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  • Letters to the editor

    Leslie Campbell

    Developers & housing affordability

    I too believe that real estate developers are enjoying unbridled gains by hoodwinking the municipalities in Greater Victoria at taxpayers’ expense and have caused the rise in real estate prices that are now affecting all housing costs. If residents voice any concern about over-development in commercial areas or preservation of their neighbourhoods, they are accused of selfishness, NIMBYism or privilege. So the developers move right along while the rest of the population are divided, pitting old residents against newcomers, renters against homeowners, young against old, healthy green-space advocates against Downtown urbanites, heritage believers against modernists and so on.

    I think that your editorial well describes how the 2018 Global Issues Dialogue could have included other voices rather than the “unfettered” pro-development ones. But, considering that the forum was put on by developers, they dictated the agenda. In effect, the foxes were preaching to the chickens. A more balanced and inclusive panel of forward thinkers which represents all sides could begin to brainstorm other considerations in the race to “pave paradise” and perhaps tackle the question of how to provide sustainable and affordable housing for all. If the developers are so on the edge of profit margins that a speculation tax endangers their profit, then so be it. A welcome cooling-off period will begin to curb our collective greed and remind us that everyone needs a home.

    Frances Foster


    When an Olympic bid is successful, it means displacement of the “less fortunate” for the infrastructure that supports the venues. And while there is some hue and cry over this, the destruction/construction proceeds anyway. And so it is with the “luxury condo market” in the Lower Mainland and south Vancouver Island. On the world stage, BC ’s Janet & Joe Lunchbucket have become the “less fortunate,” and while the hue and cry goes on, the BC economy has become so tied up in real estate and construction—“Together they are about one-quarter of the economy”—that governments on all levels will do everything they can to ensure this remains the new normal. The gestures made towards affordability are only that—gestures. There is little real substance for the displaced.

    And the cost of all this? Well, everyone outside the Lower Mainland and Victoria still goes begging for services, infrastructure, and jobs, according to research by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

    Because building “affordable housing” is contrary to the interests of the private sector, may I suggest that, if governments really want to address the affordability crisis, they contact Jimmy Carter’s Habitat for Humanity?

    Richard Weatherill


    After I read Leslie Campbell’s article on unaffordable housing and Gene Miller’s on amalgamation, my nightmares began. The Victoria of 100 years in the future appeared, a smoggy megacity of highrise condominiums stretching for miles. The city’s parks, alleys, laneways, boulevards, mall rooftops, parking lots, schoolyards, and the areas under bridges and overpasses teeming with thousands of homeless people. Older residents recall a city of beautiful trees and lush gardens. Some remember a stately hotel, the Empress, that once served high tea—with scones, and fancy sandwiches, and tea in china cups—in the lobby. In its place stands “The Mayor Lisa Helps,” a humongous, Soviet-style residential tower patrolled by armed guards. “The Lisa” overlooks what was once Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Drained and paved, the former waterway now houses one of Canada’s largest tent cities. A big, flashing sign proclaims: “If you build it, they will come.”

    Cheera Crow


    Great article on housing. You note that CRD says 6,200 affordable homes needed. But what power does the CRD have to do anything about this?

    Ditto environmental planning—pie in the sky at the CRD as you noted in a previous article. Plans, predictions, no power.

    The elephant in the room is the absence of regional government with powers to act. As long as that condition exists, the 13 municipalities will chase their collective tails on many fronts and the default actor regionally will be the Province when it suits.

    Why this elephant is invisible—except to the grumpy taxpayers as far as I can tell—is a puzzle.

    John Olson


    In light of the recent housing crisis, the solution appears to be slapping together a bunch of expensive, poorly-designed residential towers throughout Downtown. It’s important to consider that these buildings will have a lasting impact on life in Victoria.

    We do not need to build high-rises to get optimal density. When people are only a few stories above, it’s possible to look at and interact with people at ground level. This social element is critical. Four-to-six-storey buildings are ideal; dense enough, but not too tall. Tall buildings create shadows, require more energy to heat and cool, and can simply feel dehumanizing.

    My next point is that new buildings should not be built out of concrete. Concrete has a huge carbon footprint and should be avoided whenever possible. We must reduce our carbon impact as quickly as possible if we are to survive climate change. In the long term, energy-efficient buildings have a much smaller impact. However, when constructed with concrete, much of the damage is already done before day one. Short-term impact is critical; developments like Dockside Green might look sustainable, but concrete high rises (which are part of their plan) are not. Wood buildings are totally feasible up to around 10 stories, and with fire-resistant compressed-laminate timber (CLT) and other low-carbon materials, there ’s no excuse not to build this way. 

