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On Beacon Hill, vaccine call centre, transportation, and old-growth logging (so nothing controversial, in other words)
Do you have something to add to this conversation, or want to weigh in on what's happening in your city, town or neighbourhood? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for length and clarity and must be under 300 words.
I appreciate your coverage of the activities of Friends of Beacon Hill Park. Unfortunately there were some misunderstandings and I want to make it clear that the FBHP are in no way against people who are homeless. The FBHP have empathy for people in this situation.
It is a disgrace how Island Health handled the preparedness for vaccine rollout, and should be held accountable. They have had 6 months to plan, and there is no website to register? If no online tool, they should have had thousands of volunteers/employees ready to take phone calls, not hundreds. The next problem will be the number of sites to administer the doses—completely avoidable problems with better planning. Other Health districts were organized; why not Island Heath.
We will be hearing excuses and finger pointing for the next 6 months.
Logging old growth forest in Fairy Creek (and wider BC) makes little economic sense due to uncertainty about the environmental costs combined with the irreversibility of damages. Protesters have raised many arguments to save Fairy Creek, ranging from protecting the watershed to saving the trees for future generations. Opposing arguments have been raised supporting extraction, appealing to the commercial value of the lumber and the fact that there exists protection for old growth in other regions.
It is flawed thinking to assume that these two sides can simply be weighed against each other. This is because there is substantial uncertainty about the environmental costs of harvesting of old growth, which is, for all practical purposes, irreversible. This uncertainty combined with irreversibility of damages makes a strong economic case for the protection, and thus against extraction.
There is asymmetry in the decision to harvest the old growth in Fairy Creek and wider BC: deciding to postpone harvesting until better information about the societal value becomes available does not forfeit the resource. But acting now and harvesting old growth, induces irreversible damage. Any uncertainty over these costs should lead to a delay of resource extraction until better information arrives. In other words, if there is even a small chance that the non-commercial value of old growth is large (i.e. if the benefits to the tourism industry in Port Renfrew and the existence value of the citizens of BC and beyond are high), then extracting now – which causes irreversible damage – is not optimal from an economic point of view and comes with a non-zero chance of a catastrophic loss from a societal standpoint.
Is there regret about protecting Clayoquot Sound? While we do not observe the counterfactual of what would have happened in absence of protection, it seems unlikely that Tofino and the surrounding areas would be better off under wide-spread logging.
Dr Felix Pretis
Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Victoria
If we are going to say sidewalks are an alternative form of transportation, then the sidewalks in this city need to be upgraded substantially.
There are areas all over Victoria where there are tripping hazards from lifted sidewalks and plant growth obstructing the proper use of our sidewalks. More needs to be done to assess our neighbourhood sidewalks by the city and repairs should be done regularly and without public input. At this point it is up to citizens to report sidewalks that need work and sometimes bylaw officers are not co-operative in the process. They need to be trained properly so that a hedge that has been left to grow a foot over the sidewalk isn’t years later deemed ok to leave there. If proper upkeep isn’t done regularly, then the hedge needs to be pruned drastically or removed. This shouldn’t be left up to public controversy.
There are also areas where street lights do not light up the sidewalks at night and where tree branches are hanging too low or too far over the sidewalks. Leaving the reporting of these infractions to the few who care (and know the process for reporting) about the condition of the sidewalks is not good enough, some regular evaluation and repair needs to be done by the city as well
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