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Letters June 21: 'Heat dome' too rare to plan for; Langford should beware 'woke' candidates

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The outdoor temperature reading shows 39.5 C on a Saanich thermostat on June 28, 2021. A letter-writer suggests that planning for events such as last year’s ‘heat dome’ is fruitless, since a repeat event is unlikely within the next millennium. TIMES COLONIST

We can’t prepare for an event that rare

Re: “Last year’s heat deaths? Stop blaming the heat,” editorial, June 17.

The editorial argues that we should stop blaming the heat for the hundreds of deaths in last June’s heat dome. While there were some failures in planning and policy, the editorial ignores the exceptional nature of this event.

Many people, including your editorial writer, still don’t seem to grasp just how extraordinary and rare an event this was. Weather historian Christopher Burt described it as “the most anomalous regional extreme heat event to occur anywhere on Earth since temperature records began” roughly 150 years ago with the beginnings of modern meteorology.

Never before have so many all-time temperature records been broken by such a large margin in one region by a single event. According to international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, more all-time heat records were broken by at least 5 degrees C in the June 2021 heat wave than in the previous 84-plus years of worldwide weather record keeping combined.

An analysis of the June 2021 heat wave by a team of international climatologists estimated that this was a one-in-1,000-year event for our region, and it could have been as rare as a one-in-10,000-year event. There have been references in the media to these kind of events becoming “the new normal,” but that is simply not the case.

While climate change will result in more heat waves in our region and more 30 C-plus days in the summer, events of this magnitude (40 C plus) will still be very rare. The same team of climatologists estimated that, even with the 2 C of warming expected over the next 30 years, an event as extreme as last June’s heat wave can still only be expected to occur once in every 300 or more years in our region.

In other words, we are unlikely to see a repeat of this event in any of our lifetimes.

Yes, we should plan and prepare for future heat waves, which will gradually become more frequent. However, last June’s heat event was so rare and extraordinary that it is simply not practical or feasible to expect that we should be fully prepared for every such event.

Steven Murray
Victoria

Hey, Langford voters, don’t be too hasty

I read with interest that a group is forming to challenge the current Mayor Stew Young and the councillors that support him. I would advise the electorate to be careful what you wish for.

Choosing and electing a “woke” council that emulates Victoria and Saanich will lead to a council that sees the electors as a piggy bank to fund their progressive pet ideas. Instead of a cost-benefit analysis, decisions will be based on current feel-good projects.

Langford will end up with dead-end streets with ping pong tables, separated bike lanes that are underused and the equivalent of the Richardson Street fiasco, not to mention Clover Point.

Saanich recently redesigned Shelbourne, which with all the housing going up the area will turn the street into a giant parking lot as traffic piles up and side streets will be inundated with diverted cars. Saanich is also planning additional headcount in staff.

I suspect the council is paid by how many staff they can add.

The current Langford mayor may be brusque, but infrastructure has improved, sports facilities have been added, affordable housing has been added and, importantly, taxes have been contained.

The old adage “better the devil you know” is apt.

Chris Sheldon
Victoria

Please bring back steady financial management

Unfortunately, the NDP government reversed its principled decision to reject the hugely expensive proposal for B.C. Place to host some preliminary 2026 World Cup soccer games.

In 2018, Premier John Horgan said his government would not commit taxpayer dollars by signing a blank cheque to the scandal-plagued FIFA. Now we have the spectacle of Tourism Minister Melanie Mark gleefully high-fiving other proponents when FIFA announced the selection of Vancouver, although Minister Mike Farnworth looked uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Four years ago, a poll showed that 65 per cent of those surveyed supported the decision to reject the hosting offer, and I suggest that a similar poll now would also favour rejection.

So what changed? The government claims that hosting a few preliminary games will an economic boost to the tourism and hospitality sectors that will be felt for years to come.

Really? What will happen is that hotels will jack room rates and bars and restaurants will increase sales for a few weeks. The marginal increase in benefits will be extremely difficult to assess.

In exchange, provincial taxpayers will be paying between $240 to $260 million to lay temporary grass in the stadium, provide practice sites, pay for security and the accommodation of the teams, games officials and the many FIFA camp followers.

The government’s strategy of attracting tourist dollars through taxpayer-subsidized sporting spectacles, including an attempt to host another winter Olympics in the name of reconciliation, is misguided.

The government may be targeting both a geographic and a certain age demographic in anticipation of the next election. In so doing, it appears to be embracing the notion that deficit spending is now acceptable, especially if it’s targeted at large urban ridings.

Improving public infrastructure, or efforts at flood and fire prevention, just do not have the same headline value.

It is time for this government to return to the steady fiscal management practices it displayed during its first term in office.

Richard McCandless
Saanich

World Cup is coming, so prepare to pay

Once again, it seems that government is confusing the five years of “new revenue for the tourism sector” — i.e., activity for the sector — with the tax revenue on which the government depends.

If the all-in cost of hosting the five games is $260 million (cash out the door), then repaying the borrowing for that (government doesn’t have the cash lying around) over the five years that will, supposedly, generate $1 billion “revenue” would be about $55 million a year. Sales tax on the $1 billion would generate $70 million total and income taxes on workers $70 million, or so, at best — about $28 million a year.

This is a losing proposition for the taxpayer. When will government start to recognize that increased economic activity cannot be equated dollar for dollar with revenue for its coffers? Like virtually all other major sporting events around the world, this will cost us — the taxpayers — dearly.

Roger Love
Saanich

Plan our communities for more livability

I very much sympathize with a recent writer’s issues on development in Cadboro Bay. We faced the same problem a few years ago with the proposed densification of the area around Shelbourne and McKenzie.

