Letters Sept. 22: Heritage buildings; don't heat patios; enabling harm

Outdoor patios yes, gas burners no

I welcome Victoria council’s accommodation to local business in this difficult time by extending restaurant and bars’ use of outdoor patio space beyond Oct. 31.

The temporary experiment with allowing private business activity to expand into public space has mostly been beneficial to them and to citizens of the city.

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However, already over the past few weeks I’ve noticed with alarm that restaurants are using gas burners in a futile attempt to keep the chill off diners.

Heating an outdoor space by burning fracked gas adds to the already-extreme climate emergency. The skies over Victoria in the past week should be constantly reminding council of the dangerous situation we’re in.

It’s OK for bars to extend patio space and to cover it. But attempting to defy winter by burning gas is insanity. And it gives the lie to city council’s claim that Victoria is an environmental leader.

Council should be cutting back on outdoor burning, not facilitating it.

Larry Hannant

Buildings are junk so tear them down

Re: “Tweaked Northern Junk plan heads back to Victoria council,” Sept.17.

Every time I drive or scoot along Wharf Street, I am offended by the sight of those derelict Northern Junk buildings. Wot! Save them as heritage! Surely not. Ugliness is not heritage, in my view.

I live in James Bay, and I’m heartened that so many lovely old homes have been preserved, their owners proudly restoring and keeping up their delicate filigree.

On the other hand, am I alone in stating that those Junk buildings (so aptly named) should be bulldozed?

The city — perhaps with a little help from the province and the feds — should acquire the property, then knock down those hideous eyesores, and create a little park, a tiny oasis of green in the heart of Old Town.

Set up a board with old photos and the story of the buildings that once stood there. The park at Fisherman’s Wharf has such a board.

What a joy it would be to pause on a bench and look out on the activities in Victoria Harbour.

And surely much better than the five-storey box of a building that is being proposed.

Granted the city would have to forego the taxes such a building would generate. But if a fund were set up to help with the acquisition, I’d gladly contribute my “two cents” to it.

Ross Smith

Victoria buildings that are ‘heritage’

I confess that I am not cognizant of the rules and factors taken into consideration when designating a building or house as appropriate to make it unto the heritage register designation.

There are many instances when the mere façade (i.e. Vic High School) is the sole consideration. In other words, the building can be gutted so long as the front facing exterior is incorporated into the new construction.

It appears to me the 160-plus-year-old buildings known as Northern Junk fall into this category. That thinking is wrong and outdated. If all that can be retained from a building on the heritage designated schedule is its façade, it hardly suffices, in my view, to attach the word “heritage” to its appellation.

Surely Victoria has many other buildings more deserving to be considered “heritage” buildings. What are we inheriting when a building is torn down and only a façade remains?

Eric J Ronse
Shawnigan Lake

Harm reduction is harm enablement

The B.C. government, health care officials, journalists and social justice warriors have got it all wrong — all of the approaches they are taking with respect to the issues of those with drug addiction and mental illness are not working. That should be obvious to everyone.

The crime stats are off the charts! However, rather than intelligent discourse, we have a polarized situation where mantras such as “housing first” and “harm reduction” are repeated endlessly and mindlessly.

For more than 20 years these approaches have been allowed to take hold.

Yet, the problem is getting worse, not better. You would think that politicians, health care workers, and journalists would take note of this, and that there would be some in-depth investigative journalism to do some forensic audits of the organizations receiving government funds and achieving no results, but no, this is B.C., land of enablement of criminality and addiction.

We need a complete and total overhaul of all of these systems and failed methods.

Giving addicts opioids (now in vending machines no less!) will not stop the opioid crisis.

Treatment first; then housing. And how about employment? Now there’s a word that is never mentioned in any of the discourse around those with addictions, mental health and the condition of homelessness that results when individuals spend any of the funds they receive on illegal drugs.

Carol Auld

Paint the back of school-zone signs

Re: “We need end-of-school-zone signs,” letter, Sept. 17.

Some years ago , I suggested that the school-zone signs be painted the same yellow on the back of those signs . I still stand by that suggestion. The yellow on the left side of the road will get one’s attention.

It’s an economical solution, which could be done by students .

Nick Reedeker
North Saanich

We really can learn from history

Some comments are about blaming and finger pointing. Not helpful. Others point out the problems. Educational, but again, not helpful. A few put forward ideas as solutions. Some practical, and others not.

I recalled that years ago people with challenges were sent to facilities where their situation was assessed and dealt with.

People started to complain that patients who were kept there were having their human rights abused. The pressure resulted in the facilities being closed and the people released with the promise that they would be looked after.

But they weren’t. Years have passed by, and look at the mess that we are now in. Our governments must find a solution.

History points to a reasonable and practical solution.

Brian Hudson

Cancel Site C dam, cost is too high

With the NDP calling a ‘snap election’ a key issue needs to be brought forward again.

Site C dam needs to be cancelled. It was mentioned a few years ago that $2 billion was already invested, thus too advanced to cancel. Now reputable reports are forecasting $10 billion to $15 billion as potential final costs.

This tremendous waste, not to mention the ecological destruction, must become a major election issue.

The time has come to face the facts and not hide behind the urgency of the COVID crisis. B.C. is already in deep debt. How much deeper can B.C. go ?

John Vanden Heuvel

Feeling uncertain about how to vote

Not being a usual NDP voter — my Dad would roll over in his grave — I was thinking this time I might tempt the gods and support Horgan.

But now I am unsure. Is this an opportunist thing? Oh, for sure. And why, when they have a chance to have outright power, are so many bailing ship, including many ministers. Is the premier that hard to swallow?

I mean, give credit to Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix, but I don’t think the NDP government, per se, should run on those credits. So, I’m unsure of where my vote is going. I guess we have to listen to the campaign promises and go from there.

Paul Ellegood


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