Morte inflatius?

colleseum

Dateline – March 28, 2020

Here’s the most commonly asked question these days – What the hell is actually going on in Italy?

WTF is the alternative question when it comes to sorting out good news from bad news, real news from fake news, and truth from fear.

Italy has set itself up as the #1 hotspot for Covid19. When I say “set itself up” I actually mean that.

To listen to MSM reports it sounds like everyone in Italy is going to eventually die.

As of today, 10,779 have reportedly died of Coronvirus there.

HOLD THE PRESSES!!

Italian, Walter Ricciardi, who is the scientific adviser to Roberto Speranza, Italy’s minister of health, says the country’s mortality rate is far higher due to demographics – the nation has the second-oldest population worldwide after Japan – and the manner in which hospitals record deaths.

“The age of our patients in hospitals is substantially older – the median is 67, while in China it was 46,” Prof Ricciardi says.

“On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,” he says. Source

Okay, let’s readjust the math – 10,779 X .12 = 1,294 direct causality (33/day over 40 days). Out of the 92,472 cases reported in Italy, that gives a Case Fatality Rate of 1.3%…which is more in line with other countries.

BUT, since we know the virus kills more older people, lets take into consideration that Italians, on average, live an extra 3 years longer. There are about 1300 Italians that die each day, on a regular day. If we assume mathematically that 650 of them are thus over the average age, then the question becomes how many of the 33 per day would have likely died anyways? Half? More?

The real number is clearly unclear…

However, what is clear is that the constant over-exaggeration of the deaths in Italy has cause unnecessary fear worldwide. That fear has led to such social media postings as this one on March 28th:

In a matter of days with extensive testing, the US has reached 116k infected. They are on pace for 20k new cases today. Maybe more.

Almost 10,000 dead Italy so far and they are still adding roughly 10k cases per day.

51 of the frontline doctors in Italy are dead. Imagine removing 51 doctors from the populace? That would effect communities everywhere. Doctors aren’t old people with pre existing conditions for the most part either, are they?

Still got some doubters out there?

It boggles the mind that this is even happening, let alone that people deny it is.

Sorry for the gloomy post, but I hope you doubters can start to see…

 

Dissecting this post, piece by piece we find:

1. In a matter of days with extensive testing, the US has reached 116k infected. They are on pace for 20k new cases today. Maybe more.

True, BUT, today there are only 15,639 new cases, or about 25% less than the poster’s projections. AND, there is a significant reduction in the increased numbers of deaths. Those increased cases are the result of 50-80,000 tests a day over the past week, with less than 10% being tested as positive.

2. Almost 10,000 dead Italy so far and they are still adding roughly 10k cases per day.

True, BUT, there are only 5, 217 new cases today, about 50% less than the poster’s projection. The increased number of newly reported dead to dead, is dropping significantly in Italy and around the world.

3. 51 of the frontline doctors in Italy are dead. Imagine removing 51 doctors from the populace? That would effect communities everywhere.

True, 51 doctors were reported to have died in Italy, BUT, in examining the list, there are a number of unknown factors in play, not the least of which the average age of the doctors who died was nearly 70 (see data at bottom of this article).

Forty of the fifty dead doctors were 65 or older…the oldest was 94… The reporting agency did not make it clear how they had died, whether they were patients (not acting physicians) in hospital dying from something, or whether they were retired. In other words we don’t know whether the list was just a memorial list of some of the doctors who have died since the beginning of February.

Statistically, about 20 of the 1300 people who die each day are aging doctors/dentists/psychiatrists/etc.

There is only ONE of the doctors (a general practioner) listed as having come out of retirement to assist.

4. Doctors aren’t old people with pre existing conditions for the most part either, are they?

Well, according to the report, evidently they are.

One-half of all Italian doctors smoke. Smoking has been linked by WHO to a higher incidence of complications from Covid19. Italy has high rates of COPD, linked to smoking.

5. Still got some doubters out there? It boggles the mind that this is even happening, let alone that people deny it is. Sorry for the gloomy post, but I hope you doubters can start to see…

Well, if actually looking at, researching and digging out statistics and truths make me a “doubter,” that things aren’t as “gloomy” as they seem, then colour me a “doubter.” That is a different colour than a cynic.

However, I believe that to expose the fact a virus is nowhere near as deadly as it is made out to be is doing a service, not a disservice.

Doing a disservice is not only echoing false reports, but, shaming people who question those false reports by reporting facts.

For a detailed interview on the Italian issue, click here.

The 50 Italian doctors’ ages at death:

Born Age
1971 49
1965 55
1963 57
1960 60
1958 62
1957 63
1957 63
1957 63
1956 64
1956 64
1955 65
1955 65
1955 65
1954 66
1954 66
1954 66
1954 66
1954 66
1953 67
1953 67
1953 67
1952 68
1951 69
1951 69
1951 69
1951 69
1951 69
1950 70
1950 70
1950 70
1949 71
1949 71
1949 71
1949 71
1947 73
1947 73
1946 74
1946 74
1946 74
1946 74
1946 74
1945 75
1945 75
1944 76
1940 80
1940 80
1938 82
1933 87
1930 90
1926 94

