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Letters July 25: Victoria housing; fossil fuels and the green movement; rail vs. trail

Heavy hauler trucks transport material from Suncor's North Steepbank Mine in the oilsands in Fort McMurray Alta, on Monday June 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Victoria council could help people get into homes

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and her enablers on council have come up with another back-of-the-envelope scheme to throw taxpayer dollars at a problem they created.

Renters unquestionably lose their homes when their accommodation has to be refurbished or rebuilt. And when renovations are complete, rents unsurprisingly go up. These increases are needed to recuperate the cost of the refurbishment and all the expenses in meeting city demands.

The new scheme dreamt up by Helps and councillors Ben Isitt, Jeremy Loveday and Sharmarke Dubow fails to understand basic supply and demand economics.

The renovation or redevelopment of rental properties takes years, thanks to council and city hall bureaucracy. This may remove 10, 30, 100 units from the rental pool, depending on the size of the project, for three or more years.

Residents have to find somewhere else to live but Victoria does not have the spare capacity (vacancies) to absorb this loss. Basic math shows that people are now chasing a smaller number of rental apartments.

Demand exceeds supply, rates increase. Subsiding some residents will not increase supply and will not reduce rental rates.

Offsetting an increase in rental rates when the property reopens is a nice gesture but in reality how many people displaced from accommodation for three or more years are going to return. They’ve found somewhere else to live possibly outside Victoria, reset their lives potentially including their jobs. They will not return and Victoria yet again loses out.

Instead of throwing money at the symptoms, council needs to look at the causes: No affordable family homes to enable renters to transition into home ownership; excruciatingly long approval processes that deter developers and significantly increase their carrying costs; lost opportunity costs for money tied up in exorbitant land prices and spiralling inflation.

If council is serious about helping individuals displaced by redevelopment, it would create a stock of housing available for a one- to three-year transitional rental, possibly by reducing the number of homes used only for short-term rental (Airbnb etc.); they would eliminate city hall red tape to bring redevelopment approval time down to three to six months, and they would free up land for the development of homes for the first-time homeowners.

Victoria does not need financial subsidies and handouts, it needs homes that are affordable and family liveable (not tiny apartments with no outdoor space or space for kids to be kids), homes that create a community and regenerate our city.

Alan Humphries


Maybe Adrian Dix should be the next to go

Does anyone else find it curious that in the blink of an eye the NDP-controlled board of B.C. Ferries fired the CEO for presiding over unreliable and unacceptable ferry service, yet after years of deplorable health care in the province – that has, indeed, gotten worse – that the Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, has not been fired? Isn’t time to face up to the incompetence at the helm?

Lawrence Horwitz


All that money won’t help when the Earth is gone

Re: “Disastrous results of the green movement come home to roost,” commentary, July 23.

The commentary by Gwyn Morgan is positively mindboggling in its total lack of concern for the consequences to the earth if the “green movement” is ignored.

A few years ago we were told by scientists that climate change would wreak havoc with the world in the next century if we did not change our ways. It has now become apparent that the havoc is occurring now, far sooner than was predicted.

I have children and grandchildren and I cannot imagine what their world will be like in 20 or 30 years. I feel like my generation are the lucky ones. We will be nearing the end of our lives when climate change does its worst.

What I can’t get my mind around is how the oil company executives and politicians and those people who actually have some power to change things, can face the future that they are dooming their children to.

The huge personal fortunes that they are amassing now will be of little use to them when the Earth has basically self-destructed. What are they thinking?

Gwen Isaacs


Money will help some, but not for most of us

Re: “Disastrous results of the green movement come home to roost,” commentary, July 23.

Action: Continue down the path of fossil fuel burning, meat eating, and Roundup spraying.

Consequence: Gwyn Morgan and his one-per-cent buddies will live out their lives in security and luxury while the rest of us, deal with the fires, floods, heat waves, food shortages, refugees, political and social unrest, and on and on.

Dave Secco


Underfund health care, and watch it wither

To privatize a public service, underfund it. This immediately leads to understaffing, overwork, burnout, and personnel leaving.

Net result: the service stops working like it is supposed to, the public gets angry and demands a solution, then sharpies step forward promising impossible fantasies about what privatization will bring, and that is the end of the public service targeted for privatization.

Ottawa stopped funding social housing in B.C. in 1993, and you can see what that did to housing market: Far higher prices for less adequate housing.

Since Ottawa cut its contribution to provincial health-care systems, “longstanding understaffing” ensued, then burnout and people leaving. Now a day doesn’t go by without an affluent letter writer demanding private health care so that people with money do not have to stand in line.

Fund public health care properly, and it works fine. Defund it if you wish to destroy it, which is what has occurred.

Bill Appledorf


Protect the corridor by bringing back rail

Re: “Choose active transportation, not a renewed railway,” commentary, July 20.

Unfortunately it seems that Denise Savoie’s opinion has been determined, for the most part, by preoccupation with financial considerations of rail versus trail.

She has arbitrarily limited the frequency and route length of rail service. She has not included the cost of atmospheric contamination by rail versus the atmospheric contamination by commuter traffic via roads.

