Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Today’s letters: Keep those basketball nets away from Ottawa streets

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Saturday, May 25: Not everyone thinks the outdoor hoops are a good idea. You can write to us too, at letters@ottawacitizen.com

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Street-side basketball nets are a huge problem

Re: Stittsville residents forced to go through hoops to play basketball on the street, May 21.

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I used to deliver big bags of soil with a 53-ft. tractor trailer. Don’t get me started about trying to work my way through and past basketball nets as I drove in Orléans. I told my boss once that if l could pick up all the nets and take them to a metal recycling place, he wouldn’t have to pay me. The scrap fees would be better.

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Seriously, these basketball nets are a huge problem and l never once saw anyone playing with them. So keep them on your lawn, not the street. Very simple.

Daniel Smith, Ottawa

Nets are an issue in backyards too

Hopefully, the city doesn’t suggest moving nets to backyards. One neighbour put a net in their pie-shaped backyard. You can imagine what that sounds like, with the noise echoing off all of the houses. Windows have to be closed in the summer because of the sound echos. Plus, add cheering and yelling to that.

Jenny Mathieu, Ottawa

Bylaw has it priorities all wrong

My, are we ever busy in ”bylaw.” Perhaps the officers working for Roger Chapman, director of Ottawa’s By-law and Regulatory Services, should spend more time on “real” eyesores.

One neighbour has a major junkyard and keeps animals illegally in her yard. After years and years of complaints, the city has yet to find a way to force her to clean up her yard. Bylaw officers have been stopping by to no avail. Forget the basketball hoops, Mr. Chapman, and go after the more serious (real) issues.

Michel Tremblay, Cumberland

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Revamp the way we teach our kids

Re: Banning cellphones in Ontario classrooms should be just the first step, May 21.

I am heartened to find out that Upper Canada District School Board is implementing a “Real World Learning” approach to education, and that the author of the opinion column is encouraging other school boards to do the same.

We home-schooled our two children for more than a decade, starting in 2000, precisely because we wanted our kids to “Learn From Life” (a.k.a. Real World Learning). The “old school” style of pedagogy in public schools held no attraction for us, and for many other parents who chose to homeschool.

We wanted something more inspiring for our children. We didn’t want them lose their natural curiosity and love of learning. Home-schooling seemed like the best option for engaging them and forming them into lifelong learners. As young adults, our kids are thoughtful, engaged, creative, critical-thinking and discerning citizens.

I would encourage all school boards, as well as the provincial education ministry, to look seriously into revamping the way we educate our young people by moving toward a Real World Learning model. Teachers and students alike will be happier for it, plus the world needs more creative thinkers to meet the many challenges we face.

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Monique Kok, Orléans

What’s the priority? Money or students?

Re: Big changes could be coming to OCDSB elementary schools. Here’s what you should know, May 13.

What a travesty that the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board seems to be run by quasi-bureaucrats and trustees whose bottom line seems to be money.

It used to be that educating students was the top priority. That means identifying and providing top-notch teaching for special needs students and “regular” students in the appropriate setting. One reads horror stories about the many dysfunctional classrooms that now exist and no wonder. With the diversity of students crowded in these classrooms how can individual needs be met?

It seems that student needs are taking a back seat to fiscal considerations. Wake up, trustees and administrators; you are continuing on a road that can only lead to future disaster.

Patricia Orme (former Ottawa Board of Education principal and teacher), Ottawa

Don’t cancel this program, Algonquin

Re: It makes no sense to shut Algonquin College’s Hairstyling and Esthetics programs, May 22.

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Is this for real? In these times when we are fighting for affordable housing, Algonquin College, which all Ontario taxpayers help support, is thinking of cancelling a trade-based program?

This should be fought on so many levels. There are many women in these programs, trying to support their families and pay for housing. I believed that the Ford government was supporting the trades.

Algonquin says it boils down to money. It sure does, people: mainly women who need to find a career they can be proud of and be able to support themselves.

Shame on you Algonquin. And it is not like people’s hair is going to stop growing hair in the future.

Elizabeth MacDonald, Kanata

Three garbage bags only? Anarchy — at first

Re: Residents must adjust ‘waste disposal habits’ as Ottawa adopts three-item limit, May 21.

To combat rising waste-disposal costs, the City of Ottawa is instituting a three-bag limit for household garbage. Suburban solidarity will take a dark turn as neighbours spy on each other’s curbside refuse, counting the number of bags with military precision. Covert bag-dumping missions will likely skyrocket, leading to neighbourhood conflicts.

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I suspect that, amid the initial chaos, a thriving black market for waste disposal services will emerge. Enterprising teens will be offering to “borrow” garbage space, and smaller households will sell their bag quota at a premium. For those managing within the limit, dealing with rogue bags from sneaky neighbours will become a new pastime, complete with security cameras and retaliatory bag returns.

But despite the initial turmoil, I am confident that residents will adapt, proving once again that necessity is the mother of all suburban invention.

Dono Bandoro, Ottawa

Higher highway speed makes no sense

Re: What to expect with Ontario’s 110 km/h speed limit on highways, May 2.

The latest move to raise speed limits on 400-series highways makes no sense.

People routinely drive too fast. Increasing speed limits is not a solution. Higher speeds mean more gas consumption and pollution. The risk of injuries, fatalities and damage to people and vehicles is greatly increased.

Our government is concerned about air pollution, as we all should be. Driving at 100 km/hour,  we may take a few minutes longer to reach our destination than at higher speeds, but the effect on air quality is important. Less risk of injury is also important.

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Let us make human safety a top priority. It is not about punishing speeders but keeping people safe from injuries and fatalities.