    Lastly, new buildings should be thought through, and properly designed. We do not need mountains of car parking, we need solar panels, green space, and public space. Developers should view buildings as a long term contribution to the city, rather than a quick profit. 

    I strongly urge council to limit heights to 10 stories, and to encourage more well-designed, affordable, sustainable buildings.

    Finn Kreischer


    Pipeline protesters: Ya done good

    Thank you for bringing to my attention that very, very odd speech by former Bank of Canada director David Dodge in Edmonton in “Who are the Real Pipeline Fanatics?” I wonder what he thinks about the murder of those four poor Kent State University students, killed for protesting the Vietnam war in 1970? Then there were the many who died fighting racist and plain stupid laws in the US and South Africa.

    To all of those who were arrested protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion: Ya done good. Just think of how all these billions of dollars could be better spent.

    The federal Liberals have 18 Members of Parliament in BC. The federal election is next October. It will be fascinating indeed to see how many still have their jobs by Christmas.

    Finally, the HL Mencken quote provided by protester Gordon Bailey was perfect. I can’t stand seeing Canada debauched by greedy oil companies and out-of-touch politicians like Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley. In 1979, I canvassed for Grant Notley’s NDP in Edmonton Norwood. This wasn’t because of any fervent socialist leanings, but because you need varied, intelligent political debate. Notley and Trudeau are showing zero imagination in dealing with climate change.

    Louis Guilbault


    Pipeline fundamentals

    Polls indicate that most Canadians accept industry and federal government claims that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is in the national interest. Some important questions are warranted.

    Is the lack of a tidewater export facility for Canadian heavy oil really costing Canada $15 billion per year?

    The claim that future Asian markets will pay significantly more for diluted bitumen (dilbit) than existing US markets is debunked in a Macleans magazine piece by David Hughes and elsewhere. Dilbit shipped from Alberta to Asia has higher refining and transport costs than oil from other sources. The federal government’s estimate of $15 billion in annual losses is grossly inflated now, and will shrink further as regulations tighten on sulphur content in bunker fuel.

    Even if there was a lower cost per barrel in the US, what portion of it would “Canada” really lose? How much of the revenue would go to foreign shareholders, executive bonuses, and to more ill-advised fossil fuel infrastructure? What benefits would remain after accounting for the cost of oil sand tailing pond cleanup, droughts, fires, storms, floods, health effects, seawalls, and setbacks to indigenous reconciliation?

    Proponents of the pipeline expansion cite this summer’s trade war with the US as another sign that the Asian bitumen market is a must for Canada. Should the decision on a 40-year pipeline be influenced by bizarre US negotiating tactics that could end with the next election—before dilbit could start to flow in the new TMX? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to base the decision on the laws of physics that govern the rapid warming of the planet?

    Can we trust that the pipeline will create thousands of Canadian jobs?

    The export of bitumen to Asia sends refining jobs with it. Kinder Morgan’s application to the National Energy Board estimated permanent jobs after construction at 40 in Alberta and 50 in BC.

    The cost of the Trans Mountain purchase includes $4.5 billion for existing assets, plus an estimated $7.4 billion for the expansion. Many expect this to escalate. Eco-futurist Guy Dauncey projects that just $4.5 billion could “replace most of Alberta’s coal and gas-fired electricity, while generating between 30 and 50 times as many jobs.”

    Oil sands, as a whole, provide only half of one percent of the nation’s jobs. Why are taxpayers “de-risking” more fossil fuel infrastructure instead of creating sustainable jobs in electric vehicles, wind, geothermal, solar and energy conservation for buildings?

    Will markets for heavy oil persist?

    One red herring used to confound people is the issue of non-combustion uses for fossil fuel. Yes, such use will continue in medicine and various essential products, and yes, this would be relevant if such end uses were a significant portion of total use, but worldwide it’s somewhere in the range of 5 percent (7 percent in the US). Let’s stay focused on the 95 percent of the fuel that is burned, releasing greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants.

    To meet the Paris accord, global emissions must start falling by 2020, and drop to near-zero well before the end of this century. How wise is the taxpayer-funded bet on Kinder Morgan’s pipeline in view of that reality? A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change concludes that there is “a carbon bubble that, if not deflated early, could lead to a discounted global wealth loss of US $1 to $4 trillion, a loss comparable to the 2008 financial crisis.” Canada will fare much worse than most countries if it continues to delay transition from fossil fuels.

