Idiotic of city to go after drivers

Dear Editor:

Regarding front-page news item Nov. 17, “New tax on drivers.”

“A new tax on drivers should be considered in Kelowna…”

Them’s fightin words. I hate to write any derogatory words about city council and city planners, but “what have they been smoking?”

First, city planners and council give developers carte blanche to build over-height by many, many storeys, variances to build without enough parking for tenants and then, invite people to move to the downtown core.

Now, when they have residents of the new monstrosities trapped in these buildings, they want to slap a tax on them, and the rest of us, just to drive on the roads.

This new tax would mean that I, as a senior who drives less than 1,000 kilometres a year on these precious roads, must pay a fee just to go to my doctor’s or dentist’s office for an appointment.

This insane proposal will bring hardship to many seniors and low-income families, and just in case council didn’t think of it, voters as well.

This idiotic plan means more cameras must be installed, (shades of George Orwell’s novel, 1984) just to “catch us” driving on the roads we have been paying for over the years. If thoughtful and professional planning had been done years ago and these buildings placed so that there would be no heavy traffic, then we would not be in this dilemma.

Coincidentally, a news story in this same edition said council received a report the closure of Bernard Avenue in the summer of 2020 was a success. Now, they want to close it again in the summer of 2021. What does council think will happen to the traffic downtown when a tax is levied just to go down there to shop and enjoy life? People will avoid the downtown core, the core that council and businesses are trying so hard to improve and promote. (And incidentally spending our tax money to do so.)

Just because Vancouver thinks this is a good idea doesn’t mean Kelowna should do it. For years, many of our city councils have tried to make Kelowna a mini Vancouver, and in many ways, they have succeeded with ugly highrises, drug proliferation, homelessness, and the list goes on.

Please, no more insane taxes. Enough is enough.

Bill Peckham, Kelowna

Highrise bad in every way

Dear Editor:

I went to a public hearing Tuesday and watched in amazement as council mugged Kelowna taxpayers once again.

This time, council fleeced $1.9 million from taxpayers when they approved a nine-storey project when the zoning bylaw only allowed four-storeys.

Council approved a 235-unit residence for seniors at a high-traffic intersection in South Pandosy at KLO and Lakeshore roads where highly toxic vehicle emissions occur.

How the 430 residents, employees and commercial customers will evacuate the building during an emergency when the power fails and the elevators stop running was never discussed.

Neither was the fact a shadow study did not show how much shade the nine-storey building will create in winter on public open space and adjacent properties, when sunlight is so important to public health and safety.

Council also ignored the fact there was no cumulative traffic impact assessments to identify and mitigate the effects this project will have when other projects are built in the next five years that will add over 3,000 new units, over 10,000 new residents and over 5,000 new vehicles to the area north of Mission Creek .

Not only did council ignore opposition to this non-conforming project, they also ignored the project’s many public costs, including health costs from locating seniors at a site where two highly congested truck routes meet to concentrate toxic vehicle emissions that impact the health of this high-risk population.

Clearly, council could care less about local residents, taxpayers and seniors. They showed their true colours by selling the public interest down the river for a piece of junk art, a few shrubs on the sidewalk and a meaningless three-year car share agreement with no renewal guarantee so the developer could get profits from five storeys of extra height.

Council fawned all over each other sucking up to Mayor Colin Basran and City Manager Doug Gilchrist to show them they were on side and support giving public subsidies to private project.

Council ignored taxpayers and South Pandosy residents who will have to live with this project for the next 60 years and who will not receive compensation equal to the value developer Parc Retirement Living got from the height variance.

This is a done deal. Stay tuned as council gets ready to give the Stober project on Lakeshore two 14-storey towers next to Gyro Beach.

Hold your noses. If you value the form and character of South Pandosy, the smell of money in this town is about to get putrid.

Richard Drinnan, Kelowna

Time for masks to be mandatory

Dear Editor:

“There’s a time for everything.” Is it now time for the B.C. government to mandate the wearing of masks?

A supermarket I regularly shop at has a sign on the window: “Face-coverings will be required while shopping in .… stores in B.C”. Hand sanitizer is available for customers, yet some don’t wear masks. I’ve spoken to the manager, who said it’s difficult to enforce.

Parents and teachers know you get the behaviour from children that you allow. Appropriate consequences can work to get the desired behaviour. (Google: books by Lee and Marlene Canter, such as “Assertive Discipline” and “Assertive Discipline For Parents.”)

