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Letters Aug. 16: Kudos for Victoria's natural-gas ban; democracies need more than just voting

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Construction continues on the energy-efficient housing development at Dockside Green on Harbour Road. A letter-writer supports Victoria’s push for banning home natural-gas installations by 2025. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Victoria’s new-build idea is best for the planet

The only existential crisis threatening the planet and its inhabitants is the climate crisis. Its magnitude is similar to the Second World War, when countries rapidly transformed themselves to meet the threat that everybody recognized and everybody played their part.

The impact of the climate crisis has been much stealthier, but not any more after last year’s heat dome, forest fires and atmospheric rivers. The financial, human and other costs associated were colossal. Most levels of government are finally acting to mitigate the crisis. Climate trends indicate they need to do more and quicker.

Victoria’s new-build bylaw changes to significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions should be applauded. The changes were developed by a comprehensive consultation process between city staff and representatives from the building industry, development community, building-energy efficiency and sustainability experts, etc.

Yes, the initial cost of a house could increase by a few per cent, but governments will continue to subsidize (currently $15,000 rebates for an electric Step 5 house) these new technologies until economies of scale reduce their cost. Operational costs (heat pumps are three or four times as efficient as any gas boiler) will be significantly lower and indoor air quality superior.

Rather than advocating for continued use of a polluting, inefficient, increasingly expensive fuel source, a better use of people’s efforts would be to write their MLA/MP asking them to implement supporting programs/legislation to make these changes cost-neutral.

If you still have doubts about addressing the climate crisis, just ask your children or grandchildren for their opinion on the subject.

Graham Tarling
Esquimalt

Create a real democracy for Canada’s future

After a lifetime of continually listening to people complain about all levels of government, I’m getting very angry at the public. We are all to blame for not having created a truly representative form of governance. Democracy should be about participation and co-operation, not just voting every few years.

Humans are social animals, not feral animals fighting for a meal, and co-operation is far more natural than competition. Politicians are supposed to be our representatives, not our leaders. The news and social media’s emphasis on creating celebrities for everything has left most people feeling left out and impotent.

Young people today are getting angrier and more militant, and rightly so. My baby boomer peers and the Gen Xers have failed miserably in taking the health of our planet and species seriously.

Everyone experiences some degree of denial, but we have yet to begin to deal with the hard facts of just how bad things really are. We will have to accept the fact that we will have to make tremendous sacrifices if we care about future generations. Also we have to end this hate-filled, wealth-polarizing, adversarial culture that dominates our society.

Creating a real democracy for the young would be a start and a much better legacy than a climate crisis and massive debt. So stop complaining and do something constructive, like working for electoral reform.

Ivan Olynyk
Victoria

Many thanks to strangers on the walkway

My husband and I would like to shout out a great big “thank you” to two strangers who came to our rescue on Sunday at the Songhees walkway.

My husband, who is 86, had a tumble and could not get up. I could not lift him. Connie and Michael jumped to the rescue to help get my husband back on his feet.

We were so grateful that there are angels in this world ready to give a helping hand when needed.

Pauline Hess
Victoria

Many thanks to new Cloverdale friends

On Friday, my wife and I left to go to our granddaughter’s wedding in Fort Langley.

The wedding celebrations were excellent and we stayed in a motel in Langley.

On Saturday morning we stopped in at a local restaurant for breakfast and were seated next to a nice couple.

We engaged in quite a bit of pleasant conversation, and they left before us.

When we got up to leave, the waiter told us that they had already paid for our meals.

Thank you very much, friends from Cloverdale, we wish we could personally thank you.

Anton Laninga
Saanichton

Not a great range, but EV is best car yet

We drive a 2014 model electric car. It goes about 100 kilometres on a charge. Despite this, it’s all-round the best car we’ve ever had.

It’s luxuriously quiet and fun to drive. The three drivers in our home fight to take it out and it works fine getting us to Sidney and Sooke and back. We plug it in at night and have no need for other charging stations.

To assert that electric vehicles are impractical for general use is silly given that new electric cars today will go five times the distance as our old model and span the Island without a stop.

If you spend all day on the highway or haul heavy loads, give it a few years. But if you have average needs, you’ll be more than happy with what is already available — new or used.

Jeff Johnson
Esquimalt

We can all do something to reduce fossil-fuel use

We all know that climate change is a “thing” and that we need to do something to reduce our use of fossil fuels now. When municipalities ban future installations of fossil-fuel-burning appliances they are doing something.

When they make these changes the complainers come out moaning about how much it will cost. It is distressing to see so much criticism; do these people think changing to low- or no-carbon usage will be easy or cheap, that we won’t have to sacrifice anything?

There are a lot of costs that aren’t be measured in dollars. What is the cost of the loss of a forest, not just measured in board feet?

We have friends who, for a small fortune, had solar panels and heat pumps installed at their home, and they bought a hybrid automobile. We have always had electric heat in our home, but we put in a heat pump to reduce our energy consumption.

The whole world is already paying a huge price due to fires, floods, habitat loss and so much more. Just think about your own fossil-fuel consumption and see if there is some way you can reduce or eliminate it.

We can all make a small sacrifice, please let’s each of us do something.

Julie Morrison
Sidney

Saanich’s ugly buildings will last for decades

Re: “Densification on a Saanich ­thoroughfare,” letter, Aug. 13.

