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Letters Jan. 31: Going electric has drawbacks; big events come with big costs

An electric car plugs in to charge at one of the stations at Esquimalt Town Centre. A letter-writer points out that electric vehicles’ “green” benefits are offset by the environmental destruction required to mine rare earth minerals. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Consider the costs of going electric

Once again Trevor Hancock shreds an article from Gwyn Morgan on fossil fuel use. Is Morgan pushing the continued use of fossil fuels or just talking common sense?

Three million vehicles in B.C. alone still run on fossils and we must quit burning them? You can’t get an electric for more than a year if ordered.

We have the road map to get there, but it will be multiple decades until all these vehicles are off the road. It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to see this.

Why doesn’t Hancock discuss the raping and pillaging to take place to mine the rare earth minerals to feed the electric car frenzy?

Thousands of acres will be required, built by the biggest diesel-burning earth movers on the planet going 24/7 for months to build one minesite? The footprint in total may equal the oilsands footprint.

And who is the culprit here? Big oil just produces the stuff, we are the insatiable end users.

Sheldon Reves


Already a tax to rescue a major event

Another sterling example of why claims of major events paying their own way are misleading.

Vancouver needs to impose a “temporary” (yes, so was British income tax in the 18th century) hotel tax in 2023 to rescue a 2026 event — three years away.

When will our politicians and events promoters recognize that we really don’t make money from major events such as the FIFA World Cup games, and get no lasting “bump” in tourism?

These events may be good for our egos, but are they worthwhile economically and is the inevitable disruption acceptable?

Roger Love


Are two museums better than one?

Re: “Make it the Maritime Museum of the Pacific,” letter, Jan. 27.

Richard Mackenzie, former collections and exhibitions manager of the Maritime Museum of B.C., suggests that the path to success for the museum will involve construction and management oversight by the province.

Might this then suggest an examination of a collaboration between the Royal B.C. Museum, who are “finding themselves” these days, and the Maritime Museum?

Mark Moore


Unchecked development has many costs

Re: “Let’s get on with creating more affordable housing,” commentary, Jan. 28.

The commentary makes several suggestions to increase affordable housing supply, such as increasing minimum density levels in community plans and amending zoning bylaws, speeding up the permitting process, lowering development fees, reducing or removing amenity fees and removing “onerous” tree-protection bylaws and parking requirements.

I’m sure taking these steps could lead to a rapid increase in the supply of housing, but I’m not convinced that the key goal — affordability — will be met. Yes, it would give the green light to developers by reducing their costs significantly, but would those reductions be passed on in the form of lower house prices?

Demand for housing in one of the most desirable places to live in the world means that developers can and do charge high prices for property in Victoria.

In theory more supply means lower prices, but it could also fuel demand by wealthy buyers from other parts of Canada or overseas who can afford higher prices.

The other major problem is that removing existing development requirements would lead to the demolition of our urban forest, which helps to make our city livable, fights the effects of climate change and gives us spaces to exercise for our physical and mental well-being.

The kind of concrete jungle caused by unchecked development can already be seen not too far away. It is called Langford.

Tony Boardman


Low-cost housing is government’s job

The so-called missing middle policy enacted by Victoria council is no more than a huge gift to developers. Consider this scenario: a desirable property comes onto the market for $1.8 million; out of the reach of ordinary homebuyers, three developers engage in a bidding war, finally settling on $2.5 million to develop the property into missing middle.

The result is six small homes for $1 million each. How does either sale or development provide low-cost housing?

I can see this policy edging homebuyers out of the market when developers with deep pockets take over properties that can be made into missing middle clusters.

The only way to provide low-cost housing is for the provincial government to build non-profit housing and co-op properties. Handing this responsibility to the private sector will only make things worse for our overpriced marketplace.

Robert Newton


Congratulations, your land is worth more

Re: “Victoria OKs missing middle ­housing,” Jan. 27.

Victoria council approved missing middle housing for many of Victoria’s residential lots to allow up to six homes per lot rising up to 2.5 storeys. It is now up to B.C. Assessment to accurately reflect the “highest and best use” land value of these properties as per their mandate.

As the government says:

“Land is valued based on its highest and best use, meaning the reasonable and optimal legal use of property which is both physically possible and financially feasible. B.C. Assessment will consider many factors when determining highest and best use, including zoning, official community plans and recent development trends.”

Congratulations to the lucky taxpayers.

James Campbell


Financial analysis on missing middle

Many letters (mostly negative) have been written on Victoria council’s “missing middle” housing initiative. What is missing is the financial analysis.

Up-zoning a property that is zoned currently single-family instantly provides a “gift” of millions of dollars to the developer. But, properties close to the new development will lose potentially tens of thousands of dollars in value because of loss of sunlight (shadow), loss of privacy, loss of view, parking problems, etc.

Because the city will not be allowing affected property owners to have input into the rezoning, the city could be faced with major court challenges, possibly even class-action suits.

The cost of losing these lawsuits would be borne by the taxpayers, who are already paying high taxes. Residents of Victoria have already suffered enough from the social engineers at City Hall, destroying the safety of downtown and city parks.

Kenneth Mintz


Working people will pay the price

Ordinary people want to live and work in a place they can afford to call home — an apartment, condo, or a single-family house.

Shelter is a basic need, as are decent wages. They aren’t luxuries.

