To the Editor,
I did appreciate some of what Darryl Knight had to say in his Up All Knight column last week (‘Eight complaints or less’). I think he dropped the ball on the biggest, far and away most frustrating line of them all.
Most of us have been in it. Most of us have wanted to rip our hair out because of it. We’ve huffed and puffed and it only seems to get worse every passing day. I’m talking, of course, about the line when someone is buying their lottery tickets!
It used to be bad enough that you would have someone in front of you that had either played the lottery with everyone at the office, and had 45 tickets to go through. Or, if you were really in a rush, you would end up behind the person who has been hoarding bingo and crossword tickets since 2002.
Now, I get to watch you play Wheel of Fortune, or poker, or some silly hockey game when all I want to do is pay for my gas and be on with my day, not be stuck behind you and your undiagnosed gambling addiction!
As their Scugog counterparts to continue to wrestle with this year’s municipal budget, Uxbridge councillors put the matter to bed last night, passing the new budget with a nearly unanimous vote.
Amid the glee over having successfully whittled down municipal spending for another 12 months with kudos offered up to councillors, staff and even, us here at The Standard, along with our counterparts at the Cosmos, a new narrative was taking shape, with some members of council speaking ominously about the horrors that will await next year, when belts will have to be tightened even further.
With few new sources of income on the horizon, new sewage treatment plant in Port Perry notwithstanding, municipalities have been forced to continue playing infrastructure ‘whack-a-mole’ fixing roads here and there, and hoping that against the odds they can get through another year without anymore major issues appearing.
It comes as no surprise that Uxbridge Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor has once again mentioned the possibility of selling some of the township’s lesser-used facilities, as well as some surplus vacant lands as a means to lessen the financial burden passed down to residential taxpayers year-after-year.
While some of these buildings may have some link to the past in the community, the sad fact is that many are not used enough in the present for the municipality to continue to spend money on utilities, maintenance, repairs and other costs just to satisfy a small group that could seemingly relocate to other buildings that are struggling for revenue slightly less.
To the Editor,
I believe that the letter writer in last week’s Standard (‘The road should be less travelled’) might have missed the point when it comes to people walking on the road.
Like most pedestrians, I know that you are supposed to walk on the sidewalk. But, like a lot of people I get frustrated in the winter when the sidewalk is unable to be used, because it’s buried under a foot-and-half of ice and snow. Most times, people at least move for traffic. Unless it’s kids, half the time they seem so entitled that they actually walk towards cars. Not a care in the world and not a brain in their heads.
I know that most townships have a little plow that they use to plow sidewalks when it’s on property that they own. Does that seem a little short sighted to anyone else?
Why is it only on their property that the township will bother to clear the sidewalk? Couldn’t they buy another plow or two and pay some guys (minimum wage, someone will work for it) to clear all of the sidewalks, not just the ones that might get the township sued.
Years ago, the streets used to be cleared by regular people, and the problems existed on roads then that exist on sidewalks now, namely that they didn’t get cleared for days, weeks, maybe even months at a time. Times change, now we have snowplows. And some of the best around in my opinion, are right here in Uxbridge.
We hear about global warming all the time, and have for years. Isn’t it time that the township finally takes a step forward to actually get people to stop using their cars, and clears the sidewalk. After all, they’re both meant to move people, the only difference is that the sidewalk does it with a lot less pollution.
An interesting Catch-22 has been facing both Scugog and Uxbridge Townships in recent years - the problem is, according to the Province of Ontario - these municipalities have too much money.
It’s a story that the media has heard far too often, the upper-tiers of government have cut back on funding to municipalities and less and less money is coming down from the higher levels of government to help cover local costs. Examples include solar energy retrofit projects and dwindling support for decaying infrastructure.
Both Scugog and Uxbridge Townships have remained hopeful, tightened their belts, and pursued grants and cost-sharing opportunities, offered by the Province and Federal government - only to be denied time and time again.
To add insult to injury, Scugog Township recently received a letter from Provincial grant authorities stating that they aren’t qualified for funding to fix their roads, because the Township ‘has too much money.’
In this day and age, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Problem economic sectors and bankrupt cities will see millions in federal booster monies, while the smart-spending municipalities seem left out in cold, because they can afford to enter into some debt.
Truthfully, there are rainy day funds tucked away in reserves, but increasing costs are forcing councillors to consider digging deep into money stashed away, hiking taxes, or leaving urgent infrastructure projects to crumble even further. There is no good option.
