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Letters Jan. 14: Traffic measures will hurt downtown further; 55-plus stratas are not a loophole

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Bike-lane construction on Government Street in Victoria last year. With work on bike lanes and traffic calming starting in James Bay, a letter-writer believes it will cause more people to avoid making trips to downtown. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Driving more people away from downtown

Re: “Work starts on James Bay cycling routes and traffic calming,” Jan. 11.

It had been my hope that the past elections would have brought a return of some common sense within Victoria council. Alas, having read about plans for James Bay, it looks like, regretfully, just more of the same.

As a result of the previous single-minded manipulation of traffic flow and the addition of over-built bike lanes within the downtown, we drivers now face an exponential increase in traffic congestion and backups on the remaining arteries into town, with their resulting impact on commute time and exhaust pollution.

Traffic calming? Unfortunately, this will result in even more residents and visitors avoiding downtown Victoria.

George A.J. Baker

Victoria

Stratas that go 55-plus are not pulling a fast one

Re: “Some stratas skirt wide-open rentals by converting to 55-plus,” Jan. 12.

The headline makes it sound like strata councils are pulling a fast one by changing their bylaws to make themselves age 55-plus communities. The housing minister says 55-plus is not a loophole; such strata bylaw changes are perfectly legal.

A more accurate headline would have read “Senior-oriented stratas adopt 55-plus restriction in response to new legislation.”

Most stratas are taking more time to consider their bylaw amendments than the four days the government took to ram through its amendments to the Strata Property Act in December.

An accurate headline then would have read “New premier fails to consult on rushed changes affecting 500,000 B.C. condo owners.”

Chris Lawless

Victoria

Eby should tackle those mansions next

How is it that condominium owners have gone from being merely second-class citizens to Public Enemy No. 1 under social engineer David Eby’s new anti-rental restriction law?

Condo owners are no different than any other class of homeowner, with the same dreams and desires for putting their hard-earned money into an investment that is the largest and most important of their lifetime and is a significant part of their retirement plan.

Yet they must now stand by and watch that investment depreciate as they are forced to accept rentals by people who have absolutely no investment whatsoever in the particular condominium development and treat the building and its common property accordingly.

And yes, they do. No homeowner would stand for being placed in such a position — nor should condominium owners. Others have spoken clearly about the growing list of arguments against this poorly conceived law, but I suspect this government is not listening.

Eby should practise what he preaches and dictate that he and his posh neighbours in Point Grey and similar neighbourhoods should open their basements to rentals for their fellow less fortunate citizens.

An even better idea might be to limit the size of single family homes from their current carbon-producing “mansions” of many thousand square feet to a maximum of 1,500 square feet. An entire generation of two- to three-children families grew up just fine in houses of this size that were more reasonably priced to build, took up less space, and, with today’s technology, could likely be carbon neutral.

In the meantime, the press and government alike should start giving condominium owners the respect they deserve and stop crowing about “seniors’ rental loopholes” like it’s some kind of Donald Trump tax return.

R.G. Persson

Victoria

Homeowner grant should be retained

Reading the recent story calling for the abolition of B.C.’s Homeowner Grant as proposed by an economist connected with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the left-wing think-tank, what immediately came to my mind was the oft-quoted comment by the head of the World Economic Forum: “By 2030 you’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy.”

The first part of that quote may well come to pass. But somehow I doubt very many of us will “be happy.”

W.A.C. Bennett brought in the Homeowner Grant to assist and encourage British Columbians to become homeowners — to have their own individual stake in the ownership of this province in which we all reside.

And not just be tenants under the control of a landlord, whether so-called “public,” or private, and subject to eviction at any time. In this, the policy of Bennett’s government was completely in tune with the philosophy of the name of the group of MLAs he headed — Social Credit.

A property tax based on an assessed value is a tax payable in money on a money “value,” not on money itself. For in this instance, no money has changed hands.

To say someone who owns a residence now valued at over $1 million in assessed value is a millionaire and should cough up an ever-increasing tax in money on a yearly basis is utterly ridiculous.