Average 69.76

Roberto Stella 22 07 1952 † 11 03 2020
President of the Varese Medical Association, Head of Strategic Training Area FNOMCeO, National President of SNAMID – Varese
Giuseppe Lanati 24 08 1946 † 12 03 2020
Pulmonologist – Como
Giuseppe Borghi 19 01 1956 † 13 03 2020
General Practitioner – Lodi
Raffaele Jura 23 10 1940 † 13 03 2020
Former head of the Pneumology department – Como
Carlo Zavaritt 23 02 1940 † 13 03 2020
Pediatrician and child neuropsychiatrist – Bergamo
Gino Fasoli 09 12 1946 † 14 03 2020
General practitioner already retired called for the Covid-19 emergency – Brescia
Luigi Frusciante 13 02 1949 † 15 03 2020
General Practitioner – Como
Mario Giovita 27 04 1954 † 16 03 2020
General Practitioner – Bergamo
Luigi Ablondi 05 02 1954 † 16 03 2020
Epidemiologist, former general manager of the Crema – Cremona Hospital
Franco Galli 28 03 1954 † 17 03 2020
General Practitioner – Mantua
Ivano Vezzulli 27 12 1958 † 17 03 2020
General Practitioner and Sports Physician – Lodi
Massimo Borghese 12 03 1957 † 18 03 2020
Specialist in Otolaryngology and Phoniatrics – Naples
Marcello Natali 13 09 1963 † 18 03 2020
General practitioner, secretary of the Federation of general practitioners of Lodi – Lodi
Antonino Buttafuoco 14 06 1953 † 18 03 2020
General Practitioner – Bergamo
Giuseppe Finzi 21 04 1957 † 19 03 2020
Hematologist and contract professor of vascular diseases at the University of Parma – Parma
Francesco Foltrani 08 02 1953 † 19 03 2020
General Practitioner – Macerata
Andrea Carli 02 05 1950 † 19 03 2020
General Practitioner – Lodi
Bruna Galavotti 03 04 1933 † 19 03 2020 (reporting date)
Psychiatrist, Dean of the Bergamo Women’s Medical Association – Bergamo
Piero Lucarelli 14 01 1946 † 19 03 2020 (reporting date)
Anesthesiologist – Bergamo
Vincenzo Leone 23 01 1955 † 21 03 2020
General practitioner, vice president of SNAMI – Bergamo
Antonio Buonomo 14 01 1955 † 21 03 2020
Forensic doctor – Naples
Leonardo Marchi 01 01 1956 † 21 03 2020
Infectious doctor, medical director of the San Camillo Nursing Home – Cremona
Manfredo Squeri 06 01 1944 † 23 03 2020
Former hospital doctor, currently head of the department of Medicine in the Nursing Home Piccole Figlie di Parma affiliated with SSN – Parma
Rosario Lupo 02 10 1955 † 23 03 2020
Forensic doctor – Bergamo
Domenico De Gilio 09 11 1953 † 19 03 2020
General practitioner – Lecco
Calogero Giabbarrasi 28 09 1951 † 24 03 2020
General practitioner – Caltanissetta
Renzo Granata 28 09 1951 † 23 03 2020
General practitioner – Alessandria
Ivano Garzena 07 10 1971 † 23 03 2020
Dentist – Turin
Ivan Mauri 30 09 1950 † 24 03 2020
General practitioner – Lecco
Gaetano Author 12 12 1951 † 25 03 2020
General practitioner – Naples
Vincenza Amato 22 05 1954 † 24 03 2020
Chief Medical Officer U.O.S. Public Health Hygiene of the Department of Hygiene and Health Prevention – Bergamo
Gabriele Lombardi 20 08 1951 † 18 03 2020
Dentist – Brescia
Mario Calonghi 14 03 1965 † 22 03 2020
Dentist – Brescia
Marino Chiodi 30 05 1949 † 22 03 2020
Ophthalmologist – Bergamo
Carlo Alberto Passera 20 05 1957 † 25 03 2020
General practitioner – Bergamo
Francesco De Francesco 09 03 1938 † 23 03 2020
Retired, former hospital doctor, sculptor and painter – Bergamo
Antonio Maghernino 14 09 1960 † 25 03 2020
Continuity care doctor – Foggia
Flavio Roncoli 08 05 1930 † 03 2020
Pensioner – Bergamo
Marco Lera 30 10 1951 † 20 03 2020
Dentist – Lucca
Giulio Titta 23 02 1947 † 26 03 2020
General practitioner, ex-secretary of FIMMG – Turin
Benedetto Comotti, 06 05 1945 † 26 03 2020
Hematologist – Bergamo
Anna Maria Focarete 22 06 1950 † 27 03 2020
Provincial Councilor FIMMG, President of SIMG and former councilor of the Order Prov. of the Medici – Lecco
Dino Pesce 16 01 1946 † 26 03 2020
Internist physician, for 20 years primary physician of the general medicine finding of the Villa Scassi hospital in Sampierdarena – Genoa
Giulio Calvi 19 10 1947 † 26 03 2020
General practitioner – Bergamo
Marcello Ugolini 01 05 1949 † 27 03 2020
Pulmonologist, councilor of the Medical Association – Pesaro Urbino
Abdel Sattar Airoud 23 06 1945 † 16 03 2020
General practitioner – Piacenza
Giuseppe Maini 24 01 1946 † 12 03 2020
General practitioner – Piacenza
Luigi Rocca 24 12 1926 † 26 03 2020
Pediatrician – Piacenza
Maurizio Galderisi 31 08 1954 † 27 03 2020
Cardiologist and professor of Internal Medicine at the Federico II University of Naples – Naples
Leone Marco Wischkin 23 03 1949 † 27 03 2020 (reporting date)
Internist Doctor – Pesaro Urbino

 

 

Is It About the Hedge?

Hedge

Nobody really wants to die. Everyone wants to dream of yet another day when they close their eyes and go to sleep.

And yet, every day, almost everyone does something that reduces their chance of maximizing their lives….cigarettes, alcohol, trans fats, sugar, stepping in front of a speeding bus while texting…

We are, overall, pretty stupid when it comes to our day to day habits which impact our health…just take a look in the center aisles of any large grocery store.

We are often not aware of our stupidity until, if we are lucky, we get a rude wakeup call from our doctor, or Nature – “Your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight, etc. is out of control…you should do something about that….just sayin’ if you don’t, you may not live as long as you would like.”

Do we listen? Most of us for maybe a short while, until that next heavenly pork roast comes out of the oven…mmmmm, nothing like pork crackling….

And so it comes to pass that one day we find ourselves in the hospital, usually stricken with one of the big diseases which has caught up to us…

Statistically, in order, they are heart disease, lower respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes,  etc.….(speeding bus is somewhere down on the list, but is on the rise.)

As we lie there in the hospital bed, reflecting on the ton of chocolate we’ve consumed (2,000 pounds divided by 75 years = 1.16 oz a day,) or the thousands of cigarettes and cigars we smoked, or the kegs of beer or gallons of whiskey we drank, or the truckloads of animals of varied shapes and sizes we have eaten, we hope to maybe bargain our way back home.

I promise not to eat bacon anymore…just get me out of here.

