Letters Sept. 18: Northern Junk, prompt help, carriage horses

Northern Junk buildings need better treatment

Early in 2010, these two historically significant buildings along the Victoria waterfront were purchased by Reliance Properties of Vancouver with the intent of redevelopment.

Since that time, Reliance Properties has brought forward at least four proposals with new building heights ranging from five to 12 storeys, and requiring the City of Victoria sell the developer adjacent city lands on the waterfront and some street right-of-way.

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The adjacent city lands were formerly listed as waterfront park as recommended in a 1970s report on the Inner Harbour by architect Arthur Erickson.

In all cases, the proposed development did not meet the Old Town design guidelines and the city advisory committees recommended the project not move forward.

Reliance Properties has brought another proposal to the city, this time one which “swallows up” the two heritage structures within a five-storey block, leaving little other than facades to remind us what was once a bustling industrial site.

At a recent meeting of the City of Victoria Heritage Advisory Panel, this proposal resulted in a panel recommendation that the proposal not be approved by council.

At that meeting, the developer acknowledged the site is the target of vandalism. A recent visit shows plants growing out of the stonework, extensive graffiti and rainwater damage.

For more than nine years, the sites has been neglected while the developer continues to expend large sums to architects and designers creating plans that fail to meet the basic requirements for changes to heritage buildings in Old Town Victoria.

Had these dollars been devoted to restoration of the buildings, the developer would have had a stream of income and the buildings would have had what they need most — use.

Ken Johnson
Hallmark Heritage Society
Colwood

Help was needed, and help was given

I am generally admiring of the men and women who actually do the work that keeps Victoria and its infrastructure running. Saturday evening was occasion to witness city workers’ dedication and commitment first hand.

I returned home around 6:45 p.m. to find that my on-street water meter had burst; water was gushing from the broken base of the meter. Having filled the bathtub with water and after stemming the flow on the street, I called the city after-hours number.

A fire department employee passed my message to public works and within 15 minutes there was a friendly knock at the door. The city worker assessed the situation and called for help.

Another worker knocked at the door within 30 minutes to announce he had already replaced the broken meter.

We weren’t exactly in dire need. Indeed, I would not have been surprised if the repair work was conducted later this week. It is reassuring to know that some of our tax dollars go to such dedicated men and women and the system that facilitates their hard and sometimes difficult work, at all hours of the day.

It is such a pleasure to be able to offer praise in such a situation, particularly to the individuals who helped directly and more generally to all city work crews. Five stars!

Mark Bateman
Victoria

Fix the sidewalks to help pedestrians

In line with the efforts to reduce vehicular traffic, perhaps greater thought could be put toward encouraging more foot traffic, by making sidewalks less hazardous for pedestrians.

There are uneven sidewalks full of trip hazards everywhere.

Many people don’t want to ride a bike or take a bus, they want to walk — safely. I’d like to see more attention put toward fixing pedestrian areas, now that we seem to have more than our fair share of bike lanes — which, by the way, can also be considered a hazard to pedestrians.

Perhaps there could be a “sidewalk hazard hotline” to report these things.

Deirdre Burrows
Victoria

Seniors have paid for their share

Re: “Changing of the guard in voter ranks,” Jack Knox column, Sept. 15.

What insensitive and puerile humour regarding the “burden” that seniors present to younger taxpayers. We don’t need grief counselling nor do we feel that we are “the centre of the universe.” Maybe a better understanding of the principles of taxation and an improvement in journalistic wit might help.

Most seniors have through their working life paid taxes to support social services, including pensions and health care. It is how the welfare state works and implies responsible and caring governance.

I feel we did not spend enough on education as, if we had, such shameful disinformation would not be published.

Tony Turner
Mill Bay

Cleaning the air for carriage horses

Re: “Councillors seek SPCA guidance on reining in horse-drawn carriages,” Sept. 13.

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt, addressing the debate on horse-drawn carriages in Victoria, supports two specific changes:

1) limit operation to James Bay and Beacon Hill.

2) prevent horses from working in “poor air quality.”

Unfortunately, he overlooks the obvious because the first condition is already in effect. The carriage industry already operates primarily within the confines of these two areas.

It is the second change that is the most perplexing. Recent letters to the editor have opined on the proliferation of cruise ships in James Bay, creating a deterioration of air quality, causing residents on a daily basis to scrape soot and grime from their windows and balconies from the idling engines of the massive behemoths. Imagine the impact on the lungs of James Bay residents.

Isitt, who champions direct action to battle climate change by demanding clean energy initiatives, bicycles for all and a reduction in our dependence on fossil fuel, could serve the electorate better by arguing for dedicated shore power to be installed to service the cruise ships and eliminate their unhealthy emissions.

This would help address his support for changes to the horse-drawn carriage industry. Healthy happy horses breathing clean air while working in a limited operational area of James Bay and Beacon Hill. Plus healthy, happy James Bay residents. Isitt should seek this simple and elegant solution.

Nick May
Victoria

We should appreciate our weather

Re: “The rest of the country ignored our storm,” letter, Sept. 12.

B.C. is not the forgotten province. B.C. is the province that forgets what the rest of the country goes through, past and recent. Last winter’s windstorm was a hiccup compared to hurricanes, tornadoes and icestorms.

No one had to be airlifted anywhere and there was no need for gymnasium shelters. In fact, most Starbucks and Tim Hortons were open.

In the 1998 icestorm, people froze to death in Quebec and Ontario and had no power for up to three months. Ontario has icestorms and tornadoes every year.

Much of B.C. has the most beautiful, stable weather, nice normal summer heat and little snow. I’m glad I had to endure some scary weather. Maybe some people should move to another province and see how easy people have it here.

Darlene Marosevich
Cowichan

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