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The 407 toll highway (running bottom to top of photo) passes under Jane St., in June, 2019.Fred Lum

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High energy

Re Canadians Among World’s Biggest Energy Users, Expected To Remain So In Years To Come (Oct. 15): The International Energy Agency forecasts that removing fossil fuels from the power grid will contribute to a decline in Canada’s per capita energy use. Yet a joule of energy cares not how it was produced, and the efficiency of its consumption is unrelated to its prior transformations.

On the contrary, I suspect that the more immaculate the source of energy, the more inclined we will be to indulge in it.

Brooks Rapley Toronto

Re Bitcoin-mining Power Plant Raises Ire Of Environmentalists (Report on Business, Oct. 18): This feels like just another example of capitalism run amok.

There is a history of profiteering supremacy over public and environmental health: Big Tobacco with cancer-causing products; Purdue Pharma with addictive opioid solutions for pain; automakers with gas-guzzling products for off-road weekend warriors; miners with production in countries that have weak or no regulations – these are some examples that need attention along with restrictions on the creation of crypto wealth.

I find it a sad commentary when the creation of wealth outweighs the importance of the health of the environment and public.

Bill Bousada Carleton Place, Ont.

Eat it

Re: Critics Call Out Plant-based Food Companies Over Sustainability Claims (Report on Business, Oct. 18): I believe it is unreasonable to expect a company to measure the environmental impact of absolutely everything in its operations and supply chains. Collecting data for its own sake does not necessarily translate into any meaningful environmental benefit; resources could be better allocated to specific measures that do.

But if companies don’t disclose even the most basic of sustainability performance data, such as water use, carbon emissions or waste, they can’t reasonably claim that their products provide any positive environmental benefit at all – let alone that they’re “saving the planet,” as some major plant-based food companies claim. Without any proof whatsoever, they’re essentially asking investors, consumers and the public to just take their claims on faith.

That’s greenwashing, pure and simple.

Mark Bessoudo London

Re Why It’s So Hard To Quit Fossil Fuels (Editorial, Oct. 18): Individuals have a part to play. Here are some suggestions: Avoid drive-through fast-food service; cut the lawn only once every 10 days; stop using leaf-blowers altogether; eat meat only once every five days.

These actions are achievable for everyone without cost.

Roger Stein Collingwood, Ont.

Friendly benefits

Re Friends Without Benefits (Opinion, Oct. 9): Contributors Fen Osler Hampson and Mike Blanchfield describe Canada’s work to promote human rights in China 20 years ago as a total failure. With due respect, I don’t think they really understand the significant impact of Canada’s work in this field.

For example, the rule-of-law projects that Vancouver’s International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy delivered during that period, referred to as part of Canada’s failures, were indeed quite successful. Through those projects, Canada became a pioneer in assisting reformers in China to successfully incorporate some of the most important fair-trial standards into law; develop a legal aid system that handles one million cases per year; adopt community corrections that to date have let over five million offenders serve sentences outside of prison; abolish “labour re-education” in China.

The results of the pioneers’ work are still visible today. Canadians should be proud of them.

Vincent Yang PhD; senior associate, ICCLR; Vancouver

Long-term goals

Re New Long-term Care Standards Should Focus On The ‘Qualities Of Home,’ Survey Says (Online, Oct. 11): The survey makes it clear that too many people lack confidence in the long-term care system. And, importantly, that the provision of high-quality care is at the top of everyone’s list of priorities.

But it’s critically important that we pay attention to lower-profile findings: that Canadians want a greater focus on quality of life, on emotion-based care that prizes social connection (rather than completion of tasks), on holistic wellbeing that encompasses emotional, spiritual, mental, social and physical health.

Our association believes we should move away from a model focused on physical care to one that supports homes in prioritizing laughter, joy and fun. To do that, government should make a strong commitment to non-profit care, which, we argue, is the best proponent of an expanded approach.

That should be the starting point in any discussion about new national standards.

Lisa Levin CEO, AdvantAge Ontario; Vaughan, Ont.

Hit the road

Re Paved Paradise Has Future As Parking Lot (Editorial, Oct. 20): Highways 401, 400 and 404 are massive funnels of traffic in the Greater Toronto Area, and where they intersect there are significant bottlenecks that cause headaches for everyone concerned. Drivers have to deal with what happens in real life, and rush hours seem minor compared to the construction and accidents on the 401 that occur far more frequently and have much greater adverse effects on traffic times.

As it stands now, the tolled Highway 407 is the only (very expensive) option not only for bypassing Toronto, but also for going through York Region unhindered by its own traffic sprawl. Constructing Highway 413, as well as the Bradford Bypass, would present the greatest expansion of real transport options that Ontario will have seen for decades.

Drivers outside the GTA would be forever grateful if these roads came to pass.

Rob Ellerby Stratford, Ont.

If you build it

Re Helping Hand (Letters, Oct. 19): A letter-writer lists “monster houses” as an environmental hazard. In Toronto, at least, a solution is readily at hand: Enforce bylaws governing the construction of residential properties.

I find that the Committee of Adjustment routinely grants variances ranging from 40 to 60 per cent over set standards. Apart from the greenhouse gases emitted in building these houses, greenspace is reduced, mature trees are often removed and neighbouring gardens are shaded – all with harmful consequences for the urban environment and local ecologies, as well as the city’s stated goal of more affordable housing.

Wayne Dowler Toronto

All in the family

Re Fine Dining Will ‘Completely Change’ (Report on Business, Oct. 12): The future of restaurants just might mean, once again, the return to restaurants as family businesses.

Children grow up working for their parents at lower wages because they have room and board. Their education becomes a sidebar for those who really aspire to something else, instead of a priority for every child. They grow up to manage the restaurant, marry and have children who again, eventually, become the next set of employees.

Perceptions that running a family business is less worthy than getting a generic degree at university ought to be rethought.

Shelagh Barrington Toronto

All ages

Re Author Specialized In Adventure For Young Adults (Obituary, Oct. 20): As a former middle-school English teacher, I can attest that Gary Paulsen’s most famous book, Hatchet, has made readers of legions of adolescents who were reluctant to encounter a volume of print.

I was particularly moved by one quote of his that bears repeating: “Name the book that made the biggest impression on you. I bet you read it before you hit puberty.” A deep understanding of the power of literature on a young mind.

Donnie Friedman Toronto

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