Gael Bullard, Brockville

OC Transpo must explain Para assault

Re: Para Transpo driver charged with sexual assault, May 15.

My first thought when I read this brief article was “How is this possible?” OC Transpo has a lot of explaining to do. How did this 62-year-old, low-life Para driver get the job of driving vulnerable people? Do drivers not need to pass the Ottawa Police Service’s Vulnerable Sector Check?

My daughter uses Para regularly and I would hope she is always transported safely to her destination and never needs to think about being assaulted by a driver who has her life in their hands. My heart goes out to the female passenger. who was trusting enough to ride on Para the day she was assaulted.

Shame on the driver and OC Transpo.

Diane Bienvenue, Ottawa

Hiking development charges is another money-grab

Re: Ottawa city council approves development charge increases amid federal pressure to freeze rates, May 15.

The present development fees are approximately $55,000 inside the greenbelt and $63,000 outside for single and semi-detatched and that does not count building permits, hydro and gas permits and so on, which are paid by the developer or independent builders. These are all fees paid to the city before the developers / builders put in the services and roads. The city then connects the project to the existing grid. Homebuyers immediately start paying taxes.

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An increase of 12 to 13 per cent in development fees is simply a money grab over and above the exorbitant existing fees. The tail is wagging the dog once again and homebuyers are being duped in a poorly run system. Do not blame developers if housing starts fall off.

Brian Vachon, Greely

Many more deserved CHEO recognition

Re: Letter, These CHEO supporters deserve recognition, May 23.

I agree with this letter to the editor. I was in attendance and felt that surely to God CHEO is more than doctors and nurses. No others were mentioned: volunteers absolutely, but also departments headed by women (such as audiology: Andrée Durieux-Smith was the founder of the audiology department at CHEO, the only children’s hospital at the time to recognize the need for audiology to be in close proximity to Ear, Nose and Throat). CHEO overlooked many important, dedicated pioneers.

Karen Frederick, Ottawa

CHEO did acknowledge volunteers

I wish to clarify that CHEO’s 50th celebration did recognize volunteers. I received an invitation and was pleased to represent all volunteers, as I also did when it opened. My participation began in 1968 and by 1974, as their president, I represented volunteers as a member of the board of directors,  building committee and opening ceremonies committee.

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The advocacy and efforts of volunteers made the hospital a reality and it continues to surpass our expectations.

Barbara Mair, Braeside

Hospital care was once quite different

Re: Civic hospital officials looking for stories to honour its 100th birthday, May 21.

My visit to the Civic Hospital in the summer of 1961 was not very pleasant. While working on construction, I stepped on a spike, which penetrated my foot, and was taken to the Civic for treatment. A very abrupt receptionist (not a nurse) kept me waiting while my foot bled on the floor, and made me pay $20 (equivalent to $200 today) before she called a nurse to bandage my  injury.

Thank God that we now have universal health care.

Mark Stolarik, Ottawa

AI is no way to fix public-service pay

Re: Can AI fix the federal government’s Phoenix pay system problems? May 16.

When will the government and the federal public service unions stop wasting millions and shooting themselves in the foot regarding something as simple as payroll? The majority of public servants are full-time, salaried employees with standard payroll deductions. Administering their pay should be easy as pie and outsourced to a payroll company the way virtually all companies have been doing for years. Almost nobody runs in-house payroll any more.

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The problem is the self-inflicted, unnecessary complexity in the thousands of rules that have been written into collective agreements. These rules result in relatively insignificant extra pay being given to a small number of employees under uncommon circumstances at the cost of needless complexity — which undermines the integrity of the entire pay system.

PSCS, the early ’90s predecessor to Phoenix, recommended that these rules be drastically simplified before a new system was built. That recommendation was ignored and a $45-million design/build contract was awarded. It was subsequently terminated by the government, the company sued, and a settlement was reached. Phoenix also ignored the need to simplify pay rules, but this time a new system was put into production, resulting in botched payments to thousands of public servants which will take decades to correct.

Dayforce will suffer the same fate unless the complexity is eliminated. AI is not the solution to poor human judgment. Message to Treasury Board and the unions: focus on eliminating the complexity and the problem will disappear.

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Evan Diamond, Nepean

Here’s a better idea than a Loblaw boycott

Re: Loblaw boycott may be ‘ineffectual and juvenile,’ but it’s still worth doing, May 8.

While I wish the boycotters well, boycotts normally have only a very limited lifespan. As to the Grocery Code of Conduct and windfall taxes, I am afraid the businesspeople who run these organizations are a lot more savvy than the average politician. So what to do?

In the long term we need more competition, but for the present there is one action that can be taken. The situation of food banks in Canada is dire. Instead of a windfall tax on the big grocers, how about a levy of half a per cent on profits, the proceeds going to food bank organizations?

It would be a win for people in need and also for the grocery chains, as consumers would still spend money in their stores and the chains would finally get some good publicity.

Frank Taker, Prescott

Civil discourse isn’t possible anymore

Re: When social divisions come even to small-town America, May 22.

Andrew Cohen has summarized the essence of the changes taking place today: authoritarians and absolutists are “calling compromise unholy.” The cause is found in Greg Perry’s editorial cartoon “Shouldn’t it be called antisocial media?”

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What was once inexcusable is not only permissible but is encouraged on social media. Civil discourse is a forgotten art as divisions attract followers. Facts and alternate facts rule the net. Threats are so common that they are driving away many who want to serve the common good.

Cohen sees no imminent end to the division. There is no historical precedent for dealing with lies and prejudice spread so quickly and effectively on the net. Attempts at discourse are met with more division and threats. It is frightening.

Harvey Davey, Ottawa

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