Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Letters Nov. 20: Malahat was designed for failure; can ferries help transport crunch?

A DriveBC traffic camera showing the lineup on the TransCanada highway at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday heading west toward the Malahat at Spencer Road. VIA DRIVEBC Nov. 16, 2021

A parallel highway, not more housing

Once again Mother Nature says pay more attention. The Malahat Drive in the 1930s and 1940s was almost a single-lane road, with three natural water courses cutting through. The engineers at the time of reconstruction had not the foresight into the future of development we see today.

Above the Malahat, construction of a new subdivision of homes. First was the devastation created by deforestation of old-growth forest, which retained excess moisture above Niagara Canyon and the whole Malahat drive.

Second, rerouting water course of two lakes and the Goldstream River, which flowed into Saanich Inlet crossing the Malahat roadway.

Third, widening existing logging roads for the development of houses.

Had the highways department management insisted a parallel highway be constructed through this route instead of housing, we would not see snarled traffic creating havoc.

Widening and striating created many errors, which can happen when playing with Mother Nature.

The cost to industries, freight carriers, loss of wages and deliveries of the Times Colonist amount to millions of dollars. One washout today would pay the cost of a parallel route.

Richard (Dick) Coles

Put double-decker buses on the Mill Bay ferry

There is a simple, cost-effective and environmentally sound way to make travel past the Malahat more reliable.

Upgrading the ferry docks at Mill Bay and Brentwood to allow full-size buses to load would allow 450 people to travel on one of B.C. Ferries’ new Island-class electric ferries when the Malahat is closed.

Six doubledecker buses can carry more than 500 people.

Responses to climate-related travel disruptions must start with improving inter-community bus service, not moving more of the cars that are a big part of creating the climate crisis.

Eric Doherty
Registered professional planner

Salt Spring ferries will get us where we need to go

With so many references to the Pacific Marine Circle Route as “the only alternative” to the Malahat (aside from the small Brentwood Bay-Mill Bay ferry), it’s worth remembering that travel up-Island via Salt Spring Island is also possible.

There are ferries to Salt Spring out of Swartz Bay every two hours throughout the day. Drivers can then catch one of the dozen daily sailings from Salt Spring to Crofton.

Is it ideal? No. Is it expensive? Only if we ignore the gas savings compared with driving via Port Renfrew.

Is it possibly problematic logistically, if ferries fill up? Yes. But, in challenging times, it is an option.

Colin Gardiner
North Saanich

We need a bridge across the inlet

A clear solution to the Malahat’s limitations is a bridge across the Finlayson Inlet connecting the Trans-Canada Highway north of Mill Bay to the Pat Bay Highway via the Deep Cove area of North Saanich.

This would create an alternative route to Victoria similar in distance to the Malahat route. It would also provide a more direct connection between the mid- and north Island to the ferry terminal, airport and new distribution centre, all of which traffic now depends on the ­Malahat, adding to its traffic.

Additionally, it would better facilitate mass transit owing to a considerably greater number of useful destinations.

Wilfrid Worland
Qualicum Beach

Take the ferry between Nanaimo, Swartz Bay?

At this rate, what are the odds that B.C. Ferries will start a subsidized service between Swartz Bay and Nanaimo?

It would certainly be cheaper than building an alternative route to the Malahat — and much faster to implement.

Jonathan Stoppi

Rebuilding after the atmospheric river

After this past weekend’s devastation, we are faced with a serious issue of rebuilding in many locations.

We know from experience that, while some locations will benefit from climate change, many others will suffer repeatedly from events like those we just experienced.

Given our knowledge and expectations for the future climate, it does not make sense to simply rebuild in situ. Before spending the billions of dollars necessary for recovery, we need to have an informed and realistic approach that will ensure we are not driven into a regular cycle of destruction and rebuilding.

Some communities will need to be abandoned, others reinforced, but the status quo is not tenable and we need to recognize this, not try to live in a past environment now gone forever.

Roger Love

Maybe book publishers should try buying local

Hopefully, Orca Books has received its shipment of books from China by now, despite the container ship fire.

However, it might be worth noting that — in these times of “Buy Local” — they feel constrained to Buy China.

Some of us small presses are determined to get our printing done by Canadian printers, despite their not always being the cheapest.

Canada has some of the best printers in the world, notably Friesens of Manitoba. (And the risk of our books getting lost between here and there is infinitely less!)

The Orca website says: “Our responsible publishing practices include printing virtually all books in Canada,” and they are now favouring Canadian printers. But the foreign container comprised five Orca titles —15,000 books.

There’s also another ethical issue: Orca, like all traditional publishers, presumably are happy to apply for the dozens of Canada Council and other grants available for their books, and to celebrate when their titles are nominated for national and provincial book awards. (Almost all these subsidies and awards deliberately exclude self-publishers.)

We taxpayers are, of course, equally happy to protect local talent with subsidies and to support them with awards. But it rankles sometimes that enterprising souls who publish their own books are ineligible for subsidies and awards, even when supporting Canadian printers.

Meanwhile, fingers crossed that Orca’s order arrives in time, as they fill an important publishing niche.

Nick Russell
Author, Victoria Then and Now and Glorious Victorians

Get rid of trees to make way for bikes

I was saddened to see that the city plans to cut down several healthy mature pine trees in Topaz Park to build a bike trail.

Surely they could design the trail to go around the trees? This vandalism doesn’t seem to fit with their professed green ideals.

Eric Grace

We have to show proof, but can’t ask for theirs

My wife and I went out with another couple to a well-respected restaurant in Victoria.

We have to show our vaccine cards and driver’s licences. We have no problem with doing so.

During the dinner a server came over and while serving took down his mask to talk to us. We asked if he was vaccinated, in which he would not answer.

A minute later the manager came over and said in no uncertain terms not to ask if his staff were vaccinated. What absurdity, we thought. Why are there people serving us food and drink who are not vaccinated?

David Holme

After finding a lump, waiting for four months

I was sad to hear that Premier John Horgan found a lump in his throat, but glad to hear that he had an examination, surgery, biopsy and treatment plan all within seven days.

Like Horgan, I am a cancer survivor of more than 20 years. I found my new lump in June.

I’m still waiting for my biopsy report more than four months later.

The anxiety of not knowing whether you are going to live a long life or a short one is extremely stressful. Are those of us having to navigate the current system so much less important?

Rather than spending our tax dollars on the past, why don’t we spend them to fix our broken medical system?

Lorraine Glover

Having second thoughts about Sir John A.?

Now that the residential-schools tragedy has been revealed, how many of those people who disagreed with moving the John A. Macdonald statue from City Hall still feel the same?

Ross Ferguson


• Email:

• 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.