Letters to the Editor

Fresh Road Work with Bike Lanes on Belleville Street

My wife and I and friends visit the Belleville Pub patio most Saturday afternoons for afternoon lunch, a few pints, and to enjoy the summer weather, the view, and to people watch. Recently, we couldn’t help but notice the reconstruction of Belleville Street. Along with a newly paved road, new curbs, new sidewalks, boulevards and of course east-west painted bike lanes, and, last but not least, much needed crosswalks. It all looks very nice, but on a sometimes very busy corridor, it’s an accident waiting to happen! Our main reason for penning this letter is to point out, from our observations from the patio, of many cyclists we see, who "do not stop" for the pedestrians, many of them tourists. These cyclists even continue to zoom right past yielding cars, in both directions, many times stopping pedestrians cold in their tracks to avoid collisions. Perhaps, the City of Victoria, in its wisdom to create safe cycling lanes for cyclists along this stretch of Belleville, could also erect some safety net for pedestrians at the new crosswalks such as signs saying: (Warning, Crosswalk Ahead) (Vehicles and “CYCLISTS” Must Yield To Pedestrians).

Just Sayin'
Dave & Anita Paul


What happened to poet She?

I have missed seeing the witty poems of "She" in several recent editions of the James Bay Beacon. What has happened? The cleverness of her rhyming, together with the usual 'twist' at the end of her tale was always entertaining. Her subjects usually included things that we see in James Bay daily: The MV Coho; Crows; The Wind; Cruise Ships; and Watch the Birdie.

Many of my friends and neighbours also comment that she is missed. Please bring back "She."

Margaret Spark


Re: 101 Things to do in James Bay

102: Go through this list with your grandchildren, check off all the suggestions you have already done and choose the next five you want to do. Then repeat till you’ve done all the ones that appeal to kids!

M. Pare


Crosswalks

I live on Battery Street. Every day I cross Douglas Street at my own peril from Battery Street into Beacon Hill Park to walk my dog, to enjoy the wild flowers, to watch matches on the field, to hike up Beacon Hill and to cross over to the main part of Beacon Hill Park.

The location of this jewel of a park makes access to the park from different parts of Douglas Street vitally important. I differ with the opinion of the writer Lisa Tyler that three crosswalks would be too many to reach the park (July/August issue). On the Cook Street side, there are several crosswalks to the park too. No one, as far as I know, has ever complained about those crosswalks. Drivers of automobiles have for far too long enjoyed the sole right to the road. It is high time that pedestrians let their voices be heard.

On my street live a variety of pedestrians. There are the old folks with or without walkers etc., university students, and young families that love the activities in the park. All of these folks have a right to a safe crossing. They all directly or indirectly pay city taxes.

Then there are also the roughly 100 residents living in Amica. Battery Street is the logical place for them to cross, not being able to go far afield with canes, walkers and scooters. They too love the peacefulness of the park, just to get away from the noisy traffic. We do need a crosswalk at Battery Street that is properly lit, so drivers are warned well in advance; some drive at horrific speeds.

The volume of traffic at times is insane on Douglas Street. It is way worse than on Cook Street. Tourists in cars wishing to see the mountain vistas, buses to and from the cruise ships, motorcycles on joyrides, they all use Douglas Street, not Cook Street.

I am of the opinion that Battery Street is the proper place for a new well-lit crosswalk, not Niagara Street. Battery Street is visually a better location for a crosswalk. Most motorists already slow down at that location. Logically then it is easier to come to a complete stop, rather than at full speed mode at Niagara Street. The safety of so many pedestrians far outweighs the inconvenience of waiting three minutes in a vehicle for a crosswalk in this most beautiful part of the city.

Ada Seron


Beacon Drive-In

 Painting by K. Carstens

Painting by K. Carstens

Having read your write-up on Beacon Drive-In by Ted Ross, prompted me to write this letter. It brought back so many memories. I first met Jim while working as an auto mechanic for then Minit-Tune on Government Street. We serviced his auto and shop truck. He always gave the staff a couple of ice cream vouchers when picking up a vehicle. He passed away in April 2006. After selling the Beacon Drive In to Mr. Gus Loubardeas, a rumour went around that they would tear down the restaurant. That’s when I decided to do a painting. I spent two or three days doing sketches of the building. While on the sidewalk sketching the sea-gull logos, Mr. Loubardeas came and asked me what I was doing. I told him a painting. He told me he would like to see it when finished. (That’s another story). Enclosed is a photo of the painting I did. If not for the rumour I would not have done it. Yes, we, Christine and myself still drop in for ice-cream.

