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Letters April 6: Oak Bay affordability; the costs to Russia; amalgamation with Victoria

A paddleboarder heads out past waterfront homes, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and the Oak Bay Marina. A letter-writer suggests that creating affordable housing in Oak Bay is more difficult than it appears. TIMES COLONIST

Affordable housing in Oak Bay

It is great to see letters about affordable housing in Oak Bay. To have an informative, realistic housing discussion, it is important to look at the facts.

First, the B.C. government states “affordable” means allocating at most 30 per cent of one’s gross income to housing.

For a single person working full time and making $20 an hour, they can spend at most $960 a month on housing costs. For a single person making $50 an hour, the monthly allowable cost is $1,200.

This allows the calculation of the costs of two people’s housing. A small survey of places to rent in Oak Bay confirms is very difficult to find affordable housing here.

Second, the high Oak Bay land prices mean no developer can build affordable housing here. It has been decades since even governments have built lower-cost rental units.

Third, we could support affordable housing by legalizing secondary suites and laneway houses.

Fourth, addressing our $640-million infrastructure will mean significant property tax increases. Legalization should thus have minimal impact on our financial bottom line.

Finally, it should also have minimal impact on our quality of life. The owner-occupied and parking regulations under consideration by council are vital.

Council, with the addition of a revenue-neutral condition, passes the “fact test.” Many letters to the editor on housing proposals do not pass.

Mike Wilmut
Oak Bay

Can’t we airdrop supplies into Ukraine?

One issue concerning the ongoing war in Ukraine is the heartbreaking inability of the international community to provide food and medicines to those cities that are under siege, such as Mariupol.

It is in the Russian playbook to starve out civilian populations before crushing a country’s military. One option is to provide humanitarian aid by air and parachuting the aid into these cities.

This would be accomplished by military transport aircraft provided by countries willing to participate, and would be escorted by military fighter jets who would be there for defensive purposes only. The intention to make a humanitarian sortie would be conveyed to the Russians on the deconfliction communications network.

This action on behalf of Ukraine by the international community would not reach the level of a no-fly zone and should not lead to a NATO war. The international community cannot continue to sit on their hands and watch. All that is needed is some spine.

Robin Allen

Russia should know the damage to come

Will history repeat itself in terms of very long-term economic damage to the Russians? The economic costs of the Ukraine invasion are staggering for Russia.

The cost to Russia of the Crimean War of the 19th century was not limited to the direct cost of the war, but lost economic and political power and influence.

More specifically, in order to finance the war, they sold Alaska to the United States in 1867 for a very small sum. Alaska was hard to defend after Russia was defeated in the Crimean War, and the Russians needed funds to protect themselves in the future. They lost out on the mineral and fishing riches of Alaska. Imagine if they had retained ownership of Alaska?

The Crimean War (1853-1856) stemmed from Russia’s threat to multiple European interests with its pressure of Turkey. After demanding Russian evacuation of the Danubian Principalities, British and French forces laid siege to the city of Sevastopol in 1854.

France and Britain formally declared war on Russia on March 28, 1854. The Crimean War ended on March 30, 1856, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The war put France, Britain, Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire against the Russian Empire.

Fast forward to 2022 and you could see history repeat itself. Russia will and is already incurring staggering economic cost. Even China is a lukewarm ally to Russia. We could ultimately see Russia losing more influence through loss of territory control over the Central Asian Republics to, ironically, China.

Avi Ickovich

Power of information has great value

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace,” Jimi Hendrix said.

The Russian government has said that its special military operation is going as planned. Therefore, the annihilation of Ukraine is the original plan. Certainly, destroying Ukraine will not culminate in the people loving or trusting Russia.

The West has responded with trade sanctions for Russia. These sanctions will result in punishing the Russian people and Western countries themselves, and encourage distancing of Russia from the rest of the world. This is not the best strategy.

The more Russia is alienated from the West, the easier it becomes to maintain propaganda. Sanctions will encourage more misinformation in Russian news that the West is a major threat.

The sanctions hurt countries such as India from importing Russian oil. The sanctions also make it more difficult for international news organizations, such as the New York Times, to remain covering news in Russia, as simply reporting the truth could result in jail time for reporters.

The biggest threat from Russia is misinformation.

The way to combat misinformation is by more integration of the Russian people with the West, not less. Planes from Russia to Western countries should flow freely.

Those entering Western countries should get a complimentary paper (in Russian) describing Ukrainian events since February 2022. They will also see Western news.

The quote from Jimi Hendrix should read: “When the power of information overcomes the power of misinformation, the world will know peace.”

Scott Macdonald

Beware of your wish for a combined city

A citizens’ assembly is a fine idea for seriously considering the merits of a prospective Victoria/Saanich amalgamation.

However, such exercises are usually deficient in considering what often is a central result of municipal marriages: consequential changes in local representation, leadership and politics.

With amalgamations, former central city residents, in particular, frequently rue a new order in which suburban voter priorities have great sway.

Edward LeSage
North Saanich

No amalgamation with Victoria, please

I appreciate the concern about an amalgamation between Saanich and Victoria, but please don’t offer to pass the buck to Oak Bay, Esquimalt or any municipality, for that matter.

Until Victoria voters show the ability to vote in responsible councillors and mayors, unlike the narcissistic lunatics, anarchists and activists that have dominated Victoria’s council for the past eight years, no practical citizen in any other municipality would touch amalgamation with a 10-foot bike lane.

As for Oak Bay, it’s time to man the wall/Tweed Curtain. Which should be easy, as Victoria is already blocking traffic back and forth into Oak Bay already.

Barrie Moen
Oak Bay

Nature is vital to hospice program

Having worked my entire career as a social worker and bereavement counsellor in palliative-care settings in Alberta and B.C., I am dismayed by some of the discussion about Victoria Hospice’s plan to build on property along Bowker Creek.

While working in B.C.’s Interior, I was fortunate to experience the building of a free-standing hospice on a natural setting adjacent to a creek. Was finding this location and building a long, arduous task? Yes, definitely. But the transition to this new Hospice House from the second-floor wing of a hospital was life-changing for the people on our palliative-care program, for their family members and support systems, for the palliative-care staff and for the community we served.

You see, hospice care is for and about living. It is providing the professional care and volunteer support so we all live and enjoy life fully until we die. Death is part of life, the end part of living. Much is written in literature and research about the importance of the natural environment in providing comfort and symptom management in hospice care for a good death.

Let us not, arbitrarily or otherwise, separate and isolate our loved ones or ourselves, as unentitled or unworthy of the beauty of nature as we are dying. The Hospice House where I worked was designed by Nick Bevanda, an extraordinary young architect. All patient rooms were spacious and looked out onto a healing garden where deer, marmots, birds, coyote and a young moose visited. These were often sacred moments for patients, visitors and staff.

The public walking trail along the creek that existed prior to the build remained and as a place to walk and enjoy nature beyond the garden fence.

Dawn Hill, MSW
Oak Bay


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