We need better answers to the housing questions
Re: “Difficult measures needed as Greater Victoria densifies,” editorial, Sept. 1.
There are two related challenges also requiring concerted out-of-the-box measures by all levels.
First, the lack of resilience for much of Victoria’s rental housing stock coupled with changing population needs. Built 50-plus years ago, these structures (and their occupants) may not survive earthquakes, be energy efficient and water-smart, and may not be accessible for an aging population and for individuals with disabilities.
Yet many of their residents may not be able to afford the rent increases required to finance the scale of upgrades in order to respond to today’s and tomorrow’s conditions and disasters.
Should a combination of concerted upgrade assistance with rent increase limit commitments and tenant rent assistance be looked at?
Second, the absence of attractive transit options. B.C. Transit’s buses are too often slow and delay prone. While there has been talk about bus rapid transit it is unclear it can attract transit-oriented higher-density development at stations.
Moreover, the commuter shed, driven literally by housing unaffordability, now stretches over the Malahat, resulting in more congestion.
But building more lanes, let alone only for buses, and new roads are cost-and-environmentally prohibitive. Finally, buses have the unfortunate reputation of being “loser cruisers,” unlikely to draw many people out of their vehicles.
Is it time to invest in more appealing, efficient, and green rail transit options like LRT and Island rail on the former E&N, integrated with buses, active transportation, and ferries?
There’s a big need for on-street parking
The use of street space by owners of private vehicles is just going to get worse with city councils doing away with minimum parking requirements on new multi-family buildings.
Most new apartments are so expensive they require more than one occupant to pay the rent. If both these folks own vehicles, at least one ends up on the street.
Many homes in Victoria have basement suites to generate revenue to help pay those big mortgages.
The homeowners park in the driveway, with garages often used for storage. The tenants park on the street out front.
For many city dwellers with children, public transit is not an option to get kids to day care or hockey practice before/after work. A vehicle is a necessity.
The city could devise a means to charge for on-street parking by issuing permits for residents and visitors. Enforcement would require some spending of the permit revenue.
Simple answer to the question of gender
Re: “It’s the best answer to the honorific question,” letter, Sept. 7.
The writer asked, “what purpose gender serves?”. I have a simple answer.
In biology it serves the purpose of procreation and thus, the preservation of the human and animal populations on this planet. In the absence of an egg and a sperm, traditionally called “her” (female) and “his” (male) reproductive cells, the human and animal species will become extinct.
Call “her” and “his” whatever honorific name you choose, but please remember, not even artificial intelligence can reproduce a human or animal being without an egg and a sperm, at least not yet.
More school districts should ban cellphones
Cowichan School District trustees should adopt the same prudent policy for Cowichan’s schools as is in force under Belmont Secondary’s directive.
Last year, I urged the board to ban cellphones — as Cowichan’s private schools have done — from our public schools due to various learning disruptions, potential cheating, plus aiding some students who may use cellphones to avoid real learning.
These ideas have also been written about by Cowichan’s former school-superintendent Geoff Johnson in his Times Colonist education column.
Our Education Ministry told me such constructive cellphone policies fall on local school boards such as Cowichan’s.
I optimistically anticipate a cellphone-ban policy being in place as soon as possible.
Peter W. Rusland
A counter-flow lane would help Shelbourne
Bike lanes are wonderful. Mostly empty, but wonderful nonetheless. We should put them everywhere, but the real problem is space.
Multiple interests are vying for the limited space in our infrastructure: Pedestrians, cyclists, cars, boulevards and trees all need their space. This pressure is evident particularly along Shelbourne Street.
Shelbourne provides a flat direct north-south route, ideal for bikes; ideal for driving; great as a bus route.
I have a solution: Convert Shelbourne to a three-lane road for cars with bike lanes on each side. Use the centre lane as a counter-flow lane for cars (like the Massey Tunnel in Vancouver).
For drivers, the centre lane would be set to bring cars into town in the morning.
It would be changed to give outward-bound drivers the extra lane in the afternoon. This leaves room for sidewalks and bike lanes.
Everyone wins: We don’t lose more trees; cyclists get their lanes; walkers get their sidewalks; and cars and drivers … well they’ve been our oppressors far too long anyway.
Save money, Saanich, drop the parks strategy
Wow, Saanich council is considering quite an increase — more than eight per cent, well above the rate of inflation.
Here is a cost-saving suggestion: Get rid of the proposed People, Parks and Pets strategy, and save about $10.5 million over five years.
This strategy is unnecessary, divisive, and, judging by more than 9,000 signatures on a petition against it, widely unpopular with Saanich residents (who, by the way, vote), basically pandering to a vocal minority.
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