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Letters Feb. 22: Value of an arts education; shouldn't have tinkered with Fast Cats; praise for Saanich council

One of the B.C. Ferries fast catamarans passes under the Lions Gate Bridge in 1999. TANYA VAUGHAN, THE PROVINCE

Humanities help in other fields

Re: “Studying the humanities helps ­foster skills that are increasingly needed,” column, Feb. 18.

Geoff Johnson made excellent points about the value of an arts education.

He moreover assembled an impressive array of comments from people in the business world supporting his contention.

My son, who teaches engineering, made exactly the same sort of comment when he observed that AI, the current STEM darling, can render many technical jobs irrelevant. So much for STEM in the pursuit of future welfare for the ambitious.

I did my high school in Ontario in the late 1950s when the accepted wisdom among my fellow students discussing university education was that “Science was for the brainy, Arts for the dreamers in search of an Mrs. and Engineering was for the beer-swilling jocks.” That was our philosophy.

Mercifully, I was able to study subjects like Latin and history, and was compelled to study English literature, a subject that gave me the willies when I thought of exams and the importance of good marks.

Looking back I can clearly see that my being encouraged, if not forced, even as a scientist, to address the humanities, materially helped me to survive as an engineer in a turbulent world and earn the gratitude of my employers, for what amounts to “thinking outside the box,” a skill that appears to be in short supply nowadays, and I wonder why?

Boudewyn van Oort

A great design, but we tinkered with it

Re: “B.C. Ferries’ vessels should be built in B.C.,” editorial, Feb. 16.

The editorial said the Fast Cat design “was hopelessly ill-fitted” for the intended use. In defence of the designer, I must ask you to distinguish between the original design and the “as built” fiasco.

The chosen design was the world-famous Wave Cutter from Australia. Wave Cutters had proven to be fast and to produce very little wake.

The small wake was important to avoid wrecking shore installations along the ferry routes. However, the committee that was in charge of building them made an astonishingly bad decision.

B.C. Ferries needed to modify the berths to accommodate the Fast Cats. Instead of modifying the berths, the committee decided to modify the design of the ships!

They made the ships about three metres longer and many tons heavier. All that extra weight was at the bows of the ships, which made them nose-heavy.

Instead of cutting through the waves, the ships plowed through them. This created a lot of wake. Further, the engines were not powerful enough to push all the water aside to produce that wake.

Hence, the ships were disasters.

B.C. came very close to great success with the Fast Cat program. Instead, the program became a huge embarrassment due to one horrible decision. What a shame!

David Stocks
(Not David T. Stocks, naval architect)

Our higher wages hurt our competitiveness

Chuck Ko, who heads Allied Shipyards of North Vancouver, says when it comes to new construction, international bidders have a dual advantage because of lower labour costs coupled with our ­federal government waiving import duties on passenger ferries. Ko says he cannot compete with international bidders. Wages in B.C. must come down in order to compete.

Note that the latest B.C. Ferries bids to build four new ferries did not have one bid submitted from a shipyard in ­Canada. You want new ferries built in B.C., then lower the wages. Plain and simple.

Joe Sawchuk

Many benefits to building ferries here

There are more spin-offs to building B.C. Ferries new ships locally.

Just imagine the income to our economy and those who benefit from it — not only the workers but their families, local businesses, and needless to say “our” whole economy.

Our shipyards have been noted to build “high quality” vessels for B.C. Ferries in the past, so why bypass them now to save a few dollars, which we will pay later in maintenance and repair issues that come about?

Dollars spent in B.C. generally will stay in B.C., or least in Canada.

Bob Weicker
Comox Valley

B.C. Ferries’ vessels should be built in B.C.

A discerning review of the B.C. Ferries fiasco underscores a common theme in government procurement: excessive authority vested in a few uninformed bureaucrats within purchasing departments.

A remedy to this issue lies in entrusting B.C. Ferries solely with ferry operations while adopting a vessel leasing model. This shift not only relieves B.C. Ferries of procurement burdens, enabling a focus on operational efficiency, but also cultivates a thriving Canadian maritime construction industry.

By leasing rather than owning vessels, B.C. Ferries can leverage a competitive market, fostering innovation and cost reduction through healthy competition.

This approach mirrors the dynamics of the airline industry, promoting fleet management flexibility and swift adaptation to market changes.

For British Columbia, endowed with abundant resources and a strategic coastal position, nurturing a robust maritime construction sector offers vast potential.

It would stimulate job creation, ­economic growth, and enhance national security by ensuring a ­dependable domestic source for vital transportation infrastructure.

Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between operational excellence and a vibrant maritime industry is crucial in envisioning B.C. Ferries’ future. Embracing a leasing model for vessel procurement can guide B.C. Ferries toward a sustainable and prosperous path, positioning British Columbia as a leader in maritime innovation and excellence.

Lawrence Lambert
Cobble Hill

Way to go on oil, thanks Saanich council

A recent letter decries the apparent hypocrisy of a Saanich council wanting to sue the same oil companies it depends upon to fuel its service vehicles.

I applaud these councillors. Their supposed transgression is the lesser of the two, when compared with the duplicity of corporate oil producers.

“Oil men” have long known what was true about their enterprise. Their research foretold what is undeniable: a climate crisis of truly devastating significance, shaped primarily by the products they have proudly profited from by selling us.

Duplicity: to keep from others what one knows to be true; to tell others what you know to be false. “Oil men” have known for 40 years what we all know now. Like those who pandered fentanyl to an unsuspecting public: duplicitous profit takers, each and every one.

Hypocrisy, on the other hand, is some failure to match action to declared values. Few of us can meet the standard of purity required to escape this charge.

We find it difficult to end our dance with the familiar. But we can and do, one halting step at a time. We call it learning.

Eventually, what we learn leads to change. Along the way, the contradiction between what we do and what we know we need to do is obvious to all.

We know where we need to be (fossil fuel free) and we know that the companies that enable our self-destructive ways want others to pay the price to get there.

These companies and those who have led them have purposely misled us all; sometimes to our seeming and short-term benefit and, always, to theirs. I repeat: They’ve known, for more than 40 years, what we know now.

I thank Saanich councillors who move to look these oil men in the eye: to see that they pay for their duplicitous ways. And I applaud council’s efforts to attend their carbon footprint as well: one halting step at a time.

Allan Rathbone

Let everyone know if registry works

Many people have experienced frustration in finding a family doctor.

I believe the frustration may be ­lessened if the provincial health registry publishes periodically the number of people on the wait list and the number able to find a family doctor through the registry.

Harry Kwok

Please, get those televisions fixed

Re: “Former RN now a Royal ­Jubilee patient waits months for TV to be repaired,” Feb. 18.

I read with dismay the story about the hospital patient with a television set that didn’t work.

I felt both sympathy and empathy for this patient and many more who are staring at the walls in our supposed First World medical facility. This was not a one-off situation.

More than a year ago I was very ill and after three days in the Royal Jubilee ­Hospital ER, I was moved to a private room where I stayed for over three weeks. The medical care was excellent, however, my television never worked, along with most others on my ward. My husband tried in vain to get mine fixed but no one would help, let alone the company responsible for the TVs.

We have many challenges in our ­medical system today but surely, our suffering patients can enjoy a basic TV to help take their minds off their pain and illnesses through the long days and nights.

It is well known that one’s mental ­outlook can help ease physical pain and suffering.

Whose fault this is doesn’t matter to the patient. Having a TV does, so please someone just get it fixed.

Kathy Shields


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