Scugog and Uxbridge could choose to bite the bullet, spend what cash they have on hand, and hopefully qualify for a grant once they don’t have any money of their own left - but is gambling on an approval really the best way to handle your tax dollars?
To the Editor,
I was very disappointed to read your Editorial in the Thursday, February 5 edition of The Standard (‘Speed up slowing down’).
The Highway Traffic Act, Section 179 regulates pedestrians using highways:
“Duties of pedestrian when walking along highway
179. (1) Where sidewalks are not provided on a highway, a pedestrian walking along the highway shall walk on the left side thereof facing oncoming traffic and, when walking along the roadway, shall walk as close to the left edge thereof as possible. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 179 (1).”
Unfortunately, this section only applies when there are no sidewalks! It needs to be amended. Pedestrians should be required to use sidewalks at all times.
Since moving to Port Perry 12 Years ago, I am amazed at the number of pedestrians who walk on the roadway even when there are sidewalks. Many of them also walk with their backs to the traffic, often two or three abreast. They seem to think that they have a right to use the roadway any way they want.
What we need is not lower speed limits (which are too low anyway) but better pedestrian education and police enforcement of this section.
Why is it that the car drivers are always the bad guys?
Alan B. Graham
With Ontario celebrating Family Day next week, this seems like an ideal time to shine the spotlight on those all-too-often spoiled family members, our pets.
In a great example of what can happen when the community rallies behind a great cause, the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog is expected to be up-and-running in the not-too-distant future, just a few short years after the idea was initially pitched to councillors by local animal lovers.
The current animal shelter has served the community well over the years, providing a home for countless animals and companionship for numerous local residents. But, the truth was, its replacement has been needed for quite some time, and that it continues to operate is a testament to its tremendous employees and volunteers.
Since 2011, Scugog and Uxbridge have shown their generosity time and time again, contributing nearly $800,000 to the cause. Uxbridge and Scugog may be rivals in a lot of areas, but in this endeavour, they are partners in every sense of the word, with each municipality pledging $240,000 towards the new facility. And the community has shown its support in nearly every way imaginable. Residents have offered donations through coin boxes, galas, concerts, golf tournaments, birthday parties, walkathons and other great events that brought the whole community together in a shared desire to provide a better home for the area’s wayward animals.
We hear often that North Durham is a great place to live, and it’s initiatives like the New Animal Shelter that show that it’s true.
To the Editor,
It was sad to read last week that the school board is looking at closing down Epsom Public School, another rural school bites the dust I suppose.
With all of these schools closing, whatever happened to the technical schools that used to exist where students were actually taught hands-on work?
I spent a lot of years working on farms, and the skills I learned at my vocational high school came in handy on a nearly daily basis.
It used to be that when students graduated from one of these schools, they came out with experience to get a decent job after they had graduated.
These were the same kind of in-demand jobs that the government is constantly promoting. How can the school board not see what’s happening out there? We need to get shops back in our schools so kids can get good jobs.
We should be getting back to more kids taking shop and working with their hands, especially on farms, instead of playing games. Hopefully one day someone in charge of education will wake up before we get a point where there’s no one left that knows how to turn a wrench unless it’s on an iPhone.
‘Moving at the speed of government’ is a phrase that’s often said when legislation suffers through seemingly endless delays.
However, one matter that the provincial government would be wise to quickly get moving is its consultations on allowing municipalities to possibly lower their standard local speed limits.
Lowering speed limits from 50 km/h to 40 km/h is a measure that could ultimately save lives, which has already been discussed for large portions of the town of Uxbridge, and municipalities across the province should have the right to set this limit where its wanted by the local residents.
According to the World Health Organization, pedestrians that are hit by a car or truck travelling at around 45 km/h have a 50 per cent chance of being killed. But, if you reduce the rate to a vehicle travelling 30 km/h or slower, the survival rate jumps to 90 per cent.
Additionally, giving local authorities the power to lower the speed limit will offer the best tool yet for curbing heavy truck traffic in urban areas, which has plagued parts of North Durham, most notably Uxbridge, for several decades with minimal results.
Not every situation is created equal, and that’s why Ontario should be applauded for consulting with municipalities about which traffic control option works best for them.
Of course, if it’s approved there will be a cost associated with the change, namely in potentially changing over thousands of speed limit signs across the province. But, it will be small potatoes when compared to the human lives this measure could potentially save.