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Letters Oct. 26: Health care at Oak Bay Lodge; comparing smoking vs. COVID

Yes, Oak Bay Lodge should offer health care Re: “Oak Bay residents keen to see health care return to lodge site,” Oct. 17. I couldn’t believe what I was reading when Oak Bay Coun.
The 235-bed Oak Bay Lodge provided care for seniors until it was emptied this year when residents moved into the new Summit building on Hillside Avenue. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Yes, Oak Bay Lodge should offer health care

Re: “Oak Bay residents keen to see health care return to lodge site,” Oct. 17.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading when Oak Bay Coun. Cairine Green was quoted as saying “one issue causing concern was the idea of mental health and addiction services on the parcel.”

Have Oak Bay residents had their heads in the sand since the beginning of the 20th century?

Have they not read of the many people who were legitimately prescribed opioids by physicians only to become addicted?

Have they no one in their lives who have a mental illness needing treatment in hospital?

The mentally ill and addicted are in every walk of life from loving stable ­families to those who are unable to provide a healthy home environment.

Lynn Martin

Smoking vs. COVID? Really, no comparison

Re: “COVID deaths vs. smoking deaths,” letter, Oct. 14.

Comparing smoking deaths and COVID deaths is misleading. There might be more deaths due to smoking than COVID, but such crude comparisons present confused perspectives.

Unlike COVID deaths that occur within weeks or months, each smoking death occurs over a period of perhaps 20 to 30 years or more.

With smoking deaths, the demand for health-care resources is spread over a long period; with COVID, resources are needed within a short period; that is why our health-care providers are exhausted and ICU resources stretched.

It is true, as the writer points out, governments get considerable tax revenue from cigarette sales, but what relevance or significance does this tax revenue have compared to the economic and social cost of COVID — the cost to the health-care system, hospitality industry, tourism, public and private sector and on top of that billions of tax dollars that are being spent by governments in providing free COVID vaccine and in relief payments to many who have been unable to work because of COVID.

Also, we should not lose sight of the fact that both COVID and smoking are public health threats.

However, the threat due to smoking is visible — if a group of people is smoking, one can walk away from the potential health threat. On the other hand, the threat due to COVID is invisible.

Unless people are vaccinated, we do not know the potential health threat looming around us. Employers are legally obligated to provide a safe workplace. If someone smokes outside the worksite and comes in, there is no safety issue for others.

But if an unvaccinated employee steps into a workplace, the safety of everyone else is threatened. What choice does an employer have — no matter whether there are more smoking deaths or less?

Jeet Rana

Ambulance gave fast, professional response

In light of the several complaints I have read recently about our ambulance ­service, I feel I must relate a recent ­personal experience.

My husband, a heart patient, was having chest problems late one night. I called 911, explained the problem, and was immediately put through to ambulance service, who were competent and helpful.

After I put down the phone, the ambulance arrived in less than five minutes. The team that arrived was pleasant, ­professional, knowledgeable and very helpful.

How can we not feel appreciative of such an excellent service?

April Pettinger

All public servants should work remotely

The B.C. Public Service is ordering all public servants to return to their government offices mid-November.

If the B.C. government were sincerely interested in all staff’s holistic health, they would allow those who can (which is the majority) to continue to work remotely from home indefinitely.

Staff managed to effectively do their jobs for 19 months from their homes, because the vast majority of ­government work is done via computers and mobile devices. Government managed to ­function perfectly well for the past year and half this way.

Remote work is the wave of the future and this government needs to ­modernize. Remote work is also preventative in spreading any type of contagious illness.

Continued remote work should be an option for unvaccinated employees who have legitimate concerns and who otherwise risk the punitive consequences of losing their home, pension and ability to provide for their family.

All this will accomplish is more homelessness and mental illness. People have suffered enough.

There’s absolutely no need to create more suffering when there are viable alternatives that have a safe proven track record. Working remotely is a compassionate, fair and sensible solution.

Mary Standell

Will we ever have enough housing for everyone?

As one of the many hundreds of residents questioning the development express train that is the North Saanich Official Community Plan review, I wonder what the Residential Homebuilders’ Association executive director — who says he’s up to almost 4,000 homes a year “and it still won’t be enough” — offers the area in the way of a long-term plan.

