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Letters Nov. 18: Get going on Island rail; our ever-warming planet

Letters from our readers: Amalgamation, the B.C. Liberals' new name, women's affairs.
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Weeds grow on the rail crossing at Esquimalt Road and Catherine Street. A letter-writer says the former E&N rail line is an irreplaceable transportation asset that must be preserved. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Get moving on rail, restore the service

Next March a decision is to be made by our government to determine whether the railway corridor is to revert back to First Nation land.

This will happen automatically if there is a decision not to develop a much-needed double line freight/passenger train service up and down our Island. With the result that any chance of having one in the future will be gone forever!

The railway development has many benefits and would transform the lives of commuters, shoppers and students alike, travelling in a much-reduced carbon-emission environment.

The project would cost about $350 million, but a profit would be made within two years.

Moreover, restoration would happen quickly with the service up and running by summer of next year.

Sue Fryer

Maple Bay

We need a rail trail, not a railway

Re: “Rail bridge that was hit by truck will be replaced,” Nov. 16.

The story highlighted that an Island rail system would be environmentally friendly and help forge economic ties among Island communities.

However, the hundreds of millions of dollars to needed to build a functioning rail system are unlikely to be available in the foreseeable future. For a fraction of the cost of rebuilding a rail line on the Island corridor, a continuous trail similar to the Galloping Goose trail can be built on the railbed from Victoria to Courtenay linking Island communities, reducing greenhouse gases by promoting bike commuting and supporting tourism and economic development.

Numerous successful examples of such trails exist in Canada and around the world, such as the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, and the development of a trail would preserve the corridor and allow a conversion to rail when and if it becomes economically feasible.

This rail corridor has remained unused for over a decade, and given the pressing needs in society, no trains will be running anytime soon.

The newly elected governments and First Nations along the rail line have an opportunity to do something significant to address climate change and support economic development by getting on board the effort to convert the rail line they already own into a trail that will benefit us all.

Charles Krusekopf

Metchosin

We’re still turning up the heat

While climate change can be as complicated as any other issue, there are two main factors contributing to a warming planet: Too many people and too much consumption.

We continue to add about 100 million people annually to our little globe and we are on track to spew more carbon into the atmosphere this year than ever before. The effects are so obvious and disastrous that politicians at every level are obliged to take up the charge against this new dragon.

Yet, despite a myriad of impassioned assaults, the tinkering of policies and subsequent impact on behaviours is evidently insufficient to turn down the heat. The dragon breathes on.

These are duplicitous times. Our descendants, should they be fortunate enough to survive on the planet left to them, will be mystified when looking back: “They knew the pot was boiling over, but they kept turning up the gas! What?”

Consider the number of politicians across the country who have recently committed to solve the “housing crisis” by building millions more homes: more people, more asphalt and concrete, more lumber, plastic, glass, appliances — all contributors to climate change. It is always difficult to deny today’s indulgences on the promise of a better tomorrow. So we delude ourselves, continuing to stoke the dragon that breathes fire back on us.

And let’s not believe that what we do here has no impact, that we are bystanders only. Look at the unbridled development from Victoria to Campbell River.

We need to ask ourselves: What is our contribution to climate change, and further, do we have the natural resources to support this kind of development? And very simply, is this the kind of lifestyle we want in places like our burgeoning Parksville where the Official Community Plan still says “Parksville values its small city atmosphere”?

Hopefully our leaders, especially the newly elected municipal and regional ones who have been riding in the back seat on this one, will reconsider their responsibilities and rein in the unbridled growth on our island, giving hope to future generations and allowing today’s residents to enjoy the inherent attributes of this beautiful place.

Iain Donaldson

Parksville

Amalgamation works, just look at Kamloops

Re: “Province must take the lead on amalgamation,” commentary, Nov. 16.

Peter Diamant makes several good points while exhorting B.C. to amalgamate the various parts of Greater Victoria. He refers to some amalgamations in other parts of Canada. Your readers might like to know about a successful amalgamation here in B.C.

