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Letters Dec. 29: Closing of museum's Old Town is long overdue; why HandyDART drivers deserve better

Old Town in the Royal B.C. Museum is decorated for Christmas. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST December 2021

Why the galleries must be shut down

Recent letters and op-eds in regard to the decision to close parts of the Royal B.C. Museum for decolonization purposes have left me thinking that closure can’t come soon enough.

Letter after letter extols the virtues of the galleries, with only a token acknowledgement that there needs to be more context provided.

All too many citizens appear to love this inaccurate portrayal of life in B.C. and the colonial narrative it presents. As a grandmother and a former educator, I do not wish for yet another generation of children to grow up with the images from these galleries embedded in their consciousness, no matter how artistic or well-done they are.

As we can see by the commentary in this paper, once these stories are planted in young minds, it is extremely difficult to dislodge them.

Even when confronted with the truth about their inaccuracies and the fact that the stories of so many other people are missing or told in a very superficial way, many letter-writers believe looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses is perfectly acceptable in 2021.

What kind of museum do we need, in a post Truth and Reconciliation Commission reality? In a province grappling with cascading climate emergencies brought on by societal choices and extractive economies?

With all the challenges that await future generations, surely we must insist on a more accurate and just story, even if it means exposing the mistakes and wrong turnings of the past. A few years of empty galleries is to be preferred while the necessary consultations happen.

Most importantly, no more harm will be done; healing can begin as we await the creation of new galleries that better reflect B.C.’s story and the diversity of who we were, as well as who we are becoming,

Susan Grace Draper

Background information on HandyDART service

Re: “HandyDART disrupted by lack of buses, online reservation problems,” Dec. 23.

I do not speak for HandyDART (its owners or affiliates), B.C. Transit or my union. I’m employed as an operator (driver) for HandyDART and have a few thoughts of my own.

I believe some pertinent information was missing from the article that needs to be addressed.

HandyDART drivers are not employed by B.C. Transit. We are represented by the same union, Unifor Local 333-BC, though B.C. Transit contracts out the HandyDART service.

Hiring and keeping new drivers has been an ongoing issue well before the pandemic. Perhaps the following are part of the issue: first, our wages for tenured drivers is almost $7 less per hour than conventional transit; second, unlike conventional transit, we have no pension.

It’s my understanding HandyDART is considered an essential service. All the drivers I know enjoy what we do even though we work in a highly responsible and at times challenging environment.

Recognition of our efforts, such as a compensation package comparable to B.C. Transit, would be greatly appreciated. I believe paying a more appropriate living wage would go a long way in hiring and keeping new drivers.

Finally, it’s important to note that HandyDART drivers were not included in the temporary pandemic wage boost given to front-line workers even though we provide door-to-door service, many times arm in arm with our passengers.

Ron Webster

Drivers, pay attention to what you are doing

Re: “Look both ways before crossing the road,” letter, Dec. 23.

I might not be a popular individual for saying this, but I believe it needs to be said.

It is almost impossible to hit a pedestrian if one uses caution while driving, whether it is a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

On the other hand, if you are in the habit of speeding, looking at your phone, not paying attention to approaching hazards or have the mindset of “I am an entitled driver, get out of MY way,” unfortunately you will eventually hurt someone.

Stop at red lights and when exiting driveways or blind corners, ensure there are no pedestrians. Focus on driving, don’t be distracted.

You’re operating a heavy piece of machinery that moves way faster than the quickest human being’s reaction time.

Our city recently lost a young man in a crosswalk, and before that a young girl’s life was shattered by a careless driver.

Pedestrians do not fall out of the sky. One can see them coming. Pay attention.

Patrick Ferguson

Drivers need to follow rules of the road

Re: “Look both ways before crossing the road,” letter, Dec. 23.

I am profoundly concerned with the high-speed, unfocused ability and utter lack of following the rules of the road from dangerous driving.

I have lost count how many vehicles I have seen going through the red lights, driving without care for others’ safety as they speed through the crosswalks as pedestrians are crossing.

Please slow down on yellow and stop when it’s red and do not go when the crosswalk says walk, someone needs to cross.

I am a sad witness to many drivers not stopping or even slowing for emergency vehicles that have their sirens blaring, without any undestanding that failing to stop to let them pass could cost the person in crisis their life.

Please also consider when going through that red light that you could be seriously injured or worse, or cause a life-altering injury or even fatality to someone else.

You never want to be that person who mourns the loss of a loved one because of this preventable tragedy, or the one who caused the unbearable loss, pain and grief to someone and their family.

Diana Hliva

Compulsory vaccinations are the best choice

The Omicron variant of COVID is spreading exponentially through the population of B.C.

Modelling by universities predicts that our health-care system will be overwhelmed within a few weeks. Our health officials have stated that the best method to reduce the serious effects (hospitalization and death) is to get vaccinated.

Yet, they refuse to take the logical step of making vaccination compulsory. Our vaccination records are on the government’s database, identified by the Personal Health Number, so it is almost trivial to generate a list of people who have not been vaccinated.

If we do not take this step, many people will die unnecessarily. Nurses and doctors will have to triage patients as to who gets treatment, i.e. who lives and who dies, as was done in Italy during the first wave.

The argument that we have to give people the freedom of choice is false, because unvaccinated people will collectively cause serious harm to others. People don’t have the right to sell or drive defective vehicles for the same reason.

Rights are not absolute.

Kenneth Mintz

Staff members missing because of vaccine order

We are being told that the number of patients admitted to hospital infected by the Omicron variant are predicted to overwhelm our health-care system in January.

Since the pandemic began, staff have been leaving the health-care field; since the mandatory vaccine order for provincial health care workers came in, the short-staffing has reached a nearly unmanageable level.

Dec. 10 was the date for mandatory vaccination in the community health care sector — again, so many have left that field that the sector can be said to be in crisis now.

Now we are told the Omicron threat will present a challenge that our health-care system cannot meet, from sheer numbers requiring care.

Will Health Minister Adrian Dix take responsibility and acknowledge what an atrocious decision the mandatory vaccine orders have been, and rescind those orders immediately?

His decision may avert a crisis like we have never seen; on the other hand, it may be too late. According to the experts, we are only weeks away from disaster.

J.P. Gibson
Brentwood Bay

Fewer nuclear plants, so Russian gas is needed

It has been reported that the EU and NATO might refuse to buy more natural gas from Russia as a means to punish Russia.

What a foolish suggestion! Europe — especially Germany — needs that gas desperately.

After the Chornobyl disaster in 1986, the German Green Party panicked and adopted a policy of “Nuclear Free Germany.”

As a result, Germany decided to begin taking its well-built nuclear power plants out of service. To generate the needed power, Germany has developed commendable, but insufficient, solar and wind sources.

However, it also continued to burn brown coal, which produces masses of pollution.

In the 35 years since Chornobyl, Germany could have designed and built several safe nuclear plants. Instead, that opportunity was wasted. Germany is now utterly dependent on Russian gas.

We should not expect Germany to refuse to buy Russian gas even if Russia invades Ukraine. The Green Party’s knee-jerk, ill-considered, rejection of nuclear power generation has forced Germany into a weak strategic position. What a shame.

David Stocks


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