K. Carstens


Time for real change on Council…

Civic elections loom.

The present council seems unwilling to be accountable, preferring to gloss over key issues: affordable housing, over-budget infrastructure commitments such as the Johnson Street Bridge. Most candidates seem long on platitudes— ‘building a vibrant economy, an inclusive, environmentally-friendly, smart and sustainable City.’

What might real political change look like?

Why not consider significantly different matters in choosing who will be responsible for our city? The following election promises might begin to make a difference:

  • Disclose financial statements of all candidates.

  • Publish Council voting records.

  • Post consulting reports and supporting documentation on-line.

  • Reduce the number of in-camera meetings.

  • Convene public hearings on weekends to facilitate public engagement.

  • Run a public surveys on various policies or development proposals.

  • Provide a socio-economic-environmental analysis for each matter brought to Council, pointing out potential risks and rewards and identifying measures to mitigate negative impacts.

  • Restrict the mandate of elected officials to two terms, thereby encouraging new candidates to step forward.

  • Place a one-year moratorium on approvals of new housing development proposals, demolition permits, and rezoning applications to reassess the City’s current and future housing needs.

  • Reassess infrastructure priorities and major capital projects for public realm improvements and facility upgrades.

  • Place a one-year moratorium on approval of short-term rental licenses, and conversion of homes for commercial uses that will impact housing availability for long-term rental-use by local residents.

Perhaps, in discussing the nature of real change, citizens would take civic governance seriously. Tackling complex and difficult questions requires reflection, consideration of real alternatives, along with an ability to assess shortcomings and errors in order to change direction. Representatives must be willing to grapple with reality, and have clear goals to navigate effectively through difficult times.

V. Adams


Just Desserts

I am not a cat lover. When I was small we had a cat named “Mitzi,” black with white paws as I remember, maybe a white chin, but no one paid much attention to her, (I think it was a ‘her’). She, or he, wandered around the house, and outdoors; we had no concerns about what Mitzi was really up to outside, away from her humans. We had a dog too, “Admiral,” a scruffy Springer Spaniel, not up to very much at all.

My father, who had been in WW1, wanting to foster my interest in birds, gave me his army binoculars for birding. I was only twelve or so, and carried them with pride, slung around my neck. This interest of watching and learning about birds continued all my life with better ‘bins’, until my sight faded. My children grew up loving birds, and bees and butterflies and all of nature. An evening woodland walk filled with the haunting sound of the Hermit thrush was a lasting joy.

Now I am old, a birder friend sometimes comes to take me birding; his eyes help me see. One day he was very excited, he showed me a Bushtit’s nest hanging down from a tree limb, a long stretchy sock made of cobwebs and bits of plants with a hole in the top to feed the nestlings. I saw the ingenuity of all natural things, and how everything is used, in this case the cobwebs and plant bits to make a nest.

Cats are part of this natural order too, even though they are predators, genetically designed to kill, that is their place in the scheme of nature. Their cousins are lions and tigers after all. Well-fed domestic cats will kill, even though they are not hungry.

So when I met a woman on the street walking her two big, furry cats, I stopped for a chat. “Lovely cats,” I said, and they were indeed strong and muscular, cats to be reckoned with. I mentioned that cats kill birds. “Oh, that’s not a problem,” she said. “They always bring them home, and I can rescue them from their mouth if they aren’t dead.” She further explained, as if it were logical, that they were outside cats, and hunters, seemingly at peace with herself.

Something was happening here. One of us was off the track. I knew that birds had declined in numbers as human kind had increased. House cats are one reason for their decline. I also knew birds were important in the cycle of nature, but I couldn’t factor in well-fed house cats. She however didn’t share these thoughts. One thing I knew, as we had our friendly chat, she was as firm in her view as I was in mine.

Argument was useless, neither one would have changed their beliefs, even though evidence pointed on all sides to mine as the correct way to go. We mourn the death of our planet as we carelessly ruin it, without thought. No tears are wasted on the trees as they fall, or the icebergs as they melt, or the air as it slowly becomes unbreathable, or the seas when they are no longer are able to feed us.

Not comforting thoughts on a sunny street, as we chatted beside her big sturdy cats. Not knowing what to say, I finally said nothing. I have, somehow, a feeling there is an irrevocable tide overseeing events on Earth, about to sweep us all away. Maybe we just deserve this — just desserts.

Jo Manning

The Kitchen Drawer…

Poem: The Camus are Coming

Poem: The Camus are Coming