Week of July 6

Letters to the editor

People want to protect city parks, council should listen

Sir: I’d like to offer a special thank you to all who attended the public meeting on June 13 at Clearwater Arena that addressed the options pertaining to the sale of parkland.

There was standing room only.

I was impressed by the knowledge of the people who challenged the proposals and presentation by the planning and parks and recreation departments, questioning the validity of costs, profit, use of community centre, official plan and zoning bylaws.

According to a builder, there are many lots available in the city that would generate money, but the city has failed to put in the services.

Yet the city insists on selling part of Baxter Park to build five to nine homes, even though, according to the Official Plan, parks are to be enhanced, not sold.

The proposals by the city were open ended. Therefore, anything could happen as a result.

On the other hand, the proposal by the delegation of people hoping to maintain a community centre in the north-end hub was complete, with the backing of many offering time, labour and money to get the project started.

Once fundraising and grants are procured, this centre would result at little or no costs to the city, and stay within the boundaries of the Official Plan.

The Official Plan states that Sarnia should encourage opportunities to maintain and improve public parks, and work with service clubs and private citizens to improve and expand the park system.

Yet council has chosen to declare part of Baxter Park surplus, attempted to change the zoning to residential, build houses, disrupt the character of the neighbourhood, and take away a treasured amenity.

Once again, the people of Sarnia have spoken. Our parks are NOT FOR SALE.

City council is expected to consider the parkland question at City Hall on Monday, July 10 at 4 p.m.

The community that is working diligently to save all parks from being developed needs your support one more time.

C.E. Wasman

Sarnia

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Outrageous tree bylaw a gross intrusion on my rights

Sir: Sarnians should vote down the proposed tree protection bylaw. We don’t need it! Call for it to be either killed or remodeled instead on London’s more reasonable bylaw.

The proposed bylaw says you can’t cut down a healthy tree with a diameter of 20 centimetres (8 inches) or larger. You may seek permission, but it will not always be granted.

You may do so without permission, but you will be heavily fined, if found out. And you will surely be found out by the tree police, ably assisted by your deputized neighbours.

Sarnia chose a 20cm. trigger diameter based merely on what many other municipalities have done. No study was done of the actual conditions prevailing in Sarnia’s urban area.

Nor, it appears, was there any attempt made to understand the original philosophy underlying the selection of 20cm. as the trigger point.

Ottawa and London approved bylaws in 2016, just last year, with a 50cm. trigger point. London, fully aware that others chose 20cm., decided on 50cm after a detailed professional study done in 2014.

Sarnians with large trees over 20 years old will own them forever, as they will no longer be able to remove them. This will limit their ability to re-landscape their yards while assuming ever increasing pruning costs to keep their trees in check.

The proposed bylaw will likely be counterproductive. Owners will remove trees not yet at 20cm. and are less likely to plant new large trees in future. This discouraging bylaw will also engender friction between neighbours. These negatives would be much less severe under London’s more encouraging bylaw.

I consider Sarnia’s proposed bylaw to be a costly and gross intrusion on my rights as a property owner. While I understand the thrust to be laudatory, I find that the methodology being promoted is deplorable.

I hope others feel the same and use the tools on the city’s website to provide their feedback and opinions.

Saorgus Mc Ginley,

Sarnia

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People allergic to tree pollen don’t want more trees

Sir: Sarnia’s proposed tree bylaw is another tax grab.

It is also an infringement on personal property rights and personal health.

On behalf of all medically fragile people who are allergic to tree pollen and mouldy leaves, I say nobody is considering this problem.

This year, the pollen was so bad it got into my house causing illness. I have had a vacation ruined because of tree pollen.

I did get a more efficient pneumonia shot, which helps keep the illness in check.  My sister, (who has the same allergies) has come to visit us and has ended up in the emergency room.

You cannot go out and supervise kids when they want to play because you get sick from the trees.  You are limited to where you can own a house.

This year, my neighbour’s dead and dying trees really trashed my beautiful yard.  Guess who cleaned that up?  When dead branches fall off and damage my property, is the owner held accountable?

People should not be able to dictate what you can and cannot do with your yard.

If letter writer Brad Cullis wants more trees, he should pay for them himself and mind his own business.

