Letters Oct. 13: Doubt about railway survey; voting by mail; harmful plastics

Predictable outcome for E&N survey

Re: “Most people want Island rail service restarted, survey finds,” Oct. 10.

I took the opportunity to complete the E&N Railway “survey.” I am using the term survey as generously as I possibly can for it is not truly a survey. Here is an example of one of the questions that struck me as trying to skew the results of the survey in the favour of the E&N ongoing saga.

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“Even though you do not believe rail transport is a viable option do you support the notion of rail to help serve island communities and alleviate traffic congestion?”

This was subject to how you responded to the previous question.

It’s kind of like we did not like your answer so you will now have to respond to another loaded question that will support the E&N Railway.

The survey should be neutral and should allow people to fill out the questions with what they want or think, and not be used to skew the responses. You only got this question if you did not respond appropriately to the previous one.

If it was a viable business and able to generate revenue Canadian Pacific would never have donated it to the government.

Glenn White
Shawnigan Lake

Survey does not reveal support for rail

Re: “Most people want Island rail service restarted, survey finds,” Oct. 10.

The survey produced and released by the Island Corridor Foundation does not reveal that most Islanders want Island rail service restarted. The survey was not a random survey of Island residents. It was a voluntary online survey.

At most, assuming that people didn’t take the survey more than once (though that is not a difficult thing to do), it revealed that 2,862 Islanders like the idea of a railroad (81 per cent of the 3,533 respondents who answered the survey, less than half of one per cent of the population of the Island).

All it probably reveals is that supporters of rail service (think Sheldon from Big Bang Theory) are willing to answer online surveys. I took the survey, and it was clearly designed to produce the results the foundation was looking for.

Robert Lewis
Victoria

Long wait for vote-by-mail package

On Sept. 28, my wife and I applied for a vote-by-mail package. As of end of Oct. 9, we have not received the package. If the same delay applies when we eventually receive the package and mail in our votes, there is no way they will arrive in time to be counted.

I have heard from other people that it took two weeks for their package to arrive.

Anyone applying for a mail-in package now may as well forget it and vote in person.

Laurence Mackett
Victoria

Counting backwards is not a real test

Re: “Seniors drivers test is ­degrading,” letter, Oct. 9.

The writer speaks for many seniors who are required to take this test every two years after the age of 80.

I have taken it six times over nine years despite the fact that I have a clean driving record. It is a waste of the doctors’ valuable time and does not test one’s driving ability.

Just because I can count backwards from 99 to 77 by twos does not mean I can handle a complex driving situation.

Only a road test can accurately assess one’s driving skills. The mandatory seniors test should be discontinued and drivers of any age who have poor driving records should have to pass a road test.

Dorothy Mullen
Victoria

Stop the flow of homeless adults

Imagine that you enter your house and hear a tap running. You see the kitchen tap on full blast. The sink is overflowing. Water is running down the cabinets and spreading across the floor. What would you do?

First, you would turn off the tap. Then you would grab rags, sponges, and towels to mop up the water on the floor.

Let’s apply the same logic to the “homeless crisis.” Our current efforts are like mopping the floor before you turn off the tap.

Every day, dysfunctional families are producing damaged children who are at great risk of becoming homeless. Every day, children in provincial care turn 19 and are cut loose to sink or swim. Some of those children become homeless adults.

Let’s follow the lead of Threshold Housing Society. The mission of the society is to reduce adult homelessness. The method is to support youth in their transition to successful adulthood. This reduces the flow of homeless adults.

We should support families so their children will not be damaged. Support could be delivered by public health workers with various skill sets.

Teachers, police, and social workers could look for signs of physical and emotional damage. Older women could visit young mothers as sort of foster grannies. Older men could support young fathers in similar ways.

Universal child care and guaranteed basic income could remove a lot of the stresses that cause families to descend into the chaos that damages children.

Let’s continue to reduce the suffering of homeless adults but let’s also turn off the flow.

David Stocks
Saanich

Plastic bottles are the real problem

Re: “Straws, stir sticks and bags among first targets of countrywide plastics ban,” Oct. 7.

The federal environment minister is to be congratulated for beginning the ban on plastic bags, utensils and straws. However, he has conveniently missed an elephant in the room: plastic water bottles.

Of the half trillion plastic water bottles sold worldwide, only nine per cent is recycled. The rest finds its way to landfills, waterways and elsewhere in the environment.

Every year, Canadians consume more than two billion plastic bottles of water, despite the fact that the vast majority have clean, safe water supplied through public services.

(The sad plight of some First Nations reserves is another matter.)

Meanwhile, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada openly promotes the “health and welfare benefits” of bottled water, particularly flavoured varieties.

British Columbia is particularly guilty of promoting the bottled water industry by charging ­ridiculously low rates for extraction.

Burnaby-based Whistler Water churns out 43,000 bottles of water every hour with plans to market their product in China, while one Chinese investor has already shipped 200 container loads of water from a well in Chilliwack.

Governments of every stripe in this province have allowed the commodifying of a substance that should be a public trust. In reaction to the many new bottled water sites, the Union of B.C. Municipalities in 2019 passed a resolution asking government to put an end to all water extractions for the bottled water industry.

So far nothing has been done, while plastic bottles continue to foul the environment and a precious resource is being depleted.

Shirley McBride
Victoria

Plastics are doing great harm

I was pleased to learn that the federal government is banning single-use plastics. I am not anti-plastic — it is a durable and useful material.

But plastic products designed for single use are problematic. Many cannot be easily recycled and end up in landfills, rivers and the ocean. Plastic can last a very long time in the marine environment, slowly breaking down into microplastics that have spread across the seven seas.

Why do we use plastic for things meant to be discarded? A plastic bag could last 20-30 years in the sea. A foam buoy may persist in the marine environment for 50 years, which seems useful. But do we want a styrofoam cup to remain in the ocean for 50 years?

A six-pack holder might remain for 400 years; why do we need it to last so long?

Disposable diapers could last 450 years in the ocean. Why do we design diapers to far outlast the baby that wears them?

Plastics have been shown to entrap and poison nearly 700 marine species. Many sea creatures eat plastics, which can leach additives such as phthalate acid esters (PAEs) into their bodies.

PAEs disrupt the endocrine ­system, and have been detected in the tissues of Mediterranean sea squirts and the eggs of Arctic seabirds.

Once eaten, many plastic trash items like lighters and bottle caps can get stuck in the stomachs of whales, turtles and albatrosses, causing them great discomfort and gradual starvation.

It’s high time we phase out single-use plastics.

Dwight Owens
Langford

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