    Is the pipeline needed to pay for Canada’s non-existent transition plan to a sustainable economy?

    Prime Minister Trudeau argues that the revenue from oil sands development will fund the transition to renewables. Why is a questionable investment in a sunset industry a prerequisite for a smart investment in clean technologies? Projections indicate that, if the oil sands continue to grow, Canada has virtually no chance of achieving the greenhouse gas emission targets set by the Harper government without the “Hail Mary” of expensive carbon capture and storage, and negative emissions.

    Thomas Homer-Dixon, CIGI chair of the Balsillie School of International Affairs, explains the larger climate predicament well: “Humanity either undertakes fast and deep cuts in its carbon emissions or, some time later this century, civilization starts to unravel.”

    No one seems to know exactly how to deal with a dilbit spill, yet some claim that the promised $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan (for only five years, and covering all Canadian oceans) is worth the price of the pipeline project. Should government protection of Canadian oceans be a by-product of an oil industry subsidy? Will a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic through the Salish Sea increase the risk of a catastrophic dilbit spill? Will it push the starving and endangered southern resident killer whales closer to extinction?

    Fundamental questions remain on economic payback, jobs, and environmental risks. Opposition and protest are legitimate stances until more is known about the Trans Mountain pipeline’s impacts.

    Bob Landell


    Board of Variance allows Gonzales Hill development

    You may have heard by now that the Board of Variance’s (BOV) decision on Thursday, July 26, concerning 1980 Fairfield Place [adjacent to Gonzales Hill Park] was to approve the variance requested. This was a sad decision for most of us neighbours and park users.

    Those of us who attended the hearing and were against the variance request remain disturbed that the process to reach this decision appeared to be flawed.

    The legislation for the board clearly states that all BOV decisions are final; there is no appeal. Under the Local Government Act, Division 15 Section 542 subsection (4), a decision of the Board of Variance is final. There is no process for appeal. 

    This request was very similar to one of the two variances denied at the March 22 hearing, with the difference being a slight reduction in the requested setback of the building from 8.48 meters to 7.08 meters. This is a variation of about only five feet. In addition, the new variance would also save a few Garry oaks. How could this be considered a new request? Was the environmental measure a trade off for the fact that no lack of hardship was evident in the setback? Was introducing the saving of the trees, rather, a means to get round the regulation that disallows appeals? 

    We had intended to ask about this at the hearing, but, unlike the previous hearing, only adjacent neighbours were allowed to speak or ask questions. After the hearing, I spoke to the Chair (Andrew Rushforth) and asked him why this request was allowed when appeals were forbidden. In short, he told me that it wasn’t an appeal, but was a “new request.”

    Who has responsibility for overseeing the BOV’s activities? I would think it is the Province, since the BOV operates under provincial legislation, although its members are appointed by the City of Victoria, i.e. the City council. Most councillors profess to know little about the BOV’s operation. I think the meeting of July 26 was one instance where oversight is warranted and that is for two reasons:

    1. If the BOV’s decision is final, how final is final? Was the hearing held for an appeal or a new request?

    2. The fact that members of the community were not allowed to speak at the hearing. 

    The dearth of support from most of the area’s municipal politicians was another unfortunate reality for this struggle over 1980 Fairfield Place. Some Victoria councillors were interested (notably Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday) and many listened to our pleas. Many agreed it would be good to save the property and make it part of the park. But to our knowledge, none spoke out for us. City of Victoria council may have discussed the matter in camera, so no information at all was forthcoming. Some of us did meet with David Screech, chair of the CRD Parks Committee. He was helpful and showed interest in saving the park although he doubted the CRD directors also would be interested. Although part of Gonzales Park is in Oak Bay and its residents are significant park users, we received only silence from the Oak Bay council. Interestingly, when the park was created in 1992 the then MP at the time, John Brewin, applauded the mayors of Oak Bay, Victoria, and Saanich for their leadership in establishing Gonzales Hill Regional Park.

    It is so unfortunate that this lot is now forever lost and to a development—one house for two people—when this small gem, an iconic example of the natural habitat of Southern Vancouver Island, could have been preserved for the pleasure of generations to come.

    Scott Chapman, Philippe Doré, Janya Freer, Danny Meyer, Sheila Protti, Helen Rodney


    Amalgamation: the other side of “amalgacide”

    My favorite columnist, Gene Miller, was quite precocious with his assertion that he’s read the literature and that amalgamation “…generally doesn’t save taxpayers a dime” (Focus, July/August 2018).

