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Letters Dec. 2: Water over the Sooke dam; a dream commute from Cobble Hill

The other side of the deluge

Now that the Sooke Lake reservoir is full, we can all look forward to lawn and garden watering restrictions by May. More water is going to spill over the dam this winter than we’d ever use in a summer-long drought.

Chris Foord
Oak Bay

A dream crossing of Saanich Inlet

I am a veteran commuter. Twenty years Dease Island Tunnel, Delta to Vancouver, and eight years the infamous Colwood Crawl until I retired.

Living in Cobble Hill, my fantasy commute was driving to Victoria, leaving the Island Highway above Bamberton, proceeding south four kilometres toward Sheppard Point.

Crossing Saanich Inlet on a 1,500-metre floating bridge towards McKenzie Bight. Driving one kilometre to join Willis Point Road. A total of six kilometres of new construction.

Then 4.5 kilometres to West Saanich Road. From there, I would be able to go north to the airport, B.C. Ferries or Butchart Gardens, saving me 25 minutes drive time.

Or, I could go south down Interurban to Camosun College. Or Helmcken, Quadra, the Royal Oak junction with the Pat Bay Highway.

The estimate of some sort of crossing published recently, $700 million to $1.2 billion, was interesting.

The William R. Bennett floating bridge crossing Lake Okanagan, built by the previous government, a third shorter than a Saanich Inlet bridge, was completed in 2008 for $144 million.

Could be called inflation, you think?

Bob English
Cobble Hill

Language should show respect for all

Re: “Make it easier for them to understand,” letter, Nov. 30.

The letter expressed what I too have felt for some time now; confusion over using plural pronouns to describe a single person.

I had the same problem; reading that article about the new interim leader of the Green Party and wondering why they were talking about a group of people in the party in many places within the story.

We all deserve the dignity of being seen by others as our real selves, regardless of how we choose to identify ourselves to others. But the use of plural pronouns for individuals has always come across as a wrong use of pronouns, and confusing at times.

English is a living language, constantly evolving. Every year dozens of new words or expressions are added to existing officially recognized dictionaries, and I don’t see any reason why it would be so hard to invent two new pronouns to take the place of he/him and she/her.

This would allow us to respect non-binary people as the individuals that they are, while also avoiding the use of incorrect and confusing plural pronouns, and also using the language itself correctly.

It’s all about respect, for all.

Richard Silver

Stick with a word already being used

Re: “Make it easier for them to understand,” letter, Nov. 30.

The letter-writer proposes that we set aside attempts to use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun and instead invent a new set of pronouns to serve this purpose.

He is by no means the first to make this suggestion. Throughout history, various solutions to the “he/she” dichotomy have been proposed, among them “xe/xim/xer” and “heesh.” Each one has attracted its own fanbase.

What sets “they” apart and makes it the natural choice is that it is already well-entrenched in our language.

Those who decry its use in a singular sense are by and large grammar purists, who insist it can only ever refer to two or more subjects — ignoring the fact that it has been used in singular contexts for centuries, by leading writers as well as the general populace.

It’s possible that a brand-new creation could take hold, with an intense amount of effort and aggressive marketing. But I suspect most folks will opt for the path of least resistance and stick with a word we’re already comfortable with, even if this long-standing application is less familiar to some.

David MacFadden
Port Alberni

Nothing new about these pronouns

Re: “Make it easier for them to understand,” letter, Nov. 30.

Singular they/them pronouns have existed since at least the 14th century. While these pronouns have recently gained more mainstream use (for example, Merriam-Webster chose “they” as their 2019 word of the year), they are certainly not a “new standard.”

Further, alternative “new” pronouns, such as those suggested by the author, already exist. They are called neopronouns, and while they are less commonly used than they/them, they are still used by some transgender and non-binary people.

Examples of existing neopronouns include “ne/nem/nir,” and “ze/zir/zirs.”

Gendered languages like French present different challenges for people who use other pronouns, but linguists are researching how these languages are evolving to recognize different genders.

For example, “elle” is used as a gender neutral alternative to the Spanish “él” and “ella,” while “iel” is used by some French speakers. French dictionary Le Petit Robert now includes “iel” in its online edition, indicating a shift towards more mainstream understanding of the importance of respecting an individual’s pronouns.

As someone who has spent time educating friends, family and co-workers on how to correctly use singular they/them pronouns, I am sympathetic to the confusion some feel when seeing these pronouns for the first time.

To combat that confusion, I would encourage readers to consult resources specifically created for this, such as Archie Bongiovanni’s excellent A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns.

Erin Sparks

When voting, remember Clover Point, Richardson

I remain mystified and dismayed as we witness the appalling governance shown by some Victoria city councillors.

As we lurch from one disaster to the next, ordinary citizens are left to wonder when some degree of common sense might seep into decision-making.

Downtown and parks are suffering. The “induced demand” of the rather large welcome mat rolled out by perhaps well-meaning councillors, coupled with our favourable climate, have created a predictable but dangerous environment that will not be easy to rectify.

The Clover Point adventure ran off the rails right out of the gate, a victim of the “no cars at all costs” ideology, lacking any meaningful consultation and pushed through despite considerable negative feedback.

For decades this area has been enjoyed by Victorians of all ages and physical abilities, most of the time from inside a vehicle, as weather conditions demand. Its usage has now been dramatically reduced as a result. For what reason?

The Richardson Street adventure, similarly incentivized, is causing significant traffic problems that were entirely predictable.

The mayor’s stated goal to reduce the traffic count from 3,500 down to 500 vehicles a day on that arterial route is resulting in the excess traffic feeding through previously quiet streets.

It would have been a real step forward to build a dedicated bike lane along with single-lane vehicle traffic, such that all citizens could benefit.

But to eliminate all cars, even electric ones, and close off access from Foul Bay Road for those needing vehicle access in both directions is just plain foolishness and defies logic.

I am hoping that Victorians will weigh in at the next municipal election and hopefully restore some common sense and good governance to our city.

Tom Pink

Gas by barge is good, gas by pipeline is not

I have noted with interest the provincial ministers solemnly announcing that they are working tirelessly to bring us fuel by way of barge and railway. Were these not the same people that spent millions of taxpayers dollars trying to stop fuel from arriving by way of pipeline?

I realize we are long past expecting politicians to show even a modicum of shame when their hypocrisy is revealed, but I take comfort in believing that even they may see the irony of it all.

Thomas Maxwell


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