Week of June 22

Where’s the accountability on Centennial boondoggle?

Sir: The delays and cost overruns at Centennial Park stand as the single most disgraceful abuse of the public trust and money that I have ever witnessed.

For weeks I have read articles and heard radio talk that attempt to put some clarity to what is going on, yet it remains shrouded in a haze of incompetence and possibly even illegality.

How else does such a project become 100% over budget?  Not just a few dollars, but six million of them and climbing.

No one among the supposed city leadership seems able or even prepared to step in and identify where the problems lie. Therefore, I can only assume that it is deeply rooted in the city council and, of course, the contractors involved.

Please spare the people further platitudes and speak the truth, and more importantly do something about it.

The people of Sarnia and Point Edward deserve better, and they certainly deserve a full accounting, not just of the dollars wasted, but also the accountability of those who should have been in charge of the public trust.

Sarnia property taxes are among some of the highest in Ontario, for which one would expect to get superior results, yet all I hear is a sucking sound from the public teat.

John Schaw

Sarnia

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Story on former wheelchair athlete was touching

Sir: I want to congratulate The Sarnia Journal for doing the story on Rob Hughes.

It was well written, but also touched a soft spot in my heart, to read of Rob’s journey to employment.

Kudos also to Lambton Elderly Outreach and their CEO, Bill Yurchuk, for giving this young man a chance to prove himself in the employment arena.

The look of joy on his face, indeed, tells a story of his appreciation.

Thanks to all involved for sharing this great moment in Rob’s life!

Ellen and Dave Mills

Oil Springs

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“Investigation” not what the Integrity Commissioner does

Sir: After having recently retired from policing after 30 years, with extensive formal training and practical experience conducting complex investigations, I am writing to voice my opinion and frustration regarding the “investigation” and report by the Integrity Commissioner relating to Mayor Bradley, and the continued turmoil caused by the “investigation.”

To call the report issued by the Commissioner an “investigation” is an insult to all professional investigators who strive to uphold the simple basic principles that represent the foundation of policing in Ontario — integrity, knowledge and courage.

I sat through the Commissioner’s presentation to city council back in 2016 following his “investigation” into complaints about Mayor Bradley, and was appalled by the Commissioner’s lack of investigative knowledge and his willful, deliberate and reckless disregard in conducting his “investigation.”

Had the Commissioner testified in criminal court in the same manner he did to council and the public, I believe the entirety of his “investigation” would have been excluded under rules derived from the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” doctrine, which serves to deter deliberate, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct.

The Commissioner arrogantly stated during his presentation that he did not interview the two most recent city managers, or anyone presented by the Mayor, and that the reason for doing so was because he didn’t have time to interview everyone.

Council, having accepted the Commissioners “investigation” (poisonous fruit), ensured that all involved parties, including the complainant(s) and citizens of Sarnia are deprived of a definitive conclusion, free of egregious intent.

Further, council sows the seeds of the “poisonous fruit” every time they refer back to the Commissioners report, or take any action based on its conclusions or recommendations.

All involved parties deserve much better. Call it what you will, but please don’t call it an investigation.

Doug Warn

Sarnia Police Inspector, retired

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Municipal tree bylaw needed to see the forest from the trees

Sir: Regarding the proposed tree bylaw. It should not be viewed as an infringement of personal property rights, but as an acknowledgment of a broader ecosystem, one we are a part of.

Its aim is not to punish but to preserve. One person’s actions in isolation may seem insignificant, but collectively, when you step back, you should be able to see the forest from the trees — which is the intent.

Trees (native ones in particular) that exist on private property deserve a measure of legal protection from the pressures and arbitrary whims of human desire.

Humans and trees may exist together in time, but not on the same scale. Average humans life expectancy is about 80 years. An oak tree can live 700 years.

The arc of life from infancy, through maturity and finally terminal decline are vastly different. We need an urban forestry management policy that transcends human generations to ensure a robust ecological fabric for future generations.

As it is, homeownership is a transient business. People come and people go. Many times a new homeowner or developer will fells some or all of the trees, destroying habitat for superficial personal preference, with no regard for what species (significant or critically endangered) they may be erasing.

I believe it is the intention of the bylaw to discouraging the most egregious examples, to acknowledge the value of nature, a capital that accrues slowly and only with good stewardship.

In most cases, a work-around or compromise can be found regarding a patio, pool or other non-essential structure one might build. But if one can’t be, than a fee for a permit to remove a problematic tree can be obtained.

The money could be directed toward municipal tree plantings or incentivizing residents to plant native trees and plants by subsidizing the their cost.

It could be facilitated in partnership with local nurseries, organizations (Return the Landscape) and conservancy groups.

Tree bylaws are a sound policy that work in other municipalities, and from what I see, it should be adopted here.

Brad Cullis

Sarnia

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Does Sarnia want our votes to count in next election?

Sir: The Canadian Parliament gives low priority to e-voting, preferring to focus instead on safety, security, integrity, verifiability and secrecy.

These are huge concerns. People want to know their vote counts and cannot be manipulated. Parliament is not making any changes to the paper balloting system, so why are we allowing Sarnia to do this?

Hackers can violate voting systems and compromise secrecy by using electronic spyware that can read everything.

Paper ballots are the most trustworthy – results are still available the same night and our votes count!

In any system, if there are any possible challenges to the integrity, verifiability and secrecy of the results, then this should definitely be avoided.

Where the municipality is offering to assist voters with e-voting, there is a risk for coercion and intimidation! With e-voting, there is no way to verify who you say you are, and no way to prevent interception of transmissions sent over the Internet.

Without confirmation of these concerns, governments won’t change from paper ballots.

Elections Canada cannot simply change to an e-voting system; Parliament has made this approval more difficult.

Under the Fair Election Act, signoffs from each of the Commons and Senate are now required. For something of this magnitude, Parliament should be extensively consulted and debate should occur, pure and simple.

Parliament is taking such care to make sure our voting is kept safe and secure. They believe we should debate, get everyone’s input, but Sarnia went ahead without debate, without public meetings, and without adding the topic to the election ballot.

In fact, Sarnia totally ignored the electorate and even hired an out-of-province, financially unstable company without carrying out a pre-qualifier first.

Ineptitude rules at the council level; they have removed our freedom of choice, freedom of information, and our democratic system as per the Canadian Constitution. They contradicted the amendment to the Code of Conduct. Bias and conflicts of interest run rampant in council chambers.

This council needs to be removed before any more decisions are made without our input.

Margaret Bird

Bright’s Grove