Letters July 18: How to get good price quotes, our Mediterranean climate, chinook salmon

Five simple steps to fiscal responsibility

Re: “Costs rise for new sewage treatment plant: Report,” July 16.

So, yet more confirmation of the ineptitude of the cost-estimating “experts” to determine, before initiation, the probable, realistic maximum cost of major, and hugely expensive, local construction.

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First, the ever-enduring financial fiasco legacy, as manifest in the new (and apparently flawed) Johnson Street Bridge.

Then the revelation of significant cost creep for the new McKenzie interchange.

Lately, the apparent expertise deficit regarding the ability to accurately forecast total dollars to be spent for a planned new Victoria swimming pool complex(es). (And the necessity of which, more than $2 million later, continues to remain debatable.)

And now this latest fiscal “head’s up,” with the treatment plant construction barely underway. Just wait, taxpayers, for what ye are about to receive, when the final bill is presented for payment.

As a 40-plus-year former participant in the local construction industry, I have a few simple proposals for consideration, and these at no taxpayer cost.

When soliciting construction pricing estimates:

1. Always consider only three bids for the same work, not more, not less.

2. Average the three bids.

3. Determine where the average bid price exists in relation to each of the three individual bid prices.

4. If there is a significant differential between the bids’ average cost and any discrete bid, determine why this is so before proceeding further.

5. Depending on the project scale and complexity, add not less than 25 per cent contingency cost to the bid average cost to determine most probable maximum, “worst case” cost.

And, most importantly, if contingency surcharge results in a maximum cost higher than available present or future funding, then do not cut corners with the project scope or the contingency provision.

The goal is to ensure that the taxpaying public will no longer be serially lied to, and “on time and under, not over, budget” may yet again be the fiscal model.

As we all collectively brace ourselves for the final costs of the treatment plant, we can only hope for light at the end of a very long tunnel.

Michael Bell

Making Nanaimo as bad as Vancouver

About 50 per cent of the residents of Greater Nanaimo do not have access to a doctor, so I found the report on consumption sites in Nanaimo incredulous.

Our politicians need to reach out to Nanaimo residents and ask us how we would like to see our tax dollars spent.

More clinics, more doctors, better services for seniors, better health care facilities for children! The Children’s Hospital is a long way away and costly for parents.

We lived and worked in the Lower Mainland and walked past the worst of the worst — people sleeping in doorways; homeless shelters popping up everywhere and the smelly vermin attracting garbage, which accumulated around the sites.

We both worked throughout the Lower Mainland for more than 20 years and saw first-hand the street crisis on a daily basis, and the effects it had on our already taxed health-care system and first responders.

Our homes were robbed, our cars were vandalized and we crossed the street with our grandchildren to keep them safe from the constant begging and inappropriate behaviour.

We made a conscientious and well-researched decision to buy our retirement home in Nanaimo 17 years ago. Over the past five years we have endured tent cities, the construction of container cities and the on-going house break-ins. All at the expense of the taxpayer.

Enough is enough!

We do not believe safe injection sites or consumption sites are a solution. They are magnets for other homeless people to migrate to Nanaimo and make our city a carbon copy of Vancouver.

Ronald and Pamela McAleer

Those smart creatures will allow us two fish

Re: “For the sake of orcas, don’t hook a chinook,” opinion, July 14.

The timing of this comment made me roar with laughter. The content and facts of the article made me tear up.

Five long-time friends and I left Monday for five days of “very expensive fishing” on the west coast. We have fished forever. We all lean a little toward environmental awareness and try very hard to do our part. World Orca Day is not revolting to me and the others.

However, the author says “Orcas are apex predators at the top of their food chain, with sophisticated social structures, emotional behaviours, feeding strategies and unique languages.” Some would say they are smarter than us.

Given these facts and also that they “need to eat about 1,000 chinook salmon a day,” I hope these precious creatures can find it in their hearts to see us in the boats and say in their unique language “let’s let those losers have their two per day/four carry limit!”

The orcas will have done their part to make me very happy with tears of joy.

Max Miller

Don’t blame the fishing, look at our sewage

People in Victoria are very good at blaming everyone else for the plight of the killer whale, recreational and commercial fishermen mostly.

We never hear much about the raw sewage that pumps into the strait every day, never a mention about how many million gallons of it is floating around in the place where the whales live.

As Eric Clapton sang, “before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.”

Rick Schmidt
Campbell River

You asked about our Mediterranean climate?

The basis for the determination that Victoria has a Mediterranean climate is the Koppen Climate Classification system. Koppen is one of the most widely used systems in the world for classifying climate regions.

Under Koppen, Victoria is classified as Csb:Mediterranean warm/cool summer climates.

Csb climates are characterized by dry and warm (but not hot) summers and mild, wet winters. Victoria shares this classification with places such as northern Spain and Portugal, parts of coastal California, Oregon and Washington, central Chile and southwestern Australia.

Most areas around the Mediterranean Sea, including the south of France, are classified as Csa: Mediterranean hot summer climates. These are characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.

Geoffrey Kevin Gudgeon

Taxing carbon usage based in a false belief

Re: “Canada needs pricing based on carbon emissions,” opinion, July 13.

The debate over the carbon tax is based on the assumption that the carbon tax directly reduces CO2 emissions. I think that is a false assumption.

Do people who heat their homes with oil or natural gas lower the temperature of their homes in proportion to the increase in carbon tax? Will people in the suburbs suddenly stop using their cars to go downtown?

Ford is phasing out their sedans, such as the Focus, in favour of SUVs which consume more gasoline. Ford knows that the American love affair with their cars is not ending.

People will not change unless they are given reasonable alternatives.

I am in favour of a sizeable carbon tax, but only if all the amount raised from home heating is used to subsidize replacement by electrical heating (if the electricity is generated from non-hydrocarbon sources), all the amount raised from automobiles and trucks is used to build rapid transit lines (not bus lanes) and all the amount raised from jet fuel is used to electrify our railways.

Kenneth Mintz

Drop some of the fares and fill the buses

I am a regular visitor to Victoria. My wife and I use your bus system as much as we ride our public transit back home.

Many buses in Victoria operate at less than full capacity a great deal of the time. My hometown allows all children free access to the buses without the necessity of using passes; they merely board the bus.

College and university students flash passes, having partially paid for them through their student fees.

It is encouraging to see the buses almost full much of the time. Why not? It doesn’t cost any more to run the bus full or empty.

Families often use the buses, with parents paying the usual fare with the advantage of their children boarding at no cost. I don’t feel “financially burdened” by supporting our efficient and environmentally-conscious system.

As well, senior reductions are still in effect in Kingston, something that has apparently been eliminated in Victoria.

So Victoria, fill the buses, and experience the great success of a positive program.

Ridership will be greatly increased. Isn’t that an honourable goal?

Doug Boulter
Kingston, Ont.


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