To the Editor,
With the publication of the 2015 Sunshine List, and reports of the cost of local governments (Uxbridge council, for example, apparently cost taxpayers over $300,000 last year), it might be worth thinking about value of money, not just salaries.
Our local Councillors represent the public, which can mean phone calls late at night for awkward problems. They must maintain the financial integrity of the Township, which is a grave responsibility.
They must ensure policies and procedures are in place to accountably implement council decisions. They are paid, in the case of Brock and Scugog, less than $20,000 per year, of which a third is intended to be used in the performance of their duties, not as personal compensation. They have no desk, no office. A Regional council member, who is elected to two councils and thus receives two salaries, can make $90,000 and has similar duties at two levels of government. Mayors will, in addition, represent their municipality to the Province. A Regional Chief Administrative Officer, who is not elected but does have an office and an assistant, can make more than the total cost of Uxbridge council last year.
When taxpayers see large public salaries, we easily default to outrage, but local council surely merits the least criticism. Those Councillors who strengthen our community, strive for accountability, advocate for our concerns, answer our phone calls, and work long and irregular hours in our service deserve our sincere appreciation.
As citizens, our duty is to be engaged in our local government, and this can be achieved by attending council meetings to better understand the issues, and by voting for the people we feel are best qualified and motivated to represent us. If they fail us, let them know, and vote accordingly. If they serve us well, then the next time you’re at a council meeting, shake their hand and say thanks.
Ray and Sharon Smith
Conversations on the best mustard and ketchup company have been raging since Loblaws announced in the middle of March that they would not be stocking French’s Ketchup, only to reverse that decision a few days later.
That was a case where people had their say and the Ketchup and Mustard that everyone seems to love will continue to be shelved.
The conversation recently caught fire again, when restaurant chain A&W Canada endorsed the Ketchup on Tuesday, March 29 , saying they will serve it at all of their locations in the country.
Frankly this kind of conversation has gotten quite silly, being that one of the major conversations in our nation is about a condiment.
The definition of a condiment is something that adds flavour, so by that fact should this conversation not just be nothing more than a side note in national news.
Of course, this is not to discourage people who want to affect change and keep their favourites around. Everyone has a right to their own voice and to use it as they please. But with political decisions being made daily by all levels of government, the question remains how this type of conversation has exploded in the nation.
This sounds a lot like a publicity stunt for the company, and it has worked, drawing interest in the product and increasing sales of something that Loblaws said was waning in demand.
If people in a developing country, that hope for just a little food, knew that one of our bigger decisions was what type of Ketchup or Mustard we were using, they would most certainly scoff at us.
As many have likely seen is this week’s Standard, North Durham councils, most recently Uxbridge, have decided to look into on-line live streaming of council meetings.
This is a move that is overdue in these rural communities.
Live streaming is already a success in larger municipalities such as Oshawa and Whitby. Being in the age of technology., the devices to broadcast are more readily available.
This also will be a great move for transparency, first of all to media such as The Standard. Up to now, there has been no way to prove what was actually said at a council meeting, at times leading to claims from council members that their words have been mis-interpreted or they have been misquoted. This service will allow for a digital record of everything that was said or done at a meeting or session. Accuracy is always been a priotirty for The Standard and this will be another tool to help with that.
This should also speed up many meetings as councillors won’t have to spend too much time trying to figure out what was said or council’s actions at a previous meeting. They would also likely be even more careful in making sure their words could not be interpreted another way as they will be on the record.
For those people who cannot make it to a council meeting for whatever reason, live streaming would allow them to continue to keep track of the goings on of their local municipality without leaving the house. This could also get more people involved as well in local politics as the information will be at their fingertips.
Scugog and Uxbridge have often been behind the rest of the Region in technology efforts, which is why Scugog has recently invested themselves in efforts such as providing a better internet connection for residents. This is one way of catching up to the trend of emerging technology.
Luckily North Durham politicians have started to bring their municipalities into the 21st Century. Better late than never
To the Editor,
In your Feb. 18 edition of the Standard, you carried an article entitled “Debunking myths about aging.”