Yet, unless you have an annual household income of more than $200,000, you won’t be able to finance the cost of owning a home in Victoria. Single-family houses, and now the higher-density detached multi-units being built in many neighbourhoods, have become the preserve of the affluent.

Most tenants (whose annual median income is less than $60,000) don’t qualify for a mortgage. Many now struggle to make ends meet when the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit is more than $2,000.

How will building more high-priced houseplexes, townhouses and multi-unit low-rise units on single-family lots meet the basic housing needs of young families, let alone working individuals or seniors on modest incomes?

The new council, and the former one under Lisa Helps (now a special housing adviser to the new premier) — all sing from the same song sheet: Build more unaffordable homes.

The aim of their housing policies — to nourish and protect at all costs the real estate investment and development industries on which the province relies for so much of its prosperity.

Who will pay for these schemes that enrich a few at the expense of many?

Working people of this province, who deserve better.

Victoria Adams


Missing middle plan will increase sprawl

Victoria’s new mayor and council have passed the divisive missing middle bylaw. In doing so they have entirely ignored the public’s concern, as indicated by the 12-hour public input to the last council.

They have ignored that this will do nothing toward affordability; Marianne Alto and councillors in favour do not even mention affordability, because they know this.

Coun. Matt Dell explains that if Victoria doesn’t drastically increase its housing (Victoria already has been far ahead of the rest of the municipalities in housing starts) it will create sprawl outside Victoria.

What happens in Langford and Colwood (and what doesn’t happen in Oak Bay, Sooke, and Metchosin) is not Matt’s responsibility to his constituents. This policy will destroy the character of all our neighbourhoods, for which people have specifically bought homes in.

Why? Because “we know better,” despite all the logic and reasons against missing middle. It is an ideological emotional boondoggle that will solve nothing in regard to housing issues.

Cities worldwide have always supplied housing for the poor and those who can’t afford single family homes by building large apartment buildings, which, by the way, slow down urban sprawl.

This bylaw will increase urban sprawl; it means more people will not be able to afford to buy or rent in Victoria. Where will they go now?

Richard Volet


Missing middle misses the mark

Re: “Victoria OKs missing middle housing,” Jan. 27.

So missing middle is approved. This was a divisive initiative since first introduced by the previous council. Opportunities for public input and discourse were limited by COVID and council’s zeal for density intensification.

Recognizing the controversy, the decision was deferred to the new city council.

You would think the new council would want to ensure that, whatever the outcome, it would be supported by a flawless, transparent process that had broad support from residential neighbourhoods and the public.

Instead, we have a decision that continues to be divisive, a process that was anything but open, and a lost opportunity to find consensus.

First, we had council adopting the former council’s hearing proceedings “as if the current council members had heard the public hearing,” when in fact none but the new mayor were councillors at the time.

The mayor then limited council debate to 15 minutes per councillor and councillors were not permitted to question city staff. So much for open, inclusive, democratic process.

Mayor and council had an opportunity to show leadership and find a consensus solution to end the divisiveness and bring the community together.

They could have married the goals of the missing middle initiative with solutions to public concerns about density intensification, affordability of housing, displacement of existing residents, loss of mature trees and greenspace and developers’ impacts on the rising cost of housing.

To their credit, councillors Chris Coleman, Marg Gardiner and Stephen Hammond opposed approval and wanted more fulsome debate, but were voted down.

Not an auspicious beginning for a new council on one of the most important decisions for our city. Meanwhile, the broader concerns with housing densification remain unaddressed.

Mariann Burka


No, James Bay is not seen as a target

I take exception to the recent letter suggesting that Victoria council somehow targeted James Bay over the new development at Niagara and Menzies. I have lived in James Bay for years and I do not feel “targeted.”

I regularly read the Comment section and a common theme is trashing Victoria council. Bridges, bike lanes, ping pong tables, campers, washrooms, trees … and the list goes on. Take a step back though and the real driver of many of these complaints is progress, which is just another word for change.

Transition can be unsettling, especially so to seniors, many of whom are no doubt letter writers to this page.

I am 68.

Remember the aspen tree removal at Humboldt and Government? The naysayers were spinning like tops, climbing over each other to have at council. Four years later, oh well.

Cities are organisms that grow, shedding skin along the way. Have you ever visited any city anywhere in the world that was not sprouting construction cranes?

Like many here, I did not grow up in Victoria. I am renting in James Bay because I wanted to live in a village, perched on the Pacific with the best climate in Canada.

I live in a desirable city in a profit-driven world and change happens.

I am no target, though.

A lifelong Canadian, I recognize that living in a “democratic system” doesn’t mean I always get my way. The “handful of councillors” were duly elected and made a decision.

That is democracy working. Three hundred-plus people fomenting over flowering plum trees isn’t.

Deal with it now and remember to vote later.

Mark R. Fetterly


G’wan b’y! (You’re joking, right?)

In David Sovka’s informative article (“To Bee or Not to Bee,” Jan. 27) he lightheartedly stated that, “a whopping 90 per cent [of Canadians] are moderately to severely irritated by hearing the ‘Newfie’ accent in everyday conversation.”

From this statement may I deduce that only 10 per cent of Canadians are smart, quick or sharp enough to really understand what the “Newfie” is saying?

Bob Flood



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