Week of August 17

City Hall has no business in backyards of it citizens

Sir: Seventeen years ago when we bought the property our house now stands on there were four trees on the lot. The trees were the reason we purchased the lot.

Today, there are approximately 47 trees covering the half-acre lot, and this doesn’t include the 20 or so cedar trees. My wife and I planted them all.

To say our lot is well treed would be an understatement. So along comes City Hall in its infinite wisdom and proposes a bylaw that would limit my ability to manage the 45 plus trees on my lot. Don’t forget that when we built our house there were only four trees!

So now the city’s best and brightest are going to tell me what I can and cannot do with my yard. Good grief, what’s next? Telling us where and when we can hang up our laundry, or where to locate our barbeques.

So what are the conditions under which a permit would be denied? If this is just a rubber-stamping exercise, then this is simply a cash grab by the city. What will happen on a Saturday night when a tree falls across Lakeshore Road due to a windstorm? Who’s going to wake up the Bylaw Enforcement Officer to get a permit? The City needs to play by the same rules as the citizens do.

I see that under Para 6.2.a) that the Bylaw Officer can refuse to issue a permit for any healthy tree. Who’s going to determine at what point a tree becomes unhealthy.

Also, I see in the bylaw that no financial implications have yet been determined. How can council entertain a bylaw without knowing the financial impact?

Make no mistake about it. The citizens of Sarnia will be asked to absorb the cost of the permit and getting a tree professional’s opinion.

Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau once said, “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.”

I say, “The City of Sarnia has no business in the backyards of its citizens.”

Brian Savidant

Sarnia


Where are the stats that justify the need for city tree bylaw?

 

Sir: While there are many issues with the proposed tree bylaw, I haven’t seen anything from the city backing up its stated claims that it receives complaints about clear-cutting of woodlands, as well as the destruction of large-stature trees in urban neighbourhoods.

I attended one of the public information meetings on June 21 at City Hall and a number of “about 20 complaints” for all of 2016 was mentioned, with most of them being for a build on Lakeshore Road.

Following that meeting, I made four requests by email for the statistics on the complaints. After more than a month, I have yet to receive a response.  My guess is no such statistics exist.

If that is the case, it’s a sad reflection on the process of how bylaws are hewn in this city.

John Wever

Sarnia


Cat Chance volunteer responds to neuter-and-release critics

Sir: As a volunteer with Cat Chance I wanted to take a moment to respond to Bill Scott’s letter (“Fix and release helps no one.”)

We are a very small (less than 20) group of volunteers who are doing our best to get control of the feral population, not only in Sarnia but also in surrounding areas as far as Grand Bend and beyond.

The calls coming in for help are constant and relentless; we do our best to get to all of them. Needless to say this is not an easy task when there are currently only about five to ten of us at most who can actually respond to calls between work and home life.

These feral cats are not “ours.” We are simply trying to clean up the messes left by irresponsible owners that allow their cats to roam and breed, or are cruelly dumped.

Many of these feral cats have sadly been a pet at one point, a fact that becomes clear when shown a little bit of love and compassion.

These cats are the lucky ones that can be adopted out after being properly spayed or neutered (often at our own expense).

While I totally understand the frustration of homeowners, unfortunately I don’t see anyone else volunteering to come up with a better solution to the feral cat issue.

While we are accused of having a “Bambi attitude,” our TNR method is one that works to reduce the population. Unfortunately, we cannot reduce the population of irresponsible people who are the reason why there is a feral cat problem to begin with.

Most people don’t understand the magnitude of this undertaking, financially and time-wise. Again we are a very small group who has taken it upon ourselves to reduce the population.

It’s easy to sit back and complain about the problem but do nothing about it. We’re not miracle workers; just a handful of animal lovers trying to help these cats and the communities they live in.

Tanya Pether

Point Edward


What’s with all the roaring cars and motorcycles in this city?

Sir: We have lived in several cities and towns in Southern Ontario and have chosen the lovely city of Sarnia as our retirement home.

A few years ago we purchased a condominium on Front Street. We enjoy the waterfront park, the river, and the vast array of community events that always seem to be going on in and around the downtown. The city offers many parks within walking distance. Canatara Park with its beach and shady areas is particularly beautiful.

However, there is one very serious drawback to life in this city we have not encountered elsewhere, and that’s the incredible number of cars and motorcycles with modified exhaust systems, designed to produce the maximum possible sound levels.

The cars are usually small, often black, and produce a throaty roar, along with an annoying high-pitch buzz seemingly intent on creating as much disruption as possible. They race around the downtown streets at various times of the day and night before racing off to annoy residents in some other area of town.

Motorcycles with proper factory-installed mufflers fit easily into a community environment and are not offensive. However, a growing number of motorcycle owners, it seems, are removing the factory muffling systems (which make them legal for initial sale) and install straight pipes that create explosive sounds during acceleration and backfiring when decelerating.

These motorcycles far exceed safe industrial sound levels for pedestrians on the street, and often we have found normal conversation must stop until the offending vehicle moves out of range.

Unless something is done to curtail this growing epidemic the problem will only get worse. I would like to see our law enforcement people make a concerted effort and spend a few hours a week enforcing our noise bylaws.

The Highway Traffic Act says it is an offence to cause a vehicle to make any unnecessary noise or operate without a muffler or certain modified mufflers. It also gives police the authority to inspect motor vehicles.

David Lundy

Sarnia


A Modest Proposal to control what’s loosed by the goose

Sir: I feel privileged and even pampered to live by Centennial Park and take morning walks on the St Clair River boardwalk.

But oh my, the goose poop is plentiful, or as Dr. Seuss might have it, ‘here poop, there poop, everywhere poop, poop!’ My proposal is simple.

I take it that goose meat properly prepared is succulent. So why not encourage city council to give each family a goose each year?

I am a newcomer here, but I understand that some precedent already exists in the way we are governed. The skeptics will no doubt remind me that the Canada goose is a sacred bird, and I quite agree, but does sanctity extend to goose poop?

If so, could we hire a psychologist with an interest in birds to train the goose to poop less, or perhaps to poop in the river rather than on the sidewalk?

I think of this as a variation on Trudeau’s cap-and-trade idea. We could have an annual cull for industries, oops, I mean for geese, that helplessly continue to emit the same quantity of poop on the sidewalk.

If none of this makes sense to anyone, I have one last proposal: why not put a Pampers on geese? Could we not catch and release geese the same way other birds are tagged?

I know from experience that this works quite well with babies, so why not geese? If my modest proposal wins support, everyone on the boardwalk, big and small, short and tall, will walk freely with our pampered geese.

Ken A. Bryson

Sarnia