She has not given credit for the ability of rail commuters to read, to sleep, to enjoy the company of many. She has not given credit for the visual pleasure of observing landscape, people and architecture, in place of remaining focused on the road ahead.

She has not acknowledged the cost of traffic accidents, or the cost of policing to reduce traffic accidents.

She has not acknowledged that without train service, future generations would be deprived of the opportunity to savour the comfort and safety of travel by rail.

Savoie has stated: “Most also agree that this continuous corridor is a valuable asset which should be protected.”

I can think of no better avenue to such protection than to restore rail service.

Norman Wale


Thank you and goodbye to Victoria

Thank you, Victoria, for 12 wonderful years! We thought we’d spend our last years in your beautiful arms. Then the pandemic struck and we couldn’t see family, especially the grandkids.

It changed our lives in a heartbeat. We will miss you Victoria, we will miss our walks along the water, the fabulous restaurants, great music events and the warm and friendly communities that make Victoria the best place we ever lived … before the pandemic.

I want to thank the nurses and doctors at 2SW at the Royal Jubilee: Alison “my angel,” David, Janet, Richard and Jessica and all the medical staff I dealt with over the years. I received first-rate medical treatment and expedient surgeries at the Jubilee and for that I will be ever grateful.

Fortunately, our move was cushioned by the facts that we could buy a condo at an affordable price, groceries are less expensive and gas is cheaper.

I am interviewing a doctor to see if he/she meets my needs in a few weeks and my allergies, complete with post-nasal drip, have all disappeared.

Life is good once more and there are no regrets, only wonderful memories. And for that we thank you from our hearts to yours.

Linda and David Anderson


Let’s plan ahead and keep the rails

Re: “Choose active transportation, not a renewed railway,” commentary, July 20.

Despite the solemn rhetoric from the Rails to Trails group, this issue about the E&N Railway line is about more than “business cases,” government funding, and the vital effort to right the wrongs done to Island First Nations. Preserving a commuter rail corridor between Courtenay and Victoria is about vision and future generations.

We need not consult yet even more experts to know that the rate of population, business, and investment growth on Vancouver Island that began 25 years ago continues at a formidible pace.

In another 25 years, Island communities will regret not maintaining the E&N for rail passenger service. And in 50 years, Island communities may be looking for funds to return train service should the rails be ripped up.

A commuter rail line running on these tracks may not make money today, but in a century it will be a necessity.

Rails to Trails makes the incredulous claim that “frequent and available bus service on [the Malahat]” could provide more passenger service than rail.

They seem to have forgotten or overlooked that bus service has declined as drastically on the Island as other parts of Canada. Also, as we can expect petrol-based buses to be phased out in the next decades, the efficiency of long-haul electric buses remains a problem yet to be solved.

Rail also may not be “clean” transport, but it would be a lot less polluting than the many mythical buses spewing diesel fumes that would be needed to get future commuters over the Malahat.

Maintaining the E&N rail corridor may appear to be a significant expense now, but it will one day be seen as a smart investment. Removing the option of a rail commuter line from future Vancouver Island generations would be a grave error.

Paul Walton


Health-care workers deserve our high praise

We recently used the ambulance service, and one of us is now an inpatient in Victoria. I worked for more than 30 years in a regional referral hospital, so I know what the workload used to be.

I am astonished that hospital staff are able to retain their composure and kindness given the overwhelming workload that they now experience.

At least in my day we had peaks and valleys of workload and were given time to relax and breathe; not any more. My thanks and my best wishes to health-care workers everywhere in B.C. in these troubled times.

Clifford Dezell


Civic leadership has gone missing

I have been visiting Victoria for 40 years, usually more than once per year, and interrupted only by COVID.

Never have I seen a Canadian downtown so deteriorate before my eyes. Homelessness, indigence, squalour, eroding downtown ambiance.

Rampant aggressive driving and excessive car and motorcycle noise piercing the night. No police presence on the sidewalks, only hiding in their prowlers.

Where is the civic pride? More to the point, where is the civic leadership?

Ron Freedman


The last thing we need is another Olympic Games

We have thousands of homeless living on our streets and parks.

We have thousands of Canadians waiting inordinate months for care in a disintegrating health-care system that is causing unnecessary deaths.

We have thousands of criminals with multiple convictions walking free and harming innocent victims because our justice system is a disgraceful joke.

We have thousands of citizens who have had their homes destroyed by fire and floods waiting ridiculous lengths of time to receive help to recover.

We have left thousands of Afghans who worked for Canada stranded and left to be murdered.

We have let promises of controlling climate change lapse and be ignored.

These are only a few of the major problems Canada and British Columbians face — yet governments are considering spending billions of scarce money on another Olympic bid.

What a wasteful disgrace.

Elected officials are supposed to act in the interests of citizens, fix serious problems and stop wasteful spending. If authorities take more than a minute to stop another bid for Olympic games and parties, then they aren’t doing their job.

Do the right thing: Stop the useless, despicable Olympic bid.

Gary Korpan



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