And then this little bitsy, eeensy teensy, thing comes along and says, “Nope”…and puts an end to us…

No reprieve this time it says. I’m taking out one, or two, of a hundred of you whose immune systems can’t kick me out of the room, in spite of you having been the proud product of millions of years of unbroken evolutionary life…That life ends here…exit stage left.

Personally, if I was called in front of a judge and asked under oath how would I rank my treatment of the vehicle that has carried my mind and soul around since the day I was conceived, I’d give myself about a 7 (maybe 8) out of 10.

In my late teens and twenties, I smoked up to two packs of Player’s Plain for about 10 years, I drank crappy beer for about the same amount of time, I seldom cut fat off of prime rib, I have a sweet tooth, I don’t exercise every day, and have come close to accidently killing myself a few times…each time muttering to myself “That was fucking stupid Eric, don’t do that again.”

However, on the plus side, I trained for and ran a marathon when I was 47 (which changed my lung capacity significantly), I still rollerblade in the skate park and hacksack at Centennial Park with kids 1/4 my age, I can jump and click my heels together (without falling), I have all of my mental (some may dispute that) faculties working well, last time I remember my memory was working just fine, I have been supplementing my nutritional needs for 25 years, I laugh and joke every day, I offer smiles to virtually anyone, I wake up happy, I rarely get a cold, haven’t taken anti-biotics for decades, and have had something resembling the flu once in as many decades.

I have been saying for over 20 years now that I’ve been on what I consider “bonus time.” If I died today I would have no regrets on how long I’ve lived. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to see tomorrow’s sunrise, or live forever, it just means I’ve already accepted that I can’t argue with Death, when it comes for me, that I don’t “deserve” to die. Not that I would win an argument with Death (ala Monty Python’s Meaning of Life), but, the point is we all make daily choices as to how we live our life, and, those choices do form the basis for how and when we leave this life.

A doctor friend of mine once said, “No one has ever died of a disease called ‘old age.’ We die of one or two or more of an exceedingly long list of causes. Those causes are almost always a direct reflection of the lifestyles we’ve led, our environment and/or the food we have eaten.”

And we are all likely going to be coming more aware of this reality over the next few months as it becomes clearer that pre-existing conditions are a precursor to earlier death by viral infection. Italy is reporting 99% of deaths related to CV have underlying preconditions.

Viruses are not a new phenomenon, but, perhaps a healthy awareness of them will be, and maybe, just maybe, as a result, more people will take care of themselves, live longer as a consequence and reduce the burden on our healthcare/medical system… win/win/win.

Harsh lessons are usually the ones that teach us the most.

Will bacon and cigarette sales go down as a result? Or will it be business as usual?

That’s anyone’s guess….and choice.

I’ll leave you with this link. 😉  and please, do watch out for the salmon mousse.

Italy, Spain and Wuhan – PTA Connection

Planes

It is now a relatively well known fact that about 100,000 Chinese workers (primarily from Wuhan) have been working in Northern Italy for awhile.

Direct flights from Wuhan to Italy were just part of the regular air traffic.

The Wuhan outbreak of Covid19 likely began in early December (if not before).

The first reported cases in Italy were in early February.

This is all highly suggestive of why Italy has been hit so hard…the virus went undetected for about 2 months as it was transferred, plane load by plane load, from Wuhan to Italy.

Spain has the 2nd highest incidence of death attributed to Covid19, and the 3rd highest in the world.

Here is a potential connection – Spain’s growing popularity with Chinese tourists…up 128% over the past few years.

Its a hop skip and jump from Italy to Spain, by planes, trains or automobiles – 58 Euros will get you there. 

Thus, it appears Spain may be now be suffering from its popularity, and, China’s inaction in alerting the rest of the world to Wuhan’s woes.

The good news for us is that both Italy and Spain are, as a result, likely data outliers.

That is supported by Germany data, another short distance away, which has just a 0.39% Death to Case ratio, compared to Italy’s 9.01% (23 times) and Spain’s 6.14% (16 times).

And, out of those three countries whose data would you believe the most?

Stay safe out there, and auf wiedersehen for now!

 

 

 

 

Corona After Bite

Crysal

Prediction – As concerns grow daily across the world, our country, and especially in the major cities, I predict there will be many people who will be considering the many benefits of being somewhere other than a major city during this event, or any other future event. We have a moat. We have just done a virtual lifting of the drawbridge with our official requests to please stay away.

This will not go entirely unnoticed by those 2,800,000 people who are living in the Lower Mainland…nor I suspect those living in Toronto, Montreal, or Calgary.

When this subsides, as it eventually will, expect the real estate market here to become VERY active. As of this writing there are only 53 single family dwellings for sale here.

However, my real concern, as it has been for 20 years now, is the effect rising real estate prices, due to the lack of supply and high demand, will continue to have on our rental market, and therefore, our middle income and lower income, non-owner, residents, better known as renters.

Virtually every single rental house is an investment for someone. When that investment reaches a “maturity” it will be sold to someone who wants to move here permanently. That is the trend which started 5 years ago, and which has been continuing since then.

Thus, a (hopefully) short term crisis caused by a virus from China is very likely going to have an indirect, but significant, long term negative, influ-enze on our current housing crisis.

It is long past time for the Islands Trust to legalize ALL cottages, ALL suites, and tiny homes, trailers and 5th wheels for occupancy, AND to make affordable housing projects and proposals the number one priority on their agenda. Fir trees and climate change can wait a few years…they are Johnny Come Latelys to our housing crisis and can get in line.

Like most long time Islanders, after 20 years of this housing crisis, I’m tired of watching this island’s community’s gentrification/decimation, while those who wield the power of the pen tell us sorry, there is really nothing they can do.

BS…If they need concrete ideas they know where to reach me, or, they can just read some of my many past posts on the subject.

Chickens In A Coal Mine?

chicken

Let’s fast forward say 3 months and the Covid19 crisis is hopefully over.

And hopefully, the number of people who died from this particular virus wasn’t more than the annual grim reaper’s influenza toll of about 10,000 Canadians.

The economic damage was severe, with losses in the billions, and many devastated…in some cases life savings wiped out.

We survived, learned, and hopefully are better prepared for next year.

