Letters Oct. 3: Danger of wild waves; need for taxes; private health care

Wild waves can happen at any time

Re: “Near-drowning in Ucluelet prompts warning to stay on trails during storm season,” Sept. 28.

The large wave that caught Ucluelet residents unaware last Wednesday is another important reminder that individual extreme ocean waves can occur at any time, even in apparently safe conditions high on the beach.

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During a storm, one should expect at least one or two waves twice as high as the average “high waves.” In some conditions, these extreme waves can occur more than 10 times in a day.

These are the events that get media attention when they cause human harm or damage to ships, or coastal and offshore structures. But it is not only the extreme large waves that might be dangerous.

The sea state fluctuates naturally, and might sometimes appear deceptively calm, only to be interrupted by a wave that is perhaps twice as big as any of the waves in the previous several minutes.

These “unexpected waves” do not have to be large compared to the typical waves in the storm, but might surprise someone wandering close to the water’s edge.

Understanding and predicting these extreme ocean waves has been a longtime research focus of the Ocean Physics group at the University of Victoria.

The exact timing of such a wave is uncertain, but we now understand the conditions when they are most likely. We are developing predictions of hazardous wave conditions for the Pacific Rim National Park and Tofino in collaboration with Parks Canada.

Our wave forecast model for the entire west coast of Canada will be implemented at Environment and Climate Change Canada later this year.

These predictions will be available to the public, and our hope is that they help keep beachgoers dry and safe.

Johannes Gemmrich, PhD
University of Victoria

Good reason to not pay more taxes

Re: “Taxes are cost of having a livable society,” letter, Sept. 29.

The letter-writer opines that taxes are the cost of a livable society. This popular notion is based on the idea that government spending invariably results in a benefit to society — a highly debatable assertion. We all believe that in many cases, our tax dollars are used not only unwisely, but to the detriment of a strong and livable society.

For example, many people strongly oppose tax dollars spent on jet fighters, while others dislike money spent on fossil-fuel subsidies. I personally believe that the countless billions spent on the welfare state have produced the opposite from the desired result, bringing increased poverty and its associated evils, rather than less.

Then, there are the tax dollars that look as if they’re being spent to buy the support of various special interests. Those aren’t too popular.

Furthermore, probably everyone resents the way that government seems to throw our tax dollars around as if they grew on trees — which indeed is pretty close to the case these days. We know if we spent our own money like that, we’d find ourselves in deep trouble before long.

Therefore, while some of our taxes might well contribute to the betterment of society, some others look as if they’re being flushed down the toilet, or worse. Which is a very good reason not to want to pay more.

Michel Murray

NDP contradicts on private health care

Re: “NDP promises to overhaul long‑term care in B.C. over the next 10 years,” Oct. 1.

Premier John Horgan’s NDP government has done a good job handling the pandemic, but he is talking out of both sides of his mouth on the health-care file.

As the NDP is rightly putting more money into the health care of senior citizens living in facilities, Horgan was asked if he wanted to do away with private senior-citizen homes, and said: “I believe there can be a healthy mix.”

So why is a healthy mix acceptable in this situation, but not when it comes to other private health care?

As someone who had two failed foot operations in the public system and each time put at the back of the line, I turned to the Cambie Clinic only to learn that I am now forced to go back to a public system and wait more than two years.

Yes, I am fortunate to have the resources, but unfortunate that the system has me hobbling around for more than seven years.

In a recent Supreme Court of B.C. decision, it ruled in favour of the province over Cambie Clinic’s argument that long wait times are unconstitutional.

And here’s the rub: Rather than allow the clinic to continue as the appeal process moves along, the Horgan government is threatening sanctions against the clinic if it performs private surgeries, thus denying thousands of people in need of health care and creating even longer wait lists in the public health-care system.

Bill Currie

An unsettling encounter with criminal activity

Both my daughter and myself live on streets directly bordering our beloved Beacon Hill Park. The other day, my daughter was a victim of criminal activity, and this morning I went out to my car to find items had been stolen out of it.

In my daughter’s (and son-in-law’s) situation, they reside in a Park Boulevard ground-floor Airbnb, and went across the street to greet my other daughter and her grandson, who had just arrived for a visit.

They left the street-facing front door open as they were only 10 metres away away. Passing by was a shirtless drug-addled “tweaker” who walked onto the property, and immediately intensely looked in their windows and was about to enter the suite when my son-in-law, only a few feet away, looked up, and then in defence walked immediately over.

The tweaker immediately fled up the street, hiding his face, got to the street corner and started running away.

I am a lifelong resident of Victoria. I grew up at a time when our house doors were left unlocked, and as a young child went to kindergarten on the bus by myself.

As managers of this city, I feel most, but not all, members of this current council are complicit in the tragedy that has befallen this city. Sadly, I don’t think, and nor do many, many of my friends, that the council members are, in the least bit, qualified to lead this city.

I don’t question their good intentions, but they are simply not experienced and are unequipped to be on council. I make this statement not out of malice, but based on a lifetime of involvement and observation on what works, and what has failed. I could go on with many more observations, but see no point.

Brian Siddall


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