This council has been inconsiderate of our tax dollars. The number of people using the food bank continues to grow, which to me is a red flag more serious things than trees.

Judy Coleman

Bright’s Grove

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City shouldn’t be preventing people from culling a tree

Sir: Re: Proposed tree bylaw

We need less government, not more.

I’m not wanting to allow the clear cutting of trees from a swath of land, but if an individual taxpayer wants to cut down a tree on his property, for virtually any reason, he should be able to do so.

As an example – at this time of year I’d like to see all female poplar trees eliminated to rid our community of summer snowstorms that can, and have been, more than just a nuisance to myself and others in the north end.

Personally, I like most trees and appreciate all the benefits they offer, but sometimes culling is appropriate and shouldn’t be stymied by government interference.

Dan Rapaich 

Sarnia

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Thank you for the good news story

Sir: Thank you so very much for the article by Troy Shantz in the June 22nd edition on Lauren Morrison, who won a national poetry contest. It was truly uplifting.

Congratulations to this young lady and kudos to her teacher, Melissa Dent, who inspired and encouraged her to reach this goal.

There is a mulberry tree at the Cox Youth Centre near the intersection of Devine and Ontario streets. When the leaves have matured each spring we call it the ‘elephant tree’ because of its shape.

I too have happy memories of this mulberry tree. For many summers I have lived at the park, pool and splash pad. The kids with me loved to pick the mulberries. Their purple stained hands and mouths usually came clean before they went home to their parents!

Thank you once again for this good news story.

Mary (Mimi) Ettinger

Sarnia

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There’s a double standard at City Hall when it comes to censuring

Sir: I recently asked City Hall for full disclosure of the total dollars spent on four externally hired lawyers, as well as externally hired contractors and HR consultants between January 2016 and April 2017.

It has been said that I was asking for information that was personal and private, but that is not so. There is no such thing as ‘solicitor-client privilege’ or ‘Freedom of Information’ when it comes to the city spending our money!

City Hall doesn’t want to be held accountable to anyone and does not want us to know all about its personal exorbitant spending of tax dollars, which has just added to the overall debt.

They forget that they are all public servants and, as such, work for us – not the other way round!

My letter was sent to the city clerk, addressed: ‘Dear Mayor Bradley,’ and copied to all councillors and city management. The addressee’s name was in the subject line and again in the actual body of the e-mail. A greater understanding is needed on salutations for the City to recognize the difference between SENT, ADDRESSED, and COPIED.

Coun. Anne Marie Gillis said she was so thankful the city clerk had copied all councillors to keep them informed. Well, it was I who copied all councillors, not the clerk.

Coun. Cindy Scholten stated that my letter was full of accusations. It was not. It was a simple request for full financial disclosure. Can they not read, either? Do not quote me if you cannot do it accurately.

My letter was discussed at the Feb. 27 meeting. There was no shouting, no arguing – just normal discussions.

The fact that the clerk waited three months before reporting this so-called bullying and intimidation case is very suspect of a ‘created’ situation, once again.

I have re-listened to the audio and re-watched the video of this meeting, and I’m amazed at the absurdity of this complaint! Coun. Andy Bruziewicz can shout, argue and debate with anyone, at any time, and nothing is ever done about it. His pay is never taken away from him. I wonder why?

Talk about double standards.

Margaret Bird

Bright’s Grove

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The mayor needs to change his behaviour or resign from office

Sir: If City Hall is a reality TV show, then Mayor Mike Bradley is both producer and star.

He knew where all this was headed from the moment the Integrity Commissioner ruled against him. However, instead of doing right by the city and resigning, he has pushed on out of pride.

Our city council’s Fab Five do not punish the mayor for giggles. It’s not good politics to attack a popular mayor.  No. Our Fab Five is preventing a lawsuit.

Multiple complaints from councillors?  Multiple complaints from current and former staffers? Multiple negative findings from an Integrity Commissioner?  Any lawyer could make a case of this.

You see it’s the Municipal Act that defines an Ontario mayor, not the Oxford Dictionary.

To top it off, our mayor has still not changed his behaviour or admitted any wrongdoing.

“I’m sorry if I upset someone when I yelled at them,” doesn’t cut it.  And so the punishments, the expense, the distraction continues.

And it will continue until the mayor reverses course or resigns.

Christopher Cooke

Sarnia