Yes, next year…or the year after…

And this is where the discussion gets a bit messy.

Prior to Covid19, for centuries, we watched the reaper reap his annual toll, noting that, just like back in jungle, those with the strongest immune systems survive. Nature takes us all back in time…its just a matter of how and how soon.

We dodge bullets from the moment of conception until the moment we fail to dodge the last, fatal, shot.

That’s life, and, if we are realists, we accept that death is just the period at the end of life’s sentence.

How long that sentence is, is largely our doing.

Heart disease and cancer take about 75% of us. Shouldn’t have had that last fatty hamburger has likely been the last regretful thought of many – ”Damn….arterial plaque IS a thing…”

Some of us are blessed with great immune systems and some of us are cursed with crappy immune systems.

But, most of us, on a daily basis, neglect our immune systems.

I like to tell people the story of chicken farmers, selenium, mortality and money.

Commercial chicken farmers supplement a chicken’s food with selenium, because selenium is an essential element in the functioning of a chicken’s immune system against…wait for it…viruses.

Infection of poultry with HPAI viruses can cause severe disease with high mortality. … HPAI virus infection in poultry (such as with HPAI H5 or HPAI H7 viruses) can cause disease that affects multiple internal organs with mortality up to 90% to 100%, often within 48 hours. (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-in-birds.htm )

90-100% mortality…I’m just going to say that’s a pretty high rate wouldn’t you say?

And what does science tell us about selenium and viruses?

Selenium deficiency leads to increased host-susceptibility to viruses in most cases. High Selenium levels may be beneficial to us, particularly for HIV-1, which itself appears to negatively affect our Selenium status.

(I’ve added a list of references below which anyone can peruse to their heart’s content.)

So, back to the chicken farmer and money. Like any commodity, the cost of selenium fluctuates, and, given farmers are frugal when it comes to reducing costs of farming, the farmer wants to know just how much bang for the buck he can get from the essential mineral.

In order to calculate that, he uses a software program, into which he inputs the cost of selenium. With a push of a button the software compares the cost of selenium to the mortality rate of chickens, and determines how much selenium should be added in order to balance the cost of selenium with the mortality rate. If selenium prices are high, then selenium will be reduced in the food supply just enough to keep the survival rate of production above the loss of excess mortality.

So, I’ll leave you with this question – Do you supplement your diet with selenium:

(a) at all,

(b) like a chicken farmer on a budget, or,

(c) at the scientifically recommended daily dose of 200 mcg for immune system support against viruses?

That would be an interesting question to also ask every Covid19 patient,  and compare the mortality rate of those patients to see if we can learn anything from what could very likely be “chickens in a coal mine.”

 

Reference from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723386/

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Reading the Riot Act

Fox

The following was my presentation to Trust Council today (March 11, 2020)

Thank you Mr. Chairman

I do not relish being here today to speak to this issue.

I am here today speaking on behalf of all property owners in the Trust Area who are or should be outraged at the state of affairs of application processing in the Trust Area as I outlined in my recent letter to you all.

As a taxpayer I was shocked last year to find just how poorly the Trust has been operating when it comes to processing land use applications, and, the resulting impact on taxes.

To be clear, when I say “the Trust” I am collectively referring to the corporate body, Trust Council, its appointed CAO, the provincial government employees employed as planning staff, including the Director of Local Planning Services and the Regional Planning Managers, all of whom have a statutory duty to follow established Trust Policies.

In 2004 I was likewise shocked to find the average cost of processing an application within the Trust Area was $17,000. When I brought the matter to the attention of Trust Council senior staff could not provide a substantial explanation of why it was costing so much, or where the time was being spent. I recommended to Council that time tracking software be purchased and implemented, and, I understand my recommendation was followed in 2006 after I left office.

However, at the time there was already Trust Policy, established circa 1993 through 1996, which should have acted as a failsafe to protect taxpayers. However, that failsafe has failed because the Policy has not been followed by Staff, and, has been ignored by Trust Council as a whole.

As a result of that failure, I estimate that over $20 million of subsidy to development within the Trust Area has been inappropriately been placed on the backs of the very same taxpayers who elected every local trustee sitting around this table to represent their best interests…as local trustees who have a duty to ensure the trust placed in their elected representative is upheld and not broken.

It was reported to you last year at this time that 92.7%, or $2,092,000, of the cost of application processing was paid by taxpayers.

How much should have been paid by taxpayers if the failsafe Trust Policies were followed? Zero dollars.

How then has this been allowed to continue since 2004 when I first rang the alarm on behalf of those I represented?

Well, in 2007 the Trust paid thousands of dollars to Stantec Consulting to look into the matter. Stantec completed their report and provided recommendations which were brought forward to this corporate body in September 2007. The efficiency of processing applications was quantified by Stantec at 43%…put in another way, the inefficiency at the time was 57%.

So, according to the data published last year, the Trust is now about 6 times less efficient in processing an application than in 2007, and about 13 times less efficient than Trust Policy dictates it should be.

It is unquestionable and undeniably clear that Staff have not been following Policy. However, the question as to “why” Staff haven’t been following policy is not.

And that is what is really at the heart of this issue. How is it that for 16 years, two Chief Administrative Officers, three Directors of Local Planning Services later, staff is still, to this day, not following Policies?

The Policies are clear. They were intended to be clear when they were written and adopted by Trust Council. They set out exactly how long Application Processing should take for any one of 15 different applications. They set out exactly the process Staff are to follow when first considering the cost of processing an application. They set out exactly how much time it should take, and therefore how much an average application will cost, planners to process. They set out exactly how Staff are to estimate and calculate extraordinary costs, and they set out exactly how Staff are to invoice applicants, not taxpayers, for additional costs.

And yet, the Policies have been entirely ignored.

When we explore the results of ignoring them, a number of things become clear.

1. There is consequently no time constraint on how much time Staff can spend on an application. In other words, ignoring the policies means there is no check on the efficiency of any planner as to how efficiently they process a particular application. Time becomes meaningless.

2. The result of no check on efficiency of application processing means applications take longer to process. The proof of this is clearly presented in the fact that applications, on average, are taking 13 times longer than they should. I’m going to say that again – Applications are taking 13 times longer on average to process than they should.

