The week of June 16

Bright’s Grove development area long overdo

Sir: I am baffled by the reluctance of City Hall staff, their consultant, and some councillors to allow development of a parcel of land in Bright’s Grove and expand Sarnia’s urban boundary.

Yes, I understand the concept of urban sprawl, but to me this move is actually the opposite. It provides opportunities for creating a more viable, walkable community in Bright’s Grove, one accessible for all ages and income levels, especially with the introduction of mixed-use residential housing.

As for the city’s consultant predicting Lambton County planners won’t be happy about council’s decision, I would note those same planners had no problem allowing what seems like unfettered growth in Plympton-Wyoming. The lack of corresponding commercial development there also encourages car dependence.

I would also point out this added development area in Bright’s Grove creates an opportunity for new infrastructure, such as a wastewater treatment plant that could potentially serve Lakeshore Road homes currently on septic systems, which we know are a risk to the health of Lake Huron.

Therefore, this expansion of Bright’s Grove should be looked upon as an opportunity long overdo.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan MacFarlane

Bright’s Grove


City church helping resettle Ukrainian immigrants

Sir: The daily reports of death and destruction in Ukraine evoke a righteous anger in many, and a desire to do something to help ease the suffering.

At a meeting in March, Bethel Pentecostal Pastor Tim Gibbs, MP Marilyn Gladu and Dr. Cassandra Taylor highlighted local connections to Ukraine, and the opportunity to assist families fleeing the war to relocate in Lambton County.

The experience of bringing Ukrainian families to Canada has been slow and tedious, but the Canadian government has lowered the bar to expedite resettlement of this unprecedented wave of displaced people.

At Trinity Anglican Church in Sarnia, Rev Canon Vicars Hodge brought the need to the Parish Council and the congregation. The result was an overwhelming desire to contribute financially, and two families offered to share their homes.

Although Canada has allowed Ukrainians to stay and work for three years, the financial obligation is borne by local sponsors. About $25,000 of the estimated $35,000 needed to house, feed and support two families for the first year has been promised.

An appeal for a microwave and fridge to set up a basement kitchen was met overnight, and the first family, a mother and two pre-teen boys, arrived June 1.

Marilyn Gladu’s office has been helpful, and Johnathan Verroen a Sarnia man on the ground in Ukraine, has made contacts and facilitated biometrics and paperwork.

We are looking for additional donations and volunteers to drive and help families navigate Canadian systems and integrate into society.

If you would like to help, or make a financial donation, contact Trinity Church at 519-542-9261, or email trinity@trinitysarnia.org. All donors will be issued a tax receipt.

We can’t stop the war, but we can make a difference in the lives of some of those impacted.

Mike Tanner

Sarnia


Health tax applied unevenly, low-income earners pay more

Sir: A significant (but unrecognized) inequity exists in the Ontario Health Premium (tax) introduced back in the Dalton McGuinty era, one that penalizes those in the most vulnerable category.

Most taxpayers won’t recognize the inequity if they have third-party tax preparation or do their taxes electronically.

For some reason, there are eleven different taxable categories with varying percentage rates that cause those who can least afford it, to pay the most.

For example, someone earning taxable income between $20,000 and $25,000 contribute in the range of $240 to $300 per year. As each category increases by taxable ranges, the percentage they pay decreases exponentially.

For example, someone earning taxable income between $48,000 and $72,000 pays a flat rate of $600. But if they paid the same percentage rate as the lowest category, they would pay $864 – a difference of $264.

Our MPPs currently earn $116,500. Assuming that is their taxable income, they contribute $750 per year. If they paid the same percentage rate as the lowest category they would pay $1,398 – a difference of $648 a year.

Incidentally, Premier Doug Ford, who is paid $208,974, pays only $900, the top rate for anyone earning over $206,000 annually in Ontario.

It’s about time this inequity is addressed (eh, Bob Bailey). Reduce the percentage to a single rate so that all taxpayers pay according to their taxable income.

Also consider raising the minimum rate for taxation on the most vulnerable to $35,000 to $40,000.

This would include young wage earners who could put the money toward affordable housing, food, etc., and those seniors on a fixed income.

Paul Hornblower

Sarnia


Human ‘Progress’ leads to tsunami of habitat loss

Sir: Imagine leaving your home for a vacation and returning to find it gone, levelled, cleared out. We’d lose our minds and demand answers.

But the piles of trees and vegetation we see piled up along our roads and highways with alarming frequency were also once homes. Maybe not semi-detached or condos, but homes nonetheless.

Subdivisions are pushed over and piled and prepared for burning. Take a moment and think about that. They were homes for others that share the planet.

As a result, returning birdlife finds only emptiness. They can’t stay with relatives or be put up in a motel while the insurance company sorts out restitution.

I find it distressing how detached society has become from nature, and our impact on it every day. Why is it that activities we deem progress come at the expense of the ecosystem. We fill ditches, push down woodlots, “thin” out large trees, spray for weeds, and then wonder why we don’t see frogs, turtles and swallow any longer.

It’s surprising there’s any biodiversity left, given the constant strife inflicted by the most consuming species that’s ever existed.

When visiting a cottage or camping we marvel at the wonder: fireflies, tree frogs, snakes, praying mantis, etc. But all these creatures once lived where our homes now sit.

Our landscapes look pretty, but for birds and insects they are akin to a buffet at which plates and cutlery are provided, but no food.

There are countless opportunities for integrating native material into a yard, regardless of the space available. And while some native plants might be considered unattractive or invasive, many are not.

I challenge all members of our community to give our impact on the environment half the attention given to watching gas prices.

Mike Smalls

Bright’s Grove