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Letters Nov. 28: Lack of logic in loss of visitors claim; new short-term-rental rules make sense; housing policy ruffles feathers

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The Beacon Hill Moss Lady, being built in September 2015. BRUCE STOTESBURY, TIMES COLONIST

Hotels will gain visitors, Victoria will keep money

Re: “Short-term rental ban will cost ­hundreds of millions of dollars,” ­commentary, Nov. 23.

I am not in the hotel business, I have no investment in the business, and as far as I know I don’t know anyone in the business.

But a lot of my career was spent in the logic business, and that commentary is sadly lacking in logic.

It starts by saying that the hotel industry lobby is responsible for the ban on short-term rentals, presumably so their occupancy rate will increase.

Then the story tells us that because we are losing short-term rentals all the money generated by visitors who stayed in those rentals will be lost, $20 million a year, adding up to $200 million over 10 years.

But that assumes that the hotel industry is completely wrong, and wasted all sorts of time and money on lobbying, because those visitors will not continue to visit Victoria and hotel occupancy rates will not increase.

I’m willing to bet that the hotel industry is right: occupancy rates will increase, visitor numbers will not decrease, and Victoria will not lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

Any takers?

Ian Cameron

Brentwood Bay

Limit on short-term rentals is long overdue

Re: “Short-term rental ban will cost ­hundreds of millions of dollars,” ­commentary, Nov. 23.

The new legislation is not a ban on short-term rentals.

The new legislation specifically permits STR in:

• The host’s principal residence

• Plus one secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit

Also, the new legislation will dramatically cut down illegal short-term rentals which are arguably far greater in number than anything Langlois’ comment stated about “legal” numbers.

Let’s bear in mind that when the automating tools (like Airbnb) first started out, they were designed to facilitate in-home extra-bed rental (after which they morphed into hotel-like, high-fee monopolistic entities often promoting illegal STR units).

I am a prime prospective STR customer: I visit Victoria from time to time and stay in hotels or at a friend’s (since the STR offers such as Airbnb are now ridiculously expensive, risky, and often misleading in what they offer).

Municipalities around the world lost sight of what it means to plan for residential neighbourhoods with respect to schools, hospitals, emergency services and other infrastructure when they ignored the increasing commoditization of residential housing via STRs.

Hotel services are planned, zoned and regulated. STRs are pop-ups. These STRs stepped way out of line. The line is being redrawn. Long overdue.

Leslie Warren

Barrie, Ont.

Eby is not helping those who need housing

While Premier David Eby’s recent efforts are nominally intended to ensure affordable housing, I would suggest that they will have the opposite effect.

Overriding rental restrictions in condominiums has simply created a pool of condos to be snapped up by greedy speculators and landlords who will use the proceeds of exorbitant rents charged on other properties to outbid any potential buyers who are hoping to purchase a condo in which to live financed solely by employment income, which for most of us has declined in real terms over the past few years.

Meanwhile condo owners have been stripped of their rights to have a say in the running of the buildings they collectively own.

Similarly, overriding municipal zoning plans is supposed to lower the cost of housing based on some vague theory of supply and demand, yet the province’s strategy utterly fails to take into account the potential for any putative increase in housing starts to increase the demand for construction labour and building materials, further exacerbating their already skyrocketing cost.

By what esoteric economic theory does driving up the cost of building housing lead to more affordable housing?

While Eby claims to be helping to create affordable housing, I suspect he will succeed only in putting more money in the pockets of landlords and building material wholesalers.

Robert Smith

Victoria

Changing housing rules will ruffle feathers

The NDP government’s new housing policies appear to be working — or at the very least ruffling a few feathers. In less than a week, the readers of this paper have heard from a founding member of the “Short-Term Rental Alliance” and from a landlord about a forthcoming NDP-led disaster.

The first commentary was replete with claims about the new policies causing the city immense economic hardship — without a single source to back them up. Beyond the questionable financial figures, the commentary takes issue with the policy creating “a monopoly for hotels.” It does nothing of the sort.

What it does (in theory) is reveal the hotels currently masquerading as homes, and then turns them back into long-term housing.

The second commentary seems to wholly confirm what the policies are meant to do; namely, to take houses out of financial portfolios and return them to the market for others to one day live in.

Of the author’s own admission, “I am now selling my portfolio.”

The commentary then suggests a completely rational policy proposal, believing it to be outlandish: capping rent at 30 per cent of a person’s income.

What would be a sufficient amount? Fifty per cent? 75? Should every dollar not spent on food and other essentials go to rent?

Glad to see the NDP finally making an impact on housing (even if it means upsetting the few who have long benefited from this unequal system).

James Mager

Victoria

Those people in tents are on land we need

Re: “Shelter legislation paused while province consults local governments,” Nov. 24.

How dare these people in their affordable nylon housing take up valuable land that could be used for another high-end condo development.

Glen Rogers

Victoria

The critical question about homelessness

A question about homeless encampments:

Where are people with nowhere to go supposed to go?

