Veering into make-believe 

Dear Editor:

Kris Sims claims Alberta auto insurance rates might sound like fairy tales but the make-believe nature of her opinion piece (Courier, Sept. 11) is the way she completely ignores the facts of the challenges facing auto insurers across Canada, including those with private insurance models.

 Let’s start with Alberta, where Sims curiously failed to mention the latest news that the cap limiting rate increases to a maximum of five per cent per year has just been eliminated. The general consensus is that rates in Alberta are about to soar. Or, what about in New Brunswick — another private insurance market — where the media this week reported private insurers applying for rate increases of 20, 30 or even 50 per cent. Or Ontario — again, a private market — where that province’s very own finance minister recently stated that “Ontario’s auto insurance system is broken.”

By comparison, public auto insurance systems in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are largely thriving and producing the most stable rates across Canada – seeing either low or zero increases each year.

 These are facts which highlight that private insurance is not the magic solution to lower insurance rates Sims and others may have you believe, and that public models can work.

 We know the affordability and fairness of insurance rates is something we need to continue to address here in B.C. We’ve already started that work, in part, through the Sept. 1 changes to our rate model. Contrary to Sims’ statements, more than 50 per cent of our full coverage customers who have already renewed under our new model have seen a decrease in their insurance rates.

 Government and ICBC will continue to focus on making sure auto insurance rates become more affordable for British Columbians and that they get the care they need if they’re injured in a crash.

Nicolas Jimenez,

President and CEO, ICBC

Proud to support Albas

Dear Editor:

As the October federal election approaches, we can expect to see more about federal politics in our newspapers. Although not everyone will be interested in the details, as Canadians we are privileged to live in a democracy.

I encourage everyone with strong views to get involved, whatever party they choose. If democracy fails, it is not because of different views but because of apathy. How often do you hear people say that you can’t change the system; but you can. No political party will reflect your views exactly, so join the one you like best and get involved.

My life experiences have shown me that private enterprise usually does a better job than government intervention. So I support smaller government and lower taxes, and that is why I support the Conservative Party of Canada.

I am very disappointed that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is trying to win the election by announcing billions of dollars of future government projects. The money for these projects is not just our money, but the money of the next generation as well. New government spending means future tax increases; is that what we want?

It is said that people vote for the party not the local candidate and that is sometimes true. But in our riding of the Central Okanagan, I am very proud to support our MP, Dan Albas. What really impresses me about Dan is that he is so gracious and respectful of his opponents.

I spoke to him this week after the first all-candidates meeting. He told me that he thought that the other candidates were good people but with different views. This response is typical of the way Dan has behaved during his time as our MP. Dan has time for everyone and is patient in hearing opposing views.

Knowing Dan is an opportunity to affirm our faith in democracy. He works hard for his constituents and is a strong voice for the Central Okanagan.

Eric Hall,

Peachland

Bridge traffic to get worse 

Dear Editor:

This morning I was driving

from Casa Loma to Kelowna at about 8:50 a.m.

My entrance to the bridge was backlogged at the roundabout by vehicles taking the Sneena Road shortcut. Finally I got through and was on the bridge. Rush hour traffic was backed up behind me but we were all moving slowly. Suddenly, I heard an ambulance and saw it in my rearview mirror at the top of the hill heading north to the hospital. Everyone moved as quickly a possible to the outside lane. It was a struggle to get all our cars over from two lanes to one. When I looked ahead, however, I was shocked to see that two big trucks were stuck in the inside lane trying to get over. Then I realized that with all the vehicles moving over, there simply wasn’t room for the trucks. The ambulance went by me, only for me to watch as it became blocked by the trucks. The sirens were blaring and it was obvious the truck drivers were in a dilemma. To their competence, I watched as the trucks simply put “pedal to the metal” in front of the ambulance. The ambulance had to follow the trucks as they rushed in to Kelowna. I lost sight of them as they made the curve.

Watching this I had tears in my eyes as I thought of the possible consequences to the patient, frustration of the ambulance driver, the truck drivers and the cars trying to make room.

I couldn’t help but think with dread of how similar future situations will unfold if the Blackmun Bay development in Casa Loma goes forward. This massive waterfront project is planning to have numerous residential towers up to 10 storeys, a 180-room hotel, town homes, a winery and a marina on both sides of Campbell Road. There will be no change to the bridge lanes, nor will access to the bridge from Campbell Road change.

If it proceeds, I just hope that neither you nor me is the patient in the ambulance.

Anne Macnab,

Kelowna

Citizen voices don’t matter 

Dear Editor:

Welcome to the New Kelowna – where residents and taxpayers don’t matter.

On Sept. 10, Kelowna council systematically ignored its Official Community Plan land use, zoning, building height and density policies to approve another non-conforming South Pandosy project.

Most importantly, council ignored residents who spoke passionately against the project claiming they purchased their property with the understanding that OCP 2030 public policies would protect their investments, views and neighbourhood until at least year 2030, if not beyond.

They told council those OCP 2030 policies still exist and that one policy requiring city staff to assess project impacts traffic, land, housing, rental and taxation costs in the area should have been completed.

They told council the developer will get an estimated $1.5 million subsidy from taxpayers to offset infrastructure costs.

They told council that the rental agreement for the project’s 48 rental units was not made public and that units will likely be rented at market rates rather than with a 10-year rental rate cap registered on the land title to ensure affordability.

Only Coun. Charlie Hodge opposed the project. The remaining councillors gave lip service to area residents thanking them for their input and then promptly dismissed them as they fawned all over the developer to support the project.

Councillors in support failed to address the project’s OCP policy shortcomings and lacked objectivity expressing personal opinions that made little sense, including psychobabble on right brain-left brain conflict; claims that rental-housing policies magically supersede other public policies; claims that OCP 2030 somehow no longer applies; and claims that OCP 2040 height and density goals must be imposed now despite the fact an OCP 2040 approval bylaw is still two years away.

Welcome to the New Kelowna – where citizens don’t matter and where council puts private profits ahead of protecting residents, taxpayers and neighbourhoods.

Richard Drinnan,

Kelowna