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Letters June 7: Problems with missing-middle housing idea; increased density is not a solution

The Wilson Commons townhouse site in Victoria West. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Missing middle, and missing access, too

Re: “Missing affordability? The promise and pitfalls of densifying single-family lots” June 4.

The photos of new housing units in Sunday’s Islander section show more than a missing-middle. I see no access for visiting family and friends who have walkers or wheelchairs.

Seems the plans have missed, again, consideration for those of us with challenged mobility!

Judith Hodgson


Tackle taxation level to make home affordable

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon has said that 47 municipalities will likely have to ramp up their housing production.

This massive sledgehammer being imposed upon 47 municipalities, with penalties, to significantly increase density is being brought forward by the B.C. NDP under the guise of making housing more affordable.

My experience over the past 40-plus years with B.C. left-wing governments is these policies tend to sound great on paper to some, but always blow up when the rubber hits the road.

This one is no different and it has already failed before it left the gate, on so many fronts.

Increased density in B.C. does not equate to increased affordability. If it did, Vancouver dramatically increasing its density over the past 40 years would have shown this to happen, but it obviously didn’t happen. Affordability lessened.

Increased density here in Victoria, etc., will also require a massive increase in all forms of infrastructure to accommodate them. This includes electrical, sewage and transportation.

The only solution coming forth from Victoria council to counter these realities is to approve new building permits, only if they have no parking spaces. Really.

What all three levels of government are unwilling to address is the massive level of taxation that exists to buy, sell or build a new home. They are obviously out to lunch on the bigger picture, as is the provincial NDP and the federal government.

John L. Krysa

Oak Bay

Densification is not the answer for housing

Absent was any reference to quality of life or sense of community. The spokespersons, including the housing minister, were immersed in numbers related to increasing housing stock and afford­ability.

Yes, families want homes that they can afford, but they also want parks, perhaps a bit of a yard for children or growing vegetables, recreational facilities, schools that are not overcrowded with students shoehorned into portables, health facilities that are accessible and not in crisis, and green space/tree canopy.

There are also issues pertaining to infrastructure such as roads, public transport, potable water capacity, sewer capacity, policing, and fire protection. All of these factors play into the health of a community and neighbourhood.

It is alarming that none of the spokespersons quoted in the article brought up these critical factors.

It is disappointing that our current government has bought into the myth that densification can address home availability and affordability.

As mentioned in the article, Vancouver has a very high density level compared to other cities, thus, according to the government’s logic, it should also have affordable housing.

Yet, it is the third most expensive city in the world in which to own a home. This contrast alone should cause a major re-think of their current densification plans.

Jeff Ballou

Bowen Island

If you lower prices, more people will come

I do not think building more “affordable” housing is going to solve the housing crisis.

What we have is a people crisis, as in too many people.

If the desired outcome of building more housing is a lowering of the purchase price, that will result in even more people wanting to come here. Cheap houses in Victoria! Think of the rush.

Norm Jackson


Municipal administrators should be on contract

The recent example of a huge severance being paid to the departing chief administrative officer in North Saanich is a travesty of fairness to the municipal residents who must shoulder the burden of the reported $300,000 payout.

There must be a better way of hiring and contracting with senior employees.

It is a known fact that there are municipal elections in B.C. every four years. It is also known that councils can and do change.

It is also known that CAOs can be tied philosophically with the council that hired them and that a change in council is often linked to a change in vision. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect that a new council would want municipal staff led by a leader they hire.

The duration of the contract for the CAO should, therefore, be no more than four years, the same as council’s term, except that it could end six months after the new council is sworn in to allow for the transfer of information to the new council and for the new council to decide the future of the CAO.

The existing CAO could be confirmed for another term or the contract not renewed. The nonsense of 18-month or two-year severance could and should be a thing of the past.

Bruce Tutt

North Saanich

Health system serves politicians, bureaucrats

Re: “Consider byelections a referendum on health management,” commentary, June 2.

I have worked in Canadian health system research and planning for more that 20 years, first in Ottawa, and then in the B.C. Ministry of Health. I retired in 2019.

Yes, I was one of the bureaucrats Mark Roseman rightly criticizes.

First some context.

Before working in the health field, I lived in the U.K. for 12 years, where they have a modestly sized private-payer option. My wife and I used the private option several times when we couldn’t get satisfaction from the public system in terms of wait times.

For instance, I was told I would have to wait six months for the public system to see me about worrying neurological symptoms.

So, I decided to use the ­private option and pay out-of-pocket about £500 and was seen in about a week. (I had no private insurance.) Hence, I was no longer on the public wait list and I didn’t have to worry anymore.

Although Canada’s health system is fine once you get seen and treated, our “enforced egalitarianism” is hurting the people it is meant to serve in both the quality and quantity of health.

Examples are too numerous to ­mention. What is so wrong with letting people pay to avoid unacceptable public wait times?

Yes, some of the physicians working in the public system will shift to the private payer, but the government can regulate the extent of this, which will reduce the wait times.

The U.K. is the usual way other ­developed countries organize their health system. In unbiased comparisons of health systems in developed countries by credible sources, Canada regularly comes next to last, behind the United States.

I find the arrangement of our health system here mystifying, serving the politicians and bureaucrats. And I am a firm believer in health for all.

Bruce Brady


Health care is not the only serious issue

Re: “Consider byelections a referendum on health management,” commentary, June 2.

The writer makes a profound statement regarding the upcoming byelections and health care, but there are other matters for which the NDP must account.

Our forest industry, once the backbone of our provincial finances, but in serious decline as a result of a lack of an ­effective timber supply and no financial backing, is an employment nightmare.

On the education front, the Surrey school district is having to double-bank 400 portables to satisfy increasing enrolment, which is occurring across the province.

The NDP have been behind the power curve on housing since day one, and our kids will not be able to afford housing for decades.

Look at the cost of rentals in Vancouver. Simply unbelievable.

The opioid and overdose crisis, given the NDP’s concept of free drugs for addicts, is an ongoing tragedy across the province. Deaths are at record levels.

The number of homeless are at record levels, and little is being done by the NDP to assist municipalities in cleaning up this often absolute criminal shambles.

Crime, and bail for dangerous offenders, is with us on a daily basis. Many will not even venture out to walk on city streets.

When the NDP took command of the province they adopted a $6-billion surplus that was spent in a heartbeat.

We are heading for an inflation-supporting debt of $200 billion with ever-increasing annual deficits, and no plans for balanced budgets.

And what can one say about the highest gas/diesel prices in North America and no relief on the carbon tax front?

Yes, there are far more matters to consider other than health care when looking at our provincial byelections.

H.J. Rice


Dumbing down health care can be dangerous

Re: “Pharmacists begin prescribing ­medication for minor ailments,” June 2.

This leaves one wondering how far the government would go in the name of “freeing up physicians and nurse practitioners.”

Pharmacists are not diagnosticians. Increasing their scope of practice through a 40-minute online course cannot be adequate to address even “minor” ailments (who decides fungal infections or urinary tract infections are “minor”?).

There is no real teamwork set up for this. No access to laboratory and other tests that may be necessary could mean that this over-simplification — or dumbing down — of medical care can be potentially dangerous.

Christopher Lam, MD



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