that can be outside city centres and by taking over open space such as storage areas and car parks.

It’s not a popular solution with the taxpayers but is accepted since it is seen to be much better than the destruction of the communities by a lack of housing and by random development.

Declaring open season on privately funded development, using taxation and zoning to force single-home owners to either sell for development or turn their homes into multiplexes will not reduce cost.

No private developer will sell or rent below cost. The ongoing competition for a place where many other people also want to live will ensure both land and building costs never decrease.

All Canadian cities have been under intense private development for years and the housing costs have steadily increased, not decreased.

It is time for us to take a different approach. This problem won’t be solved by a crazy rush of privately funded building. We have to accept that running a city needs lower-income people who in turn need help with housing cost. There’s a price for living here and the taxpayers must face up to the requirement to pay it.

Alec Mitchell

Victoria

As the Moss Lady ages, she is still beautiful

In regard to the letter saying that the Beacon Hill Moss Lady is going “downhill” — well, she’s lying horizontally.

Living nearby, I’ve followed her closely. With her birth, a worker told me that a special clay and moss came from up Island.

She has aged gracefully, even sprouted some green ferns on her body and those patches (loss of moss) are similar to the ones us seniors have also attained over the years. She’s still beautiful.

John Vanden Heuvel

Cook Street Village

Province needs mental-health teams

Re: “Mental health response team ­manages crises without police ­involvement,” Nov. 26.

Victoria’s peer-assisted care team shows the necessary way forward in responding to situations where someone is in crisis. It has long been recognized that police are not the appropriate response for dealing with someone in crisis, and growing bodies of criminological research also support this.

The Victoria project will provide more experience and practice to show how community-based responses can both help people and reduce possibilities of lethal force when police are deployed.

Key to this is centrality of peer involvement, the experiential knowledge of responders who have been through mental health or substance use challenges themselves.

It should be recognized that many peer workers, in shelters, overdose prevention spaces, sex worker services, already do this care work every day. With care, compassion, and de-escalation.

It is extremely encouraging that such teams will be active in the Comox Valley, Kamloops and Prince George (following Victoria, New Westminster and North Vancouver).

One major issue that needs to be addressed is proper funding. Peer-involved community response teams receive a small fraction of the funding police receive. Community mental health teams are the way of the future. We need to act like they are, and expand and adequately fund them.

It is encouraging to hear that the province will be funding the program to expand to a 24/7 model. These teams really are changing the system in real time.

Dr. Jeff Shantz

Department of Criminology

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Surrey

Pay for the privilege of parking on the street

Victoria must be one of the few cities where parking your car in front of your house is a “free” good.

We have all seen the annoying signs all over the city marked “Residents Only.”

Why does our council not use a system like many other big cities (Montreal, for example) where residents can park on the street in front of their house but pay a yearly fee for that privilege.

This would generate substantial revenue and be much better than continuing to raise parking fees downtown.

Felix Ernst

Victoria

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