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Letters Oct. 19: Saanich's e-bike subsidies; elected officials and a higher standard

How best to measure Saanich’s bike subsidies It’s easy to question the merit in spending $200,000 of local taxpayers’ money in supporting a mere 300 people to buy an electric bike.
A cyclist uses the bicycle pedestrian overpass at the Mackenzie Interchange. Letter-writers question Saanich’s decision to offer rebates to e-bike buyers in an effort to encourage more cycling in the region. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

How best to measure Saanich’s bike subsidies

It’s easy to question the merit in spending $200,000 of local taxpayers’ money in supporting a mere 300 people to buy an electric bike.

I’m far from convinced that such a win will encourage those folk to drive less and cycle more in a substantive enough way to have a value-for-money impact on climate change.

How many of those winners would have purchased an electric bike anyway? Will the bikes only be used recreationally?

These are tough questions best answered by those with more expertise in this field than me.

However, an initiative that rewards so few people who simply had the time and wherewithal to apply is nothing more than a lottery win that benefits a few and leaves the rest picking up the $200,000 tab.

If we are all to benefit from such feel-good spending, then can I suggest that GPS trackers are installed in each of these 300 bikes as a condition of the rebate and their use is tracked over a fixed period of time.

That would at least then give us some data to evaluate this spending.

Paul Cunnington

Here is a vote against Saanich’s e-bike program

I smell a property tax revolt brewing over Saanich’s bizarro-world environmental policies.

There is no money for boulevard maintenance budgets, no money for plant beautification upgrades, no money to lower water rates in summer, no money to fix our streets properly — all things I and many citizens have asked for.

These “no money” projects directly and immediately affect ratepayers’ quality of life, financial well-being and surprise, surprise, protects our dead and dying urban forests.

Trees that directly affect the air we breathe daily here in Saanich! Plants that feed the bees and birds here.

Instead Saanich has money for electric vehicle subsidies. E- bikes, most are made in China, one of the largest polluters on the planet.

This in a municipality with some of the cleanest air on the planet.

Council’s policies accomplish zero/zip/nada to mitigate damages from global warming. Its policies are contributing to global warming.

Saanich councillors need to realize that they are small-town councillors, not national and provincial policy makers.

Doug Coulson

Saanich should offer rebates for all bicycles

Saanich is offering generous rebates for people to purchase e-bikes. This is to encourage a low-carbon, renewable-energy transportation option.

Why, oh why are there no rebates for the plain old human-powered bicycle? They are even more low-carbon and you can’t get better renewable energy than a person slogging away on their bicycle.

(Plus those darn e-bikes are practically like small motorbikes on the trails and can sometimes feel quite dangerous when you are out for a stroll.)

The same as the Scrap-It program, which I used to get an old oily car off the road, but I wasn’t able to get an equivalent amount for the regular bicycle I replaced it with, compared with if I’d bought an e-bike.

Sure, e-bikes are progress over cars, but there is an even better option and we should incentivize people to go even further towards helping the environment than a motorized vehicle of any sort.

With the added benefit that bike riders are healthier and leaner and overall it will reduce the burden on our health-care system. It practically pays for itself.

Margaret Magee

Don’t forget North Saanich is a transportation hub

Perhaps every one of the 13 municipalities in the region is unique, but none is more so than North Saanich.

The former mayor has opined that the region requires the products of the municipality’s agricultural sector. Curiously, former mayor Alice Finall seemingly overlooks the other strengths of this community upon which the region is even more dependent — transportation and manufacturing.

North Saanich hosts YYJ and B.C. Ferries. The jobs of thousands in the region depend on the council recognizing and balancing the needs of all three sectors — no easy task as the current Official Community Plan controversy demonstrates all too clearly.

Municipal councils face significant challenges in any community, but none more than the 13 that are both independent in law and totally interdependent in all aspects of governing.

Agriculture is important. Canada is one of the largest food exporters on Earth. We are good at it. But the region is a global tourist destination and a globally competitive manufacturing centre.

In both of these, North Saanich plays an outsized role.

John Treleaven

North Saanich is fine just the way it is

Re: “North Saanich needs to be a complete community,” commentary, Oct. 13.

Responding to the commentary by a former chair of the North Saanich Planning Commission and having heard the opinion of an obvious pro-developer, there is an alternative view that would represent the great majority of North Saanich residents.

We choose to live in North Saanich because we like it as it is. We see no reason, need or benefit to more traffic, more pollution, more building and more stress on us, our environment and our resources.

In fact, by maintaining the status quo North Saanich residents are helping with the viability of Sidney, Saanichton and Brentwood Bay by supporting their businesses, including their pubs.

There is certainty that the businesses in these centres would not be supportive of North Saanich building competing town centres. There are adequate transportation networks in place for residents to freely get around.

As a place to live North Saanich is a great success; council and staff should listen to the residents who pay for their salaries and services.

If there is any doubt as to the wishes of the majority of residents, council should include a clear and simple ballot question in the next municipal election.

Frank Towler
North Saanich

It’s just drivel, it’s not well thought out

In response to a recent letter writer’s assertion that people opposed to the COVID vaccine “… hold strong and well-thought-out reasons for not receiving it at this time,” I would like to inquire as to what some of those supposedly well-thought-out reasons might be.

The explanatory rhetoric most associated with the anti-vax movement is nothing but a sad little jumble of conspiracy theories, alleged satanic influence and enough pseudo-scientific drivel to fill the internet to the brim.

These are not rational reasons for refusing a safe and highly effective means of safeguarding yourself, your loved ones and the rest of society from a disease that has killed millions of people.