The approval was based on the flimsy excuse of the need for student housing, ignoring the fact that the University of Victoria could easily follow the UBC model and build its own.

Construction has started on a series of six-floor plywood boxes that will have all the architectural appeal of the Berlin Wall, greatly degrading the nature of the neighbourhood.

Close-in densification is not the solution to the Capital Regional District’s need for housing. We have ample undeveloped land for housing without the ongoing need to wreck neighbourhood after neighbourhood with ill-considered, ugly development.

The housing being built will be around for decades; the nature of it must be considered on that time scale. In a decade or so, the “close-in” rationale for reducing commuter pollution will be vastly reduced by electrification and the “flextime” and “work-at-home” lifestyles will increasingly reduce the need for concentrated daily travel.

The two factors mean that there’s no urgent need to have densification. Indeed, possibly the opposite is true since no-one wants to work at home in a noisy, small apartment with only a view of the blank wall of the next block.

It’s high time our local councils recognized that we’re living in the 21st century. Let’s stop planning for the 20th and having our district “planned” by developers in the short-term thinking that we now see. We certainly need more housing, but we need some more consideration of its place in the decades to come.

Alec Mitchell
Victoria

Does Saanich want to hear from Cadboro Bay?

An odd pattern has emerged regarding housing policy in Cadboro Bay:

The talk given by a Saanich councillor a few weeks ago about Saanich’s housing plan to the residents’ association at Goward House left no time for the attendees to ask questions as planned, unless it turned out they left the meeting prematurely and spoke to him outside as an improviso instead.

The Saanich local area planning meeting last Saturday was cut short by staff half an hour earlier than schedule, leaving the public no time to ask questions to the presenters, as was supposed to take place at the end in the schedule and to which they said during the meeting the public would have an open opportunity to ask questions at the end.

Not only did this not happen, but it never seemed like it would happen, as the Saanich presenters repeatedly didn’t want, or at times openly refused, to answer questions from the public during the series of presentations, giving the excuse that there would be plenty of time for questions at the end, something that they ultimately did not allow to happen when the time came, even though there was still ample time to do so, according to the schedule.

The planned question-and-answer session online that is supposed to be a follow up to that, now oddly coincides with the residents’ association meeting at the same time.

It almost looks as if they don’t want the local community to ask questions at all.

Given the momentousness of the proposed changes to Cadboro Bay being proposed here, this seems rather odd, rather undemocratic, rather arrogant and rather contemptuous of the Cadboro Bay community.

Sasha Izard
Saanich

Many, many thanks for returning my wallet

A very kind lady rang my doorbell and handed me my wallet. She had found it on the floor of the Uptown car park. She saw where I lived and very kindly drove all the way out to my home to give it to me.

At the time I did not know that I had lost my wallet. I was so stunned to see this lady at my doorstep with it. I would like to give her a huge hug and many thanks for being so considerate.

My thanks and appreciation.

Jane Burge
Brentwood Bay

Preserve the rail corridor for active transportation

I wholeheartedly agree with View Royal Mayor David Screech’s urgent call to protect the Island Corridor and to encourage the federal and provincial governments to commit to investing in the corridor now to protect it for the future.

Time is of the essence and they need to act now, before March 2023, when the opportunity will be lost in accordance with the 2021 B.C. Court of Appeal ruling.

Rail service, however, is not the only transportation option for the Island Corridor, which is a publicly owned asset that formerly provided passenger rail service between Victoria, Courtenay and Port Alberni. It has been unused for passenger rail service for more than 10 years because of safety concerns.

Canada’s National Active Transportation Strategy was launched in July 2021, and is the country’s first coast-to-coast-to-coast strategic approach for promoting active transportation and its benefits. The provincial government also supports active transportation as part of the CleanBC Plan and has set a goal to double the percentage of trips taken by active transportation by 2030.

Active transportation refers to various modes of self-propelled movement — from walking to wheelchair rolling, to skateboarding, scootering and cycling. Active transportation provides a safe, easy, healthy, enjoyable and affordable alternative to driving and rail service.

Active transportation trails support more equitable, vibrant and livable communities and can be used in combination with public transit to reduce reliance on personal motor vehicles. They also reduce health-care costs, noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Active transportation will support Canada’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute to long-term sustainable, inclusive economic growth, and net-zero climate emissions by 2050.

Catherine Nickerson
Victoria

Dress appropriately for the workplace

The front-page photo in Saturday’s edition of the Times Colonist was, in my opinion, off-putting.

Did this ceremonial event, which was to raise the Pride flag at Victoria City Hall, necessitate Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps to dress in drag? I think not.

It all just seems so inappropriate and silly — it’s like playing dress-up at City Hall.

Public officials need to set a positive impression with clients and co-workers alike, and dress appropriately to reflect workplace values, goals and modus operandi.

Please stop embarrassing the public and be better.

Margaret Skaarup
North Saanich

Please, police officers, stop the protests

Protesters have a right to protest as much as they like. Let their anger be shown on the legislature lawn, in parks, school yards and vacant areas.

This past spring the whole of downtown was in a snarled mess because Belleville Street was blocked off with police cars. Here again, the police allowed protesters to take over our entire downtown.

I was there, I saw the police just standing around and making no attempt to get our city moving. Why weren’t the police directing traffic?

Instead of doing something to help, they just decided it was too difficult to help the public.

Once again, they played the good guys and did not respond to the needs of people living in the downtown core, but pretended that it would all eventually go away if they just did nothing.

Daniel Lambert
Victoria

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