In that article, the author addresses the misperception that the elderly can not age well at home. In debunking this myth, he points out the various support systems that are available to Canadian seniors which help them to remain living independently as they 'age in place'. There is one additional option that seniors should know about – one that was not mentioned in this article.
For those seniors who would like to remain living independently within their own home, but find that the kind of home they currently live in makes that difficult, they should explore the option of moving into an Active Senior Lifestyle Community - such as Canterbury Common in Port Perry. These communities are designed with seniors in mind. Most homes are bungalows and depending on the community, will deliver various levels of support for lawn maintenance and snow removal. These communities are generally designed around a community center where all types of social activities are held – activities which encourage socialization, fitness and intellectual stimulation. The members of these communities tend to look out for one-another, an important support system which further helps these seniors continue 'living in place'. This option is one that many of the baby-boomers who are now thinking about retirement should consider. This option will help them continue to live an active and socially engaged lifestyle for years to come.
As noted above, Scugog has an Active Adult Lifestyle community – Canterbury Common. This community was built with a golf course fully integrated into its fabric. The golf course provided the retirees of this community with a great option for exercising during the spring, summer and fall months. Unfortunately, this golf course has been sold to a developer who intends on tearing it up and building houses on it. According to the Planner engaged by the Canterbury Common's community, the current plan of subdivision filed by the developer is not in keeping with the nature or design of the existing community.
Given the the clear differences between the proposed new development and the current community, I am very concerned that this development will tear apart the fabric of Canterbury Common, making it less attractive to the next wave of seniors. As fewer seniors move in to this community, the demographic of the house owners will shift and it could quickly cease to exist as a fully functioning Active Adult Lifestyle community. If this were to happen, then Scugog will have lost an important option for the future seniors of this region.
Citizens of Durham who feel that they would like to live in a vibrant senior community, where there are a myriad of things to do with people the same age and with similar interests, should let their councillors know that protecting this kind of community is in everyone's best interests.
David Thompson, Port Perry
The Standard was on hand for the unveiling of the Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Sharpe monument at the Uxbridge Public Library last Thursday.
The touching ceremony featured speeches from various prominent members of the community. Former Minister of Veterans Affairs and current MP Erin O’Toole, who spearheaded the movement to have a monument erected was on hand to remind the public why remembering the life and legacy of Sam Sharpe is so important in today’s age.
Lt.Col. Sam Sharpe fought at Vimy Ridge, Avion and later Passchendaele, all while serving as the MP for Uxbridge. Sam Sharpe suffered from what we know today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and jumped from his hospital room window to his death in May of 1918.
Today, Sam Sharpe would have been diagnosed and helped with his PTSD.
Thousands of soldiers here in Canada and the United States come home with horrible mental injuries that we just now are coming to terms with and treating properly.
This monument is a lasting reminder of the ongoing struggle to end the stigma surrounding mental health, but will also be a comforting reminder to anyone suffering from occupational stress, that we have come a long way since Sam Sharpe took his own life.
When Members of Parliament walk by the monument, it will serve to remind them to continue fighting for those that suffer from injuries not seen.
To the Editor,
Re: Letter to the Editor Feb. 25
David Foster, I understand the spirit of your letter to the Editor on Feb. 25, but your connection between "basic math" and "proper nourishment" still needs some more work. Regardless, it is clear you are disturbed about a possible future with the "Port" becoming a " bedroom community" which results from what you describe as a "loss of local control". You add Port Perry could slide into an abyss and be "like Brooklin or Stouffville, a hideous car-based place of strangers". Now that is stating the situation in a somewhat over-the-top manner for Brooklin-Stouffville.
If I also may work off your description, Victoria County is certainly not "a hideous car-based place of strangers". No sir, Lindsay, now City of Kawartha Lakes, is not crowded. The descendants of the Lindsay-based Family Compact descendants ran us into the ground with greed, incompetence and a political mill rate increase over the decades of just two per cent. Most high school grads leave here, with few to return. A "car-based" influx would be a godsend. At present, one can easily park downtown, so we haven't yet seen the "stagnation and death" which you forecast.
