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Letters April 6: More homes on less land; many benefits of pickleball; trouble with foam docks

A townhouse under construction on Montreal Street in Victoria's James Bay neighbourhood on Feb. 1, 2023. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Victoria, Saanich and the spirit of missing middle

Premier David Eby has good intentions with plans to allow four units to be built on property currently zoned for single-family homes.

Four units is in keeping with the original idea for the “missing middle.” This concept was about gentle densification in neighbourhoods of traditional single-family homes while improving affordability.

The reality here in Greater Victoria, though, is a preview of what’s to come. Under the insidious influence of the development lobby, Victoria and Saanich are cheerfully gutting the local middle class.

They are allowing developers free rein to tear down single-family homes and replace them with six (Victoria), or even eight (Saanich) high-end townhomes.

These units are intended for speculators and the wealthy only. This is completely contrary to the spirit of “missing middle.”

A generation of our children is having to leave Vancouver Island to find homes in other provinces because our politicians at every level are being manipulated by profiteers.

Mike Albert Laplante


Pickleball offers many health benefits

Pickleball not only encourages a healthy lifestyle, it is also a useful therapeutic tool.

Last summer my colleague and I put together a team that successfully taught Parkinson’s sufferers how to play. It not only gives them temporary relief from their symptoms, it extends their life expectancy by slowing the progression of this disease.

I have been in discussion with the president of an Okanagan pickleball club to offer pickleball to people going through drug addiction therapy. Another project I have in mind is to offer a wellness program to first responders and PTSD sufferers as an outlet to relieve stress.

Doctors recommend patients that are diagnosed with diabetes, COPD, MS, cardiac problems, and chronic obesity adopt an exercise program. Pickleball fits the bill perfectly.

It is easy to learn, equipment is inexpensive, it provides the necessary physical and mental benefits. There is also a social aspect to this sport, can be played year-round, but most importantly it is fun, so it becomes a sport of a lifetime.

It is also a very cost-effective recreation facility for communities to build. Compare the annual budget to build and maintain a pickleball complex to that of an ice rink, swimming pool or grass sports field.

No wonder it’s the fastest growing sport in North America.

Ernie Pallot


Plastic foam from docks a problem on the coast

Re: “Island MP seeks ban on plastic foam fouling coastal waters,” April 2.

Certainly, we have a problem, here on the west coast, with docks breaking loose and their plastic foam fouling the ocean. These are big, often concrete-covered floats, with no identification markings, so no way to track ownership once they break free.

The big Sidney Marina has an extensive network of these. They seem efficient and long lasting, and quite attractive.

In a way, it would be a pity to have to ban them. They are widely advertised with the slogan “Nothing floats like concrete.”

Yet eventually, they will get damaged, and either break loose in a storm, or, possibly, be set free by the owner, if this can be done secretly enough. The article mentions the effect as if “an entire marina exploded.”

I have come across several big pieces of dock washed up on beaches around the Saanich Peninsula. I note a small section now tied to the sewage marker buoy by the Anacortes ferry terminal in Sidney.

This seems to be all that remains of one of the floating docks at the Tulista boat launch ramp. The docks are shown on the Google satellite images, but the main, double one, is now gone.

Jim Gower

North Saanich

Nanaimo data centre will hurt the environment

Nanaimo council has adopted the East Wellington Park Plan, which reflected careful and comprehensive consultation with the community, interest groups and other levels of government. Attention will be paid to wildlife, habitat restoration and expansion of its agricultural use.

Minutes after that adoption, the council, except for three councillors, adopted the rezoning of a property from rural resource to high tech industrial for a data centre a mere 200 metres away.

What we do know is data centres are essentially server warehouses that require tremendous amounts of energy. The same amount as the cryptocurrency centres the B.C. government has recently placed a 18-month electrical connection moratorium on to study their impacts on our energy grid.

We do know even a small one can use almost 25.5 million litres of water each year. We are already in a drought situation this spring and will soon be asked to conserve our water consumption for months to come.

