Week of April 29

Petrolia froze its spending, why can’t Sarnia?

Sir: Sarnia council recently met to discuss a staff proposal for a new user fee on taxpayers to pay for stormwater sewer work.

Didn’t they just make a huge increase in the 2021 capital budget, with a significant increase to water and sewer rates for taxpayers?

And now they want even more?

One responsible councillor said most citizens and businesses would already say they’re taxed too heavily, and that citizens are owed tax stability and fiscal responsibility.

Unfortunately, it isn’t all perfect. While council has agreed not to bring in new taxes for now, it isn’t a budget freeze.

Except for safety and health critical-care needs, deficits can be prevented by not spending beyond inflation. For example, avoid historically excessive capital budgets; avoid generous salary increases beyond inflation to anybody.

Because of recent very low inflation, taxpayer income increases have been virtually zero; and many small businesses are losing money during the pandemic.
Petrolia council needs to be applauded for the zero increase in its 2021 budget.  While some Sarnia staff and councillors would suggest the “sky will fall” under a tax freeze, as far as I know there is still a sky over Petrolia and life seems to be continuing there.

Taxpayers need to keep in mind during next year’s municipal election Sarnia’s spending tendencies.  We need a council and administration with a more responsible attitude, i.e., they can’t simply keep taking more year after year than taxpayers can provide.

While maintaining all safety and critical health needs, the city needs to make tough financial choices, just like taxpayers do.

Let the income of taxpayers catch up for a while on property taxes and water/sewer rates.

If Petrolia can do it, why not others?

Manuel Marta

Sarnia


 

Ontario’s stay-at-home orders went too far

Sir: With all due respect, I can only say that Premier Doug Ford’s most recent lockdown orders are an outrage to the people of Ontario.

No doubt, targeted actions are necessary to corral the spread of the virus, but the sweeping measures and broad powers given police were uncalled for and downright offensive.

In fact, Ford had to walk back the policing powers because even the police didn’t want them.

The impact on the elderly living alone and those already suffering from depression, anxiety and mental illness cannot be measured. The results will be with us well beyond COVID.

How do single mothers manage their households and keep their children’s and their own sanity?

Where are the statistics that golf clubs and other controlled outdoor activities are the problem? Private golf clubs already have strong prevention protocols in place, and they work.

How does Ford expect contractors to survive? They have already spent much time and expense on protecting their valuable assets, employees and customers.

Why did he burden police officers with powers that would only add levels of anxiety and frustration to their already tough job? There would have been unnecessary confrontations, notwithstanding whether such measures were legal under the Constitution.

How do small businesses and restaurants survive under stop/start orders when they’re already stretched to the limit?

The bottom line is the majority of Ontarians have already done their part, and will continue to do so to protect their families and others. Last week’s stay-at-home order is a direct result of a failure in leadership and policy, all the way up to the federal level.

Experience in other parts of North America shows increased vaccinations and consistent targeted action (i.e. protocols) do work, but take time. Lockdowns and sweeping restrictions only damage the fabric of the community, often reflected in increases in crime.

Local leaders in Sarnia-Lambton need to uphold the rights of their constituents.

John Schaw

Sarnia


Canatara would be better spot for Humane Society

Sir: The Humane Society has asked Sarnia for permission to expand in Centennial Park. They should think about the location of their new building.

It’s said that a successful business depends on three things: Location. Location. Location. Imagine how successful the Humane Society would be if their facility was located on the other side of the parking lot from the Animal Farm in Canatara Park.

Traffic flow is guaranteed, and they could showcase their animals for adoption in so many new and innovative ways, with outdoor areas for dogs to run and where people could watch the antics of cats and kittens.

Large “all-season” TV screens could feature live interactions of animals and staff.  Imagine people able to see dogs ready for adoption being walked around the park by the volunteer dog walkers.

Now that’s showcasing and advertising. There could be a donation box and many new family-friendly fun promotional events.

It would be a winning combination. If there’s a better location in Sarnia, I don’t know where it is.

Brian MacDonald

Sarnia


Sarnia Arena already has a good name. Let’s keep it.

Sir:  I would like to express my opposition to city council changing the name of Sarnia Arena.

The Sarnia Arena was built through the hard work and effort of many Sarnians, most of them volunteer.

The story began in 1945, and it was local service clubs that led the charge. Labour, tradesmen, industry and businesses soon pledged support, and fundraising began throughout the city: benefit dinners, door-to-door canvassing, new car raffles.

Students would chip in five cents or a dime at local schools each week. It was a true citizen effort.

For more, see https://thesarniajournal.ca/opinion-sarnias-hockey-history-city-arena-a-community-effort.

The name Sarnia Arena gives continuing respect and thanks to these citizens.

To rename the arena after an individual would erase into obscurity the important story of the building’s founding. That would not be right.

Please retain the name Sarnia Arena without alteration.

Randy Evans

Sarnia


Pandemic leaves ECE workers stressed, vulnerable

Sir: The ongoing pandemic has pushed the already vulnerable Early Childhood Education workforce into crisis.

The emotional, financial and physical stress on Early Childhood Educators is incalculable. Many programs face declining enrolment and closures, while educators must navigate job insecurity, health risk and personal challenges.

During COVID-19, the insufficient staffing and extra workload makes it harder for us to ensure children, parents and their families feel a sense of belonging and safe in a loving and caring environment.

Wearing masks and shields is difficult, and is hard for children just learning to talk and listen.

ECE workers are on front-line and believe the government should provide more money for better wages and additional staff. The extra cleaning time required by the pandemic means less time to spend with children.

Early Childhood Educators feel they are at risk and hope everyone is screening and being safe outside of work to help reduce the risk.

We are hardworking and love our job.

Bethany Bell

Sarnia


Law enforcement are also front-line workers

Sir: As we watch events south of our border, I think there is an important note to share in our community.

There are those that dawn a blue/black uniform. Our neighbourhoods are patrolled and protected by People Serving People.

In times of need, our Sarnia Police Services are likely the first at the scene and the first to assist.

We have lawn signs for our front-line workers and our troops – our thanks and support for their commitment.

So, let’s also support those on a front line that we may not recognize, our officers on the streets. Respectfully,

Michael Murray

Sarnia


All this frustration and hate doesn’t help anyone

Sir: Why is there so much hate?
Some folks don’t believe COVI-19 is real. Really?  It’s killing people, and all we have to do is wear a mask and don’t stand too close to one another. Is that so hard?
Why do the opposition parties keep yelling that Ford is doing something wrong? What good does yelling do? Instead, why not make some good suggestions to help the government and the people deal with this crisis?

I didn’t vote for Ford, but he is the one in power, so let’s help him. This is really hard stuff he is dealing with, and he is trying!

Humans are dying and humans are yelling. Why the hate? Why can’t we work together?
Do people really feel scientists are trying to snow us about this virus? Really!
Look at the past and see the different viruses and the vaccines developed that helped us. Have we become so superior we think we know everything?
Doubters need to give their head a shake. Let’s do what we have to do to get rid of this virus, so all of us can feel free again!
If you know something that might HELP, then speak up.

Sharon Stewart

Sarnia