Letters Nov. 9: Logistics of ‘free’ bus passes, old-growth forests

Will pictures be required for ‘free’ bus passes?

The City of Victoria has confirmed that monthly transit passes will be available for city residents under 19 at no charge on Dec. 1.

The scary part is that, according to Mayor Lisa Helps, with just a few weeks to go until activation, the city still does not know how it will work.

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Parents of up to 7,200 residents of the city can show up to city hall to get “free” passes for their kids. Documentation and proof of eligibility? Who knows.

Will the passes require pictures to limit misuse?

And get ready to go through the whole thing again on New Year’s Day and every first of the month until the end of time.

Why is the Times Colonist being complicit in this boondoggle by proclaiming the passes as “free”? Shouldn’t the headline read: “Victoria taxpayers to pay for under-19 transit passes starting Dec. 1”?

J. D. Walmsley

Victoria

Be creative when borrowing buses

I was surprised to read that B.C. Transit was borrowing buses from Abbotsford and Kelowna. With car sharing well established maybe it is time for bus sharing. This morning there were 19 double deckers, that are normally used for the cruise ship shuttle, parked silently at Ogden Point. With cruise ship passengers dramatically reduced after Labour Day, frustrated students trying to get buses in September and October, and B.C. Transit trying to avoid thousands of pass-ups, there is surely a creative short-term solution before the cavalry arrives with more new buses.

Christopher Causton

Victoria

Sun will rise earlier in California

Next year, if we stay on daylight time, on Dec. 18 — the last day of school before Christmas break — sunrise in Victoria will be at 9:01 a.m. In Prince George, sunrise will be at 9:26 a.m.

The argument that we will be synched with California is flawed. Sunrise in Los Angeles will be at 7:53 a.m. That’s one hour and eight minutes earlier than Victoria. California is closer to the equator and therefore will not be affected as negatively as B.C. by adopting daylight time year-round.

Our concern is for students and their teachers. It’s tough enough for teachers to keep students engaged in the days leading up to their winter holidays, and a dark start to the day will be detrimental to learning.

K.S. Kearns

Saanich

We need to protect old-growth forests

Re: “Growing saplings remove more carbon” and “Some trees contribute to global warming,” letters, Nov. 8.

Two letters in the Nov. 8 Times Colonist erroneously state (without valid reference) that old-growth forests release more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than they sequester. They lead me to wonder whether they are speaking for forestry interests that would love to harvest our coastal old-growth forests.

Most recent research results on this topic confirm that most old forests are neither carbon neutral nor net carbon emitters. Older trees (to 800 years) continue to store carbon in soil, trees and organic matter, with estimates of 1,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare (e.g., see Nature, Sept. 11, 2008). Forest carbon is released primarily during forest fires and from dead trees killed by pest infestations such as the mountain pine beetle. Both types of event are increasing in frequency and severity from prolonged droughts caused by global warming. In fact, most of our old-growth forests are in coastal regions least affected by these events to date.

Protection of old-growth forests therefore remains a negative feedback to global warming in the same way as replanting areas previously cleared for agriculture or other development. An earlier letter which both writers refer to (“Two saplings can’t replace a mature tree”) therefore remains a valid statement, and we should protect old-growth forests.

Geoff Strong

Atmospheric/climate scientist

Cowichan Bay

Gas-powered vehicles get biggest subsidies

Re: “Taxpayers subsidize true costs of EVs,” letter, Nov. 5.

The letter writer is correct in looking at subsidies to assess the true cost of driving a vehicle. However, his conclusion is deeply flawed.

It is gasoline-powered vehicles — not electric cars — that receive the greatest subsidies, by far. These include massive tax breaks to oil and gas companies, very significant health-care costs due to air pollution, water pollution due to runoff from roads, and major agricultural losses due to air pollution (estimated in California to be in the billions of dollars annually in that state alone).

Not to be forgotten are the costs of pipeline spills and the devastating, incalculable cost of a major oil-tanker spill — both of which occur with alarming frequency.

Gas cars are a major source of greenhouse gases, so we could add “destroying life on Earth as we know it” to the list of their hidden costs.

It is society that bears these costs, not the operator of the gas vehicle. If gasoline cars were not heavily subsidized, and owners were paying the true cost of the havoc we wreak, they would not be a viable transportation option.

In comparison, the subsidies received by electric-car drivers are minuscule.

Richard Brunt

Victoria

Victoria should ban fireworks, too

Re: “Vancouver bans personal use of fireworks,” Nov. 6.

Vancouver is doing it and so should Victoria. It’s cruel to animals and has negative effects on neighbours.

Ross Ferguson

Victoria

Pre-industrial herring abundance ignored

Re: “Groups call for closure of herring fishery in Strait of Georgia,” Nov. 5.

In preindustrial times, herring were superabundant along southwest Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea., while modern herring populations can be erratic and exhibit catastrophic declines, according to a years-long study by Iain McKechnie, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Victoria, and many others, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014.

Preindustrial abundance is ignored when setting fishing limits. Something else that is ignored is the effect of the commercial fishery on the marine ecosystem.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Draft Integrated Fisheries Management Plan 2017-2018 for Pacific herring says there is no information available on the appropriate conservation limits for Pacific herring based on ecosystem considerations.

Not until fishery management plans include appropriate conservation limits based on ecosystem considerations should the commercial herring fishery be opened.

Ray Zimmermann

Victoria

Why the 59-cent price gap with Alberta?

Re: “B.C. to track data on gasoline supply, pricing,” Nov. 7.

Just returned home from a week-long trip to Alberta. We refilled our rental car prior to returning it and paid 86.9 cents per litre. We got back to B.C. and the price per litre is $1.459

It is obvious we are getting a raw deal on gas prices here in B.C., as that is 59 cents per litre higher here.

Yvonne Andre

Campbell River

Is my phone call really important to them?

Is it just me, or is everyone experiencing the same frustrating phone calls?

I am referring to any government site or bank site where you try to contact them and get the same message: “We are experiencing above-normal call volume. Please stay on the line, as your call is important to us.”

Then you stay on the line, hearing the same message over and over.

What happened to customer service?

I always end up standing in line at the bank or other institution, so I can finally get satisfaction from a real live human.

They told us computers would make our lives easier. Sure is working out.

Next, they’ll tell us the computer cares deeply about our problem. As AI is advancing, I am waiting for the day when you call up and a computer tells you: “I don’t care what your problem is stupid human. Thank-you for your call.”

Carol Dunsmuir

Victoria

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• Email: letters@timescolonist.com

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 2621 Douglas St., Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2.

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