In the 1970s, we lived on an acreage in the hills near Kamloops. We were 800 feet up and 13 miles east of City Hall. Greater Kamloops consisted of numerous municipalities such as Valleyview, Brocklehurst, Dallas, etc. We had more old grey mayors than Old McDonald’s Farm.

The B.C. government forced an amalgamation. The initial boundaries were imperfect. For example, because our land crossed a section boundary, our well was in the expanded city but our house was not. Such issues were promptly corrected.

The amalgamation was almost meaningless to us. The only change I can recall is that we started to get garbage collection instead of having to haul a garbage can to the nearest dump once a month or so.

There is little to fear from amalgamation and much to gain. I encourage the government to do the deed.

David Stocks

Saanichton

Reorganize, restructure for a regional authority

Jack Knox recently delivered a wonderfully comprehensive, spirited history of parochialism on fire and police.

With our new councils and mayors, can we conjure up an agreement to act? Can they work together on a broad “safety authority” task?

The 13 councils, at their meetings, will need discussions and motions of support. Without broad political acceptance, co-operation between municipalities will always be cumbersome bits and pieces.

Working safety authorities exist in other jurisdictions. Is it not reasonable to ask the boards of our forces of bright, brave and highly experienced fire and police to draft a statement of intent specific to Lower Island situations?

Can each of these statements move to their councils, so we can have appropriate words to submit in an integrated request to the province? One has to believe it would be even easier if the province provided our 13 the form, structure and details of the request that they will require for consideration, for presumably Treasury Board and cabinet consideration.

The rest of serious merging and integrating can follow.

I favour the Capital Regional District area providing the full regional co-operative governance used in the rest of B.C. since the 1960s, initially setting rural and urban demarcation, for which we already have the Urban Containment Boundary, then building opportunities into a merged and integrated operation within a reinvigorated regional district structure.

The $750,000 for a citizens’ assembly for Victoria and Saanich alone can be reassigned. As with the approach on a safety authority, people involved at all operational levels already know what is required.

I’ve suggested rank-and-file workers can easily be promised their jobs are safe, including the general boundaries of their work locations.

Sure there will be change, but like our fire and police, these need to be bottom-up processes for the demands of each function, not citizen or politically driven operations.

Isn’t it true, after all, that reorganizing and restructuring is the lifeblood on which bureaucrats survive?

Colin Millard

Saanich

Another kick at the ball might be needed

Doesn’t the B.C. Liberal party know that, globally, when someone says they’re a United fan it means Man U (Manchester United)?

I look forward to listening to my Liberal friends who are also Liverpool fans (the scousers) saying that they love/support United!

Surely the Liberals can do better than that.

Denis Hanson

Oak Bay

Want a soccer name? Here’s a better one

Now that the B.C. Liberals have chosen a soccer name, I’m disappointed that they didn’t pick a more appropriate one.

Wanderers comes easily to mind.

John Stonehouse

Victoria

Register your affairs with the government

I was intrigued to read a snippet a few days ago of the appointment of a new minister of women’s affairs. I didn’t know that such a ministry existed.

My question is whether a woman who plans an affair has to seek government’s approval, does she have to be explicit and name participants, or can she get a licence to have as many affairs as she likes over a certain period of time — maybe a tax year?

By disclosure, “affairs” have never been part of our agendas during 60 years of marriage, and are unlikely to be in the future.

Just curious.

Bryan Holmes

North Saanich

Canada’s ranking on the list of world polluters

So Canada has made the list of polluting countries ranking close to the bottom in the entire world.

We produce more garbage per capita than our southern neighbour, drive too many heavy fossil-fuel-guzzling noxious greenhouse-gas-spewing vehicles, and through our oil and gas production create more particulate-laden air pollutants than even China.

One positive note, though, at least we made the list. That’s something isn’t it?

Steve Hoffman

Victoria

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• Email letters to: letters@timescolonist.com

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

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