Letters Sept. 17: Subsidized motorists, private vehicles, Keating flyover

Suburban motorists are being subsidized

Re: “Subsidizing Victoria, getting little in return,” letter, Sept. 15.

A recent letter-writer claims that suburban residents subsidize those in Victoria because some of their gas taxes help to pay for transit, which they rarely use. In fact, the opposite is true.

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Because 3.5 cents of the gas tax in Greater Victoria is dedicated to transit, there seems to be a common misconception that motorists must therefore be subsidizing transit users. In fact, as Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute noted in a recent Times Colonist article, Transport Canada has reported that while the typical motorist pays $600 annually in fuel taxes, each of those motorists impose $2,400 annually in roadway costs on society.

In other words, while a typical driver pays $600 in fuel taxes (of which less than $100 goes to transit), they are still receiving a net annual subsidy of $1,800 from general taxes paid by everyone. Since, as the letter-writer correctly states, suburban residents drive much more than Victoria residents, then it is Victoria residents who are subsidizing the driving habits of those living in the suburbs.

Rob Maxwell

Self-determination with a private vehicle

Re: “Flyover at Keating is retrograde thinking,” comment, Sept. 15.

With apologies to Rob Duncan, who thinks the private vehicle should become extinct, please know that my personal vehicle isn’t going anywhere, and it will need roads and infrastructure to drive on. My car is an electric vehicle, a Nissan Leaf, which will serve us for many gas- and oil-free years.

Why is it these supposed progressives would have us give up the freedom and self-determination of a personal transportation device? I suggest he visit an electric-vehicle store, and adjust his thinking.

Dave Vogel

Keating Cross flyover will save lives

Re: “Flyover at Keating is retrograde thinking,” comment, Sept. 15.

It is baffling that this newspaper would provide a half page to advocate for maintaining an unsafe and inefficient highway system. Instead, are we simply to provide our thoughts and prayers to the families that have and will continue to suffer the loss of lives, injuries and economic loss as a result of this out-dated highway exit?

The writer states: “The Keating Cross Road exit project might have been a great idea 30 years ago.”

I agree it was a great idea when the provincial government of the day and the Ministry of Highways wanted to six-lane the Pat Bay Highway and install grade separated interchanges at all intersections. It would have created a safe and efficient highway for decades to come and prevented much suffering from unnecessary crashes. Unfortunately, local politicians from Victoria, Saanich and Central Saanich voiced opposition to upgrading the highway at the time.

Highways are within the jurisdiction of the province and it is their responsibility to ensure public safety is paramount over retrograde thinking.

Wayne Cox

Keating highway project is for safety

Re: “Flyover at Keating is retrograde thinking,” comment, Sept. 15.

The author of this commentary misses the point about the value of this highway improvement project. The flyover will eliminate a very dangerous left-turn manoeuvre on the Pat Bay Highway. It will also, reduce greenhouse gas pollution produced by the long queue of vehicles waiting for a gap in the opposing traffic stream to make a left turn.

If this project involved increasing the capacity of the highway by adding more general through traffic lanes rather than transit only lanes, it could indeed be called a retrograde solution to increase mobility.

Richard Voyer

Keep green space at Gorge Park

Re: “Reviving Gorge Park’s Japanese tea house,” letter, Sept. 12.

I am all in favour of reviving the idea of a Japanese tea house, as proposed by the letter-writer. However, that is not what the Township of Esquimalt is proposing. As a resident of Esquimalt, I attended the open house at Gorge Park on Sept. 11. What is being proposed is a large two storey building in an area where lots of families like to picnic in the summer.

This building is proposed as multi-purpose with meeting rooms. In addition, I was told that 50 per cent of the lovely open stretch of grass that so many folk love to amble across with their children and dogs will be turned into a parking lot — “but with flowers,” the cheerful young man told me.

Esquimalt has precious little natural open green space and at a time when we know that urban density is occurring, we should be adding to our green spaces, not building on them. 

Countless studies point to the beneficial effects of being outside in nature, and of the importance of exercise, so why on earth would we plonk a building and huge parking lot right in the middle of this beautiful park?

Let us heed the health studies and care for our green spaces and, where possible, extend them. It will be so much healthier for our community. Yes, build a small tea house, but leave the rest of our park alone please.

Anna Bowness-Park

We are being scared green

It would appear that we are being “scared green” for this election. What are the two most overused words in this federal election campaign? “Climate crisis.”

Yes, we are experiencing some climate change and need to be ever mindful of our actions, but we are nowhere near the crisis that is being pushed at us by overzealous environmentalists.

What about the extended drought of the Dirty ’30s? Surely it was not fossil fuel that caused that one.

Did we have a good summer in B.C.? No overly hot days, some timely rain, no great amount of forest fires. Normalcy.

We are feeding our students this climate crisis BS to the point some are even wondering if there is a future for them, sparking a few students to strike and many more to tag along for a day off school.

It’s time to hop off the climate-crisis bandwagon, and think for yourself.

Paul Ellegood

High demand means high prices for housing

Re: “We need greater density to deal with housing shortage,” comment, Sept. 14.

Victoria is one of Canada’s most beautiful cities. With its heritage neighbourhoods and moderate climate, is it any surprise that people want to live here?

Once we finished high school and wanted to leave our parents’ home, many of us who were born here found we couldn’t afford the housing even if we could find it. We moved away, built our lives, and returned when we finally had the means to settle in this unique place.

The author of the commentary said: “If you are a homeowner in Victoria and have been for several years, take a moment to think about what it would be like if you moved to Victoria now.”

My first reaction was: why? Isn’t the cost and availability data in respect to housing in Victoria readily available on the internet?

What would motivate anyone to move to Victoria if they cannot afford its prices?

One of the first lessons in basic economics is the supply and demand curve. If demand is high and supply is low, prices rise. The demand for housing in Victoria has always been, will always be, high.

The writer suggests that developers should be pressured to include parks, bee-friendly gardens and attractive street facades to offset the inherent ugliness of boxes-in-the-sky housing. Is that maybe a bit naïve? Every concession a developer makes like that adds to the cost of the project. Increased costs mean increased prices to the end consumer. While that may be a ticket to more attractive streetscapes, it doesn’t immediately seem to indicate an increase in affordable housing.

I’m sorry that so many people move to Victoria and struggle with its prices, but I am bewildered as to why their expectations are so at odds with reality.

M.E. Bolitho
Oak Bay

Building more housing is not a cure

Re: “We need greater density to deal with housing shortage,” comment, Sept. 14.

The writer proposes that the way to address the housing shortage is to increase density and build more housing stock. This is certainly in the best interests of developers as well as for governments who want to show high job growth resulting from an economy based on condo and housing construction, but does little for the existing residents who want livable and affordable communities.

Instead of only looking at continually increasing the housing supply to provide adequate housing, perhaps we should consider the demand side and the role that economic migration plays?

When we have hundreds of thousands of new residents entering the country annually, all of whom earn income in an offshore economy and invest in the local housing stock, then prices are going to rise. Residents at all income levels are affected with the most visible being those at the lowest income levels, many of whom are forced onto the streets.

Just as we learned that increased traffic congestion can’t be cured by building more freeways, the cure for our housing problems will not be fixed by continually increasing density and through non-stop condo construction, as is happening in downtown Victoria and Vancouver. Perhaps it’s time for government at all levels to be honest about what’s causing our housing problems if they’re serious about wanting to provide adequate housing for all of our citizens.

Doug Turner

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