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Letters, week of June 25

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Nix the costly health study

Sir:  Re: The story called ‘Death Valley?’ of June 11, 2015

According to the article, Councillor Anne Marie Gillis and her committee still plan to seek federal funds (up to $4.8million) for a local study, despite the fact most of the questions central to this study have been, or will be, answered in the near future by other relevant studies.

According to Gillis: “We still have two questions to answer and the big one is if there is higher risk of disease with exposure to chemicals. The second is about respiratory problems and our children.”

I am not qualified to comment on the second question but regarding the first (big one) the answer is so obvious it reminds me of The Flat Earth Society’s efforts to fund a comprehensive study to determine whether the earth is flat or round.

Even in an election year, federal funding for such a study will not sit well with the public. Nor will its results (positive or negative) eliminate what Gillis calls the growing assumption Sarnia is not a good place to live due to health risks.

Sarnia is an excellent place to live. We have good police and fire fighting forces. City infrastructure is in good shape and improving. Road maintenance, winter and summer, is satisfactory. Our beaches are the envy of many. Our City Council, as a whole, led by a seasoned Mayor, is doing a good job in improving our lot, while reducing the debt. Retirees from other areas are moving to Sarnia.

But everything is not peaches and cream.

We need more jobs to keep our young people here. Our rail service is a disgrace. Air and water emissions can and will be improved. Far too many buildings are empty. Our beaches need to be usable even after heavy rainstorms. The airport must become worthy of its name.

But most of the issues are being addressed by various groups, and must rightly be the focus of our collective attention.

Finally, a gentle slap on The Sarnia Journal wrist: You do Sarnia a disservice by selecting such a headline, despite the question mark and the general positive content of the story.

Steve Souwand



Anti-growth councillors should step aside

Sir: Re: Sifton’s Modeland Road plans nixed

Just a minute … Sarnia cannot expand towards the river, towards the lake or down towards the plants.

So a developer wants to build a senior’s residence, a plaza and some houses to the east, and city council says they can’t? Am I missing something?

Maybe some city councillors should step aside and allow others with a vision of a growing Sarnia to take their places. I shake my head in despair …

Trina Smith

Bright’s Grove


Riverside plaque recognizes French roots

Sir: It’s a perfect June day and I’m sitting on a bench near the perfect spot on the boardwalk to enjoy the water of the St. Clair River.

Recently, the students of the Franco-Jeunesse and les Rapides schools had a moving ceremony at which a plaque was unveiled and a tree planted.

Why? To commemorate 400 years of French presence and activities in Ontario.

Four centuries have passed since Champlain explored west of the Ottawa River to Georgian Bay and beyond. Historians from Thomas B. Costain to Conrad Black commend his achievements and his vision.

Champlain negotiated alliances with some of the First Nations, and hoped for a new world, la Nouvelle-France.

I read the plaque. It is easy to identify. On top, side-by-side are the fleur-de-lis and the trillium, the emblems chosen by the French-speaking Ontarians.

In Sarnia, we know that early on French-Canadians were living at The Rapids. At the Bayside Mall, a large painting depicts the construction of the Griffon, a barque built by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, upstream of Niagara Falls to move into the Great Lakes.

When I sit under the Blue Water Bridge, I often think of the early adventurers who sailed the river on their way to discoveries, including the great Mississippi River. And I hope that the future improves on the safekeeping of our natural resources and brings greater collaboration and respect between all of us Canadians.

In the meanwhile, I am proud of the plaque gesture and thankful to Messrs. Lacasse and Vallée, the school principals of the Viamonde school board, for organizing the event.

Claudette Deshaies



David Suzuki harming the economy

Sir: England’s most powerful supercomputer – capable of 1,000 billion calculations per second – was designed to predict climate change.

After it was installed in 2009, however, critics noted that the massive, hangar-sized machine requires 1.2 megawatts of energy to operate.

Using that much power produces 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, making it one of Great Britain’s single worst contributors to climate change.

Source: Uncle John’s Endlessly Engrossing Bathroom Reader.

Just like the horrifically costly to the consumer, and terribly inefficient wind farms, the giant computer is yet another example of how much of David Suzuki’s environmental propaganda is so much air pudding and wind sauce.

His shtick earns Suzuki a considerably substantial living, but it is so irreparably damaging and harmful to the wellbeing and progress of our economy.

Barry Demeter



City hall should move into mall

Sir: Former city councillor John Vollmar recently criticized council for “vetoing” two offers to purchase Bayside Mall.

He suggested we should count our losses and let go of the land with the building, and offload it to avoid any further costs.
While John is correct that the City of Sarnia hasn’t proven itself with ambitious projects, there is another idea we should fully explore.

If Bayside Mall was owned by the city, city staff could pick up and move into it, sell their building and prime real estate near the water, and then, by virtue of relocation, reinvigorate the decrepit mall.

Turning the mall into a hub of city and social services as a one-stop-shop for everything would be a welcome collaboration that few cities have the luxury of, but all wish they did.

Malls are dying across North America and the only thing more depressing than an almost empty downtown mall is an empty downtown mall.

The mall has lots of potential. The parking is there. The space is there. There is even a fountain and large conference centre. A section is already dedicated to provincial services and social organizations.

To John Vollmar’s credit, he doesn’t want another RBC Centre, Research Park, Centennial Park or General Hospital, where city staff seem to become paralyzed by bureaucracy and lack innovation and entrepreneurial skill.

Maybe if city staff had more space and comfier chairs it would invigorate them to stretch their creative muscles. The city owning the mall is clearly the better decision to see a restoration of the space.

City hall needs real talent, with a heart for the city, that knows how to take calculated risks.

I can then see the Bayside Mall incorporating other opportunities like libraries, museums, galleries, research parks, conferences, restaurants, health and emergency services, education offices, more social organizations, and become a city centre benefitting us all.

It’s a big dream that will require a significant amount of skilled and visionary leadership – but it would be the catalyst for the complete restoration of downtown Sarnia.

Nathan Colquhoun







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