The manager should tell employees to only serve customers wearing masks. Yes, it’s going to upset some, but short-term pain for long-term gain. Do this once. Either the customer will never return, but more likely, the customer will return the next time wearing a mask. This idea can be applied to almost any business. If a customer walks in without a mask, he or she should be given one.

Google “BC COVID-19 Data” and click “Positivity.” Since Nov. 12, the daily positivity rate for B.C. has been over 6.0. On Nov. 16, the Interior Health rate was 3.4.

A school is closed if a certain number of cases is declared an “outbreak”, or officials decide to close a school before it reaches “outbreak” level.

On Nov. 14, the positivity rate in the Fraser Health region was 9.2. In a letter to Premier John Horgan, BCTF president Teri Mooring urged him to reduce class size to 15 students.

Reducing class size to 15 should occur in all schools in the province. Students could attend on alternate days; or attend daily, but only mornings or afternoons. Either scenario may not be realistic for many working parents of younger children. The government should be funding daycare and create spaces for these children. If not funding spaces during a deadly pandemic, then when?

Masks should also be mandatory in all schools and grades,

Google “BC Today with Michelle Eliot” and listen to the Nov. 16 show: COVID-19 safety measures in schools.

Every newspaper and online news source in Canada should be posting daily the daily and seven-day average testing positivity rate for their health region.

Forewarned is forearmed.

David Buckna, Kelowna

Some masks just aren’t safe

Dear Editor:

Who is regulating the “face covering” industry to ensure these items that have flooded the market are safe?

Oxygen is a fundamental requirement for sustaining human life. I just tried on the mask my wife purchased for my child, as just looking at it I could tell it is not breathable. I put it on, pulled it tight, and I literally could not breathe. The only air she will taste wearing this is the air that comes through the gaps at the nose. This is a serious health risk. Much more serious and much more prevalent than COVID-19. Oxygen deprivation, even in small amounts over time will lead to brain damage, this much has been proven.

I ask again, who is responsible for ensuring that these face coverings we are purchasing for our kids, as is required for them to attend public schools, are safe?

Jeff Frank, Kelowna

Tips for snowbirds during a pandemic

Dear Editor:

We’re Kelowna residents who migrate to Arizona for the winter. Normally.

This year, we seriously considered abandoning the usual Flight of the Snowbirds script. But over the last week as the days have abruptly ended mid-afternoon, as sunshine becomes as rare as a mask at a biker bar, and after four episodes shovelling snow with the consistency of wet cement, we’re soon headed south.

For snowbirds in a similar position, I’m passing along some safety tips gleaned over the past month from friends who’ve already made the journey south.

First, get COVID insurance. Not the paltry $200,000 coverage, but the gold-plated $1 million policy. This ensures you won’t be on the wrong side of triage decisions at private U.S. hospitals.

There’s nothing in the Hippocratic oath preventing doctors from perusing the coverage limits of your insurance before providing treatment. And rumours have circulated of Canadian insurance companies being billed more than $600,000 for a client’s COVID U.S. hospital stay.

Second, don’t engage with airport U.S. customs agents. You might be tempted to ask a sidearm-carrying officer to explain the twisted logic that allows non-essential travellers U.S. entry by plane but not by car.

This could lead to a claustrophobic interrogation room where you’d better hope you wore clean undergarments and that you get along well with snarling guard dogs.

If quizzed by the agent about the reason for your visit, try this: “To wallow in your wonderful winter weather, and to observe firsthand the workings of a functional democracy.”

Third, don’t talk politics. It won’t be long before a patron sitting next to you at an outdoor bar asks, “Whaddya think about Trump and Biden?” The wise course at this point is to harken back to your high school French class. “Je ne parle pas l’anglais. Je suis Canadien. Merci. Au revoir.” Smile, pay your bill, leave.

But after your second Bud Light, you might slip. You’ve asked your neighbour if it is true that Trump is the lead singer for the punk band “Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.” Or you suggest at midday that Biden is probably napping. Things could turn nasty.

They pack guns and we don’t. An American friend of mine who was tiring of a gun control argument once told me, “Hell, if we didn’t have guns, we’d just kill each other with forks!” So never leave home without a serving fork tucked into the side pocket of your cargo shorts.

Next, if there is a choice between a pro-democracy rally and golf, choose golf.

Finally, wear a mask when grocery shopping. You’ll get some approving looks. But you will also get glares that are meant to question your virility (not unreasonable given the age of many snowbirds).

Slurs about your sexual orientation from trophy wives might be a blow to your ego. But wear the mask. Remember the reason you are at the grocery store: ribs, burgers and beer to be enjoyed on your outdoor patio, without a snowflake in sight. Bon appetit!

Tim Simard, West Kelowna