They may become a millionaire, albeit perhaps quite briefly in the period between the sale of their residence and the purchase of another one, but that’s a different matter. A tax on their “capital gain” would be a money tax on money itself, and arguably more justified.

But a tax payable in money on a variable and generally increasing “money value” is one of the most pernicious and unjustifiable forms of taxation ever imposed.

The Homeowner Grant should definitely be retained, and ever increased, until we can find a better way of funding public services. And to do that, perhaps we should take a look back at some philosophy that’s been too long overlooked, instead of ever expanding another philosophy that’s constantly come up short.

Joe Thomson

Courtenay

We are seeing progress to better health care

Re: “Bill gives sweeping power over your health care,” commentary, Jan. 12.

We don’t want a “closed shop” in medical care, which Tommy Douglas successfully ended in 1961 for Saskatchewan, and was followed by the Medical Care Act in 1966.

I am not quite sure after reading Dr. Jennifer Lush’s commentary which particular clauses in the new bill pose a problem for her. I hope the Ministry of Health responds and the dialogue continues.

I would agree that more discussion would be valuable, but B.C. is obviously trying to act quickly, and some details can be revised as time goes by.

I admire so far what Health Minister Adrian Dix has accomplished, although we surely knew the “fix” for health care and the availability of family doctors and other health care professionals would take some time to achieve, and would not be a “quick fix.”

The debate in the press regarding the slow, awkward or even zero action by the federal civil service in its many endeavours shows a stark difference, and Dix no doubt wants to get some things done quickly.

Owing to the barriers involved in any multi-person effort, province-wide and federally, we don’t want to discourage the work. We need effective government involvement in health care.

Aspects of Bill 36 can be revised and professional issues in the medical professions carefully examined while the changes are underway. Co-operate, and win.

Janet Doyle

Victoria

Unfairness can be quite costly

A recent letter complained about an article about off-leash dogs and migratory birds, saying that: “I, as a responsible dog owner, am punished because others cannot respect rules.”

Uh huh. I, who in 79 years have never been arrested, never had a traffic ticket, never had to call for police assistance, pay $4,000 a year for the Central Saanich police force (based on my property tax of $16,000) not to mention what I pay for the RCMP in federal taxes. I know which end of the unfairness I’d prefer.

Ian Cameron

Brentwood Bay

Restore the third floor of the museum

I am 96 years old, and I wish for my voice to be heard. Over the past 58 years, I have enjoyed sharing with family, relatives, and friends, one of our country’s greatest treasures, the Royal B.C. Museum.

I was shocked and devastated when I learned that the third floor is destroyed in the name of decolonization.

Having lived close to 100 years, I realize there are two sides to this story, and neither side is innocent of wrongdoing.

I, like most Canadians, was not aware that residential schools existed, and that abuse occurred to the children. As well, like most Canadians, I was unaware of what was happening on the reserves.

Should the public be held responsible for the misdeeds of “the few” and painted with the same broad brush? This is what appears to be occurring in our present-day lives.

I believe that it is time to come together with unity and respect. We cannot continue in conflict with one another. The future depends on it.

Two wrongs do not make a right. I see, clearly, the actions of a few people in power, who banned the potlatches and confiscated Indigenous artifacts years ago, were very wrong. Does that justify the removal of the early settler history from the third floor of the museum?

I wish to see the floor reinstated in all its glory. It represented not only the early settlers of B.C., but First Nations communities and early Chinese settlers.

Dorothy Sullivan

Victoria

No, education is never free

Re: “Make nursing education free for students,” letter, Jan. 12.

Well folks, we’re at it again. Suggesting “free” nursing degrees. While we’re at it let’s include doctors and Crown prosecutors. All of these professions are needed as much as nurses, aren’t they?

Just like “free” bus passes for young people in Victoria. Just like “free” anything provided by governments of any level, it’s not free.

We all pay for it through our taxes. Worse yet, our great-grandchildren will be paying for it, as it seems balanced budgets for governments are kind of like unicorns: Extinct.

The modest tuition fees charged by most post-secondary institutions don’t come close to covering the cost. Colleges and universities get massive funding from governments already.

To repeat myself, nothing provided by governments is free.

Ron Sleen

Victoria

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