One has to wonder if Saanich council reads the letters to the editor and takes note of the discontent and alarm felt by many Saanich residents over the “pure Stalinist designs” and minimal setbacks of the new multi-unit building under construction at the Shelbourne and McKenzie intersection.

One also has to wonder what the intersection will look like once the University Heights project and the one on the southwest side are completed. More of the same?

Why does the planning department have to capitulate to the dictates of the developer’s design? Of course developers will argue for cost-effectiveness and their profit margin, but what about esthetics?

Once these buildings are erected, the residents will have to live with their ugliness for decades.

The “appropriate development” favoured by Saanich will assuredly yield more rental housing with questionable affordability, but at the price of ugliness?

An election is coming soon. I sincerely hope everyone will voice their discontent at the ballot box.

Sharon M. Jack
Saanich

Canada needs to push its defence policy

Re: “Is Canada’s Navy properly equipped for its main mission?” commentary, Aug. 13.

The assessment and inventory of the Canadian Navy falls short as it does not include the four Victoria-class submarines that were acquired from the Royal Navy at a bargain price, then refreshed and updated for Canadian operations.

They, along with the current fleet of 12 frigates and 12 Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, have served Canada well and given our navy a preferred place amongst allied navies. These ships are reaching their best-before date rapidly.

The answer to the question — “Is Canada’s Navy properly equipped for its main mission? “ — is … maybe — but it requires that defence policy have a higher profile in the public domain and a general recognition that Canada’s economy floats on salt water.

Canada has the longest coastline of any country and freedom of movement on the world’s oceans is vital to Canada. The Navy has always been Canada’s first response to international crisis, yet we have scrambled to do that with quick upgrades and modifications to existing ships.

Ships and weapons systems are expensive and shipbuilding is a long process. The government has approved the purchase of 15 new surface combatants that will cost $80 billion, yet no steel has been cut.

Replacing the submarines is only a discussion. The first of two new replenishment ships is under construction. The armament for the new Arctic patrol vessels can be easily upgraded — an action that Canada is well practised at in a crisis. Having a navy capable of operating under, on, and above the oceans of the world requires the active and involved interest of the public.

Gerald W. Pash
Victoria

Hydrogen has a higher energy density

Re: “Is hydrogen the best climate solution?” letter, Aug. 12.

It is not correct that the energy density of hydrogen is less than that of natural gas. On a BTU/kg basis, hydrogen has about 2.5 times the energy density of methane, so if you burn one kilogram of hydrogen vs. one kilogram of natural gas, you will get 2.5 times the energy.

Bill Appledorf
Victoria

Northrop Frye’s sad vision is edging to reality

Two recent events in the United States, the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the stabbing of Salman Rushdie as he was about to deliver a Chautauqua lecture, have shown the continuing pertinence of a passage in Northrop Frye’s posthumously published 1991 book The Double Vision.

Readers might like to be reminded of it: “Cruelty, terror, intolerance, and hatred within any religion always mean that God has been replaced by the devil … when Khomeini gave the order to have Salman Rushdie murdered, he was turning the whole of the [Quran] into Satanic verses. In our own culture, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a future New England in which a reactionary religious movement has brought back the hysteria, bigotry, and sexual sadism of seventeenth-century Puritanism. Such a development may seem unlikely now, but the potential is all there.”

Unfortunately, some consider that Khomeini’s order is still in force, and the development Atwood warned against seems more likely now than it did 30 years ago.

G.D. Fulton
Victoria

Consultation lacking in Topaz Park work

I am happy to see Victoria skateboarders getting a second facility. Why does this council insist on persistently playing one part of the community against the others?

While I’m not a skateboarder, I am an avid cyclist as well as a slo-pitch baseball player. Council’s pathological hatred of cars has led to what must be the most poorly conceived, designed and overpriced mish-mash of cycling infrastructure to be found anywhere.

Topaz Park was the only location in the Capital Regional District that offered four diamonds without overlapping outfields in one location suitable for large tournaments. The changes have cost one field completely and the turf soccer pitch now being upgraded, while barely usable for slo-pitch, is far from ideal.

I’ve been a volunteer at the Michael Dunahee Tournament of Hope, which just held its 29th annual tournament. We were forced to move to Macdonald Park in James Bay, which is far less convenient for both players and neighbours. (Note: I am not a spokesperson for either the tournament or Child Find B.C.)

The so-called consultation process that the city conducted before imposing this plan completely ignored the needs of the slo-pitch community. Surely other locations could have been found for the skate park, such as that massive unused gravel field across from Beacon Drive-In.

The end of this divisive and meddlesome council can’t come too soon.

Jim Jaarsma
Victoria

Hollow words, not public safety

Re: “Family of man allegedly killed by prison escapees sues corrections ­officials,” Aug. 13.

I’m certain that most people support the Payne family in their attempt to hold Corrections officials accountable for their decision to transfer the likes of depraved inmates James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage to a minimal-security “Club Fed” facility. And if you read about the criminal past of these two evil convicts, you too might question how they could ever warrant such consideration.

It is no surprise, too, that the family questions the justice system’s commitment to public safety. Judge Ronald Webb sentenced Busch for escaping to a mere 12 months to his life sentence for which he was eligible for day parole in 2022.

Therefore, the justice system’s commitment to keeping you and me safe is evidently more about hollow words than it is about meaningful actions.

Gordon Zawaski
Parksville

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