Affordable housing for everyone, please
With interest rates rising, the housing market is finally undergoing a correction, and house prices are falling in parts of Canada.
Strangely, some media outlets are focusing stories on the sellers who may only earn 125 per cent returns after five years instead of 150 per cent. This kind of narrative — that housing returns can and should outpace the stock market — is exactly how we got into this housing crisis to begin with. What about the renters who have been bearing the brunt of rising mortgages, with no equity in return, as the investor class speculates on housing?
I am a homeowner myself. But I would much rather live in a world where there is affordable housing for everyone, than a world where my ability to pull together a large down payment affords me a massive investment return with nearly zero risk.
Here’s hoping governments invest in housing so the current market correction isn’t just a blip in an otherwise ever-worsening affordable-housing crisis.
Cook Street roundabout limits the danger
Re: “A close call at a roundabout,” letter, July 28.
In decrying the Cook Street roundabout, the letter-writer says: “Simply plunking a roundabout into an existing urban intersection, without adequate approaches and space, which would provide an allowance for driver error, was quite simply foolhardy.”
The roundabout is the allowance for driver error; the alternative being a vehicle plowing through a stop sign being T-boned by a large pickup truck which, without a physical obstacle to avoid, would likely be travelling much faster as it accelerates out of the 30 km/h zone in Cook Street Village.
That said, calling the apparent actions of either driver an “error” is a stretch, unless we lump them together with other “oopsies” like texting behind the wheel or accelerating to beat an amber light.
Prominent yield signs mark each entrance to the Cook Street roundabout; the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act clearly identifies who has right-of-way.
Well-marked roundabouts aren’t the problem. Put the blame where it really belongs: on selfish asocial motorists who refuse to exercise even the slightest care toward other road users; and, on a dearth of traffic enforcement that would otherwise compel such care.
Since we seem unwilling to confront and punish unsafe drivers, at least roundabouts limit the damage these lousy drivers cause.
The best solution is to make everyone pass another knowledge test in order to renew their driver’s licence (that this isn’t already required beguiles reason).
If you don’t pass a test that verifies you still understand your responsibilities as a motorist (including how to navigate a roundabout) then you shouldn’t drive until you do.
A solution to the ferry crew shortage
I recently contacted B.C. Ferries about their crew shortage, mentioning that I was a retired captain that would be happy to work (part-time) on a ferry as captain, chief mate or navigator to help with the crew shortage.
However, they told me that the underlying issue lies with Transport Canada, who will not accept British commercial nautical qualifications to work on their ferries. They will, however, accept Norwegian and Ukrainian nautical qualifications!
I am sure there are many retired master mariners living on the Island who would only be too happy to work for a few days a week.
This is nothing more than incompetent bureaucracy at work and could be resolved with a stroke of a pen if the will was there to do so.
Sinners and saints — but mostly sinners
Re: “Pope’s apology must name the church,” letter, July 27.
Just a brief clarification: Catholics do believe, as your correspondent rightly states, that “their church is a creation of Jesus Christ,” and that it cannot change its doctrines.
They do not, however, believe that it can do no wrong. It is divinely founded, true, but it is made up of sinners, some saints, yes, but mostly sinners. Thus, it can do wrong and does occasionally.
Garnet A. Parr
We were warned about the environment
Re: “What a legacy! Thank you, fossil-fuel industry,” commentary, July 28.
It is “we, the people” who are responsible for the current environmental crisis. In reality it is the result of our consumption that has brought us here.
There were many warnings, as Trevor Hancock points out. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection; Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb and many other prophetic books warned with fair accuracy about our situation today. In the 50 years since their appearance, the public has joined government and industry in ignoring these messages. Indeed, cars and houses have grown larger as resources dwindle.
For the pedestrian, the evidence is everywhere. When did you last see a toad in the grass? Or an ant colony in the cracks of the sidewalk? How many robins or bees have you encountered outside of your Buick?
Oh, you haven’t noticed? I rest my case.
Business can choose how to do business
Re: “If all else fails, use cash… or maybe not,” letter, July 27.
The letter was inaccurate. Canadian banknotes are “legal tender” in payment of debts. An ordinary purchase in a store does not create a “debt.” Displaying something on a store shelf with a price tag attached is (as worded in consumer legislation), an “invitation to do business.” The purchaser carries the item to the till and (effectively) offers to pay the price as marked on the item.
The merchant can refuse to make the sale, or can specify a different price, or can indicate what the business will accept as payment to complete the sale. The merchant can require payment in cash, or payment by card, or payment in ripe bananas … as the business chooses.
In a similar vein, there is a very wide misconception that a merchant must stick to the price noted on a price tag. There is no requirement in law that the merchant must do that.
The merchant could have made an error in completing the tag, or can choose to reject the potential buyer’s offer to complete the sale for any other reason. Obviously, such an approach is likely not the best way to maintain good public relations and customer satisfaction, but the merchant is legally correct in such situations.
Other comparisons as to merchant rights include requiring potential customers to wear a COVID mask, even when there is no legal requirement to wear them, before entering the merchant’s place of business. Legally, a merchant has the right to require potential customers to wear green plastic buckets on their heads or to sing the Lord’s Prayer in Latin before entering the place of business.
That’s the law, and that’s how democracy works.
Better technological strategies needed
It isn’t enough that the man who had a live pig’s heart transplanted earlier this year died within a few months — now the race is on to transplant pig hearts again, this time into brain-dead humans. This raises a couple of serious issues.
First of all, what is brain death? The brain couldn’t be totally dead or the living body wouldn’t be able to keep the transplant functioning. How do we know for certain there isn’t some part of the brain with some element of sentience left?
These experiments involve “more intense testing than living patients could tolerate.”
Secondly, the hearts of these pigs come from genetically modified animals. Even so, the immune system of one species of animal simply isn’t the same as that of another, never mind of humans.
That is what motivated Stephanie Willerth at the Willerth lab at University of Victoria to turn from the use of animal sources to bioprinting stem cells to replicate human bodily tissue and organs.
Which is it to be? Do we support the same old methods of the past or advance, medically and ethically, to better technological strategies that herald the future?
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