Not to do so is the ultimate selfishness. Selfishness is not a “well-thought-out” reason. It is merely the act of a child masquerading as an adult.

Len Dafoe
Nanoose Bay

Elected representatives and a higher standard

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns’ commentary on human rights and vaccines misrepresents the responsibility of public sector service to the public.

I agree with Ranns that by now, those adults who have wanted and who are able to have the vaccine will have had it and those that have not will have their reasons, whatever they may be. I fully respect that.

Ranns makes a logical flaw in his argument, inferring the “public” narrowly as “adults,” and seems to miss those that do not have access to vaccines (children), or those who are immune-compromised.

As elected representatives we have to consider the broader public interest, especially as our employees are working with the public, in service to the public.

The expectation of governance is drastically different than those of private business.

In settings with large public gatherings or where you have the responsibility and obligation to serve all the public, we are obligated to consider more than just the individual, we must consider all citizens — and as elected officials and employers it is only responsible to require ourselves and our staff to be vaccinated.

If conditions exist that do not allow for vaccinations to be received, we as employers have tools to manage this with regular testing or other measures.

Mayor Ranns, appreciating your position about standing up for individual rights, I think you have focused your position not as a public servant but as a private citizen, and used your role in your community to promote it.

Gord Baird, councillor
District of Highlands

Freedom fighters, unite in the ICU

Re: “Don’t force vaccines on health-care workers,” letter Oct. 16.

I disagree with the plea for sympathy of unvaccinated health-care workers. There should be no sympathy for extremely selfish, unprofessional health-care workers who put patients, colleagues, family, friends and the rest of us at great risk.

The actions of the B.C. government are justifiable and reasonable during a worldwide health crisis. They have the power and responsibility to institute mandatory vaccinations to protect all of us.

Freedom and rights are not being infringed upon if you are asked to be part of the solution to the problem and you do not participate.

I would like to have the freedom to live in the future without masks, distancing and vaccination passports. And I want to be able to enter my local hospital knowing that the paramedics, health-care workers and hospital staff have been vaccinated.

As a retired health-care worker, I know from my training and career experience that the patient was always my first priority. My responsibility was to keep patients safe and to do no harm.

For health-care workers to refuse vaccination is unjustifiable, indefensible, inexcusable and unforgivable. To remove these health-care workers from their positions is the right thing to do, as they are exhibiting unprofessional and irrational behaviour.

Surely, their co-workers would be happy to see them gone.

To all you unvaccinated health-care workers, it must bring you comfort knowing that the last days of your life will be spent in an ICU ward with your fellow freedom fighters in the beds next to you.

Susan Williams

With proper bike routes, motor vehicle traffic evaporates

Re: “Richardson work has destroyed a fine street,” commentary, Oct. 15.

Bike and roll routes need to be safe havens for “meandering seniors, kids, families and unskilled cyclists.” If bike routes are not safe and comfortable for families riding with children, and seniors riding e-bikes and mobility scooters, they serve no real purpose. People who like riding in traffic don’t need bike routes — any road will do.

Comfortable and safe all ages and abilities (AAA) bike and roll routes also provide smooth routes for people with disabilities riding power wheelchairs and mobility scooters. A large proportion of the population, young and old, can enjoy safe and affordable low-carbon travel on these routes.

When road space is reallocated to bike routes, traffic usually “evaporates” — car volumes drop as bike riding soars. Building real AAA bike and roll routes is effective climate action that works for everyone, including people who continue to drive.

Eric Doherty

Cedar Hill Golf Club has contributed plenty

Contrary to what Saanich municipal staff presented to council on Sept. 23, Cedar Hill Golf Club members do not receive “exclusive and high value benefits at no charge.”

What club members and non-members receive in return for buying green fees and annual passes is access to the best municipal course on the Island.

The staff report cites losing $10,000 annually in room rental revenue due to the club’s use of a room for our monthly board meeting. However, this math does not add up.

We use about 15 hours of room space per year. For Saanich to report they lost $10,000 would mean they rent the room for $650 an hour. This is just one example of a glaring error in their reporting.

Our 69-year community working relationship with Saanich resulted in the club donating over $130,000 towards capital improvements; generating $250,000 in food and beverage revenue; purchasing over $240,000 worth of prizes over the past 10 years, and most importantly raising $213,500 for Victoria Hospice.

These are true facts, which were omitted in the Saanich staff report to council on Sept. 23.

My goal is to challenge the veracity of the financial assumptions contained in the staff report and get council members to ask the right questions using correct information.

Jeffrey Monty, president
Cedar Hill Golf Club

Hey, Prince William: Keep calm, read more

When Prince William says, “great minds should focus on saving Earth, not space travel” he dumbs down complex challenges placing them into sound bites that cannot inspire to do and know better.

Space-based technologies, such as remotely sensed data, have enhanced scientific understanding of water cycles, air quality, forests and other aspects of the natural environment.

These surveying and monitoring tools provide valuable information on the state of ecosystems, which offers objective support for positive environmental action, including conservation and sustainable resource management.

For example: Protecting spacecraft during the extreme heat of atmospheric entry improves the efficiency of incinerators, boilers, and refractories, ovens, and more.

This pioneering of materials now saves energy by preserving temperatures at industrial facilities.

From trapping greenhouse gases to conserving energy, those efforts are contributing to discoveries that enable us to find answers that efficiently help us.

Your Royal Highness: Dream like a child, reason like an adult. But for pity’s sake, read more.

William Perry


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