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Letters Nov. 14: Building on flood plains; greenhouse gases; saving lives at crosswalks

Properties inundated by flood waters are seen in Abbotsford, B.C., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

They made it easier to build on flood plains

Re: “ ‘Vulnerable’ Fraser Valley needs flood control plan, senators say,” Oct. 28.

The Senate committee report states that the 2021 floods “affected more than 1,000 farms, 15,000 hectares of land, 2.5 million livestock, and British Columbia’s road and railway infrastructure.”

Fraser Valley farmers made heroic efforts to save their livestock, their farms and their homes. Disruption of travel and delivery of goods affected most British Columbians.

Almost 20 years ago, the B.C. government enacted legislation to change how floods are managed. On May 13, 2003, cabinet minister Joyce Murray issued a news release, “New Approach to Floods Protects Safety, Cuts Red Tape.”

It stated: “We have made a New Era commitment to protect public safety and revitalize the economy. It will mean better management, safety protection and more opportunities for investment. It responds to requests by local governments for more control over flood plain development decisions and removes unnecessary roadblocks to economic development.”

The mayor of Chilliwack was quoted as saying that the changes were “good news for cities like Chilliwack,” and that they would “reduce the cost of building and buying a new home on the flood plain by thousands of dollars, and will result in more logical and effective city planning.”

Reducing the cost of building a new home on the flood plain should not be a flood management priority. How many new homes were built and flooded on the Fraser Valley flood plain since the 2003 legislation was enacted?

The only provincial funding offered in the 2003 release was “$1 million to develop tools and information for municipalities to assist with future flood plain planning.”

In the Senate committee report released last week, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun stated that “options that would meet the provincial diking standards range from $2.5 billion to $2.8 billion.”

It looks like the 2003 funding offer was a drop in the bucket.

Will Jolley


Our biological imperative is being ignored

Re: “UN weather agency: Greenhouse gases reached new record in 2021,” Oct. 27.

Several features distinguish humans from all other animal species. Two of them are a larger brain and the ability to reason. This may be true but where climate change is concerned, these advantages don’t come into play.

The pitiful efforts by world governments to mitigate the effects of fossil-fuel production and consumption prove the point. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2021 saw greenhouse gases reach their highest level ever.

How is it that a species with such intellect deliberately refuses to act where their own survival is concerned? It appears that humans have another behaviour that sets them apart from all other species.

We have overridden our biological imperative to survive because our brains have ignored all of the facts and we have lied to ourselves that we are doing all we can. This of course is absolutely suicidal.

As if we need any more impetus to act, I suggest readers get a copy of the book The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson.

It is a terrifying glimpse into our own extinction because of climate change. Perhaps reading this and the increasing severe weather, floods, fires and droughts will finally convince people to take bold and decisive action both as individuals and as nations.

Richard Smith

Central Saanich

Raise your arm, and signal your intention

I have found that I get drivers’ attention when using a crosswalk by throwing out my arm, pointing in the direction I’m going.

I have noticed the look on a driver’s face as I enter the crosswalk as they realize someone is there. It’s an easy thing to do, and I wish more people would do it.

L.M. Davies


Crosswalk safety involves all of us

I am heartbroken for the families who have lost loved ones or have had loved ones injured in crosswalks in our city. I’m not sure of the circumstances, and do not wish to blame the accidents on anyone, but I think that public education is required regarding the safe use of crosswalks.

Drivers get distracted, and at night, especially in the rain, it is very difficult to see pedestrians, especially if they are wearing dark clothing. In addition, there are drivers out there who are dealing with brain fog for a variety of reasons.

Pedestrians need to keep this in mind, and pause before they cross, to make sure that the drivers see them and that the cars are stopping for them. I have had instances where I could not see people waiting to cross the road.

It is true that drivers need to be on guard for crosswalks and pedestrians. It would be beneficial, however, for parents and schools to educate children about how to cross safely.

Public reminders and advertisements about checking to make sure the cars stop for you prior to crossing would also be beneficial. Large painted signs on roads, similar to the new school crossing signs, would be very helpful. Both drivers and pedestrians need to take responsibility at crosswalks.

If we can prevent even one more death or accident at a crosswalk, it would all be worthwhile.

Noelle Davis


Do not vilify people without housing

I live beside a park where there is a public washroom and where there has been a homeless presence for years now. “My” benches, the ones that get the afternoon sunshine, are often not accessible. Horrors!

I read a recent letter that tied a thread from a Supreme Court ruling to the murder of Const. Shaelyn Yang in Burnaby.

It seems to me to be simplistic logic that leads from the ruling to the murder. However, the letter-writer was expressing an all-too-common view of homelessness these days, the us-versus-them mentality. Those dastardly homeless, “affecting the public’s capacity to enjoy the public space their tax dollars pay for.”

That homeless person in the park next to me is part of the public and does pay taxes every time they purchase something. Also, they are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There are many reasons our fellow Canadian citizens are homeless these days, reasons too numerous to mention but reasons well-documented by the media.

To be certain, there are criminals who both prey on the homeless and use them as a shield, and I would dearly like to see those people prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

However, blaming a Supreme Court ruling is just a cover to denigrate “emboldened tenters” and the “proliferation of encampments.”

The letter-writer has no solution, but has ably defined a bogeyman.

Just as clearly, I too have no solutions, but I choose compassion and not vilification.

Mark R. Fetterly


Decision for tenting was not hers alone

Re: “Supreme Court ruling allowed those tent cities,” letter, Oct. 27.

Before blaming Justice Carol Ross for the accumulation of the tents, re-read the judgment again. At paragraph 191, Ross concluded that, at the time of that decision, there were not enough shelter spaces to accommodate all the city’s homeless population.

Without alternative shelter available, the court concluded a bylaw prohibiting homeless from putting up shelter was against their human rights. This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

So it was not a single justice alone who made this decision.

Dana Quantz


Ample supply of water thanks to dedicated staff

A recent letter asked who might be honoured in recognition of past Capital Regional District water decisions that have provided water security for the region in present times of drought.

The answer is that in the 1990s, decisions were made by the CRD water commission and CRD board, in conjunction with the provincial government, that led to the closure of Highway 117 in the watershed, to the acquisition of additional lands so that 97% of the catchment area was controlled by the CRD, and to the raising of the dam at the Sooke River outfall, which doubled the capacity of the reservoir.

We have the dedicated CRD water employees to thank for the success of these endeavours, particularly senior management led by Jack Hull, who was an exceptional public servant. It was a pleasure to work with him and his staff on these projects.

John Bergbusch



• Email letters to:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity.

• Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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