3. What is the impact on applicants when an application takes 13 times longer than it should? I would suggest you ask that question of virtually any applicant which has come before any of your Local Trust Committees over the past 16 years. Ask them what their additional costs have been due to the time delays they have experienced.

4. The impact on taxpayers is startling. Over 25% of the Trust’s entire budget last year, paid for by the electors you were all elected to represent, was in essence flushed down the proverbial drain. Because of this, given the 16 years since I first brought this to the attention of the Trust, it is not a stretch to suggest the cost to taxpayers has been well over $20 million dollars. $20 million dollars of taxpayers’ hard earned, after tax dollars, to subsidize development within the Trust Area simply because this corporation has ignored Policy.

5. The fact that applications take 13 times longer begs the question whether there is an actual unwritten, internal policy adopted by staff to ignore the written policies and take their time processing applications, in order to slow development in the Trust Area down. Given the entirety of circumstances, and the magnitude of the issue, that’s NOT an unreasonable question to ask.

 

The Trust has woken somewhat to this issue, because there is now a new, proposed Application Processing Template bylaw in draft form.

When I read through it I was impressed by the fact the Trust Policies which are still not being adhered to are not even mentioned…while at the same time the primary “solution” being touted is simply to raise application fees.

With all due respect, this is akin to a chicken farmer being told by the fox he doesn’t need to mend the fence… he just needs to get a few more chickens.

According to the Staff report on the draft bylaw, an average rezoning application costs about $12,000 to process. Comparing that to the existing Policy guidelines, that suggests an average rezoning application is taking only 3 times longer than it should, not 13 times longer than the financial data show for applications. Then where is the additional time spent? Something doesn’t add up here and no audit has been conducted which would shed more light.

In addition, even if Staff’s current recommendations are adopted, it means taxpayers will still be picking up about $1.5 million a year in subsidizing development applications.

To that point, there is some discussion within the Staff Report about the “benefit” to the public of the Trust in processing a development application. With all due respect, if one taxpayer wants to make an application to rezone a property, why should a taxpayer from Lasqueti pay for ANY part of processing a land use application on Salt Spring? Especially when there are specific policies to address this?

With all due respect the current proposal is entirely inadequate, and, in my opinion, attempts to veil the underlying inefficiency which is apparent.

And this is where the issue begins to boil down to its essence. If applications are taking 13 times longer on average to process, one approach would be to increase application fees 13 fold. However, what would the consequences of that be?

Well, the very first taxpayer to apply for a rezoning application would be told the application fee has recently been increased from $5,000 to $65,000. And, what do you think you, as the elected representative, would hear from that taxpayer? This would become front page news, as it should now be.

Instead, Staff are recommending you make things more complicated, add on a few additional charges here and there, and only charge a total of say $12,000….which would leave taxpayers to pick up the additional $53,000 of processing.

I’m going to put it to you all that this situation has been out of control for over 16 years, and has gotten worse, not better, over that time.

The question of whether this whole matter is actionable has arisen. Do you, and this corporate body, owe an administrative duty of care to the electors of the Trust Area to ensure the Trust’s Policies are followed, to ensure the taxpayers are receiving fair service for fair cost? That’s a great question, and as our representative one you should all be asking yourselves.

If this was a private corporation which you owned, and you discovered it was operating at a 7.1% efficiency, and that you were subsidizing that inefficiency by over $2,000,000 a year, and that the reason for the subsidy was that the CAO you appointed, and your Directors and employees had been collectively blatantly ignoring company policies for 16 years, in spite of an independent consultant’s report and recommendations leading to a $20 million loss…I’m going to ask you… would you demand that heads roll and that existing policies be enforced, or, just continue business as usual and raise rates to try and cover the ongoing losses?

It’s entirely your decision to make, one way or another. You are the captains of this enterprise, but, it is long past time to right this ship.

Thank you.

Eric Booth, Islands Trustee (2002-2005).

Lost in Interpretation on Salt Spring

Bill Murray 1

The following, in blue, is my commentary on Mr. Robinson’s article.

Viewpoint: Dark underbelly showing

 Feb 18, 2020

By CAM ROBINSON

Over the weekend, while enjoying the facilities at Centennial Park with my grandson, I witnessed a man urinating on a police officer’s car as the peacekeeper was engaging a rough-looking crowd drinking in public. How do I describe my reaction? I leave it to you good citizens to decide. My five-year-old grandson would have the opinion that it was at very least a poor performance. I can draw no conclusion other than it was a symbolic act, an insult to both the constabulary and the community. Another observer remarked to me that our island home will never be the same. I hope not.

The above is an entirely reasonable observation and commentary.

I have always believed that how we treat the least fortunate members of our community is a direct reflection of who we are. I am very happy to see my tax dollars support those in need.

I completely agree…those who are the “least fortunate” and are actually in need should be supported. 

I am, however, becoming increasingly concerned over the challenge of determining who are the worthy candidates versus those who are opportunists, capable but unmotivated to contribute to the common weal.

Here Mr. Robinson brings up the gist of the article – the concern, expressed by many in the community over the question of the differentiation of who are “in need” and those who “take advantage” of goodwill. An example of why that question has been raised more often on the island over the past couple of years relates to the Food Bank. The Food Bank’s purpose is help those “in need” within the community. Those who are, for example, facing temporary unemployment, or are handicapped, or are single parents struggling. The Food Bank was not created to feed an ever increasing, able-bodied, tourist/transient population. Thus, Mr. Robinson’s use of the words “opportunists, “capable,” “unmotivated” and not “contributing.” to the community.

Mr. Robinson makes it clear he has no problem contributing some of his own money (tax dollars) to help those “in need.”

What he, and many others, have a problem with is what are the factors which should be taken into account when asking the rather practical question – “Why are you deserving of help?”

Is that a reasonable question to ask, given limited resources? Is it a reasonable question to ask of someone able bodied? I believe the answer is yes.

To me this issue is amplified in an island microcosm, where spaces, housing, human and financial resources are literally finite.

