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Week of February 16

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More important than ever to keep our community parks

Sir: Regarding the piece on Baxter Park, “A council Q&A – should Sarnia sell off its surplus land?”

With respect, I think The Journal asked the wrong question and effectively missed the whole point of the matter.

Over the past several years “Baxter Park,” to those who lived nearby, included the Public Beach property and the building on the south side of the park (The Kinsmen Centre) which was rented out for a variety of community activities.

We are told that the city failed to keep up maintenance on the building, resulting in a fungus infestation making it unsafe to use.

To get around this mess, it seems that the city decided unilaterally, without forewarning the community and without local community input, to redesignate this land as “surplus,” thus allowing the city to sell it for housing development – problem solved!

The problem of lack of money may satisfy the city but local residents see it as chopping up the community’s park and recreation land to pay for its fiscal mismanagement – our elected representatives are notorious for spending more of our tax dollars than they take in.

Perhaps the real question should be: “Should Sarnia unilaterally and without obtaining local community input be allowed to redesignate community parks and recreational areas as “surplus land” to get themselves out of a fiscal mess of their own making due to fiscal mismanagement?”

If I was a city councillor when asked this question I would unreservedly say “NO.”

Many of our community parks were donated to the city many years ago with the proviso that the city NOT interfere with their designation. As building lots get smaller and houses get bigger, leaving smaller and smaller backyards, it is now even more important to keep our precious community parks sacrosanct.


Ian Sanderson 



Letting city staff perform marriages hurts private operators


Sir: I was appointed, as a Justice of the Peace, to perform civil marriages under the Marriage Act on Jan. 1, 1993. After a while, Family Court became the venue for civil marriages.

We took care of persons who had been divorced, or the churches didn’t wish to marry them, or were of differing religious faiths and races, as well as those with no church affiliation.

I eventually became a Pastor, and, after retiring, opened my own non-denominational wedding service, Bluewater Marriage Services. It filled a void created when JPs were no longer doing weddings.

We soon had four Pastors covering five counties, and each of them developed their own business.

I have performed wedding ceremonies for over 3,000 couples. I have also baptizing children of couples we married, done anniversary services, renewed vows, dedications, etc.

When I felt I should call it quits, my daughter took over.

Now, it would appear some staff at City Hall have extra time on their hands. So much so that council has agreed to let them perform marriages at City Hall, during normal hours only, and at the same price as the ‘regulars’ charge.

This obviously will take business away from private operators.

We have done death-bed weddings and weddings in hospitals, nursing homes, gardens, parks, hotels, on boats, in arenas, at the harbour – and even church weddings.

My question is — who will do the paperwork the taxpayers will pay for. What happens, or who pays for the overtime when clients are late?

Marriage services should be left to the professionals. At least, that’s how I see it.

Jack Western

Residence on the St. Clair


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