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The Globe and Mail

July 3: There’s more to commuting than getting there, and other letters to the editor

Transit versus car: time + distance = ?

Murtaza Haider makes the point that public transit is usually slower than commuting by car (Public Transit Is Better, But Cars Are Faster – July 2). A quick question: How many books can a driver read while behind the wheel?

If we subtract the time spent in useful and pleasurable pursuits, such as reading or putting electronic devices to good use, many transit users waste fewer minutes in their daily commute than motorists do. Which mode is more truly time efficient?

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Eric Hamovitch, Montreal


Murtaza Haider makes an excellent point about cars being faster, but could he please get the police to stop pulling me over for reading the newspaper on the drive to work? Actually, my wife and I walk half an hour into work along the Trans Canada Trail most days, including a half-kilometre bridge across the Saint John River – one of the many benefits to living in a small city.

Brian J. Lowry, Fredericton


Travelling by transit involves additional walking, thus decreasing the time needed outside of work to maintain health. If speed is the only variable used when comparing single vehicle use to public transit, then driving also deserves credit for speeding up rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and injury to self and others.

Adam Sweanor, Ottawa

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Ford math, road tolls

Re Let's Audit Ford's '$1-Billion In Savings' Claim (July 2): According to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, charging higher user fees for city-run swimming classes and renting space in community centres is a saving, because those who actually use the facilities pay more and "this reduces the burden on the general public." Using that logic, he should be in favour of road tolls, since those who actually drive on the roads would pay more, thus reducing the burden on those who don't.

Michael Warden, Toronto


RCMP's gun seizures

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How many times must firearm owners in High River be victimized before the chattering classes will say that "enough is enough" (Trigger-Happy – letters, July 2)? Subject not only to the heartbreaking effects of flooding, firearm owners in High River next had to contend with wide-scale seizure of their personal property.

While I know that some people outside of High River – themselves conveniently not subject to property seizures, so far as we know – fear even locked firearms in any situation enough to condone their confiscation at the drop of a hat, the Prime Minister's Office was correct in reminding responding authorities that victimization by the elements ought not to be grounds for carte blanche property seizures.

Daniel Balofsky, Toronto


Flooding smarts

Following the Calgary floods, I've yet to hear offered perhaps the most obvious but challenging response of all: allowing rivers to flood as they might "naturally" do.

The issue with flooding is not that it occurs, but that once the waters have risen, they are funnelled through paved streets deep into the urban landscape. However, Dutch water managers are trying alternatives that may prove successful in mitigating increasing flood risk in light of climate change, all while creating more vibrant and sustainable urban environments.

Examples include adding "Green Rivers" that act as flood bypasses, or setting back dikes to give more "Room for the River" to expand in times of high volume. Both options also add greater cultural and ecological value to cities. Let's look at some of these creative solutions, and the collaborative and open processes that saw them imagined, when designing flood responses in our own cities.

Lisa Westerhoff, PhD candidate, Resource Management and Environmental Studies, University of British Columbia


John Lorinc's article New Toronto Park Doubles As Flood Protection (June 29) made me want to stand up and cheer: Toronto's new Corktown Common park is adaptation at its best.

When extreme amounts of rain fall in an urban environment, there is often nowhere for the water to go except into our homes, businesses and facilities. As we are seeing in Alberta, flooding can have an enormous human and economic toll. We also know that in many circumstances, Canada's aging infrastructure is part of the problem – it simply cannot handle our new weather reality.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada and the property and casualty insurance industry have publicly advocated for the installation of smart infrastructure improvements and adaptive measures. Forward-thinking projects, such as the Corktown park, will go a long way toward safeguarding neighbourhoods and businesses, protecting the local economy and preventing needless heartache.

Mary Lou O'Reilly, Insurance Bureau of Canada


Bacchus and borders

By what sense of entitlement do some B.C. wineries believe they should be granted preferential status in other provinces (Provincial Barriers Hamper The Flow Of Domestic Wine – July 1)?

North American jurisdictions require companies selling alcohol within their borders to be duly licensed; whether as distributor, retailer, bar, restaurant or street vendor. Yet, the "free my grape crowd" chafes at restrictions on their products.

Many American states, such as New York, have moved to facilitate direct interstate wine shipments and require those so engaged to obtain three permits: a sales tax permit to ensure state and local sales tax collection, a distributor's permit to allow state excise tax payment, and a direct shipper's permit to enforce regulatory conditions such as aggregate winery and customer volume limits and volume reporting requirements.

In Canada, provincial liquor board product markups take the place of and serve the same function as state excise taxes in the U.S. All alcohol sold in a province must be subject to equivalent levels of liquor board markup to meet both Canada's obligations under international trade agreements, but more importantly, to satisfy the most basic tenant of effective tax policy, namely, identical tax burdens on similar, directly competing or substitutable products.

Jan Westcott, president, Spirits Canada


About that engraving

Re Jane The Economist (editorial, June 28): Jane Austen was certainly a keen observer of money and its effect on her society – so much so that Kingsley Amis once described her novels, during a panel debate, as a sort of "pecuniary pornography." Perhaps a new banknote in her honour might reflect some interesting engraving.

Kathleen Hughes, Winnipeg

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