I agree…the issue is amplified, and, unfortunately, the amplification is not the result of all of the homeless people. It is the result of a few people who, due to a lack of common respect issues (littering, drinking, obnoxious behavior, fighting, etc.), are placing the majority in a poor light.Every morning I pick up the litter remnants of the night before – liquor bottles, cans, empty cigarette packages, garbage, coffee cups, clothing, dog shit, tissue paper, food trays, etc. strewn about. I’m going to ask every reader – is that the product of reasonable behavior for adults who wish to be respected?

As I have witnessed the “dark underbelly” of the homeless population increase, i.e., those who are preying upon our good will, property and quality of life, I recognize that an equal proportion of those most deserving of our support are more likely to be displaced and tarnished by this metastasizing cancer. What to do?

Let’s take a look at Mr. Robinson’s analogy of a “metastasizing cancer.” Cancer begins when one cell in the body is damaged. Eventually one damaged cell becomes two, and then four and then 8, etc.. Unchecked, the cancer will eventually kill all cells and the body in which all cells reside. As it applies to the issue at hand, Mr. Robinson is stating the number of those who disrespect the community, and its environment, in which they currently reside, are increasing. I agree, and would challenge anyone who says the situation has plateaued, or is lessening.  

Mr. Robinson however defends those who are “most deserving of our support” and, fears that those “in need” are “more likely to be displaced and tarnished” as a result of others’ actions. 

I understand his perspective, because it is decent, common sense.

The homeless question: Is there a solution? The words question and solution have a somewhat sinister ring to them, but cannot be ignored for the sake of propriety. So how do we identify the miscreants from the meritorious in our homeless population?

The term “miscreant” means “a person who behaves badly or in a way that breaks the law.” So, Mr. Robinson is asking how do we identify those are disrespectful, and who behave badly, from those truly “in need.”

I don’t think it’s as difficult as you might imagine, because as I witnessed at Centennial Park, they seem to identify themselves. The problem I observed in that particular example is that there appeared to be no ticketing, detention or arrest of the individuals acting in contravention of the law. I suspect this is a consequence of an ongoing and overwhelming battle of attrition, as police officers tire of endless paperwork and a revolving door at the courthouse.

The incident in question – drinking in public and pissing on a police vehicle – could only be considered a taunt, looking for a reaction. The fact that there wasn’t an immediate reaction indicates tolerance on the part of the peace officers. However, Mr. Robinson begs the question as to whether that actually was an appropriate reaction.

There must be consequences for criminal and antisocial behaviour; those who escape them are otherwise emboldened by their experience, and thus we are on a slippery slope in their absence. Here I will assert that prison, though appropriate for many, is an expensive and counterproductive means of rehabilitation for those who require a hand up by means of correction for their desultory citizenship. Let’s not send them to crime school.

Any reasonable person would agree there should be “consequences for criminal and antisocial behaviour.” Here, however, Mr. Robinson makes it clear he doesn’t believe sending someone to jail is the solution to the issues at hand.

I agree…up to a point. Certain violent offenders do need to be taken off the streets. But, they aren’t representative of even the minority.

Would it be too draconian to suggest repeat offenders be sent to work camps where by their own sweat and toil they may be instilled with a sense of self worth and purpose for their contribution to the common good, as well as the insight that such industry on the “outside” is preferable to the alternative?

This last comment by Mr. Robinson has drawn howls of social media outrage from some, with comparisons to Japanese internment camps, or Gulags, or Nazi concentration camps.

I fear thou doth protest too loudly….

First, Mr. Robinson makes it clear it is the “repeat offenders” who he is referring to. The troublemakers, the disrespecters, the instigators…take your pick. 

He makes it clear that the suggestion of sending the “repeat offenders” to “work camps” is a potential alternative to sending them to prison.

He also makes it clear, that his hope is that by the “repeat offenders” actually having to work for food and shelter, as opposed to having it handed to them on a platter may actually “instill” them with a “sense of self worth and purpose for their contribution to the common good, as well as the insight that the alternative IS prison.”

So, what he is really asking the “repeat offenders” is – which would you prefer?

I don’t see that as an unreasonable offer.  

When I read an article I try and understand what someone is saying because, as is the case here, content can be lost in interpretation. 

 

Of “Liveaboards” and “Liveonlands”

living

There is now discussion beginning to foment on how liveaboards can be legalized (if they need legalizing, since there is already ongoing debate on that issue).

However, it occurred to me today that on-land liveaboards, which I’m going to call “liveonlands,” in the form of Z240 RV rated trailers and 5th Wheels, and, insulated Tiny Homes, (all with water, appliances, toilets with holding tanks) are arguably as, or more, “liveable” than liveaboards, when it comes to what would be considered “liveable.”

So, my question to our elected representatives is this – “If/when you begin to formally discuss legalizing liveaboards, are you at the same time going to discuss legalizing liveonlands?”

One Down, One to Go

Bylaw 471

With the hopeful demise of Bylaw 512, housing proponents should set their scopes on Bylaw 471.

Once again, staff have missed the mark with this bylaw proposal.

Rather than demanding people jump through the Temporary Use Permit gauntlet (which is similar in process to a rezoning), and in keeping with the KISS principle, all that needs to happen is to make TWO minor changes to the definition of “mobile home” in the existing Bylaw 355, and ADD one definition.

Change from:

“mobile home” means a transportable, single or multiple section dwelling unit conforming to the Canadian Standards Association Z240 Series of Standards at time of manufacture, and designed and intended for residential occupancy and set up in accordance with required factory installation details.

to:

“mobile home” means a TINY HOME ON WHEELS, OR A transportable, single or multiple section dwelling unit conforming to the Canadian Standards Association Z240 OR Z240RV Series of Standards at time of manufacture, and designed and intended for residential occupancy and set up in accordance with required factory installation details.  

and add:

“Tiny home on wheels” means a dwelling unit on a wheeled chassis with a maximum floor area of 37.5 square metres.

By making those changes, 4 season RV’s (most 5th Wheels and Trailers) and tiny homes would be defined as “dwellings” under the bylaw, since dwellings include “mobile homes.”

(Hopefully) Post Mortem Comments on 512

Hearse 1The following are my consolidated thoughts/comments/criticisms/solutions on proposed Bylaw 512 after the Public Hearing.

