Don’t confuse Malahat with Mount Everest
There is one recurring constant regarding finding an alternative route around or through the Malahat over the past 20 years, and that is to do nothing.
All of the barriers and safety improvements on the Malahat are most welcome, but will never overcome the basic inadequacy of the current alignment itself.
No other community of 400,000 people would ever be content to have their only and main road into the city of Victoria as a single-lane, winding 60 kilometre-per-hour road.
It is high time to design and build a new modern highway from Langford over the Malahat and into the Cowichan Valley, and staying away from the Sooke Lake watershed.
We have the technical ability to do this well, we just lack the willingness to do it.
Mother Nature will continue to remind us that we need to rethink our lack of conviction. The Malahat is not Mount Everest, it is only a 350-metre-tall hill.
Mass transportation, not a new highway
Building a road where roads do not belong to alleviate occasional but highly disruptive Malahat closures would cost anywhere from $100 million to $1.2 billion. So split the difference and call it $600 million.
The obvious place to spend $600 million is on beefing up a regional mass transportation system that even the most dedicated car junkie would be happy to ride back and forth to Victoria from Duncan, Ladysmith, Shawnigan and points in between.
Park ’n’ Ride terminals, frequent bus service over the Malahat and reinforced regional bus service within the Capital Regional District would take most of the cars off the Malahat.
Commercial vehicles could share one lane if that is all that is open, or be triaged for access to the Brentwood Bay ferry if no lanes are open.
Not everyone would get instant gratification in this solution. but essential travel would be supported and getting rid of most of the cars would make situations in which at least one lane is open manageable.
Simply put, we are not ready for a disaster
I am a professional emergency manager with more than 20 years’ experience. The recent rainfall event has only confirmed the state of disaster unpreparedness in B.C.
This lack of preparedness exists at four levels.
First, individuals are responsible for their own emergency preparedness. Few make the effort to do so.
Second, while the B.C. Emergencies Act delegates the responsibility for emergency preparedness to local authorities, few municipalities and regional districts take emergency preparedness seriously and fund their emergency planning and preparedness programs adequately.
Third, the province continues to hide behind the Emergencies Act, holding local authorities responsible for emergency preparedness and response knowing full well most are unable or unwilling to meet the requirements of the act. We saw this shortfall to our horror during the heat dome of last summer, and we are seeing it again as B.C. reels from the effects of the destructive recent rainfall.
Finally, in terms of emergency preparedness, the federal government appears to have concluded that B.C. has already slid into the Pacific and ignores us.
The heat dome and heavy rainfall, dramatic as they were, pale in comparison to what we could expect from a major earthquake.
There are many dedicated professional and volunteer emergency managers across B.C. who struggle to manage poorly funded and supported emergency programs, but they have been let down by their various orders of government.
We are not prepared for a major disaster in B.C., and we ignore the warnings we have been given at our peril.
Thanks, first responders, for work in the storm
I just wanted to take a minute to remind everyone of the incredible work that has been done and continues to be done by our first responders during the biblical levels of rain we have experienced this past week.
Police, EMS, Fire and of course the brave souls at B.C. Hydro have all been working in terrible and hazardous conditions to ensure our safety and comfort.
Thank you to the women and men who leave their warm, dry homes everyday and risk their lives for us, the occasionally ungrateful public.
The view over Greenland shows climate change
In 1952, Canada committed four fighter wings to NATO, and the fighter chosen was the F-86 Sabre jet.
I was a young fighter pilot, and the F-86 was the best fighter in the world at that time.
We flew them from our bases in Canada to Europe via Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and then Zweibrucken, Germany, where my squadron would be based.
Our landing base in Greenland was called Narsarserack and was 50 miles up a fjord. It was run by the USAF.
On takeoff, we had to climb to at least 12,000 feet to clear the glacier that covered Greenland and it stretched north for as far as we could see.
In 2015 I was flying with KLM on a flight from Amsterdam to Vancouver. When we arrived over Greenland it was a clear day and you could see all of Greenland.
To my horror, the glacier was gone and the land mass of the island was mountain ridges.
This is global warming.
Flooding a reminder of the climate crisis
Natural disasters are inevitable, but the scope and scale of what we have recently seen in B.C. and around the world is a deafening reminder that the climate crisis is upon us.
Global leaders just wrapped up COP26 with a weak, watered-down agreement that will not keep our world from heating beyond the 1.5-degree threshold that the scientific community declared as the highest it can go without utter global ruin.
To most, 1.5 degrees does not seem like much. But B.C. has just this year experienced unprecedented fires and floods, and the world hasn’t even reached 1 degree warmer.
Governments not acting on doctor shortage
In our younger years (I am 81 years old), we could not have imagined that hundreds of thousands of citizens in B.C. would be without a family doctor.
Lack of easy access to walk-in clinics and unreasonable waiting time in the emergency ward at hospitals are other concerning issues.
It is a real shame that an advanced society like ours is in this situation.
I read the letters to the editor routinely and many suggestions make good sense, but unfortunately, the governments have their own agenda.
It seems the consultations they have with the public are usually not taken into consideration.
Thanks to those who came to her rescue
Though I may never know the identity of these individuals, I truly want to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the three caring people who came to my aid at the Dollarama parking lot on Finlayson on Nov. 10.
I was approached by a woman who noticed my distress and immediately called emergency services, and subsequently two gentlemen volunteered to offer additional aid.
Upon arrival at Royal Jubilee Hospital, my condition was considered critical and the swift action of the emergency staff in combination with those of the Victoria Fire Department and the ambulance service resulted in my subsequent recovery.
But without the initial aid of those three strangers in the parking lot, I would not have survived.
Don’t kill the mink, use them to test vaccines
COVID-19 may have started in bats and then spread to us, but it didn’t stop there. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control lists more than a dozen domesticated and wild animals, even fish, that can catch and potentially spread COVID.
Farmed mink seem to be particularly susceptible. Perhaps it is because they can’t “socially distance.” Already, worldwide, tens of millions of mink have been “culled” (killed) to prevent its spread to us, although we probably gave it to them.
There are numerous vaccines that protect wild and domestic animals from many viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic illnesses. Rabies is the classic example.
Sadly there is, as yet, no animal anti-COVID vaccine. So, instead of killing the mink and banning the farms, why don’t we use them to develop and test new COVID vaccines, not only for them but also for us?
Stephen Sullivan, retired MD
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