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Letters Aug. 13: Council out of its depth in natural-gas ban; a monstrosity arises in Saanich

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A technician samples natural gas from a stove in Stanford, California. A letter-writer says national standards organizations, not municipal councils, should be setting building codes such as those governing the use of natural gas. ROB JACKSON VIA AP

Fast-tracking changes can lead to problems

Re: “Natural-gas ban will drive housing costs higher,” commentary, Aug. 11.

Ed Watson’s commentary demonstrates knowledge of Step Code and consequences of bans on natural gas.

We write weekly in the Times Colonist and on our blog at vrba.ca about these issues, including the significant costs of fast-tracking Step Code and other regulatory challenges.

The unintended consequences of fast-tracking regulations range from rising toxic radon gas in homes, increasing risk of lung cancer, to undermining taxpayer-funded projects like capturing renewable natural gas from the Hartland Landfill.

Municipal politicians haven’t the expertise, research or resources required to make significant changes to the building code, normally undertaken by Codes Canada.

Local politicians should never be empowered to fast-track building codes. The foundation of building codes is health and safety and protection of the public, and should remain that way.

The B.C. government’s decision to allow fast-tracking undermines this foundation.

Victoria, Saanich and others continue to impose costs and regulations demonstrating little appreciation for either affordability or health and safety.

Some municipalities, such as Langford, have responsibly waited for National Building Code research and due diligence, presently underway.

Council candidates running in the Oct 15 election are encouraged to read Watson’s commentary.

Casey Edge, executive director
Victoria Residential Builders Association

Climate change and housing affordability

In an instance of morbid serendipity, Ed Watson comments in the Aug. 11 edition on how Victoria’s planned restrictions on fossil fuel use in new buildings starting in 2025 will have an impact on housing costs, and the same-day New York Times carries a story headed “Arctic warming is happening faster than described, analysis shows.”

The piece notes, in part: “The rapid warming of the Arctic, a definitive sign of climate change, is occurring even faster than previously described, researchers in Finland said Thursday. Over the past four decades the region has been heating up four times faster than the global average, not the commonly reported two to three times. And some parts of the region, notably the Barents Sea north of Norway and Russia, are warming up to seven times faster, they said.”

A question: if our homes are up to their hips in seawater, does that have any bearing on their affordability?

Gene Miller
Victoria

Densification on a Saanich thoroughfare

Why is it that our local councils and their advisers seem to think their role is to act as PR agents for developers rather than as gate-keepers for their constituents’ interests?

Saanich council repeatedly told us that the densification development at Shelbourne and McKenzie would be appropriate for the neighbourhood, but look at what is now being inflicted on us.

The initial building is an eight-storey block, of pure Stalinist design, covering every square inch of site with no green space and less than two metres’ setback from two of the busiest streets in the Capital Regional District.

What mindset could call this monstrosity “appropriate development”? The next phase is already beginning with a proposed set of concrete blocks packing a site and further destroying the neighbourhood.

It’s high time we had elected representatives who actually represent our interests and understand what is “appropriate” in a 21st-century context. We need to rethink the rules about building heights and architectural design, also impose a minimum of 10 metres’ green setback from road easements on all large buildings — which is why many of our older streets are so pleasant.

Time we told the developers what we want rather than letting them roll over a compliant administration, destroying neighbourhood after neighbourhood.

Alec Mitchell
Victoria

Colonial oppression for this century

Re: “Climate activist takes on Eby in B.C. NDP leadership,” Aug. 11.

It’s not often that a story in the TC (or anything else for that matter) leaves me speechless, but this story came close.

The story quotes the person in question as citing the need to “halt colonial violence by our government” against Indigenous people.

And in the next paragraph she “opposes LNG development, which she said will take precedent over any specific desire of Indigenous communities to develop LNG themselves.”

Does she not see that telling Indigenous people that she knows what is good for the world better than they do is the very epitome of colonial oppression, or violence as she puts it?

One hundred years ago it was Christianity and assimilation that mattered, now it’s climate change. But of course that was then, and this is now, and that was colonial oppression, and this is … what?

Ian Cameron
Brentwood Bay

Don’t forget the Japanese POW camps

Hindsight has 20/20 vision and so does history. My father fought in the Battle of Hong Kong. Few people know about this battle but it was the first battle Canadians fought in the Second World War. It was a disaster.

Untrained, poorly equipped young men were sent to a British colony to protect it from battle-hardened Japanese troops. Hong Kong was surrendered on Christmas Day, 1941.

The Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers were captured and sent to POW camps that were just as bad as concentration camps in Germany.

They stayed there, starving, tortured and dying until August 1945, when the dropping of the atomic bombs freed them. Released, many of them died on the way home.

I was lucky my father made it home weighing 85 pounds and spent the next two years in Deer Lodge hospital being treated for a variety of diseases and problems due to the horrific conditions.

I, two brothers and many other people would not have been here without those bombs being dropped — so I say bravo for the United States for ending the war.

Catherine Sarginson
Victoria

Badly decayed sidewalks the real Broad Street issue

Re: “Broad Street sidewalks are tacky and depressing,” letter, Aug. 11.

The reason for those pathetic two-by-six barriers has nothing to do with creating cafe space. The reason is a pressure tactic by the city to force owners of the businesses to pay for the repair of the badly decayed sidewalks, particularly on the west side.

An obviously unfair tactic by the city, whose responsibility for sidewalk maintenance is inarguable, this has reduced a hitherto attractive street to an apparent construction site.

This block of Broad Street could easily be turned into an attractive, park-like pedestrian venue since its closing has caused little inconvenience. Creativity and imagination seem as lacking at City Hall as fairness and consideration.

Mike Holt
Victoria

Military requirement is to keep everyone safe

Re: “Top commander defends military’s vaccination mandate, says ‘tweak’ in the works,” Aug. 10.

In the article, Gen. Wayne Eyre neglected to mention that the military is not a democracy and you sign on to do your duty as required, and if that means a couple of extra shots to keep and your shipmates or platoon mates safe, so be it.

When I signed on in 1958 the first thing (after a haircut) was the vaccinations. One shot covered it all — it was called TABTD, a five-in-one shot followed later by the tuberculin test where they raised a little blister in your forearm to see if you had tuberculin antibodies.

As a retired member (26 years) of the forces I am in total agreement with the releasing of refusers of the required safety measures that are necessary to keep their mates safe.

James M. Scott
Victoria

Make it more costly to park on the street

Re: “Own an automobile? Then take responsibility,” letter, Aug. 10.

Excellent points about Victoria council bending in favour of automobile street parking, even in some places reserving street parking for residents.

Some cities sell permits for street parking — $50 per year in Vancouver, and it likely costs more to administer. Permit parking is a good way to discourage extending one’s property for free. Ten times the fee amount would be a good start ($500 per year or $10 per week).

Another point is that street parking is more risky for car damage, so ICBC should charge a premium to insure cars normally parked on the street overnight.

Bill Yearwood
Victoria

Time to apologize for the Clearances

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s propensity for apology, why, with his father’s connection to Scotland through his middle name Elliot, does he not apologize for the Highland Clearances, an appalling process deeply involved in Canadian immigration?

G.R. Greig
Victoria

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