Letters Sept. 23: Problems with commuter ferry idea; helping people who are homeless

Is our government listening?

Another B.C. family pours out a heartfelt story concerning their drug-addicted loved one and still, our government does not listen.

They hear these tragic stories, but are they truly listening? Over time we have learned the sad lesson that city parks with tents, safe injection sites and a safe drug supply are only band-aid solutions to B.C.’s addiction and mental health issues.

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These measures enable and prolong this pervasive problem which has health, social and economic consequences for entire communities.

It is self-evident that the vast majority of people living on the streets and in tents suffer from addiction and mental health issues, but the government’s attempts to treat them have been for the most part, unsuccessful.

We need to see facilities like Riverview and Tranquille in a new light. They need to be restructured with professional medical and psychological support in a format consistent with today’s standards and ethics.

Experts in the field will agree that these facilities are essential to the successful treatment of those with drug, alcohol and mental health concerns.

It is true, there is a cost to reopening these facilities, but what is the cost if we do not? Just ask yourself, how have things played out so far?

David Mansell

No to commuter ferry, but a tunnel?

The concept of having a Ferry connection from Royal Bay to downtown has many obvious merits.

As a lad from Liverpool famous for its ferries across the Mersey and of course Beatles, we also had The Mersey Tunnel, still busier than ever after many years.

So now that engineering has advanced and Elon Musk is revolutionizing the feasibility of tunnelling and saving cities from asphalt sclerosis, can we include the possibility of an undersea tube service in our future planning?

The choice of less intrusive start and end points alone has its merits.

We have seen the long-term benefits where calcified cities the world over survived by choosing the third dimension of “going under.”

Maybe it it time for us to rescue our sceptered city from a heart attack with a decongesting mini-chunnell; ferries have had their time and tunnelling is the way of the future.

We need to build these skills and after COVID-19 export them elsewhere.

Tunnels and Caverns spawn Beatles and in strange ways give new life and pride to their people.

Russell (Scouse) Thompson

Problems with ferry idea

I see two problems to consider with the commuter ferry proposal, as much as I would like to see it work.

First, one-quarter of the journey time from Colwood to the breakwater would be at high speed, and three-quarters of the time at slow speed In the harbour. This is an inefficient use of expensive fast vessels.

Second, parking at the terminals. There would need to be a sizeable park and ride shuttle, adding additional time and expense. I cannot imagine a 1,000 vehicle car lot on prime land at Royal Bay.

Of a less practical nature, I find it hard to imagine the present provincial government daring to risk association with another fast ferry fiasco.

Martin Hill

Take serious action to help homeless

The situation in Beacon Hill Park is intolerable. Anarchy appears to be the order of the day. The park is being destroyed. People camp in the rose garden, for crying out loud.

What is needed is some serious management. This situation is affecting us all. The reputations of the mayor and council, the police and all the citizens of Victoria as a whole.

I do understand the issues and their complexity. I was chair of the housing committee of Cool Aid for 10 years. I was chair of Cool Aid for two years.

I know, as has been shown by countless studies, that providing housing for everyone and services for their issues is way cheaper than providing police and court costs, medical emergency costs and even shelter costs for street based populations.

Assuming there is no better place for this encampment such as a military base or perhaps at the Parliament Buildings, then the campsites need to be laid out and appropriately distanced in open areas such as the all-weather field.

No camping should be allowed anywhere other than these designated areas. Even Burning Man has designated camping areas for each participant.

Portable toilets, showers and a safe injection site should be easily accessible. The organization and operation should be handled by a team of professionals from Cool Aid and Our Place and Social Services and Enforcement.

There should be a 24/7 operations centre managing the needs of people. I am sure much of this is probably happening already as we have a very good social network in Victoria. However the uncontrolled nature of the takeover of the park is completely intolerable and absolutely unnecessary.

Martin Golder

North downtown not lightly used

Re: “Our parks are the wrong place,” letter, Sept. 18.

The letter says that the solution to chaos in Victoria’s parks is to concentrate all homeless people into a strictly controlled area, add services and — what?

The writer clearly has no idea what happens when a situation such as that is created. The writer has clearly not seen Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside which was created 20 years ago by doing exactly what this person is advocating. We can do much better than replicating the mess Vancouver tries and fails to deal with.

But, here is something else to consider. The “lightly used northern part of downtown” suggested as the location for this new folly is, in fact, the thriving neighbourhood of Burnside Gorge, which is second only to the downtown core as an economic driver for the city.

Burnside Gorge has 1,400 businesses employing 14,000 people and is home to 7,000 men, women and children. Mayfair Mall is in Burnside Gorge. So is Hoyne Brewing, Ralmax Group, B.C. Transit, Island Farms Dairy, Dodd’s Furniture, Days Inn, Kal Tire, Hotel Zed, Robin Hood Inn, numerous new car dealerships, just to name a few.

There is a thriving art, craft and trade community in Rock Bay. The area in question is earmarked for substantial redevelopment under Victoria 3.0 — Recovery Reinvention Resilience 2020-2041, including an Arts and Innovation District and an Ocean Futures Cluster. It is most certainly not an area the city can afford to throw away.

And the vision for our own version of the Downtown Eastside guarantees that none of the disadvantaged souls living on our streets will ever recover, be housed appropriately or live their best lives.

Yes, you can take a person with addiction issues to a facility to detox, but if there is nowhere but the street to which that person can return, you can be guaranteed of relapse within hours of returning “home.” Use of a distributive model of supportive housing throughout the city provides a real chance at recovery.

Beverley Bowes

Hey, Wilkinson, how about a smile?

To Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Liberal leader: What an impressive background of education and political experience, smothered in valued credentials! And unfortunately until you present it with a smile and happy face, it will be lost on the people you hope will elect you and your party in this election.

Today, it’s all about the presentation and how you appear in front of the millions of camera’s out there will determine your future.

Your resume is golden, match it up with a friendly appearance and you might have a chance, most people are not happy about this NDP power grab. Turn that frown upside down, get out there and bump elbows, no one knows who you are sir!

Jim Laing


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