    There is a vast and complex literature concerning amalgamation. To illustrate, Drew Dilkens’ excellent 2014 international PhD dissertation examining costs in the amalgamations of Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor-Essex, had a bibliography of 437 studies. This literature includes financial and political perspectives, and common among the political are voices for “public choice,” advocating local control by taxpayers and many small governments. These advocates usually study brief time periods immediately following amalgamations, and find no cost savings (because they are examining a transition period!).

    Financially-oriented studies tend to be longer-term, with more exacting methodologies, and often find that amalgamation produces increased levels of service with commensurately increased cost. Efficiencies are found in eliminating duplication in municipal administration, obtaining scale economies in purchasing, having in-house specialized skills rather than having to contract them, and not operating lots of little municipal governments. Some examples of financial studies are: Dilkens’ dissertation; Stantec Consulting’s 2011 “St John’s Amalgamation Review”; City of Toronto’s final report “Building the New City of Toronto, January 1998-December 2002”; and the international OECD study “What Makes Cities More Productive.” Timothy Cobban’s article in Urban Affairs Review last July reviewed Ontario’s program of compulsory amalgamations during the 1990s-2000s and concluded “…The main empirical finding in this article is that increasing local jurisdiction size reduces the cost of local administration.”

    Once you know about these two literatures, if you want, you can pick the one that suits your biases. One literature guides you to make informed decisions that will improve your city, and one is just a collection of short-sighted analysis. Don’t you wonder why anybody would pick the second one?

    Peter Spurr


    In the past several issues of Focus, I read with shock and awe the series of convoluted “Amalgacide” columns by Gene Miller.

    He reminded us “that communities aren’t communities merely because they have place names or share postal code or some accidental adjacency, but because they actively practice a range of community functions and maintain commonwealth—that is do things together.”

    If that is true, every week we experience more examples of how and where that doesn’t happen in our city.

    Amalgamation Yes has never taken the position that the only path to improved accountability was one large city. The current campaign is focused just on the two largest agglomerations of urban residents. Concurrently we have suggested that the Peninsula 3 could also examine opportunities to build from their common interest and similarly for the Westshore.

    The question before the voters of Victoria and Saanich is not “do you support amalgamation,” but rather to confirm public support for a serious review of that topic by an independent body of citizens.

    We suffer from fierce defense of 13 municipal entities, each which resist possible mergers and yet whose councils refuse to agree to consider new inter-municipal agreements. Thus the impasse over regional land use planning, housing supply, transportation, arts funding, and emergency services common to all residents.

    UVic Professor Emeritus Robert Bish, one of the frequently cited researchers opposed to amalgamation, simply repeats a dogma from advocates of the “public choice” model, introduced by Charles Tiebout back in the 1950s, who argue that administrative fragmentation—a larger number of local governments—is associated with a greater set of choices over public service provision and their costs. They suggest “increased choice and competitive pressure among local government improves quality of local public services.”

    There are major flaws in this framework. First it limits itself to micro economic consideration of “efficiency.” Conveniently Bish and others offer stories of Toronto or Montreal and never study Kelowna, Kamloops, Abbotsford or Chilliwack. They ignore macro economic measure as to whether mergers can have a positive impact on economic growth and GNP via increased investment, employment and tax base (more on this below).

    It also ignores the fact that the majority of residents travel through two to four adjacent municipalities on their way to work, play, shop or learn. A singular focus on cost savings to one particular municipality has no reality in terms of “externalities”—who actually uses and who pays for those public works and services? Daily there are over 100,000 vehicle trips by non-residents enroute to ferries, airport, UVic, Camosun, RGH, Uptown, Mayfair, Hartland, Inner Harbour, or their place of employment, on roads and bridges paid for only by residents of Victoria and Saanich. Similarly, non-residents access arts, cultural, sports facilities and festivals, or use community/health/ charity/church services which exist only because of millions in dollars of community grants and property tax exemptions supported by city residents.

    As for evidence of cost savings, see the 2017 report of Canadian scholar Timothy Cobban: “Bigger is Better: Reducing cost of local administration by Increasing Jurisdictional size in Ontario 1995-2010.” Cobban was able to observe, record and research the significance of scale for local government. Instead of focusing on Toronto, he compared the results in administrative costs over 15 years for 587 municipalities which were amalgamated (to form 146 new municipalities) against another 297 municipalities that were not merged. He found that over time the larger the merger, the larger the savings. Research in Denmark and Israel confirm the same results.

