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Letters May 10: Unaffordable housing; inaccessible health care; lend aircraft to Ukraine

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Letter-writers have a variety of suggestions to improve B.C.’s shortage of family doctors. TERESA CRAWFORD, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Different avenues to owning a home

“ ‘Missing middle’ plan won’t bring affordable houses,” commentary, May 6.

This piece made series of inaccurate claims about upzoning with a “solution” that is nothing more than the status quo.

The authors assume upzoning will lead to more land assemblies. Wrong. The entire point of upzoning single family lots is to avoid the large land assemblies we see now, where developers overpay for a row of homes, usually on collector or arterial roads, and build the largest building possible to recoup costs from overpaying for the land.

I live on a 6,600-square-foot lot, in a small starter home with my wife and two children. I easily have enough space for an addition on my home that will add enough space for my family while adding an additional space for one of my many friends with young families seeking housing.

To do this, we have to go through an onerous and expensive rezoning process, all to add badly needed housing in our region. Instead, municipal governments want me to build basement or garden suites, inadequate rental housing that denies people access to home ownership.

According to the piece, grants to homeowners to build more suites on their property is the solution to the housing crisis. Wrong.

Basement and garden suites are simply inadequate forms of housing. Most are too small to raise a family, with no long-term housing security. We need to give people different avenues to homeownership outside of expensive single family homes, cheaper single family homes far outside our region’s core, or condos.

Upzoning and missing middle housing is a piece of the solution. We also need thousands of units of purpose-built non-market and market housing built all over the region, not just along arterial roads with more noise and air pollution, as the authors suggest.

Edward Pullman
Saanich

Let public sector provide co-op housing

“ ‘Missing middle’ plan won’t bring affordable houses,” commentary, May 6.

Housing policies for the past 40 years have speciously accepted that governments should leave affordable housing solutions to the private sector.

If we look at housing that does not meet the needs of our cities today, we can see how that turned out.

The foregoing recommends “the quickest and best way” is giving more public resources to motivate entrepreneurs building family housing or rental suites in return for affordability over a 10-year period.

In the 1970s, Canada and the provinces actively advocated affordable co-op housing for families. Today 185,000 people live in housing co-ops in Ontario and co-op housing anchors affordability in Toronto’s downtown core.

In Austria, 20 per cent of all housing and 40 per cent of multi-family housing is non-profit and 60 per cent of residents live in units either owned by municipal government or state-subsidized non-profit co-operatives where a one-bedroom apartment rents for $400.

The commentary recommends providing more incentives to speculators as the solution. The joke about the definition of insanity comes to mind.

The private sector does not encourage effective competition of long-term co-operative housing, a proven public sector solution. Current subsidies encourage the unending increasing money flow through policy conduits to the private sector rather than families.

Continuing with current policies reminds one of the old comic strips of Pogo fearfully following his own footsteps in the swamp, looking for the enemy until he understands he was following himself and realizes “the enemy is us.”

Building millionaire mansions for the rich is a role for the private sector — subsidizing the initiative of building stable long-term essential affordable housing co-operatives for families is a role that properly belongs in the public sector.

Let’s get on with it.

Harry Atkinson
Sidney

If it takes 2,000 pages, it’s too complicated

The City of Victoria will give the public a week to digest 2,000 pages of material so it can understand both the benefits and risks of a streamlined approval process involving the delegation of authority to staff to approve building permits without public input.

In 25 years of approving commercial lending proposals on behalf of a major Canadian bank, I have never been faced with 2,000 pages of material. When something is this complicated and involved, I would say, let’s take a pass.

If council and/or city staff can’t put this proposal before the public in a concise (maximum 25 pages) and understandable way then it should be shelved.

Doing this exercise will confirm they understand exactly what is being proposed, and that the benefits that will accrue warrant acceptance of the risks that will be undertaken.

I urge the mayor and council to be guided accordingly.

Mark Appleton
Victoria

Urgently needed: Affordable homes

The Chrétien government withdrew from social housing entirely in 1993. Before that, about 20,000 new units of of social housing (affordable) were built every year.

After years of increasing homelessness, the Trudeau government announced a national housing strategy. But the priority is on increasing the inventory of new homes. It’s doubtful that this market strategy will lead to a decrease in home prices.

New homes are important, but affordable homes are urgently needed. It’s time once again that the federal government commit to a social housing strategy.

Kip Wood
Nanaimo

Living in paradise — a condo in James Bay

Cartoonist Adrian Raeside seems to think that one needs to live in a house to consider living in a piece of paradise. How biased and misinformed can he be?

My husband and I live in a condo in the James Bay neighbourhood and we consider ourselves living in paradise.

We know all our neighbours in our condo, we socialize together, party together and greet each other in the hallway.

James Bay has always been rated as a walker’s paradise. The well-constructed Capital Park development brought in not only a boutique collection of condominiums and townhomes, but it also brought in vitality.

We used to live in a house, but are glad that we are living in a condo now.

The same for our daughters in London, Amsterdam and Toronto — they are happily living in their own condo homes.

With a growing population and house pricing spiralling into the stratosphere, densification is the only solution. Unfortunately, Raeside’s cartoon adds nothing to the debate.

Eliza Ho
Victoria

Developers don’t live in condos

With significant highrise developments happening in Colwood and Langford, it would be interesting to know where the beneficiaries of these developments actually live, or who are those councillors who make the decisions.

