Pipeline dangers highly exaggerated

Dear editor:

To make good decisions, we have to see risks as they really are. But on controversial environmental issues, emotion can get in the way of good decision-making.

We are told, for example, that we should oppose the pipeline expansion because future oil spills could threaten the water supply of communities along the route and seriously degrade the ecology of our coastal waters — and, in the process, destroy our tourism industry.

But just how likely are these environmental disasters?

Since 1961 to the present, Trans Mountain has reported 84 spills. Seventy percent of those spills occurred in pump stations or terminals where they were quickly detected and contained on company property. Of the remaining 30%, just nine spills exceeded 1.5 cubic meters of oil. And, in the past 40 years, there have been just three such incidents.

Data from Natural Resources Canada reveals that Trans Mountain’s experience is not atypical. From 2011 to 2014, all regulated Canadian pipelines carried about 210 million cubic meters of oil each year. In all of Canada, the average quantity spilled per year was just 175 cubic meters — and most of that spilled oil was confined to company property.

What about tanker spills in our coastal waters? Over the entire history of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, no spills have been reported.

That’s right, none.

Furthermore, an analysis of the data from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited website indicates that transporting oil by tanker is safer now than at any point in the past half century. Since the 1970s, the quantity of oil transported by tanker had more than doubled, yet the average quantity per year spilled from tankers declined from 3.84 million cubic meters in the 1970s to just .24 in the last decade.

Do these numbers suggest that the probabilities of various environmental disasters associated with a tripling the capacity of the TMPL are large or significant?

Not to me.

Curt Eaton


We can all choose to not use plastic

Dear editor:

Your letters remind us that our lives are easier, better and safer because of plastics. I remember a pre-plastic world, where shoes were made of leather, clothes of cotton or wool, cars of steel, etc.

Our first television had a wooden enclosure. So, products listed by one of your writers existed before plastics, but were made of biodegradable materials and didn’t present the recycling problems facing us today.

Yes, plastics are everywhere in our lives, but are they necessary?

Cars are loaded with it, inside and out, but we don’t have to use plastic, it’s a choice.

We don’t need plastic shoes, it’s a choice.

We don’t need plastic containers and packaging, it’s a choice. We don’t make those choices, industry does.

We replaced all of the biodegradable products with plastics. Buy a screwdriver. it will be in an unnecessary plastic wrap. Do we need potatoes in plastic bags?

We are the consumers of all of this useless packaging, and pay extra for it. We should leave it for the store to deal with.

What supporters of the oil industry forget ia disposal problems created by useless plastic and huge amounts of energy to produce it. They ignore the migration of plastics into life on this planet.

Ocean creatures show traces of plastic, this includes the fish you eat.

Researchers in the Arctic find traces of plastic in all life, from shellfish to whales and sea birds that eat them. Plastic arrived on the ocean currents, which are connected around the globe. Throw something in the Fraser River and it will eventually arrive in the Bay of Fundy.

A submersible vehicle reached the deepest point in the Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Trench 11 km. below the surface and found plastic waste on the ocean floor.

The most remote place on earth littered by man.

In 2010, anywhere from 4-10 million tonnes of plastic entered the oceans from land. We mass produced 7.8 billion tons of plastic from 1950 to 2015, more than half of it since 2000. Of that less than 1% was biodegradable.

The oil industry and plastics have been and are a threat to life on this planet, bringing us global warming, severe weather, flooding, fires and drought, that are creating a huge refugee problem in some parts of the world.

We don’t know what the effects of the plastics in life will be, possibly genetic change. So don’t eat the fish and if you can, stop breathing.

Larry Calvin

West Kelowna

Maybe she should move to the woods

Dear editor:

Re: “Drug users should shoot up in woods,” (Courier, June 25).

Anne Stuart rages on about bike lanes, shoot-up rooms and roaad construction.

Construction can be a mess to obtain the finished product, so live with it, it is only temporary.

She wants drug users to be shipped off to the woods to rid them of their demons (addiction is an illness — not demons). Would this include Anne’s children if they happen to be drug users?

I don’t think so.

It is different when drug addiction affects you or your loved ones personally.

If Anne Stuart is not happy with the downtown, I suggest maybe she should go live in he woods.

Jorgen Hansen


Housing affordability vs. fixing our parks

Dear editor:

The city is soon to be rolling out a new Development Cost Charge program aimed at helping fund the development of our badly-neglected parks.

Shockingly, Kelowna is one of only a handful of municipalities that does not collect money from developers for the development of parks. We collect money for the acquisition of park space but not for their development.

This has led to an amassing of underdeveloped, underutilized park space leading city staff to warn that Kelowna is badly “underparked.” That’s why city council is asking developers to chip in more for future upgrades.

It sounds good, but there is a problem.

Developers will always try and pass on the costs of regulation onto the end consumer, making the city’s parks plan a potential housing affordability problem. This is particularly a problem for the lower end of the market, with the Canadian Home Builder’s Association warning an increase in the average condo price of 2% could result from these extra charges.

Now, this could just be fear mongering. Developers can’t usually pass 100% of a cost onto consumers as the market will bear only what it can bear. Furthermore, the city could just protect the lower end of the market with exemptions for lower-end housing.

But, what the city cannot escape is this: parks development DCCs, by way of provincial law are some of the most restricted funds collectable by cities. Unlike general taxes, they can only be spent on specific items.

For example, park development DCCs can pay for sports fields and general landscaping, but not baseball diamonds, lighting, skate parks, parking, or field houses. In other words, the things residents actually go to parks for. Alternatively, the city could use a different funding mechanism originally presented to council on April 1, Community Amenity Contributions. CACs are free from much of the provincial regulation that plagues DCCs. They are used in many other municipalities, but have gained little traction in Kelowna mostly due to developer fears that the city will treat their increased flexibility as a license to make lofty demands of them.

This is a fair objection, but let’s face it, the city is committed to fix the parks problem. So my ask is this: If we are going to risk housing affordability to repair decades of neglect to our parks, let’s raise money we can actually use and charge CACs not DCCs

Kelly Hutchinson


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