The cooling equipment they need runs 24/7 and produces noise pollution and expels heated steam or waste water into the environment which both pose health hazards.

We do not know what kind of data will be stored or for what purposes. We do know the developer is a numbered company with close connections to China Telecom.

It is obvious that the same due diligence has not been applied to this development proposal. Who is asking the important questions about this project, which will threaten our community’s sustainability in the years to come?

Meg Rintoul


Finland sets an example for Canada to follow

Re: “Finland joins NATO today, seen as a political blow to Putin,” April 4.

Finland is an outstanding example of a country that brings more than their fair share of military capabilities to the alliance.

A former head of Finland’s government highlighted some 900,000 trained reserves, 280,000 troops for mobilization, 26,000 serving troops, the largest number of artillery pieces in Europe, 280 battle tanks and the latest anti-missile systems, all from a country of six million people.

Finland spends more than two per cent of GDP on defence, has a better health-care system, a better social system and a higher standard of living than Canada.

On the other hand, Canada spends just over one per cent of GDP on defence, has less than 30,000 reserve troops, less than 40,000 regular troops, all largely with equipment that is overdue for replacement or now obsolete, all from a country of 38 million people and a member of the G7.

How can our prime minister, minister of national defence, and global affairs minister look our NATO or NORAD partners in the eye and talk about Canada’s so-called contributions.

We are nothing but a nation of freeloaders.

Robin Allen


Savour walks in nature while it is still here

Reading the news headlines every day continually leads me to ponder the question of just why we humans exist on such a beautiful, glorious planet.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that we are just too incapable of appreciating, respecting and protecting it. It’s a shame because we have everything we could possibly need here and more but we are destroying it all far and wide.

Instead of shooting down UFOs perhaps we should be welcoming their intelligence and assistance in solving the errors of our ways. I know I sure hope they arrive soon before it’s too late.

In the meantime, I will go for my healing walks in nature while it still exists and be as one with all the other wondrous species before we wipe them all out also.

Anne Forbes


Assessing the value of B.C.’s seniors advocate

B.C. has had a seniors advocate for 10 years, instituted by the B.C. Liberal government and happily carried on by the NDP government.

The situation for seniors has only worsened over the last decade. The advocate position is, in truth, a seniors “health” advocate because the position reports to the health minister.

For this reason, among others, this position is ineffective in addressing the dire issues facing seniors today, such as homelessness and poverty.

Yes, the advocate came out with a report last year on the growing poverty among seniors, but it seems the report is sitting on a shelf gathering dust, probably stuck in the health minister’s office. The minister’s mandate doesn’t include poverty, as nothing appeared in Premier David Eby’s recent spending spree to address any of the recommendations in the report.

I recommend getting rid of this position and stop wasting taxpayer money. The only other alternative is to create a seniors representative that reports directly to the legislature, as the child and youth representative does, and appointing an individual with a demonstrated track record advocating for seniors beyond just health care.

This hopefully would generate some progress for seniors as the situation will only worsen as the biggest bulge of the baby-boomer tsunami swells over the next several years.

The measure of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. From access to home care services to affordable housing to poverty it seems that B.C. is on track for a dismal record.

Lorna Hillman


Wondering what has happened to the insects

I sometimes wonder: What the greatest threat is to our existence on this Earth? Of late, climate change gets almost daily attention and, given the dramatic tales of droughts and floods emanating from our southern neighbour, that is understandable.

Since the current warming trend is, in my opinion, a prolongation of the climatic change that began ten thousand years ago when the ice sheets, then covering much of North American, began to shrink, I see this as a relentless process.

The almost total disappearance of insects over the past 20 years, is perhaps a different problem altogether, and 100 per cent man-made.

I never did enjoy the bloodsucking attention of blackflies, mosquitoes, horseflies or deer flies, the only insects that from my perspective were a nuisance, and therefore good riddance.

Have other insects also disappeared? I wonder if plant life, and therefore the agricultural sector, may suffer future long-term pain for recent short-term gain.

Our friendly bee population seems to be struggling as well. Can anyone shed light on this?

Boudewyn van Oort



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