Does he expect to build 4,000 homes a year unto eternity? Will that ever be enough? And when he covers every bit of South Island open space with construction and asphalt, who will want to live here?

Don Enright
North Saanich

No height restrictions in new Langford zoning

In August, Langford council adopted a bylaw which included a City Centre Pedestrian zone that has no height restrictions on buildings.

This bylaw opens the door for council to approve developments such as the ­proposed Langford Central and Gateway projects that will result in six towers — 24, 22, 18, 18, 17, and 13 storeys.

The creation of the City Centre Pedestrian zone and potential building of numerous towers is substantive in that it will forever change the basic character of Langford; will set a precedent and trajectory for the evolution of our community; and, will significantly compound a range of existing issues, including appropriately sized developments within existing neighbourhoods and those related to hard/soft infrastructure, such as traffic, parking, health-care resources, community services, safety, etc.

To uphold the integrity of such a significant and path carving change, common sense would dictate the requirement of effective broad-based outreach to and engagement with community residents.

While city staff proactively requested feedback from the West Shore Developers Association and the Economic Development Committee, well in advance of the bylaw coming forward for approval, actions were sorely lacking with respect to proactively and effectively informing and engaging residents.

A case-in-point example is the vague and unclear advertising for the bylaw’s public hearing. The advertising highlighted imposing a six-storey restriction for the CC1 zone and made no mention that the new City Centre Pedestrian zone would have no height restrictions. It is challenging to argue that Langforders were afforded the opportunity to provide input on a “No Height Restrictions” zoning, given that they were likely unaware.

Jacqueline Gintaut

We need backup power at the ferry terminal

Adrian Raeside’s Oct. 12 cartoon ­illustrated an unlikely flat battery on an electric ferry.

More notable, I think, is the recent loss of service at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal due to a outage in North Saanich. Why doesn’t such an essential facility have a backup power system?

I can crank up my garage door by hand if necessary. Why isn’t B.C. Ferries able to do something similar, on a larger scale, with their ramps? With appropriate gearing, it might only require an existing vehicle with a power takeoff.

After a major earthquake, most of our assistance will arrive by water. Will we have to rely on Nickel Brothers’ expertise in loading houses onto barges to unload relief supplies on our beaches?

Alanne Gibson

Why can’t police tackle those loud vehicles?

I couldn’t agree more about the proliferation of loud aftermarket vehicle exhausts. My thoughts have been that those — it’s always men — who must pay good money to convert their vehicle to obnoxiously loud might have been deprived of that toy truck they always wanted as a child but were never given.

Some of these exhaust systems are actually designed to be as loud as ­possible, and I noticed wonderful, almost subsonic thumps and peak bursts of extra sound at gear shifts.

I live close to the highways in the Six Mile district of View Royal and notice a big increase around the dinner hours, when the “loudies” strut and race off from traffic stops. They must know that police roadside checks don’t normally occur around that time when the shift changes occur with the “cops.”

The Trans-Canada Highway run from the Helmcken overpass out to the West Shore lets them let loose. Or inbound from the lights in View Royal towards town on the highway is another favourite race track.

All this while vehicles can be almost silent. I get that the police have their hands full. However, I have had about enough of having to peel my cat off the ceiling after these explosive sounding vehicles pass near my home.

Kevin Norman
View Royal

Just because it’s legal, don’t assume it’s safe

Doctors concern about the safety of used asbestos products reminds me of the futility of trying to educate my neighbours about their use and cultivation of marijuana.

When I present them with scientific literature about marijuana’s negative effects on themselves, their children and those around them, their reply is “the government would not have made it legal if it was not safe.”

When the federal government legalized marijuana in Canada it left many loopholes, similar to the asbestos issue, knowing full well that it was a harmful substance.

Marijuana has more carcinogens than tobacco. It’s harmful effect on a child’s brain and nervous system is immediate. As is long term exposure. The growing plants produce VOCs that harm the human nervous system and more recently discovered, harm the ozone layer.

Like asbestos, as the science is published, the list of harmful effects is becoming longer and longer. Compared to marijuana, asbestos seems pretty innocuous. But it must be safe because it’s legal.

David Hill


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