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Letters Oct. 2: Housing targets won't be met; all that exported coal; embrace on-the-job training for health professionals

Shelbourne Street in Saanich. TIMES COLONIST

Municipalities won’t meet housing targets

Re: “Province sets home-building targets for municipalities,” Sept. 27.

While the provincial government is mandating that significant additional housing be built in selected municipalities, the question remains whether these targets are achievable.

There are varied deeply ingrained systemic factors that have led to the housing shortage, both locally and more broadly throughout much of North America.

A shortage of construction workers, all-time high material prices and costly debt financing have made many projects unfeasible in current times. Additionally, there are prohibitive land values and shortages, as well as new environmental standards to comply with in many jurisdictions.

Any one of these factors individually would be sufficient to derail some new housing units from being built, and when combined it seems that insurmountable obstacles will impede success.

Further, it appears that in most areas there isn’t enough local housing to accommodate the new construction workers that would be required to build the number of new housing units that are being mandated.

Workers would need incentives to relocate to wherever the housing mandates are, and the result would be that other areas would be left with even fewer in the construction trades.

Municipalities can change zoning and be more accommodating of secondary and garden suites, encourage added density in certain locations, etc. but the factors within their control would almost certainly not increase housing supply by about 300 per cent over recent construction levels, as is being expected of some Greater Victoria municipalities.

Simply mandating housing targets without overcoming systemic challenges will be basically impossible for any government to achieve with any measurable degree of success. This is why housing shortages continue to predominate elsewhere.

Provincially imposed targets by themselves are only going to cause frustration down the road when the targets are not met, and perhaps temporarily create the impression that the provincial government is actually going to solve the housing shortage.

Danny Foster


Can’t we stop exporting all that coal?

Surely we have seen enough of global warming by now that the need to stop mining and exporting coal is obvious.

And yet, sailing to Vancouver from Victoria on B.C. Ferries, we are greeted at Tsawwassen by the sight of huge piles of coal being exported from Roberts Bank.

What is that saying to the world? “Yes, we know our forests are burning, we know burning coal is a major source of the carbon emissions that cause the climate to warm, but still, we want you to buy this coal. Don’t tell us you plan to burn it, we’d rather not hear that.”

Are we really so addicted to the “well-paying jobs” that we have to continue with this self-destructive activity? Much of the Roberts Bank coal may be “metallurgical” as used in old-fashioned, carbon-intensive steel making.

But modern, low-emission steel-making does not require coal, except for the small amount that actually ends up in the steel.

Wherever it is burned, the carbon emissions will affect the whole world, and the local air pollution will harm local populations. The problem is similar to Canadian exports of asbestos, which continued for far too long after its harm was obvious.

Those piles of coal stand as a badge of shame to all North Americans. More especially to Canadians, and British Columbians, who allow this barbaric practice to continue.

Jim Gower

North Saanich

Take care of the traffic outside Langdale terminal

I’ve been plying the Langdale ferry run for more than 50 years and the service today is the worst in the history of the business — and if you know the history of the route, that is saying a lot.

B.C. Ferries refuses to use the extensive vehicle capacity that sits empty below the tollbooths and leaves traffic backed onto the highway so as to offload the responsibility for managing traffic to an unfortunate sub-contractor whose primary job appears to be fielding livid complaints.

What B.C. Ferries seems to forget is that “vehicle traffic” is filled with “people traffic” with various human needs and it is not something that one can put off long when nature calls.

Elderly and infirm are terrified of the current situation which is patently cruel and inconsiderate.

B.C. Ferries has refused to hire the personnel needed to have traffic enter the terminal where the ridership should be easily able to access services.

B.C. Ferries should hire some people and start managing its terminal traffic responsibly. They do not need to be trained marine workers, but rather traffic patrol.

Gord Clayton

Sunshine Coast

Hands-on nursing training could work again

Today’s cost of training to become part of the nursing profession shocked me.

I was aware there were degree courses for advanced and specialized categories of nursing. However, I did not know it was all, or nothing.

No payment, no program. Guess I am still manifesting the 1960s because, like I said, shocking.

In Toronto, in the 1960s, there were RT (Registered Technologist) and RN courses operated through a group of hospitals. I was in the RT program and a good friend was in the RN program (different hospitals).

I paid nothing for my program and was responsible only for my personal housing. I confirmed with my friend, not only did she not pay for her three-year RN program, after the first year she was paid for hours worked.

Candidates had to have at least Grade 13 (senior matriculation) which included science credits. For program entry consideration, in addition to scholastic requirements, there were interviews and personal references were reviewed.

Individuals, in all programs, received hands-on training in their hospital while attending seminars, where they were taught by experts in their field. My RT group had our own lab, in our hospital, where we could learn technical aspects of the job.

The nursing profession is “hands-on.” Therefore, shouldn’t it be a “hands-on” hospital training program?

We cannot turn back time — but can we at least learn from positive experience and adapt those processes?

Dawn Devereaux


It’s possible to find a common ground

In regards to the SOGI protests, I believe part of problem lies within how the SOGI curriculum is being interpreted.