They don’t live in condos. Colwood-Langford is turning into a suburban traffic disaster, with the Colwood Crawl a soon-to-be stasis. Too many Langford developers making a profit.

G.R. Greig
Victoria

A great reason to move to Saskatchewan

Re: “Langford reaches for the sky,” May 7.

I’ve downloaded the article and pictures of the development planned for the Peatt Road area in Langford so that I can pass them along to anyone who asks why my spouse and I left our single family rental on Peatt Road and moved to Assiniboia, Sask.

We bought a four-bedroom house on a large corner lot, within two blocks of the grocery store, hardware, post office, library, art gallery, arena, town hall and medical office (with three doctors and a nurse practitioner all taking new patients) for $107,500.

Yes, it was 40 degrees below zero for a couple of days this winter, but we are enjoying peace and quiet in a low-crime community with jobs available and beautiful open prairie at the other end of the street.

We feel very concerned for those in the Peatt Road area who aren’t in a position to leave and now must endure the forced abrupt transition from a family neighbourhood to a high-density high-rise construction zone.

B.C.? They haven’t cut down all the trees and leveled all the mountains yet, but they’re working on it and Langford is taking the lead.

Donna Marentette
Assiniboia, Sask.

Let’s get a convoy to fix the medical system

I recently joined the one million of my fellow British Columbians who have no access to a GP’s care. I spent the first 40 years or so of life here in B.C. with one GP, but that gradually became an ongoing hunt from office to office seeking a regular doctor.

It’s now a true crisis, with overcrowded walk-in clinics (many of which are closing) the only option for 20 per cent of our population.

How could successive governments have got us into this mess? It’s not as if the problem was somehow hidden; it’s been front and centre in the news for years.

We don’t need convoys protesting “freedom” or “equality” or “rights” for this or that — where is the convoy to force a change in our destitute medical system? Surely a million voters can accomplish something.

Alec Mitchell
Victoria

So many problems to fix, but a limit to tax dollars

I agree that the medical crisis in B.C. is a real problem, but how can it be addressed without also addressing many of the other problems we have?

There isn’t an endless supply of funds in the government’s coffers. People are struggling to meet rents, buy groceries and other necessities. Large numbers of our population are unhoused, many others are victims of the drug scene.

How will the government get the funds? Well, raise taxes of course. How much more will need to be raised to cover all these social issues?

And how receptive will the taxpayers be to have more of their incomes taken? I’m not sure what the solutions are for any of these situations or which levels of government should be contributing to the solutions, but when it comes down to it, it’s me, you and every other taxpayer who will be footing the bill.

Andrea Racicot
View Royal

More residency spots needed for physicians

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. assured us in a letter that they are maintaining high standards. I believe that.

The B.C. government claims they are doing everything they can to recruit new family doctors. That I don’t believe.

If that is the case, why did 2,000 fully qualified new doctors not get a medical residency position for family medicine in Canada last year?

To practice medicine in B.C. and to maintain high standards, all new doctors, Canadian-trained or not, must complete a medical residency.

This really boils down to two years of supervision by more senior doctors, as they begin their medical careers. During that time, they are working in both hospitals and clinics as physicians.

So why in 2021, were only 172 residency positions in family medicine offered in our province? This year only 174 positions are being offered in B.C., an increase of two.

The B.C. government does not understand that we need an adequate number of residency positions to meet our provincial needs.

Are we going to break the bank paying for these young doctors? The answer is no. The first year of residency pays $55,000 and the second $61,000.

The safeguard of high standards for doctors is in place, plus there are many doctors seeking to begin working in family medicine. Why then is the B.C. government not simply making that happen?

Bruce Kennedy
Saanich

Canada should lend its aircraft to Ukraine

I live in the Comox Valley. Home of the Snowbirds and many Air Force veterans. Occasionally CF-18s from Cold Lake visit. Impressive and noisy — the sound of freedom.

Somehow, Canadians have lost the appreciation of freedom. I suggest we loan all our CF-18s and military equipment to Ukraine to allow them to fight for democracy. Democracies are a minority in the world.

Six billion people in the world do not enjoy freedom of speech as we do. It is worth fighting for.

Who will be next?

Phil Harrison
Comox

Mount Tolmie marker shows places of interest

You may be excused for missing it, but next time you go up Mount Tolmie, walk up the few stairs to the very top where you will find a bronze directional marker.

This marker points to 32 places of interest to both locals and visitors. It also shows their distances from Mount Tolmie.

This marker was placed in 2011 by the Rotary Club of Saanich, the Mount Tolmie Community Association and the Municipality of Saanich. It took three years to plan, design and erect.

Although asked several times to do so, the Saanich Parks Department refuses to mark its location in any way. Take a look next time you’re up there — I think you’ll find it interesting.

Bill Bryant
Saanichton

You voted them in, so accept responsibility

Recent letters to the editor point to one thing and one thing only: Our civic, regional and provincial governments are full of disingenuous wannabes for whom published comments or photo-ops mean more than the real job.

They’re dysfunctional, but worse, inept.

Have you ever witnessed a municipal or city council meeting? Unless you have a specific interest, like those people who attend all-candidates’ meetings, you’d walk out shaking your head.

A little advice to those who care — you’re the ones who allowed them to be voted into office. Accept your responsibility — it’s time you realized the fault is yours, alone.

As The Who classic shouted out: “I hope I die before I get old!” And at 68, after three near-death experiences, all I can say is it’s still fun.

T.L. Pedneault-Peasland
Saanich

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