Letters Feb. 9: Complicated mask rules; affordable housing and trees; cruise ships

Mask rules for schools are too complicated

The new rules for masks in schools remind me of the old KISS principle we used to use in the world of selling: “Keep it simple, stupid!”

As if kids are not confused enough with all of these rules, regulations and endless signs. We are telling them, some of you can wear masks, others not, wear them here, don’t wear them there!

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This is where the word “stupid” is highlighted in KISS! Dr. Bonnie Henry suggested that a child does not have to wear a mask at their desk, as it is similar to a person removing their mask in a restaurant to eat and drink. A child is in school for many hours at their desk, it does not compare to time spent at a restaurant table.

In times like this, we all depend on intelligent leadership, and it’s the perfect time to use KISS. IF you are in a school, as a teacher, student or otherwise, put on the mask going in and leave it on till you depart.

That mandate needs to come from one of our many types of “intelligent leadership,” let’s just Keep it Simple, that makes it easy to do!

Jim Laing

Affordable housing needed, but also trees

Re: “If not at 902 Foul Bay Rd., then where?” Jan. 28.

We agree there is an urgent need for affordable housing in Victoria. However, who would find the planned townhouses affordable? Left out of the equation is the urgent need to retain mature trees, like the 24 to be removed from that site.

Recent news reports that increased greenhouse gases being released from quickly melting Arctic permafrost were not included in calculations of how quickly the planet is warming. So we have less than 10 years to take the “drastic actions” urged by the hundreds of scientists involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations.

One of the best-regarded ways to fight climate change is to retain large trees and forests. Big trees sequester far more carbon than saplings. And they’re doing it now, when we need it most. Planting trees is also excellent, but won’t help soon enough. Trees take decades to get big.

Well-treed lots like 902 Foul Bay Rd. help sequester carbon, keep us cooler as temperatures rise, prevent flooding through storm water mitigation, and clean pollutants including smoke from the air.

We are also learning more about how much trees benefit people’s mental and physical health, and reduce stress levels.

One study showed people had worse health after local trees were removed. Throughout the pandemic, many have renewed appreciation of these benefits.

Trees are so necessary that we should require developers to design buildings around them. It is time to start planning “smart density,” that leaves our mature trees to keep sequestering carbon.

Jan Firstbrook, Janet Simpson, Frances Litman, Carolina Ashe and Grace Golightly, on behalf of Community Trees Matter Network

Maybe we could sink those cruise ships

I realize this might not be a popular view with the downtown businesses, but I am very glad not to see those huge cruise ships come in to Ogden Point and disgorge their thousands of tourists.

I have only been on one cruise to Alaska and I felt very differently about the towns we visited. They were spoiled by the tourists and not what I had read about Alaskan towns at all.

The cruise ships have become too big and too many, and they spoil all the cities and towns they visit.

What can be done with them? Sink them for divers to explore? Any other suggestions?

Jocelyn Steedman

No cruise ships this year, and our economy sinks

Easy for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to come out of his cosy cottage in Quebec and declare that no cruise ships will be allowed in Canadian waters until February 2022. It doesn’t really affect his core constituency in Quebec and Ontario.

But it seriously affects the future of our West Coast economy, especially in Victoria. We lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from the cancellation of the Alaska cruise season last year. Now Trudeau is ordering us to go through it all over again.

Victoria’s economy will not survive another disastrous year.

Our downtown business community will be decimated by this. I suppose Trudeau’s solution to the problem is to drive our country even deeper into debt by borrowing yet another few billion dollars to keep the Victoria economy afloat. Where does this all end?

Paul Arnold

Who cares if it is legal, when it is clearly wrong?

Seems to me “not breaking the law” is the minimum responsibility of every person.

Defending yourself by saying you “didn’t break the law” is like bragging about your academic record when you pass with the bare minimum D.

In fact, it’s worse than that. Laws define the boundaries where bad behaviour becomes so intolerable a person must be punished. Saying what you did was legal is no better than admitting you failed every subject, but at least you weren’t kicked out of school.

And besides, there’s plenty of evidence international travellers are spreading COVID-19 — how else does a British variant get into Canada?

Malcolm Dew-Jones

Provincial parks must be expanded

B.C. parks have been underfunded for years.

Now with COVID-19, the parks have been flooded with visitors, but not necessarily visitors who are there to respect the treasures they protect.

The B.C. government has promised to improve and expand parks, trails and campgrounds. This is great, but we need much more than promises. We need to protect more land and to take care of what has already been set aside.

Parks protect our precious lands and provide great places for all of us to experience their riches even as we improve our own health, mental and physical.

Dorothy Field

One-cent tax evasion, so Desmond was fined

The recent story about Nova Scotia repaying the $26 fine Viola Desmond was levied for sitting in the whites-only section of the cinema in New Glasgow in 1946 mentioned that she was charged with tax evasion.

What was not explained was that the province could not charge her with sitting in the whites-only section because there were no formal segregation laws.

Instead, they charged her with tax evasion because she had purchased a 30-cent ticket that entitled her to sit in the balcony where non-whites were relegated whereas she sat in the lower “whites only” area where seats cost 40 cents. (Not that she could have bought a 40-cent ticket.)

A 30-cent ticket carried a sales tax of two cents whereas a 40-cent ticket required a tex levy of three cents. Therefore she was charged and convicted of tax fraud — in the amount on one cent!

If that doesn’t make the law look like an ass, what does? As the article notes, she was given a posthumous apology and pardon in 2010, only 64 years late.

Hugh Stephens

Bring competition to gasoline prices

Gas prices are a constant source of aggravation. Everybody raises prices in unison and if anybody cuts their price, to gain market share, everybody else matches that price so they end up losing money with no benefit. Nobody wants to do that.

What would help fix this disincentive to lower prices and discourage competition is a daily price strategy.

All stations would have to register their price for the next 24 hours, at midnight, with the Competition Bureau or a similar agency. That way a station who cuts their price would have that price advantage for 24 hours.

It would also discourage price increases because if others didn’t choose to up their prices you could be stuck at the higher uncompetitive price for the next day.

This system would also expose price-fixing since regular across the board lockstep price changes would be obvious and could be investigated by authorities.

Suddenly the excuse of “just being competitive” wouldn’t wash. With today’s internet facilities, registering the next day’s price should be easy and inexpensive. Then we would finally have a competitive gas market.

S.I. Petersen


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