Letters to The Vancouver Sun, Dec. 5, 2020: Thank you, John Mackie, for your wonderful reporting to us from our local times past

Re: 1928: A Super Service Station opens at Howe and Davie

John Mackie really did hit a “gold mine” with the two pics of Blackburn’s Service Station. Everything from the guys standing there for the portraits to all the signage to the lady standing on the curb to the cars parked and others following the streetcar. The tow truck in the front is my favourite, me being an “automotive” kind of guy. And then to quickly go on Google to see what 822 Seymour St. looks like today … wow. You did for me what you said in the article … “transported me to another era.”

Thanks again, John, for your wonderful reporting from our local times past.

Bill Bisschop, Surrey

HandyDART drivers need to be recognized as health workers

Re: B.C. ready for vaccine distribution by January, says provincial health officer

It looks like life, and public transit, will be getting back to something like normal by next fall. Ridership is likely to start picking up in the summer, as vulnerable people and medical workers get vaccinations.

Meanwhile, HandyDART vehicle operators continue to have a COVID gun to their heads. These workers are not recognized as “front line workers.” They cannot avoid close proximity to clients. Masks are frequently not worn by clients due to medical needs. HandyDART workers remain undervalued, their lives are at risk. These hard-working men and women need to be recognized as health workers.

Public transit will play a crucial role in ensuring people can return to work, education, and health-care programs. HandyDART (paratransit) service for seniors and people with disabilities will be critical to the health and quality of life of our most vulnerable citizens, as well as the functioning of the health-care system. If public transit does not receive federal operating support in the short- and long-term, the most vulnerable in our society will face the brunt of service reductions.

It is past time for the federal government to start rebuilding society with permanent transit operating funding, including targeted funding for HandyDART and other paratransit services. HandyDART has often been referred to as “too expensive,” but the cost of continued underfunding would be much higher.

Mark Beeching, President, ATU local 1724, Langley

Teacher frustrated by discrepancy in safety protocols

Re: Debate swirls around winter break

I am a teacher in a B.C. secondary school, with a child in elementary school, and I want schools to remain open. However, the repeated chorus of the heroics of “safety protocols” has me frustrated.

School is the safest place for kids. I send my child off each day knowing that school is where he needs to be, and it is relatively safe for him to be there. But my confidence is not in the “safety plans” and “protocols” those higher up the chain keep referencing. My confidence is in the people I know will go above and beyond inadequate protocols — the teachers, support staff, and administrators who constantly do what needs to be done in a system that doesn’t understand how classrooms actually look, that classrooms of 20 students cannot be physically distanced, that no matter the class size, students working solo at their desks all day is not academically, emotionally, or physically beneficial.

B.C. educators are frustrated by the discrepancy between the safety measures required for the rest of the working world, and us. My colleagues teaching rooms full of 18-year-olds who don’t have to wear masks are not exactly heartened by the insistence that everything is fine — that we don’t need to require that group of 20 teenagers to mask up, because they’re not in a house, they’re in a school.

I hope it is eventually acknowledged that it is not just safety plans and protocols that are keeping students safe, but people. Things can’t be perfect in a pandemic, but can we please recognize the reality of classrooms, and the work that people — not plans — are doing for our kids every day? Those people need plans that value their safety and address reality.

Ashley Roberts, Langley

Thank you to Mona Franks for your letter. Your comments are real life and very common sense. Everyone needs to realize that this health issue is a modern-day war and we all need to contribute to defeat it.

Murray Robbins, Chilliwack

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