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Letters Nov. 23: A last holiday gasp for Old Town; attracting more MDs to the Island; an idea for Salt Spring

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A letter-writer suggests some bridge-building on Salt Spring to help ease the Malahat muddle. TIMES COLONIST

Let’s decorate it, then get rid of it

Re: “Victoria council rejects motion to ask museum keep floor open during redesign,” Nov. 20.

The article on Victoria council’s final condemnation of the Royal B.C. Museum’s third floor states: “Crews will be decorating parts of Old Town for what is expected to be a rush for Christmas.”

Isn’t that like putting a party hat on a death-row inmate?

Richard Lambert
Victoria

Want a lower death rate? Increase average income

Re: “No doctors plus no action equals no doctors,” commentary, Nov. 20.

In a plea for more family practitioners, Dr. Adrian Fine calculates that a 10 per cent increase in their number in Victoria would save at least 300 deaths a year.

This is an erroneous conclusion based on research on the numbers of FPs in different areas in the United States.

In truth, this study found that more affluent parts of the U.S. had lower death rates and higher numbers of family practitioners.

One obvious explanation is that FPs are attracted to practice in more affluent areas. For more than a century, others have consistently shown that wealth is associated with better health.

It might be more correct to conclude from this study that an increase in the average income in Victoria by 10 per cent would likely reduce the annual death rate.

Albert Macfarlane
Port McNeill

Not the best way to conserve fuel

Limiting gas sales to 30 litres is counterproductive. This rule will just encourage drivers to continually fill up, which puts gas where it’s not really needed — topping up tanks.

If drivers could only fill up when their gas gauge is below a half, then fuel would go to where it’s truly needed and limited supplies would stretch much further.

This may sound counterintuitive, but by limiting sales to those who need it most there would be less risk of stations running out. Though well-intentioned, the 30-litre rule will actually make the gas supply situation worse.

S.I. Petersen
Nanaimo

Four lanes would solve the Malahat problems

Jack Knox provided an excellent review of the pallid, not to say timid, thinking that has gone into the conundrum that is our Malahat highway.

The obvious solution is to expand the highway to the four-lane status it should have had years ago, with the southbound lanes higher up the mountain to the west.

Not only would this increase needed capacity, but any obstruction, northbound or southbound, could be dealt with by redirecting two-way single lane traffic to one or other of the two available routes.

As for whether it’s affordable, does anyone remember what the province spent on the Sea-to-Sky road to nowhere a few years ago? Can you say $500 million?

Tom Masters
Chemainus

Use Salt Spring bridges to service the Island

I live on the peninsula, but have a farm in the Cowichan Valley that I often commute to. The Malahat is a dangerous and unpredictable drive, with frequent delays and closures. I’ve experienced driving past an overturned trailer within minutes of it happening.

The ferry system is operating beyond capacity with frequent long waits and frequent weather closures.

A solution which would address both issues would be to construct:

1. A half-kilometre bridge at Sansum Narrows, just below Bold Bluff Point, across from Stoney Hill Park. There is an existing road network on both sides.

2. A two-kilometre bridge across satellite channel from Swartz Bay to Salt Spring.

3. Relocate the main terminal from Swartz Bay to Long Harbour, reducing the trip to Tsawwassen by 20 kilometres.

For a 2.5- to 3-kilometre bridge investment and some road network upgrades, four ferry routes would be eliminated (Mill Bay, Fulford Harbor, Vesuvius, and Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, which would be replaced with the existing Long Harbour to Tsawwassen route).

The travel distance connecting Victoria to Vancouver would be reduced from 60 kilometres to 40 kilometres, taking about half an hour off of the sailing time, reducing wait times and congestion.

To put this into perspective, the Confederation Bridge connecting Prince Edward Island is 13 kilometres servicing a population of 155,000. This would be a three-kilometre bridge investment to significantly reduce travel time and improve safety for a Vancouver Island population of 850,000.

I feel the other Malahat bypass options being discussed are a waste of money, as they only succeed in adding redundancy into the road network and don’t reduce travel time, nor provide drivers with a real alternative route.

My proposal has the benefit of shortening travel times for many commuters, improving supply chain security and taking traffic off the Malahat, making the Malahat drive safer.

Chris Graham
Saanichton

The Salt Spring idea: A fun day of lineups

Re: “Tempers flare over Malahat closure,” Nov. 18.

It was with much laughter that I read the front-page article suggesting it is possible for Vancouver Islanders to avoid the Malahat by travelling via the Fulford Harbour and Vesuvius ferries.

For a moment I mistook it as a Jack Knox piece until I read the byline. May I suggest that it also possible to reach Powell River if you wish to avoid both the Malahat and Vancouver traffic by the same route.

I can only imagine the reason anyone who would want to do this would be the thought of turning a five-minute medical appointment into a whole day of incredible fun waiting in ferry lineups. This happy benefit due to overloads on both routes.

Vancouver Islanders can experience even more enjoyment as we have the main route between the two Salt Spring terminals closed, and traffic being detoured along a road barely wide enough for two cars to pass and with a speed limit of 30 km/h.

William Neish
Salt Spring Island

Sorry, the Salt Spring route has a major flaw

While the idea of traversing Salt Spring Island to bypass the Malahat may seem logical, people should be aware that B.C. Ferries has, in its usual inimitable, bumbling way, taken away the 65-car Vesuvius/Crofton ferry that was often overloaded and replaced it with a 44-car ferry which is very frequently overloaded.

Count on missing at least one sailing, which will add another hour to your trip.

Kerry Butler
Salt Spring Island

Explain Macdonald’s role, do not cancel him

Re: “Having second thoughts about Sir John A.?” letter, Nov. 20.

A letter-writer wishes to know if we are having second thoughts about the removal of Sir John A. Macdonald’s statue from the front of city hall.

Well, I am, because I believe a better course would have been to explain Macdonald’s role, warts and all, in the founding of our country rather than caving in to a cancel-culture mentality.

David B. Collins
Victoria

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