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Mind the gap
Re Ottawa’s Climate-change Promises Stymied By Lack Of Data (Jan. 1): I don’t see how there is a data gap in relation to “how far Canadians drive every year.” Every year when I renew my car’s Ontario licence plate, I have to provide an odometer reading. The province knows what kind of vehicles we drive, how old they are and how much we use them. It seems as though millions of data points have already been collected.
Tuula Talvila Ottawa
It has been years since the previous state-of-the-environment report was published, giving Canadians a kind of “census of the environment." Many new ways to monitor a wide range of environmental changes are now available, including the use of drones, so that it should not be beyond the capacity of government to step up the pace of tracking and reporting changes in land, water, coastal and other settings.
If gaps in collecting and delays in releasing essential data on environmental change in Canada persist, it seems the country will not be able to respond effectively to climate change.
Antony Berger Wolfville, N.S.
The view from Vancouver
Re How Golf Courses Can Solve Vancouver’s Housing Crisis (Jan. 1): Contributors Patrick Condon and Scot Hein propose repurposing Vancouver’s three publicly owned golf courses into low-density non-market and market housing. The public courses, as well as all other parks, are not controlled by the city, but rather by the elected Vancouver Park Board.
The mandate of the Park Board is to preserve parkland and enhance recreation. This arrangement has the charm of preventing parkland, such as Stanley Park, from being turned over to developers, be they private for-profit developers or the well-intentioned public-private partnerships promoted by Mr. Condon and Mr. Hein. With respect, neither the cause of nor the solution to the housing-affordability problem in Vancouver seems as simple as “a tsunami of global capital corrupting our local housing market,” nor turning over parkland for development.
The authors also exhort the city to move a few folks into this new housing “before the next municipal election.” In this city, if a development permit was submitted today, it would likely be three years before building could start. The next civic election is October, 2022.
John McLean Vancouver
The view from Toronto
Re City Sees Record Number Of Shootings In 2019 (Jan. 2): Toronto’s current and past police chiefs and mayors like to point out that Toronto is a “safe city,” because the overall murder tally places us behind major U.S. cities, and that the per capita rate is less than that of Winnipeg or Saskatoon.
But with a record 490 shootings last year, only a bit more shooting accuracy would put Toronto in the big leagues of dangerous cities. To me, this is a failure of governments who allocate money for programs without proper oversight of effectiveness, and a police board that has not demanded better results and given the police chief the resources to succeed.
At-risk youth should have well-supported schools, after-school programs and jobs. They should have options and opportunities. Potential offenders should see a police presence and know there will be consequences if they pull out a gun.
John Campbell Former city councillor (2014-2018), Toronto
Re Gardiner Expressway Reconstruction Results In Sleepless Nights For Downtown Residents (Dec. 31): Toronto seems unwilling to explore quieter options for Gardiner reconstruction, caring more about industry than its inhabitants. Noise should be treated similar to second-hand smoke, not an inconvenience to be tolerated. According to the World Health Organization, sufficient information was deemed available to quantify the burden of disease from environmental noise for cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in children, sleep disturbance and tinnitus.
New York deems noise a “menace” requiring that contractors provide and follow noise mitigation plans and use, where appropriate, air compressors with mufflers, insulated portable noise barriers, the quietest equipment and so on. Toronto should demand the same. Here, however, it seems lobbyists rule. This may cost us our health, quality of life and prosperity.
Harold Smith Toronto
Re Donor Dilemmas (Letters, Jan. 2): My heart is breaking for the family of Emily and their organ-donation ordeal. How sad they must feel as they try to do the right thing by helping others. Bravo, I say.
However, I trust that the transplant team involved with the family’s case has the expertise and knowledge. I, for one, would not want an organ from someone who previously had cancer. On the other hand, if that were my only option, I would face this dilemma head on.
Mary Smith Guelph, Ont.
Re The Rhodes Behind Us (Letters, Jan. 1): The Rhodes Scholarship was created to bring together the best and the brightest from across the British Empire, regardless of race or faith. Sure, Cecil Rhodes exploited the resources of Rhodesia to build his wealth, but that was the norm at the time throughout the world. Alfred Nobel created explosives that caused unfathomable carnage in countless wars, but his prizes are lauded to this day.
In both cases, great men used their wealth for the betterment of their societies. Instead of trashing the Rhodes Scholarship, as one letter-writer does, we should be glad that it still exists and still brings great young minds together.
David Morgan Ottawa
Tried and tested
Re DNA Kits Risk Opening Up A Pandora’s Box Of Family Secrets (Dec. 23): People who worry DNA testing may reveal a family secret should just do it. Scientists have learned that many of our health problems are rooted in genetics. I had a dangerous blood clot due to the Factor V Leiden gene and so did my cousin; I have urged, pushed and shoved my other cousins to test.
Oh, sure, testing unlocked a few family secrets that we should have already known: My grandmother’s mother was an Ashkenazi Jew. Finding that we are comprised of several minorities makes us more empathetic. In North America, many of us were once immigrants.
And elsewhere, my mother’s relatives swore me to secrecy about one cousin’s adoption long before I went to work at an adoption agency. During my work there, it troubled me. I became convinced that it is a human right for everyone to have access to some information about their parents. Finally, I broke down and told her.
Peggy checked her DNA matches for relatives and found her birth mother. She was only 14 when she gave Peggy up. They exchanged e-mails. It went so well that Peggy drove to California to meet her mother and her sisters. Peggy was thrilled.
Lucia Perri Guthrie, Okla.
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