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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Dec. 9, 2023

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Building boon; in need of repair

The Columbian

Cheers: To bigger footprints. The Vancouver City Council is sensibly reconsidering restrictions on the size of building footprints in downtown Vancouver. If approved, the changes would be an acknowledgement that the city is growing, larger buildings are in our future, and more consistency is needed for downtown building codes. There are roughly 30 designated zones in the downtown area, and codes often differ from one block to the next.

The changes would “make development more consistent downtown, by no longer limiting footprints on some blocks but not on others,” one city planner said. “They will allow those downtown buildings to better provide housing and office space in an area that is well served with public facilities to meet community demand, and also help generate more activity downtown.” Vancouver has done a wonderful job of reinventing its downtown; a change to building codes would build on that momentum.

Jeers: To disrepair. The Repair Clark County program has been shuttered due to a lack of funding. The program, which is run by nonprofit Columbia Springs and has volunteers repair and refurbish anything from old garden tools to broken lamps, recently lost its primary funding source — a grant from the state Department of Ecology.

“(Fixers) are dedicated and talented individuals who believe in repairing what is possible and reducing what might otherwise be considered trash and discarded,” said one volunteer. Therein lies the benefit — keeping household products from turning into garbage. Organizers are hoping to raise alternate funding and are reapplying for the state grant; here’s hoping for a revival of the program.

Cheers: To firefighters. A house fire north of La Center this week extended to nearby brush and trees, eventually blackening 32 acres and destroying the house, a barn and some outbuildings. Our thoughts are with the family whose property was damaged, but we are thankful for firefighters who quickly responded and contained the blaze within a day.

As one fire department official said: “People need to be aware that this is essentially the new norm in Clark County. This is going to become more and more common with changes in the climate.” And firefighters will become more and more important for preserving our communities.

Jeers: To unhealthy air. In addition to increasing the threat of wildfires and creating discomfort, high temperatures contribute to air pollution. As temperatures reached triple digits this week, Clark County and the metro area were under an air quality advisory.

Officials recommended that people with existing health conditions such as asthma or heart disease remain inside while pollution levels were high. Older adults, pregnant women and children also were urged to remain indoors. Smog can irritate one’s eyes, nose and lungs, and can cause breathing problems. Humans and their environment are not well-suited for extreme temperatures.

Cheers: To election integrity. As usual, the manual count of randomly selected ballots in a Clark County election have matched the machine count. As part of the Aug. 1 primary and special election in Battle Ground, Woodland and two fire districts, officials tested the electronic ballot count, and it passed without a glitch.

For those who question election integrity, we recommend becoming better informed about the various protections that ensure free and fair elections. Clark County officials are transparent about the process, but it can be difficult to combat a raft of misinformation regarding elections.

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