Bill Appledorf

Victoria

All the new people are making things worse

Do federal politicians not realize increasing the population by a million people every year causes more housing shortages?

It only makes sense that there has to be accommodation available for that many new people. Without that match-up some people are going to be homeless.

If the new arrivals might have enough money to buy or rent living space, the only other result has to be that some of the current population will not be able to find (or afford) living space.

Rental cost is a simple supply versus demand matter. I think it is wonderful that Canada is opening its doors for ­people who need help.

My point is that there are just so many actual doors that are available to open. All levels of government need to do whatever it has to do, to ensure new building at least matches the number of new arrivals and more.

We must fix the housing shortage and also health-care issues before bringing in lots more people. Otherwise we are making bad problems worse.

Larry Ware

Saanich

Our Moss Lady needs some love

I’ve been watching Beacon Hill Moss Lady go downhill for years now. Just have to say something.

Its lack of maintenance is showing badly. Most of the moss is gone and there are patches everywhere. This sculpture is a tourist attraction and should be looked after properly.

We are losing our moniker of the City of Gardens. We can do better.

Dale Doebert

Shawnigan Lake

Great financial returns too good to be true

Re: “Where in the world is Greg Martel?” Nov. 26.

My question would be: Who expects incredible returns on their investment when interest rates have approached zero per cent over the past few years?

The universal motivating factor here is greed, plain and simple.

Remember that tired bromide, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

Next time, put your money in a food bank or social cause. The returns are significantly better, and in some cases can be sustained in perpetuity.

Colin Newell

Victoria

Write about his victims, not Greg Martel’s life

Re: “Where in the world is Greg Martel?” Nov. 26.

The article on Greg Martel was very enlightening. It was so nice to read about his various multimillion-dollar homes and his $340,000 Maserati.

Those full-page professional pictures of him really highlighted his good looks. I really like the one of him on the yacht too.

It’s too bad that the one paragraph about the pesky “angry investors” mentioned his “administrative problems” in paying back the $300 million, because he sounds like such a nice guy.

I am glad we didn’t have to read about all those people who have lost their money and instead the focus was on Martel and his lifestyle.

What about that huge watch on his wrist? Was that a Rolex? Perhaps we can have another article soon about where he got his suits made and what kind of jewellery he likes. Shame on this writer for glorifying a scam artist.

Jeff Hunter-Smith

Victoria

Knocked down while walking downtown

Last week as I was walking along Store Street I was hit hard by an out-of-control skateboarder who came whizzing across the street between traffic.

He yelled “look out!” before we collided which knocked me to the pavement. He didn’t stop, he just shrugged and carried on down the sidewalk.

Fortunately I didn’t break any bones in the fall. The overwhelming emotion I had was righteous indignation at such a brazen and careless act of violence. I think that his indifference was more upsetting than the physical hurt that he had inflicted on me.

We hear a lot about random acts of violence and theft which definitely deters my generation (I’m 78) from going downtown. I like the vibrancy of our city but deplore the laissez-faire attitude of many of the youth who populate the streets.

What has happened to the notion of civility in today’s world?

I was brought up with the non-denominational credo “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s simple courtesy but it seems to be in very short supply these days. When did the culture of entitlement supersede personal responsibility?

Although bruised and shaken by the event, I had my faith in humanity restored by a few people who had witnessed the “hit” and came to my aid.

I want to believe that those people represent a majority who believe that we all have the civil right to walk the streets of our city without fear of violence.

Wendy Piercy

Victoria

Complex intersection means a traffic mess

Re: “Mourning the loss of the old Fort Street,” letter, Nov. 14.

That is not the only example of poor road planning in Victoria. The intersection of Store/Wharf, Pandora and Johnson has become a dangerous mess!

Maybe because of the complexity of the intersection, but it appears to be impossible to synchronize the traffic, bike and pedestrian lights.

This often leads to traffic getting stuck in the middle of the intersection and we often see pedestrians trying to squeeze between the vehicles to cross the road.

I wrote to the city, but they replied to say, basically, that it was as good as they could get it!

John Fletcher

Brentwood Bay

Copenhagen segregates different types of traffic

Re: “Mourning the loss of the old Fort Street,” letter, Nov. 14.

I concur with the writer’s sentiments and wonder how such poor insight and judgment by the city ever came to be.

I recently had the pleasure to visit Copenhagen, Denmark. Cycling is the dominate mode of transportation in the downtown core and surrounding municipalities.

It works because there is a three-tiered roadway, i.e., a sidewalk, a bike path, and a roadway, all segregated from each other on different levels.

Pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles move independently without ever being squeezed onto one multipurpose thoroughfare. Traffic flows, tempers remain even, car horns are silent, bicycle bells ring cheerfully.

No need for red light cameras either! Mystery solved, in part, why the Danes are the happiest people in the world.

I wonder if our city planners visited Copenhagen and tried to create the same system in Victoria. Nice try, but not even close.

Copenhagen has built their three-tiered roadways since the early 1900s and this hasn’t changed because it works.

Victoria — too little, too late, I’m afraid.

Edward P. Baess

Victoria

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