    International studies provide a picture of development in over 430 urban areas. If their conclusions that “administrative fragmentation is associated with lower productivity” are valid, they provide an answer to Miller’s question, “does everywhere include little old here?” And unfortunately it does. There is a clear body of scholarly research that indicates that amalgamation can absolutely provide savings in three respects: municipal administration, capital financing, and by providing cohesive leadership.

    That perspective is reinforced by an oft-ignored 2013 paper “A Prosperous Region Needs a Vibrant Core” by our own UVic professors Elizabeth Gugl and David Scoones. They conclude, “Many potentially beneficial agreements are not undertaken [in the CRD], and some of the region’s most pressing problems remain unaddressed.”

    In a recent column, Miller states: “it takes both a geographic and social border to sustain a sense of community identity and sense of shared purpose reinforced by familiar community structure and protocols.” I suggest that in their daily lives, urban residents within the bounds of Mount Douglas to the Inner Harbour and Dallas Road do in fact recognize “the us” that forms a combined Victoria and Saanich (and likely shared with Oak Bay and Esquimalt). But we need to address the need for changes to outdated municipal regimes if we are to defend and build from that sense of community.

    Vote yes for an independent Citizens Assembly to identify how we go about that.

    James D Anderson, Board member, Amalgamation Yes


    Election campaigning by stealth in Oak Bay

    I opened my 2018 Oak Bay property tax notice and, in the information insert, I noticed a blatant misrepresentation of a presentation given to Oak Bay Council by the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA). The offending statement reads: “A recent presentation from the Municipal Finance Authority confirmed the District’s strong financial position and low debt...” I attended this particular Committee of the Whole meeting and have reviewed the archived webcast. At no time did the representative from the MFA confirm “the District’s strong financial position.” During the follow-up question and answer, the MFA representative seemed to be going out of her way to stick to the facts and stay apolitical.

    So, the author of this statement is making an inferential leap. I was curious; who writes and/or guides these district-wide communications? As people are not allowed to ask Oak Bay mayor and council questions and get answers in any public forum, I was able to deduce that the statement was in fact written by our current mayor, Nils Jensen. How do I know? This exact statement appears in the “Message from the Mayor” in the Oak Bay 2017 Annual Report.

    Yes, Oak Bay has low debt, but massive infrastructure bills are looming ($283 Million). Can Mayor Jensen honestly say that we are in a “strong financial position” when we owe little money now, but are ill-prepared for future costs? I have not contacted the MFA but think they may be interested to know that their apolitical information presentations are being spun into political propaganda. With a municipal election coming up, I find this type of misrepresentation galling and, to top it off, this campaigning by stealth was paid for with my and my fellow citizen’s municipal tax dollars.

    Curtis Hobson


    Public lands being sold to Northern Junk developer

    The City of Victoria is celebrating the new Johnson Street Bridge. On the west side, the City will be creating a new park, which they are currently calling “Festival Park.” On the east side, the City ’s plans are somewhat vague; planning documents indicate the possible development of City-owned property to the north and east of the Northern Junk buildings.

    If you look north of the Northern Junk buildings, you will see a small parking lot. For many years this lot has been private, used by CRD or City workers. Its civic address is 1324 Wharf Street. It is currently zoned “Inner Harbour-Park.” Just north of this lot, closer to the bridge, is another small City-owned lot; it doesn’t have an address (it shows as “0” Wharf Street) but it is tucked along the roadside of the old bridge site.

    In the early 1970s, architect Arthur Erickson prepared an Inner Harbour Plan for the City of Victoria suggesting that each end of the Inner Harbour, from Ship Point to the Johnson Street Bridge, would be anchored by a public park. As a result, for many years, the properties at 1324 and 0 Wharf Street were zoned for park space.

    Yet right now, there’s a development proposal from Reliance Properties working its way through the City planning department, which necessitates that the City of Victoria sell this land to Reliance to facilitate the construction of a seven-storey building between the Northern Junk buildings and the new Johnson Street Bridge. (At an in camera meeting back in January 2010, the City agreed to sell the land in question to the developer at “fair market value” once the development was approved.)

    The proposed “Gateway” development will rise approximately 120 feet above the waterline, presenting a 90-foot-high wall along the connecting street between the new bridge and Wharf Street.

