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Letters July 6: Legacy of Archie McKinnon; a smart chicken; Centennial Square plan makes sense

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The McKinnon Pool at the University of Victoria. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Remembering the legacy of Archie McKinnon

As news breaks that the McKinnon Pool at the University of Victoria will close in September after 50 years, we should celebrate the legacy not only of the athletes who trained in the facility, but also of the legacy of its namesake, Archie McKinnon.

McKinnon’s national coaching credentials included coaching the 91ԭ diving team in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, 91ԭ track and field in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, 91ԭ swimming and diving in the 1948 Olympics in London and 91ԭ swimming in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. In 1972 he was honoured as a guest of the 91ԭ government at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

However, he was best known to past generations through his work at the Victoria YMCA, teaching more than 60,000 Victorians to swim and dive. Three generations in our community were taught by Archie to be comfortable and safe in the water.

He also coached several thousands in track and field, and taught Ladies Exercise to Music classes, decades before Jane Fonda. He was equally enthusiastic instructing young children as he was coaching elite athletes.

Gregarious, passionate and dedicated, he was a big personality in a compact package and had multiple lifetimes of positive impacts in his well-lived 88 years. He was a force.

Not only did McKinnon inspire the love of sport and activity for many truly talented 91ԭ athletes, but he also inspired regular folks and the community as a whole.

In his lifetime, two swimming pools were funded and built in his name, at UVic as well as the pool at the Downtown YM-YWCA. Sadly, both are reaching the end of their life expectancy, as is the City of Victoria Crystal Pool.

McKinnon was steadfast in his belief that sports and physical activity were cornerstones to build character and values in young people.

He met people where they were at, whether they were “Olympic athletes or just kids who wanted to swim or run for their own pleasure.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I have met people who tell me that he taught them to swim. The admiration they express for him is not about developing a killer front crawl, but about feeling capable, confident and supported by someone who believed in them.

I know this to be who he was. Archie McKinnon was my grandfather.

Tracy Ryan

Victoria

At just $1.5M, McKinnon pool is a bargain

Closing the McKinnon pool at the University of Victoria because it needs $1.5 million for repairs seems to defy common sense.

The City of Victoria is talking about spending more than 100 times this amount to replace the Crystal Pool. To retain the McKinnon pool for just $1.5 million seems to be an incredible bargain.

And not that UVic is short of infrastructure funds. It has just spent at least $1.5 million to pave and separate the bicycle access to the campus from Dawnview Road, and is spending multi-millions to provide a separated bike lane on McGill Road.

Mike Day

Victoria

Centennial Square plan offers useful space

I find it disheartening to read all the grumpy letters from people attacking the City of Victoria’s design for the central civic square.

I can appreciate that there are sentimental attachments to our past, but in my eyes this plan ticks all the checkboxes, addressing the needs of our current and future population while honouring the square’s history.

I hope council can recognize the excellence in this design and shrug off the squeaky wheels insistent on preserving some forlorn memory of Centennial Square “when I was a kid…”

Victoria is growing and it is no longer good enough for our public spaces to exist as simply historical artifacts to reminisce about. We need public space that is useful.

Martin Roswell

Victoria

Well, just how smart is Lacey the chicken?

Loved the July 3 story about Lacey the intelligent chicken from Gabriola Island. With tongue in cheek I wonder if she can “count her chickens before they hatch.”

Mike Thomas

Sooke

Radical intervention without going private

Re: “Can ambitious political leadership restore our health system?” commentary, June 30.

Ken Fyke has “lived experience” in our health-care system at its most senior levels: oversight, administration, accountability and organizational change.

His assessment is correct. It’s not about funding, or not enough of this that, or the other, but the distinct lack of political will, at any number of levels, to make the kind of changes that he so succinctly outlines.

The current model of our health-care delivery system has been dying on the gurney for the past 20 years, yet little has been done to resuscitate it to meet the needs of today’s citizenry. The odd intervention to keep it breathing will not sustain or improve its longevity.

A radical overhaul is required and this “overhaul” does not include the intervention of a privately funded system. The fact is that on a per capita basis we enjoy one of the highest ratios of health-care resources/citizens in the Western world.

