Letters May 6: Recycling wisdom; Esquimalt safety building’s high cost

Separating recyclables keeps system functional

Re: “Battling the recycling gods,” letter, April 24.

I would like to clarify a few of the points raised in the letter that questions blue-bin size limitations and suggests that separating recyclable materials is complicated and unnecessary.

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The size of acceptable blue boxes that can be used for curbside recycling has been limited to reduce the risk of injury for collection-truck drivers. Large bins become very heavy when they’re filled with glass or newsprint, creating the risk of a strain for drivers who will lift about 2,000 blue bins every day.

Likewise, although including paper towels in a bag meant only for paper packaging or placing a glass jar in a bin of plastic containers may not seem like an issue to an individual homeowner, multiply this level of contamination by up to 2,000 bins and the ability to recycle the entire load is put at risk.

Separating recyclables according to our region’s simple three-stream recycling program — paper packaging in one bin or bag; plastic, metal and paper containers in a second bin; glass bottles and jars in a third — helps maintain their quality and avoids contamination so that they can continue to be recycled.

Despite changing markets, ­materials collected at the curb from Capital Regional District households continue to be recycled by Recycle B.C. thanks to the diligence of our residents, and our region will continue to be leaders in this industry if we all keep doing our part.

Larisa Hutcheson
General manager,
Parks and Environmental Services
Capital Regional District

Esquimalt project should go to referendum

Esquimalt council has approved the projected $42-million public safety building, the cost being significantly more than the annual budget.

Funding will come through an ­allotted $7 million from the Capital Regional ­District sewer amenity fund. The ­remaining $35 million will be financed with borrowed funds, with debt servicing of about $2 million a year.

Co-ordination of this ambitious undertaking will be comprised of several stages: Temporary relocation of the police and fire services, demolition and abatement of the existing fire safety building, preparing the new building site, and construction of the new building.

The proposal is not a fixed-price contract. The municipality is at risk for possible cost overruns, and these costs would be passed directly on to taxpayers.

During the pandemic, there has been a limited opportunity for public information and input regarding the proposal or the financing. The municipality is seeking to borrow $35 million using the alternate approval process, which Esquimalt has never used before. It requires that 10 per cent of eligible voters complete and deliver a negative voter response form to the municipality on or before May 10.

The threshold requires 1,380 responses — no small task during the pandemic. These forms are available through the Esquimalt website, but require a printer since an electronic response is not ­available.

Provincial guidelines state that “if an issue is controversial, requires a significant financial contribution by taxpayers, or is significant in scale or impact on the community, local governments may decide that it is more appropriate and cost-effective to proceed directly to assent voting.”

The traditional method for approval would be to seek voter assent through a referendum, held at no expense during the 2022 municipal election.

Holding a full public referendum on the proposal will allow all residents to have their say.

Bruce McIldoon
Former Esquimalt councillor
Victoria

Old Joe’s Trail has been much improved

Kudos to the Saanich parks crew for the great job they did recently to improve Old Joe’s Trail and the Colquitz River Trail. They widened the path, improved drainage, brought in loads of fine gravel and tamped it down, making it a wonderful place to take a lunchtime stroll. On behalf of everyone in the neighbourhood, thank you!

Allison Stofer
Esquimalt

Put most vulnerable at top of priority list

Re: “Cancer patients in chemotherapy disappointed they won’t get vaccine booster sooner,” May 1.

I hope the B.C. government is bracing itself for a deluge of complaints to the ombudsperson about the fairness of its decision to refuse second (or, in some cases, even first) vaccinations to those ­people facing catastrophic medical ­challenges.

How high are they willing to place the bar for those already struggling to maintain their own well-being?

Health Minister Adrian Dix should discuss this with cabinet immediately. Even some of his provincial counterparts in Alberta and Ontario, who are on the conservative side of the political spectrum, have seen the light for the clinically extremely vulnerable.

The vaccine and boosters are free, cheap and available. As a former registered nurse, my opinion is that if Dix fails to give these individuals priority, he will end with very sick people, occupying already overtaxed ICU hospital beds, which certainly cannot be his intent.

This is a pandemic in which Canada has largely measured its response by caring for the most vulnerable in our communities, targeting its vaccine rollout based on age and vulnerability.

Dix should do the compassionate, dignified and right public-health thing: Reconsider his refusal to honour the lives of those struggling the most to preserve theirs, by giving the doses needed to boost their hopes.

Dulcie McCallum
Former B.C. ombudsman
Halifax

Put time and energy into something useful

Thank you to David Boudinot of ­Fernwood for his litter collection with no other motive than to make his neighbourhood a better place to live.

A lot of individuals conceive of sporting projects, such as riding their exercise bicycles or running distances, to raise money for worthy causes.

I applaud them but have always thought: “Why don’t they use their time and energy to do something useful?”

I would be much more inclined to donate money per bag of garbage collected or for weeding seniors’ properties or for kids holding a car wash — or for virtually any activity that would make a contribution to our community other than just to the doer’s fitness level.

It’s great when people want to help. It’s even better when they can use their creativity to both raise money and to make an improvement. It’s a double win for everyone.

Launa Palset
Victoria

Skip the violent talk, give us solutions

Another day, another angry letter from a Victoria resident about Beacon Hill Park. This time expecting the Together Victoria councillors, or “activists” as the letter-writer claims, to be “annihilated from the political landscape.”

If you can get beyond the violence aimed at the councillors, look at the results of the 2018 election to see that the councillors named in the letter — Ben Isitt, Jeremy Loveday, Sarah Potts and Sharmarke Dubow — are by far the most popular councillors, by measure of votes.

Isitt and Loveday received the most votes, with Dubow and Potts rounding the fifth and seventh spots respectively. This is what is called “a political landslide ­victory.”

Add to that, Mayor Lisa Helps won by nearly a two-to-one margin over her nearest competitor, or by nearly 4,000 votes. Again, a landslide victory.

Clearly, Victoria voters have spoken with respect to the direction the city should go.

There is no denying that Beacon Hill Park is a disaster right now. However, there are actions being taken, there’s an effort to house the homeless by three ­levels of government. Is it enough?

Probably not, but homelessness is a systemic problem and we are dealing with stop-gap measures that do, in certain circumstances, provide somewhat positive outcomes.

What would be the solution from the letter-writer? No solutions were ­presented, just violent words for popular councillors.

Eric Neilson
Colwood

Short stretch of E&N has potential, rest not

Well, here we go again. Denise Savoie wrote what I thought was a reasonably rational piece about where the E&N Railway fits in today’s world.

Then we get a slew of Fantasy Island dreams of the rosy future of a moribund track bed. I have no idea where a value of $350 million comes from, unless it’s the increased land value. It can’t be as a going concern, or the value of its d­eteriorating infrastructure.

There is a short stretch from Langford into Vic West (where it terminates) that may have a future in commuter terms. The rest should be laid to rest as testament to our history.

Richard Ellis
Duncan

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