    The City of Victoria certainly has the right to sell public lands for the benefit of the City. But selling public lands that would result in a building that has been deemed (unanimously) to be too large by the City ’s own Heritage Advisory Panel, and that would obscure the historic views up and down Johnson Street when coming over the new bridge, is not in the best interests of the public.

    There would be no real public plaza if this building was placed on these lands. There would be a private plaza that the developers would put in, but this would not be public land. The City would end up with a sidewalk and possibly a set of stairs leading down to the future David Foster Walkway.

    The BC Assessment Authority currently shows the property at 1324 Wharf Street as consisting of a 10,944-square-foot waterfront lot with an assessed value of $295,500; the property at 0 Wharf Street is listed at 5,407 square feet, a waterfront lot with an assessed value of $195,600. 

    Where in Victoria could you buy any lot for that value, much less one on the Inner Harbour? And how do you put a value on the property that is currently a City street and the large, City-owned, landscaped area in front of the Northern Junk buildings?

    We assume that the City will engage a professional assessor to determine the “real” price for the property in question.

    If council approves the development, would they not be in a conflict of interest when it came to selling the public lands? And would not the reverse hold true: if they sell the land first, would they not be in a position of conflict when it came to the question of approval for the proposed development?

    Some time over the next year these questions are going to have to be asked and answered in public.

    In the end, the southeast side of the Johnson Street Bridge, next to the Northern Junk buildings, is no place for a seven-storey development. This project must be radically redesigned or rejected, with the latter being the preferred option. The City is increasing in density and, to counterbalance this, we need more open public spaces. To sell these public lands off for the benefit of developers is a disgrace to the future of the Inner Harbour and the City of Victoria.

    Drive down to the area and observe the current open spaces and imagine a seven-story building on the site.

    Ken Johnson, President, Hallmark Heritage Society


    The Malahat

    I have lived in the area for a quarter century and had always enjoyed a drive over the Malahat. It was and still is a beautiful and safe drive except for the uncontrolled speeders. No matter how much money is spent on widening, abatement barriers and such, the road as we know it today will never change. If the amount of money being spent on these projects was put into proper policing it could be the Malahat of days gone by. Three police stations, one at each end and one in the middle, 8 police cruisers and a platoon of constables working 24/7 not being afraid of stopping errant drivers and speeders would have been far cheaper than what is being done. The wider the road, along with the false sense of security afforded by the barriers, will only encourage more traffic and more speeders. Dedicated police forces would change that. On my last dozen or so round trips over the mountain I never saw a police car. But I saw a lot of impatient fools.

    William Jesse


    Proportional representation

    We have an historic opportunity this fall to take part in a referendum that could potentially change our archaic voting system so that every vote moving forward counts.

    By doing so, we can actually move towards a more compassionate way of living vs corporate-led fossil fuel initiatives that are destroying this beautiful land, our water, air, democracy and trampling indigenous rights, and destroying cultures.

    By having the ability to have every vote count, we can elect people who are invested in the greater good of all and show the rest of the country what’s possible. In fact, only the US, Canada and the UK still use a first-past-the-post voting system that dates back centuries and was designed to ensure that wealth and power remained in the hands of those who already had it.

    No wonder those with the most money and power are beginning campaigns of fear and confusion. I’ve already seen full-page ads and editorials in corporate-bought media…and using names very similar to FairVote Canada, like FairReferendum…ugh!

    One compassionate initiative that could arise from having proportional representation is the creation of a basic income for all by simply raising the tax rate by a few percentage on those in the position to most afford it, namely multi-million/billion-dollar corporations and the super-wealthy.

    Had we had proportional representation in place as Trudeau promised us, I can assure you that we taxpayers would not be having Site C and pipelines to pay for. Initiatives like a basic income for all would be possible if we weren’t subsidizing rich oil companies. Real jobs could be created in giving real power to the people through solar installations on every building, with affordable carbon-free power.

    If you want to regain control of our governments in favour of what’s best for people and planet, tell your friends and neighbours to get involved with non profits like FairVote BC and be sure to vote yes for Proportional Representation. Anything is better than the current archaic system we have.

    Frances Litman, founder, Creatively United for the Planet


    Parties aren’t dogs, and to be honest, we like our dogs a lot more. But we keep our dogs on a leash for good reason. The way I see it, proportional representation keeps all the parties on a leash and it puts the leash in our hands. Isn’t that what democracy is all about? Demo means “the people.” Kratos means “to rule.” The people rule, or if you prefer, the people hold the leash.

    Ann Remnant 


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