Letter: Government support of transportation sector should be strictly controlled

The recent opinion piece [“Viewpoint: Tourism sector requires financial assistance,” August 8] is a plea for corporate bailouts when funding is required for so many other things during the COVID-19 recovery. To propose financial support of the cruise ship and commercial aviation industries is objectionable at this time. We need investment in housing, education, health care, senior care, the list goes on.

The writer claims we need “cruise ships in the passage.” These businesses are owned by offshore corporations and ships are crewed by low paid workers from Third World countries. No taxes are paid here by these operations.

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The port stays have become very short and onshore spending by passengers has been reduced. These companies understandably endeavour to capture as much of their passengers’ spending on board as possible. While profiting from our beautiful coast, the only local contributions these ships make is discharge of sewage and garbage into our waters and dirtying our air with the exhaust of their massive engines.

In the past cruise ships have been the sites of infectious outbreaks such as Legionnaires’ disease. In the present pandemic, they proved to be effective COVID-19 incubators. This industry should never be supported by our tax dollars. It is time these businesses cruised into the sunset.

The same opinion piece tells us “we need airplanes in the skies.” With skies as clean and the air as sweet as it is in the pandemic era, many would agree that pre-pandemic air travel was out of control.

Low airfares, created in a large part by fossil fuel subsidies, made it possible for the majority of our population to fly many times a year. Often these trips were for quick, self-indulgent getaways to sunny locations, or bundled with a cruise. The environmental cost of this travel was considerable. The airline industry also made a significant contribution to the pandemic as it effectively spread the virus around the world.

In emerging from the pandemic, travel needs to shift to rail and other efficient modes. People need to travel less and stay closer to home when they do.

Travel has been confused with transport for long enough. Any government support of the transportation sector should be strictly controlled and aimed at reaching a net-zero energy balance and a minimal environmental impact.

We can develop a strong tourism industry in our province. Focusing eco-tourism, transit and other forms of efficient transportation, as well as active transportation, we can offer the world a healthy experience they will return to enjoy many more years in the future.

Tim Larsen, McLean Road
Powell River

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