Problems

  1. After legalizing 411 of the 1300 potential properties for long term use of a cottage, will our elected representatives proactively enforce against the 900 properties, many of which are currently illegally renting their cottages?
  2. If not, what is the purpose of legalizing the 411?
  3. Why not just amend the term “seasonal cottage” to “cottage” and allow full time rental of the cottages? The cottages can ALREADY be LEGALLY rented out, short term, BUT 365 days a year, as part of a B&B business, to people who don’t live here. Why on Earth wouldn’t we give the same “privilege” to those who already live here?
  4. If Bylaw 512 is passed, the list of reasons created by Staff as to why the 900 leftover cottages shouldn’t be rented long term will provide a “rationale” as to why those 900 should be enforced against…opening a door to complaints by any disgruntled neighbour, using Trust Staff’s rationale.
  5. With the lowest priced 3+ acre property with an existing principal residence and existing cottage, now at $950,000, there is little appetite for someone who can qualify for a million dollar purchase to become a landlord, putting a long term tenant into a cottage. The challenge of giving notice to vacate, under the current Tenancy Act regulations, would give any property pause before renting.
  6. There is likewise virtually no incentive to place a restrictive covenant on the title of a property which would reduce the potential for resale, especially if the sale of the property necessarily includes the existing tenant. Why would a property owner not just continue to rent their cottage illegally, like virtually every other cottage rental on the island?
  7. Why remove the current right of a property owner to rent their cottage out as part of their B&B operation?
  8. Every cottage which is constructed must be permitted and inspected by the CRD building inspection department. During the permit application process, CRD will demand the owner show how they are going to meet water and septic requirements under the BC Building Code and Island Health septic requirements. Why would Bylaw 512 then need to require anything additional/different?
  9.  By designating the 411 cottages as 5% of the total buildout, the bylaw would effectively lockup 411 potential dwelling densities into the future, regardless of whether ANY of them were actually ever used as legal, long term rentals, thereby removing the potential for some of the 900 leftovers to be used.
  10. Trust Staff have misread the “guideline” in the OCP which they believe makes it mandatory for our elected representatives to make changes “incrementally.” The preamble to that section states the LTC “should” consider the guidelines. It DOES NOT say “must” or “will.” Thus the “incremental” guideline can be ignored if our elected representatives believe it is the best interests of the community to legalize ALL cottages for long term rental.
  11. What would the result be, the day after the bylaw was passed, when someone applies to build a community housing project, which would increase the overall density of the island? Will that pose a conflict with the OCP as a result of Bylaw 512’s increase in density?

Two Easy Solutions:

  1. Legalize all cottages for long term rental outright.
  2. Allow cottages to be “building stratified” under the condition that the sale price of the cottage be set (e.g. $200,000) and that, as part of the approval of stratification, a covenant be placed on the cottage’s title similar to Whistler Housing Authority’s Community Housing system.

Sales/resales would be restricted to someone already living or working on the island. Resale price would be limited, using the $200k example, to $200K plus the percentage Consumer Price Index increase from purchase to sale.

For example, if the CPI increase over a 5 year period was 5%, the resale value would be set at $210,000. Thus, the resale of the cottage would remain affordable.

This would be a win/win/win solution. The existing property owner would win by realizing the capital investment of their cottage, the purchaser would win by purchasing a cottage to live in and build equity at an affordable level, and the community would win by having the cottage put into the long term community housing stock.

This isn’t a new idea…Whistler has been successfully doing it for over 20 years and, it was recommended just over 9 years ago to the LTC of the day.

Everything Old is New Again

The following are draft minutes from a January 31, 2011 advisory meeting, held outside of the public’s eye and knowledge, with former Whistler Housing consultant, Tim Wake, Trustees George Ehring and Christine Torgrimson, Henry Kamphof, CRD Housing, Trust Planner Susan Palmer, Islands Trust Regional Planning Manger David Marlor (now Director of Local Planning Services) and housing consultant Janis Gauthier. If you want to skip the notes and go to the recommendations (highlighted in red), scroll down to the bottom.

The Chair asked each Trustee and guest for their priorities for the day’s discussion using the circulated “Guidelines for discussion with Tim Wake”.. The following priorities were articulated:

– How to maintain affordability other than with housing agreements;

– How to use the local bylaws to control affordable housing;

– Housing agreements;

– Creation of a housing council and the Whistler experiences;

– Water supply;

– Discussion should be grounded in the reality of the current situation;

– Pilot areas within the Salt Spring context; and

– Best approach to existing suites and cottages.

The Trustees outlined the key issues on Salt Spring Island for Tim Wake.

Tim Wake commented that the Salt Spring Island situation is similar to Whistler insofar as there is a challenge to supply both workforce housing and “other” supportive housing. It’s important to keep the two separate. The gap between people who can afford market ownership housing and those who qualify for subsidized housing has grown. This is referred to as middle sector housing or workforce housing and represents the biggest need.

Wake noted that there is a good system in place for the delivery of subsidized housing which requires major funding from senior levels of government.

Wake suggested that putting housing agreements on rental units is not the best approach given the cost. It’s better to respond to people who want to own their own homes and consider how to make ownership possible for these people. This in turn will reduce pressure on the rental inventory. The first thing to do is to legalize suites.

Janis Gauthier observed that the seasonal use of cottages is an issue on Salt Spring. It means many people have to move each spring. There are concerns about the poor condition of some cottages.

Tim Wake said that Whistler had success enforcing and inspecting units based on health and safety issues. When they hear about substandard conditions, the fire department is asked to inspect.

There are concerns that legalized cottages could be used as short term vacation rentals. Rental agreements would better ensure there are controls.

Tim Wake explained that Whistler had the same problems with suites as with separate buildings (cottages). Secondary suites have always been permitted in Whistler and initially the market was providing them at a rate of about 50 per year. For the owner, the suite provided security and helped with the mortgage. In 1990 and 1992 when house prices rose, the number of new suites decreased. About 1997, Whistler required that every second residence in a new subdivision include a suite before the owner received an occupancy permit. The suite had a covenant on it that specified occupancy and rent. This was not a good solution because suites were being built under duress and never rented. Enforcement of the housing agreements was difficult. The conclusion was that you can’t force people to rent suites in their houses.