The solution is not rocket science, it is keeping the pressure on our elected officials and others in the system, to collectively, and radically, re-engineer the delivery of health care to us, including health care for those individuals who suffer from mental illness and its debilitating consequences.

It’s time for them to get a collective mitt and get in the game!

John Stevenson

Victoria

Fired health workers suffered for their actions

There have been interesting and thought-provoking commentaries about health care in the Times 91ԭ in the past week.

Ken Fyke, a former deputy health minister, painted a dire and accurate picture of our health system, pointing to the shortage of family physicians and to the demoralized and overworked medical professionals.

In his two commentaries, pharmaceutical policy researcher and author Alan Cassels posed many questions that call for investigation and answers, including about the provincial response to COVID and about the health professionals who were fired as a result.

I find it hard to believe that experienced doctors and nurses, who were dismissed for deciding not to accept the injections, would have made their decisions without serious thought and much research.

And by refusing the mandated shots, they suffered greatly: Their careers were ended. That was their choice, of course. Unfortunately for our health system, though, their firings have negatively impacted our medical care.

In trying to understand why this happened, I’m left with more questions.

What is the science that has convinced Health Minister Adrian Dix and public health officer Bonnie Henry not to follow other jurisdictions, which have allowed fired workers to return?

There are ongoing challenges to our medical system, and certainly for the hundreds of thousands of British Columbians still without a doctor. The political response has been the expensive recruiting and hiring of professionals from other countries to help fill the thousands of vacancies created by the firing of our own experienced medical personnel.

Is the science that our leadership follows that convincing?

Surely we deserve to know why the medical heroes we were so grateful for, and loudly celebrated, just a few years ago have now become unemployable medical zeros.

Perhaps, as Ken Fyke stated: “The fix is neither less government nor more government — it is better government.”

Dolores Bell

Victoria

Misinformation hurting the Langford debate

Re: “Langford’s tax increase was justified,” letter, June 27.

As the letter says, “it is a good reminder as to why we all need to seek out all the information, and not just the sound bites or partial story that would best support one’s narrative.”

Misinformation can be extremely harmful during an election cycle, and may negatively impact an entire community.

As for whether Langford’s unprecedented 30 per cent tax increase was justified, one only needs to consider council’s spending decisions.

Did council need to hire expensive consultants who refer to residents’ “stupid conversations,” or create expensive artificial plans that look nice, but lacked community feedback and failed to consult Indigenous partners?

Should taxpayers continue over-subsidizing an organization now financially viable post-COVID?

Did the entire council need to go to Toronto, Calgary and 91ԭ for conferences and spend $500 a night at luxury hotels? Was it necessary to renovate city hall and hire expensive media trainers?

The true costs of a mayor and council with no governance, leadership or community experience, and an inability to develop and maintain strategic partnerships and economic growth, are grossly apparent.

“We all need to seek out all the information,” as this tax increase was neither justified nor necessary.

Sandy Sifert

Langford

Many positive aspects to the hockey stick saga

We applaud the financial wisdom of the decision to remove, not renovate, North Cowichan’s “world’s largest hockey stick and puck.”

We also cheer Bart Robinson’s plan to create collectibles from the degraded stick’s usable parts.

There are many other positives to this story. Beside the stick’s recycling, local taxpayers will save more than $1 million in stick-upgrade costs.

Cowichanians have also enjoyed our legal bragging rights for nearly 40 years about owning the world’s largest stick.

Local visionary Dick Drew and his crew acted on the cool idea to score the stick and puck for our community centre after Expo 86.

That deal was a steal at twice the price, lending our community and arena a big boost.

Indeed, we need more visionaries willing to act on cogent ideas.

Peter W. Rusland

North Cowichan

Want to speed for free? Just take to the trails

I find it interesting that Saanich is restricting the speed limit for motorized vehicles on some of its major roads to 30 km/h. The rationale for this is to protect pedestrians, who walk on the sidewalk on many of the roads that were listed.

However, Saanich allows motorized e-bikes on pedestrian trails. There are no speed limits on these trails and these vehicles are able to travel up to 40 to 50 km/h.

This puts pedestrian safety in more peril than on the roads. This contradiction seems like virtue signalling.

Norman Arden

Langford

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