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Letters May 18: Skip the insulting language; Langford council is not dysfunctional; don't subsidize e-bikes with tax dollars

Langford City Hall on Goldstream Avenue Victoria. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Don’t use insulting language in letters

Re: “Actually, our efforts will make a difference,” letter, May 14.

The letter concerning e-bikes included the statement that whatever Saanich or Canada does will have essentially no impact on climate.

I was disappointed to see a rebuttal in which the term “moronic” was used when the context of the offending letter was factual. One can disagree with an opinion but to resort to insulting, bullying language is hardly the scientific method and speaks volumes about the writer.

The facts are that Canada produces a very small percentage of the world’s greenhouse gases and Saanich a tiny fraction of that. Consequently, Canada’s (and Saanich’s) impact on climate will be similarly minuscule.

Thus, I agree with the original writer that e-bikes being subsidized by Saanich taxpayers to help the environment is an unnecessary and imprudent financial intrusion lacking any form of common sense.

Using harsh and insulting language because they do not agree with an opinion is not helpful to the point of the original letter. Perhaps the author of the rebuttal ought to look in the mirror before writing such again.

David James


Taxes are higher — but that is not dysfunction

Re: “B.C. is plagued by dysfunctional municipal councils,” commentary, May 15.

I laughed when I read this commentary. The examples provided of dysfunctional councils included seven municipalities: Langford, Delta, Kamloops, Surrey, Harrison Hot Springs, Lion’s Bay and Sayward.

One of these is very clearly not like the others.

Six of the municipalities on that list have seen varying degrees of infighting among members of council. This includes calls for resignations, actual resignations, public censures and removal from duties, investigations and lawsuits, senior staff resignations, attempts to dissolve the municipality, and appointments of provincial advisers to help wade through the muck.

This is the type of dysfunction that prevents these councils from effectively carrying out their governance responsibilities in their respective municipalities.

Langford council has seen none of these things. They have passed two record-high tax increases, which is the reason they were included on the list.

There are political divisions in the city. Langford council has faced significant backlash from some members of the public.

However, council itself has continued to function without any of the internal drama of the other municipalities named above.

In fact, the functioning of council as a governing body has improved from the previous council in Langford, which featured two members frequently and publicly at odds with the mayor and council majority.

Higher taxes and dysfunction are not the same thing.

Frazer Johnson


Langford council making the tough decisions

Re: “B.C. is plagued by dysfunctional municipal councils,” commentary, May 15.

The off-handed characterization of Langford city council as “dysfunctional” is very off the mark.

Getting the municipality’s financial house in order and transitioning to more sustainable budget practices seems to me to be the opposite of dysfunctional.

We should be electing leaders who can make the necessary decisions, even when they’re hard, with their priority being the overall public interest.

Low taxes should not be the only driver in the equation for proper governance — and certainly must be balanced with the need for investments in infrastructure, amenities and emergency-services personnel made all the more urgent by the exploding population in Langford to be served. The majority of Langford council’s decisions are unanimous, but with a healthy number of split votes to demonstrate democracy in action.

And the split votes have never been followed by any public displays of acrimony or infighting. There are many examples of dysfunctional councils out there — but the current Langford council is certainly not one of them.

Sarah Plank


Municipal funds should not be used for bikes

Saanich council has unanimously approved offering a subsidy to residents for the purchase of an e-bike. In my view this is an example of ideological excess.

To think that this very, very infinitesimal support to world greenhouse gas reduction is in any way effective is quite astounding, and uses taxpayer funds in priority over much more useful endeavours.

I believe Saanich council has no mandate to use municipal funds for a subsidy of this nature, really creeping into territory that belongs to federal and provincial governments (which also seem excessively ideological these days).

I strongly object to Saanich council’s actions in this regard and hope that many more citizens demand better, more effective use of our tax dollars as well.

Stan Brygadyr


Tax avoidance is not evasion

Re: “$1.3 billion in unpaid taxes in real estate sector,” May 16.

The story quotes Erica Shiner of Canadians for Tax Fairness as saying: “Tax avoidance continues to be a problem in many sectors, costing Canadians billions in ­revenue each year.” It is disappointing that the spokesperson for an entity established to promote tax fairness does not seem to understand the difference between avoidance and evasion.

It is perfectly legal to arrange one’s affairs to minimize or avoid taxation in accordance with the Income Tax Act and Regulations. On the other hand, evasion of tax due to a failure to report or other nefarious means is a criminal offence.

Ashley Witts

North Saanich

Forestry practices contribute to fires

Re: “Link between fires and climate change,” letter, May 16.

There is another link with forest fires that is not being written about: fires and modern forestry practices. A mature Canadian forest has the desired coniferous fibre trees as well as deciduous trees and shrubs. These deciduous trees and shrubs make the forest more resistant to fire.

A common forestry practice is to spray glyphosate to rid the forest of these non-coniferous vegetation since they are thought to compete with the desired high-value fibre trees. The current practice of clear-cutting destroys deadfall and mosses as well as washes much of the organic matter from the forest floor, all factors that would hold moisture well into the summer dry periods.

Clear-cutting also destroys snags and other trees that form habitat for birds, squirrels and bats, creatures that prey on tree-damaging insects. Insect damage also makes the forest more vulnerable to fire.

If one wishes to make the forest especially prone to fire, then use the modern practice of creating plantation forests.

The densely planted coniferous forests are bereft of deadfall, mosses and deciduous trees and shrubs, and as the resin-containing coniferous trees grow their lower branches die due to lack of light, thereby providing ample fuel for fire.

Finally, Canadian forests have been net carbon emitters since 2002, thereby contributing to climate change.

Bernhard H.J. Juurlink

Mill Bay

Lighten up and enjoy Raeside’s cartoons

Raeside is a gem. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, just enjoy the clever graphics and wording. Lighten up and direct your narrow-minded opinion elsewhere.

Valerie Axford

Qualicum Beach

Owning a vehicle might not be viable

Re: “Give Old Town residents their own parking spaces,” letter, May 16.

The letter says that cycling and transit are not viable for residents of Old Town. Call me skeptical, but just how viable can owning a vehicle be if you have to write a letter to the editor about needing free parking?

Kevin Hampton



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