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Letters June 8: Better places to throw B.C.'s money; the real costs of medical care

Island rail corridor offers path for future Recent provincial spending announcements seem to be about throwing money at the past. Meanwhile, the Island’s rail corridor is in a use-it-or-lose-it position. There will be no second chance.
A man and his dog walk along the E&N railway tracks along Kimta Road. A letter-writer suggests the abandoned rail line's opportunities for carrying people up-and down-Island is worth the same kind of investment the province is eyeing for the Royal B.C. Museum. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Island rail corridor offers path for future

Recent provincial spending announcements seem to be about throwing money at the past. Meanwhile, the Island’s rail corridor is in a use-it-or-lose-it position. There will be no second chance.

I hate to admit it, but the population is growing. Another option for moving freight and people on the Island is prudent. The future is foreseeable.

Heather Graham

Flyover’s rising price and the museum plans

The cost of the Keating Cross Road flyover is rising by 73 per cent, with a two-year delay.

So, just for the fun of it, I transposed those figures to the proposed costs for the new Royal B.C. Museum. That calculation would make the cost of the new museum $1.5 billion with an estimated finishing date of 10 years.

I’m 88 now. And oh, that I should live so long as to once again enjoy taking a two- or three-day break into Victoria, with my wife, which always consists of visiting the museum, of taking in several shows at the Imax and of hearing the carillon of bells ringing out over the din of traffic and seeing people pause; seeing faces transposed for just those few moments of joyous sound.

I might add that the Keating Cross Road flyover is a fairly straightforward project compared with the complexity of totally demolishing the existing museum then rebuilding anew. So, because of that, I may have underestimated the “proposed” final cost and “completion” date.

Let’s keep and build on what we already have for everyone’s continued enjoyment.

Antony Merry

Courthouse also needs to be replaced

Given that the NDP government apparently had a teardown and rebuild in mind for the Royal B.C. Museum, why on earth did they not just leave the third floor open to welcome tourists for one last season and until they close the rest of the museum in September?

Also, when setting priorities, I recommend that the current government take a look at the older, less accessible and undoubtedly seismically unsound courthouse building. I am certain the users of the local courthouse would jump on the chance of accommodation in the likes of the current museum building.

Roxanne P. Helme, Q.C.

A reminder: Medical care costs money

Re: “Man whose SUV hit Red Cross building relives chaos and fallout,” June 6.

I was dismayed to see the reporter devote at least half the article to the “excessive vet bill.” While I cannot comment on the collection process, I can say that as veterinarians, we have a duty of care to provide pain control and treatment for injured animals, and unfortunately, that care is not subsidized.

While the driver and his mother were treated in hospital for eight or nine days, including extensive testing and a surgery, he was billed nothing for that. The reality is that Canadians have no idea what the practice of medicine costs, be that human or veterinary.

As our pets are part of our families, I would also like to remind people that pets travelling in vehicles should be properly secured in a kennel or tethered with pet seat belt harnesses, just as we secure ourselves and children.

Dr. Christine Baer, DVM

Remember Silent Spring, but in a bad way

A June 5 commentary invoked the sainted memory of Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book Silent Spring helped usher in our age of environmental activism.

Carson falsely reported that DDT and other insecticides were killing off America’s songbird population and warned that DDT was a human carcinogen, also falsely.

In his 2011 book Merchants of Despair, Robert Zubrin calls her impact on world human health “catastrophic,” as many tropical countries halted their anti-malaria DDT programs. In consequence, he argues, deaths from malaria rose from 17 in 1963 to half a million by 1969.

Klein moves on from Carson to cite a 2019 study by a team at Cornell University claiming North American’s songbird population has fallen from 10 billion in 1970 to seven billion today.

But in an article on the Undark Magazine website, science writer Michael Schulson notes that the Cornell article exaggerated the seriousness of the decline deliberately to achieve publication in prestigious Science magazine. The title, “Decline of North American Avifauna,” was deliberately chosen to invoke Gibbons’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

But ecologists whom Schulson interviewed provided several important qualifications. For one, many of the species included are invasive, and the target of reduction programs to preserve domestic species.

Just two exotic species, the house sparrow and the starling, comprise 15 per cent of the net population loss. Also, the base time for the 10 billion total population was 1970, when the bird population “might actually have been inflated [by] generations of forest clearance and prairie destruction” — I’m guessing that is because farmland feeds more birds than natural prairie or forest.

Schulson’s conclusion is that 40 of 500 bird species give cause for concern. Most do not.

Steve Weatherbe

Interest rates might be a solution

In 1974, I bought my first home and it was affordable. However, the interest rate was 10 per cent. At renewal, I was paying 12 per cent.

Is it possible that the low interest rates we have had over the past few years have helped to push home prices higher because of the lower monthly payment?

Would higher mortgage rates bring down prices in the long term? New homes back then were certainly more modestly built.

Richard Parsley

Provincial leaders need help to fix health

Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and the provincial NDP government are not responsible for the current crisis in primary care.

We are dealing with a national issue, as every province is dealing with a lack of family physicians in community practice. In order to move forward with solutions, it is important to identify the root causes of this dilemma.

Those institutions that could have anticipated and acted to conserve our primary health care, but did not effectively do so, includes our 17 medical schools, the provincial colleges of physicians and surgeons, the bureaucrats within the ministries of health, the various health authorities, of which our own Island Health authority is a major culprit, as well as the medical professions’ own associations, such as the Doctors of B.C., previously the British Columbia Medical Association.

However, two events that have had a significantly deleterious affect upon the attraction and retention of family practitioners in B.C. include the cancellation of the doctors’ pension plan by premier Glen Clark in 1996, and the failure of the then-BCMA to ratify the relative value fee guide, an evidence-based document that would have fairly redistributed payments amongst specialist and family physicians.

The solutions to be found for our crisis in primary care can only be achieved through national initiatives and co-operation with all of the responsible parties. To be sure, our current provincial leaders cannot do it alone.

James Stockdill, MD
Family practice, retired
Oak Bay

Speed bumps are here, but road is still a mess

The City of Victoria has installed speed humps on Park Boulevard and Heywood Avenue. I wonder if there is some intent to repave the roads so we’ll actually notice them?

John Grubb


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