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A broker puts up a For Sale sign before an open house in Toronto in this 2015 file photo. (Darren Calabrese For The Globe and Mail)
A broker puts up a For Sale sign before an open house in Toronto in this 2015 file photo. (Darren Calabrese For The Globe and Mail)

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Sept. 29: Limits to growth – letters to the ROB editor Add to ...

Limits to growth

Re Foreign home buyers are a classic misdirection. We must loosen supply (Sept. 29):

I shook my head when I read Brian Crowley and Sean Speer’s (MacDonald-Laurier Institute) myopic piece extolling the virtues of supply-side real estate development while discounting the role of foreign investors as culprits in driving up house prices in metropolitan Vancouver and Toronto. They point the finger at “obstructive” government regulations such as green belts, exclusionary zoning, urban containment strategies and B.C.’s agricultural land reserve for failing to provide enough new single-family detached housing to satisfy the market.

Vancouver and Toronto are both in the midst of an unprecedented construction boom to both accommodate an unsustainable rate of in-migration and provide investment stock for the insatiable demand of off-shore investors. Transit is near the breaking point, streets are clogged and parks crowded. It is only because we are building up and not out that the regions still remain fairly liveable. Cities and housing provide places to live and not just another product to “grow” the economy. And yes, there are limits to growth. David Sheffield, West Vancouver

The cost of green

Re Ontario Liberals put brakes on renewable-energy projects (Sept. 28):

John Cook of Greenchip Financial Corp is quoted as saying that green energy was responsible for only 5 per cent of the total increase in the price of electricity for the past five years. The causes are said to be nuclear refurbishment, transmission upgrades, the HST and debt retirement. The HST and debt requirement were in effect before the period he uses, and therefore do not qualify.

The only way I can see that nuclear refurbishment is a cause is if he is confusing capital expenditures for nuclear refurbishments with the cost of electricity delivered in kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is how we use it and pay for it on our electricity bills. The capital cost impact of this is spread over the electricity delivered in kWh over the new lifetime of the nuclear plants.

On the basis of cost to us all, a major factor is the price paid to wind and solar suppliers in kWh, which is multiples of that paid for other generation technologies. This is what affects our electricity bills. A proper look at increases in electricity looking at the past ten years will show it is largely due to renewables, and this will continue for the next ten years, even with some projects not proceeding. Kent Hawkins, Ajax, Ont.

IT workers unite

Re B.C. urges Ottawa to fix tech talent gap (Sept. 26):

I’ve been working in IT for 36 years. It is very distressing for me to see repeated calls from employers to make it easier for them to fill Canadian IT jobs with foreigners, whether as temporary or permanent residents. The notion that we don’t have capable people here in Canada who can do the job is preposterous.

The only reason we’re having this discussion at all is that IT workers don’t have a voice. If the call was instead to bring in large numbers of new teachers, lawyers or dentists their respective unions or professional associations would be up in arms. Unfortunately, we IT folks have never successfully organized so employers have a field day and Minister McCallum seems all too prepared to oblige them. It is stunning that the same leaders who tell us we need to move into the knowledge economy then turn around and hand the knowledge jobs to foreigners.

The reality is that in my time in the IT workplace employers have all but eliminated training programs, working conditions have deteriorated, and pay and benefits have declined since the heady days of the dot-com bubble. Of course employers would rather bring in instant, proven, and preferably inexpensive talent from abroad than have to take a chance on growing a Canadian into a job. Governments, however, should insist that they invest in Canadians. Some of us will even turn out to be as good as new immigrants. And we’ll likely stay. Jim Paulin, Ottawa

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