On the provincial government’s website it states that “throughout K-12 curriculum and school activities, students and teachers explore the topic of human rights” and “what it means to value diversity and respect differences” and “how to respond to discrimination.”

I don’t think many people would disagree that these are important values and skills. The part that many parents have concerns with is the lack of transparency on the content, and how these values are being taught in the classrooms.

It seems clear that the SOGI curriculum is being approached differently by individual educators from school to school. Teachers have a lot of flexibility in how they teach SOGI which can lead to some very mixed results in how our children are being taught.

I have no issues with how SOGI is being addressed at my children’s school and have really appreciated their focus on kindness, having pride within ourselves, anti-bullying, and respect.

However, from other parents and teachers, I have heard of lessons and practices that I would not be comfortable with as they are not age appropriate nor within my children’s scope of understanding.

Unfortunately there has been some hate and misinformation surrounding this topic. I do believe, that both parties have legitimate concerns and with help from our government and educators they can find a common ground which creates a transparent, safe and inclusive environment for everyone.

Judy Roper


Trained professionals saved my life — thanks

In the wee hours of July 5, I experienced what may have been a life-threatening event. My calm and organized spouse called 911, and EMT staff were on site rapidly.

They carried out an initial assessment and bundled me off to the local hospital. The emergency staff took over and probably saved my life.

Later in the day, I was transported by helicopter to Victoria General Hospital, where I spent the next few days as their guest, and was then transported back to Courtenay for further treatment.

During this time, I had a close-up view of some of the problems they all experienced and issues they had to deal with. I am sure at times their frustration levels were elevated, but this did not affect their level of care.

In my view, the treatment I received from all who came in contact with me was superlative.

Their professionalism and training was clearly demonstrated, and their efforts allow me to thank all who took part in my treatment.

In the fog of what was going on, I did not collect names to permit me to personally thank all of those who looked after me.

Each and every one of you made a difference in the outcome.

Everyone had a part in my recovery and I can only thank you by publicly acknowledging your efforts. Thank you.

Mel Bush


Shelbourne changes will drive people away

Shelbourne Street between McKenzie Avenue and Cedar Hill Road reduced to two lanes from four. A shared bike and bus-stop lane in this stretch? Vehicle lanes narrowed?

Extended right-turn lane northbound at McKenzie eliminated. All of the left-turn lanes in front of the Shelbourne Shopping centre, the businesses opposite and at the back-door entrance via Pear Street eliminated.

Left-turn lane northbound at Church Avenue – McDonald’s access – eliminated. Cycle paths set back from the roadway, sometimes hidden behind bus shelters; out-of-sight, out-of-mind of turning drivers.

Vehicles turning from the numerous side streets, business entries and residential driveways will need to nose out to see cross traffic, blocking the cycle paths; how long before the No Right Turn on Red signs go up at the controlled intersections and every right-turner from the side street triggers a signal interval?

More traffic lights added; will vehicle and cycle traffic be safe and happy on a route with 20 street intersections, 26 business entrances, nine traffic lights and 50 residential driveways within the mile and a half from McKenzie to North Dairy?

No, they will move to plug up Cedar Hill Road (through two school zones) and Richmond Road while seeking shortcuts via residential streets. Crashes happen where vehicles and cycles cross paths.

One might expect that this corridor will devolve into a crash-prone traffic mess that drivers and cyclist alike will just avoid entirely, much to the detriment of the numerous businesses there.

Perhaps senior governments could fund a program for all municipal councillors to access an online urban design games so that they may try out their personal agenda ideas before incurring the expense of planning and engineering departments and millions spent on consultants fees. Advice that they seem to ignore anyway.

Ray Morgan


All those who use roads need better attitudes

In 24 hours I witnessed numerous pedestrians jaywalking into traffic, cyclists ignoring traffic signals, two individuals riding an electric scooter designed for one without helmets, an electric cycle passing me within a school zone going faster than 30 km/h, a transit driver turning left on a red light, passenger vehicles blocking intersections and I admit to a rolling stop at a four-way stop.

Ignoring the rules of the road is a vicious circle. If I see many instances of someone doing it without consequences, I do it myself. Then someone sees me …. and so on.

I lived for 30 years in “redneck” Alberta. No-one jaywalked as you were ticketed; red light and speed on green cameras “encouraged” good behaviour, as did photo radar.

Year round checkstops for impaired driving were expected. As a result, the roads in Edmonton were much safer for all than Victoria.

Admittedly, municipalities in Alberta do not have to prioritize their police resources to dealing with mental health crises.

But if we truly want to make our streets safer, we need to change road users’ attitudes from selfishness to caring for others.

Alan Humphries


There is a fire risk on Mount Doug trails

My wife and I hike up Mount Doug almost every week, usually from the Blenkinsop trail head.

We were amazed recently to find groups of cigarette butts at at least four vista points along the trail.

My sleuthing inspection detected the butts are left by the same potential fire starter.

Rob Logan

Oak Bay

A simple way to use every crosswalk

It’s very simple. At crosswalks I stand and wait till every (!) car stops before I step forward. I make eye contact with them as I cross and then wave thanks.

There are idiots out there. No light, signage or paint will stop them. You are the last barrier.

Gerald Marantz



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