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Letters Sept. 8: Do we know if red-light cameras work?; ban electric baseboard heaters instead; wise spending of health-care dollars

A sign on Shelbourne Street warns of a red-light camera at Hillside Avenue. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

We need to reduce red light running

The running of red lights has become a major problem in Victoria and surrounding areas. A week or so ago when southbound at the junction of Blanshard and Finlayson (where it is a particular issue due to the short period for left turns and long period between light changes), I saw not one but four northbound cars continue making left turns in front of the southbound traffic after the light had turned green.

It has become normalized for traffic turning left on advance green to wait for the cars running red lights from the other direction and then the cars making the turn run their lights as well due to impatience, particularly where there are long periods between lights changes.

The installation of red light cameras at major intersections has become a necessity in view of the ongoing prevalence of egregious driving behaviour resulting in hazardous situations.

Eileen Bell


Welcome to the Island, please drive faster

I have now been on Vancouver Island for 18 months, and I think I’m finally used to travelling 10 to 30 km/h faster than posted maximum speed. This is due to out-and-out rage from other drivers if I drive at the posted speed.

So get used to more deaths as I have not noticed any traffic-control officers.

Trevor Howard


Find out if red-light cameras work

Before millions of dollars are spent installing 50 or more red-light cameras in Victoria, would it not be prudent for analysis of the impact the current, solitary red-light camera in Victoria has had on driver behaviour and crashes in recent years? The intersection of Shelbourne and Hillside remains one of the worst crash spots in the Capital Regional District with more than 40 crashes per year, despite the presence of red-light cameras and signs warning drivers of their presence.

What do the crash statistics say? Have the number of yearly crashes gone down, gone up, or remained the same since the red light cameras were installed at Shelbourne and Hillside?

The article, and statements made by Victoria council members, do not offer any evidence whatsoever that red-light cameras have had the desired impact on driver behaviour and crash rates.

Trevor Amon


Pay ferry workers more before buying vessels

Businesses, especially on the Island, that depend on B.C. Ferries to provide dependable service have been badly let down. The lack of sufficient crew, certified mariners and engineers to maintain the vessels all point to an inadequate level of remuneration and training.

There is no point in ordering four new electric vessels if there is not enough crew to keep them operating.

Pay what it takes to keep the employees employed. Did the NDP government not learn anything from underpaying our nurses and doctors (why else is Saanich hospital emergency closed at night)?

M.J. Berry


More than one way to tackle climate change

Two recent letters advocating heat pumps are fine, but miss the point of a previous reader about Nanaimo’s ban on natural gas.

Most of us probably agree that heat pumps are a wonderful contribution to improving our environment. But the arbitrary ban on natural gas (that can also be manufactured from renewable sources) is short-sighted and ignores the bigger picture.

Take a simple example: about eight years ago we replaced our traditional, electrical (energy guzzling), hot water tank; with a tankless (on demand) gas fired unit. The benefits are huge – much greater efficiency, no flood danger, and lower cost.

As many experts point out, we need a multi-faceted approach to minimize climate change. Much more than just emissions, we also need to look at efficiency, cost (across this planet) and, avoid reliance on only one energy source.

For instance, more than EVs and heat pumps, we also need to promote: solar panels on roofs (not green land), hydrogen (fuel cells), natural gas (from renewable sources), geo-thermal, wind (without the bird kill), nuclear power generation, etc.

If you insist on banning something then, electric baseboard heaters would be the best target.

Mike Mitchell


Politicians, spend health dollars wisely

Governments in Canada have only a finite amount of dollars which can be spent on health care. So, the first rule should be to “do the best you can with what you have”.

As a family physician and primary care provider in Canada for 40 years, I can emphatically say that vast billions of dollars are wasted every year in our health-care system. Inefficient and useless programs, excessive bureaucracy, duplication of delivery systems through stove-piping, lack of accountability by providers, payers and recipients … the list is long and complex.

The outcome, however, is the same. There are inadequate funds to apply to acute care services and this leaves people with inadequate access to care when they are acutely ill or when they need surgery or cancer care.

You cannot find a family physician or an emergency room with under a 10-hour wait. You need to wait a year ( or more) to see a specialist or to have a necessary operation.

This is because inept politicians have drained the health-care pot and spent the money elsewhere instead of applying it where it is most needed.

What is more, these same politicians have failed to take seriously the expert advice given to them by health providers. The most glaring example of this has to do with cancer care.

More than a decade ago politicians were warned by medical specialists that infrastructure needed to be established for the expanding number of cancer patients. Nothing was done about this and now we ship Canadian cancer patients to the United States for the care which we cannot deliver here.

Politicians look mostly to embellish their positions by squandering money on flashy programs to try to give themselves shiny images so they can be re-elected.

Our beloved system which was founded by Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan in about 1962 is unravelling fast. We need to demand that politicians spend our money more wisely.

We need to have a way to hold them accountable because there is no other health system in Canada except for the publicly funded system.

If Douglas were alive today, he would surely be disgusted to see the horrific quagmire which his political colleagues have created.

Robert H. Brown M.D., C.C.F.P.

North Saanich

Not the best example of quality density

Re: “Aim for public housing rather than density,” Sept. 6.

I wonder if the writer has in mind that high-rise monstrosity on View Street that since the ’70s has been not only an eyesore but a drug haven. Perhaps she wants one of those in her neighbourhood.

Be careful of what you wish!

T.L. Pedneault-Peasland


Don’t let that ivy destroy your evergreens

People who grew up elsewhere might not understand the value of having healthy evergreens. If there were no evergreens where they used to live, they tend to want to cut them down to remind them of home.

This is why we have ivy in the first place – the English settlers wanted to be reminded of England. While may be suitable to England, we do have a different climate and it does too well here.

The Empress Hotel removed all the ivy from its exterior because it was destroying the brick work.

Our next-door neighbours had it climbing up the outside wall of their house and it went through the wall into their bedroom.

While it may not be invading your house, it will destroy the evergreen it is growing on eventually. When people are more aware of the trees than they used to be, it pays to keep them at their best and remove as much ivy as you can.

Please do not put it in the regular compost but keep it separate to be destroyed.

Jean McClennan


Raise the fines for tossing cigarette butts

Re: “Careless smokers face steep fines for tossing butts in B.C.,” Aug. 25.

Really, it’s only $575 for tossing a lit cigarette butt! This is hardly a deterrent when you consider the potential damage to public and personal property, human and animal life and the costs of fighting the fire.

A person who tossed the butt should have to appear before a judge and once it’s determined the person’s guilty, let the judge have discretionary powers to determine the fine with a minimum set at $1,500 and a maximum of $10,000 depending on the degree of fire hazard.

We will be under an extreme fire hazard until the rains come and hopefully they do!

Anyone tossing a lit cigarette or cannabis butt during this unprecedented fire season really must be someone who has little regard for others.

One cannot plead ignorance given the media exposure of the suffering of those losing their homes and everything within those homes, their livelihoods and public costs of this wildfire season.

Phil Le Good

Cobble Hill


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