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Monday, October 13, 2008

Letters to the Editor (part six)

The following are some of my letters to the editor over the past couple years. I have found, since submitting my first many years ago, that this is a means, one widely read, to express an opinion on events in the city and realms further afield. I fully encourage people to write letters to the editors of what some fondly consider our local rags, though don’t be surprised when they appear and are edited by the paper. In one letter I submitted the editor changed one word, eliminated one sentence and totally changed the context of what I was saying.

Re Obsession with security
What is it with Nanaimo and its obsession with Security Guards? We constantly hear what a safe place the Downtown is and yet we are soon to have security patrols through the night and on Victoria Crescent during the day. Seems to me this sends the opposite message to our citizens whom we want to come downtown and to tourists who we wish to see more of in the downtown.
Now we hear that Nanaimo Seniors Village has hired security to “keep the peace in the building”. What are the managers afraid of, insurrection on the part of the seniors? If so then I say good for the seniors, rise up and confront your oppressors. That Management would “lay off” 168 employees simply to attempt to rehire them at a lesser wage should be of concern to both the seniors and their families who rely on Nanaimo Seniors Village to provide quality care.
Lastly I am reminded of the offices of former Liberal MLA Mike Hunter. Shortly after the Liberal Party came to power in 2001 and promptly started implementing massive cuts to social and other programs, as well as bill 29 which allows the firing and rehiring of employees, Liberal MLA’s across BC were under siege. Mike Hunters office went from welcoming to having cameras and a security system installed, only allowing those deemed worthy to cross the threshold.
We certainly live in a strange world with Nanaimo being even stranger still. Perhaps that is what I love about living here, though lately I have been thinking I might need to hire security to watch my back.

Re: Victoria crescent security considered fascism
Mr. Rick Hyne’s plans to rid Victoria Crescent of the addicted and homeless are simply ludicrous. The idea that our public walkways would be reserved simply for the deserving smacks of fascism or discrimination to say the very least. While I empathize with business owner’s plight of open drug dealing and aggression we have laws in place to deal with this. Did not Mr. Hyne and others laud the Red Zoning (drug dealers/users banned from the area upon conviction) of the Victoria Crescent area, were they not in support of Nanaimo’s own aggressive panhandling bylaws despite a provincial bylaw already in place?
To think that in anyway this will be helpful is delusional on the part of Mr. Hyne. One cannot mandate people to “get help or get out,” unless in a court of law in which it would be get help or go to jail. One can however look at the broader social issues contributing to the problem in the area, one of the latest being the Vancouver Island Health Authority giving out free crack pipes. If this doesn't attract the very people the area fears I don't know what would, other than giving free crack out to go with the pipes.
Perhaps if this group were to put their money towards affordable housing or drug treatment, these addicts and homeless they so fear would have safe places to go and not have to frequent the streets of Victoria Crescent .

Re: Slumlord
That the building on Victoria Rd., recently declared a nuisance property, housing a variety store dealing in crack pies and other drug paraphernalia, caught fire would come as little surprise to many people in the downtown who have been aware of owner Paul Saroya’s propensity to provide little if any maintenance or security at his many rental properties in the area. This is the same owner of what used to be a beautiful Character Home at 365 Milon Street . The house was in good condition but shortly after purchasing and turning it into a rooming house, cramming as many people as he could into the building, inevitable deterioration soon followed. Within a few short years the building was condemned and demolished due to neglect.
After purchasing properties in the Gulf-view area for development, by Mr Saroya’s company Akal Developments, he had his business license rescinded in March of 2004 for deficiencies in many of the homes built. The company was again refused a business license in December of the same year. A long well documented history of the many problems associated with Paul Saroya’s properties can be found by looking back through the annals of Nanaimo and how often one or another has been before council as unsightly or having unresolved building deficiencies.
While it is sad that his behaviours, and those of certain other downtown landlords sometimes referred to as slumlords, continue it highlights once again the extreme need for safe affordable housing and a Minimum Standard of Safety and Maintenance bylaw put in place by the City of Nanaimo.

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