David Foster, be careful with your wishes that the "Port" not experience industrial-commercial growth.
Change, I understand can hurt; but so can generations of our no changes-needed Municipal, County and Provincial politicians and local bureaucrats who since the turn of the century have ground many valid proposals for Lindsay development into the ground.
Normally, an incident such as a child going missing has a way of uniting communities to act. But this time when an amber alert was broadcasted across radio and television platforms this past Sunday about a child potentially being taken in Orillia people complained about it interrupting their regularly scheduled television programming.
According to Durham Police, there were about 60 to 70 9-1-1 calls to complain about the alert. Nationally, The Ontario Provincial Police fielded many similar calls.
Not only were people tying up a very important emergency line, but more disturbingly they were showing how much they just don’t care.
Yes, don’t mind that there was a child that potentially could have needed people’s help, please worry instead that you may miss a bit of Downton Abby.
Of course, it did end up to be a false alarm, the boy was found safe with his father. But people didn’t know that at the time. What if it was a real emergency? Most of all though, if it was their child it most likely would be an entirely different story.
Part of the human experience is empathy, putting yourself in the shoes of someone like the child’s parents and imagining the fear that they might have been feeling at the time. But instead, this time humanity hit an all time low.
Orillia O.P.P. Inspector Patrick Morris said he won’t apologize for using “all of the tools available” to help locate a missing child and he shouldn’t apologize because they did the right thing. Even if it was a false alarm, this shows that the O.P.P. took all precautions in this very serious situation. You shouldn’t have to say ‘sorry a potential emergency inconvenienced your life.’
This was the first time that this type of technology has been used, and it is a good thing that it has the range to alert everyone of a potential emergency.. Next time, these people should show some empathy, because the next emergency could be closer to home, and at that time they will need the police’s help.
Reader reminds all Canadians to make sure to check the expiry date on their provincial driver’s license
To the Editor,
On Thursday, Feb. 18 I was followed by a police vehicle from the Curling Club corner in Port Perry. Needless to say, I didn’t speed.
I expected it to turn off several times but how surprised was I when it pulled into my driveway behind me. A pleasant officer emerged and announced that I was driving with an expired licence...since March, 2015.
I was also told that had I been stopped for an infraction, road-side, I could have been penalized $350 and lose points. It remains unclear why my plate was “run” but I’m very grateful for such a courteous gesture. No longer does our darling Government send a friendly reminder to get your picture taken.
Let’s see...Debit $1 for a stamp OR credit $350 for a fine?
Tough Decision! Please check the expiry date of your driver’s licence.
Hidden deep in this year’s Ontario budget is funding to explore a basic income guarantee (BIG) pilot program.
This is really interesting. Current social assistance programs are bloated and create barriers for people looking to get back into the workplace. Is this pilot project worth looking into? Let’s look at some of the positives:
The shift from full-time to part-time jobs in Ontario is a reality for many people employed in Ontario. Part-time work is often not enough to cover basic needs. A BIG would help fill that gap without having to go through the many hurdles currently in place for income assistance. The same would apply to people in between jobs.
Also, healthcare funding is the single biggest expense for any province, eating up a massive 40 percent of the Ontario budget. Poverty is the biggest determinant of health. A basic income guarantee is proven to send less people to hospitals.
Manitoba tried a similar project in the 1970’s known as the Mincome project. The Mincome data showed that under a BIG, hospital visits dropped by 8.5 per cent.
Many people believe a basic income would have a negative impact on the labour market. Simply, no one would want to go out and find a job. Mincome data also shows that this is false.
The only people choosing to stay home were mothers with infants at home, basically paying for maternity leave. This is no longer an issue due maternity leave benefits. The other group that chose not to work were teenage boys. Instead, young males were found to stay in school until graduation instead of dropping out to find work.
Of course, many things have changed in Canada since the 1970’s so it would be interesting to see what kind of data this pilot project produces.
With the Liberals looking to restrain spending in the coming years to finally balance the budget, a streamlined basic income system that eliminates current social assistance programs may just save the province a lot of money it is currently throwing away.
Too good to be true? Let’s wait and see if the government can get it right this time around.