Other communities (Bowen Island, for example) have not had a lot of uptake with straight legalization of suites even without any income or rental restrictions. Adding a housing agreement would likely reduce the uptake further.

Planner Palmer asked if having a housing agreement on a suite or cottage would affect the owner’s ability to get a mortgage.

Tim Wake responded that it is usually not any more difficult to get a mortgage, but when doing a statement of income, the owner can only apply 50% of the rent as income. Thus with a lower, more affordable rent, it may be tougher to get a mortgage. This leads to vacation rentals being so attractive.

The Whistler Bylaw requires that suites be rented for not less than one month. In addition, commercial accommodation is taxed differently. Another tool is the Occupancy Declaration on employee owned deed-restricted units. They started with a Statutory Occupancy Declaration, but abandoned that. Now it’s voluntary and compliance has improved; 66% of 500 units complied.

The Declarations (who was living there, where they worked and the rent amount) are sent by email so it’s easy to administer.

There are no Housing Agreements on the 1000 rental suites. Generally owners didn’t charge exorbitant rents because when they do, the number of people living in a unit tends to increase, with resultant wear and tear or damage. 850 of the rental suites are market rents; the rest are mostly covenanted and affordable. Suites have always been legal and only a small percentage are cottages. Legalizing suites provides more opportunity for surveillance and assists in managing the existing inventory.

It was noted that the growth rates experienced by Whistler are very different from the Salt Spring situation where only 38 building permits were issued last year. The Chair noted there is a desire to ensure affordability if suites are legalized. Tenants might have more clout if suites were legal.

For Tim Wake, the solution starts with affordable home ownership. If you apply Housing Agreements and restricted rents to suites, you’d be moving middle income tenants out of their accommodation in order to house needier people. Subsidized housing is not a municipality’s responsibility. Housing Agreements are costly up front, and they’re better used on ownership units.

RPM Marlor commented that Housing Agreements can work if governments are providing something as well, i.e. funding, increased densities or other incentives.

The potential for more STVRs operating out of legalized cottages is a real concern, on Salt Spring, and the STVR Bylaw is costly, slow and difficult to enforce.

Tim Wake spoke of one STVR enforcement case in Whistler where bad publicity played an effective deterrent role.

Regarding multi-unit buildings, Tim Wake said Housing Agreements on such projects are not very attractive to developers. You need to be able to bonus the developer to get him to build, and then have some means for the housing authority to take ownership. It’s hard to impose covenants on a third party.

There was a question about available government grants (RRAP for secondary suites), and Tim Wake replied that $24,000 is not a sufficient incentive to shift someone into accepting a covenant on their property. Incentives that do work for developers include an increase in density, relief from fees and charges, and creating good communication opportunities with developers. It’s important to explore where the ‘win-win’ is.

There was a question about the cost of managing Housing Agreements. Tim Wake responded that every project is a one-off, with the standard costs plus, and further, that Housing Agreements seem to need ongoing modification.

There was a question about whether a Housing Agreement with an expiry date might be an alternative, but Tim Wake said it wasn’t really a viable approach.

In general, said Wake, Housing Agreements are not worth the effort for a handful of rental suites, but are worthwhile on affordable owned units. He added that putting occupancy restrictions on owned units did not work. The focus should be on letting the market provide rental suites and finding ways to make it work for the market.

At noon, Henry Kamphof arrived at the meeting. He said there is talk of doubling the CRD’s affordable housing budget and that there should be more emphasis on worker housing.

Traditionally 75% of funds have gone to supportive housing.

According to Wake, continuing the status quo with suites and cottages will have a negligible impact on affordable stock but would affect standards of health and safety and the existence of sub-standard units.

The discussion moved on to the matter of the proposed pilot project for legalizing suites and cottages. The Chair outlined the reasons a pilot project has been proposed, noting it takes into consideration Salt Spring’s water issues and also responds to the results of community consultations. One goal would be to gather data from the participants.

Henry Kamphof spoke about the so-called California model where developers must address different income segments in the community within a development proposal.

Tim Wake reported that Bowen Island is looking at zoning solutions to create opportunities for building more affordable ownership units i.e. zoning to permit smaller units, combining lots to permit multi-family units, upzoning to permit more units; creating more duplexes, stratifying large homes into flats and other innovative approaches to encourage the creation of smaller homes.

He noted that people often don’t want to buy units with Housing Agreements; they commonly see home ownership as the route to a retirement fund.

Returning to the subject of the pilot project, Planner Palmer asked if a time limited Bylaw with a sunset clause might work as a tool to legalize suites and cottages.

Tim Wake responded that it’s better to open a door and encourage compliance, not open a window and require people to jump through it.

Henry Kamphof added that a pilot project would need to run for 3 – 5 years to get a good sense of how it is working.

Trustee Ehring is concerned about how to deal with suites and cottages which are outside the pilot area and are therefore illegal.

Trustee Torgrimson commented that pilot areas would be compliant with OCP criteria and reflect the heightened concern about watershed areas on Salt Spring.

Tim Wake suggested that a pilot area might only apply to new development, and the rest would be grandfathered. He asked if Salt Spring would likely see a lot of applications to build new housing with suites? There could be issues around grandfathering suites which don’t meet building code, a matter which might call for legal advice. RPM Marlor said it would be possible to do a bylaw review when a certain number of suites are registered. If legalization were opened up to the whole island, you could then develop strong arguments for some exclusion.

There was some discussion about jurisdictions implementing regulations around the collection of rain water as a means to resolve water issues.

Janis Gauthier commented that ‘pilot’ implies a sense of temporary or provisional status. It was agreed that ‘pilot’ was perhaps not the most useful term.

Henry Kamphof mentioned that Esquimalt is talking about allowing housing in back yards or on back lanes.

Tim Wake made several closing points:

1) start a housing corporation or authority as soon as possible: regional would be work best for all the islands. It would be an agency that would facilitate partnerships to develop nonsubsidized affordable home ownership. The Whistler Housing Authority is a good example of an agency that brokers between developers and the local government and is not a top-down funded model. Funding comes from the projects, not from taxes;

2) focus on affordable ownership units; and

3) legalize suites and cottages without restrictions.