Mail bag: Sept. 3, 2020

‘The GTA dream’

Dear Editor:

It was 6am ton Aug. 27 when the tintinnabulation of heavy equipment beeping and moaning outside began.

What better time than during a travel-banned summer of home social isolation for the county to green light a big housing project on River Road in Elora that will close the road for a quarter of the year while providing the existing residents of our soon-to-be not small town with a never ending industrial soundtrack. Thank you, local officials, for your consideration.

What do we get out of this short-term inconvenience? Long-term inconvenience as hundreds more former GTA residents fill our streets with their selfish driving habits. Where will they go? Into their detached (because you can fit a piece of paper between them) GTA-style 3,000 square foot houses with postage stamp sized backyards. Don’t expect to see them outside, that isn’t the lifestyle this Borg-style housing encourages.

Stuff more people into less space, to hell with the community aesthetic. The same box stores you see across Toronto can’t be far behind, then we too can live the GTA dream. It’s like watching a cancer metastasize, and our body politic encourages it!

At least we’ll have more infrastructure to handle this influx with, right? New roads? No, we won’t because there are none. Just more people stuffed onto the same old, crumbling infrastructure.

I look forward to my taxes going up again anyway. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate no notice and months, and then years, of inconvenience because a private company wants to line its own pockets at everyone else’s expense.

Livability in our community? No more coffee on the porch in the morning for me in 2020, unless I bring ear protectors.

Tim King,



Dear Editor:
RE: Different scopes, Aug. 27.

Centre Wellington councillor Van Leeuwen is correct: at its November 2019 meeting the Centre Wellington Heritage Committee (CWHC) did not offer an opinion about the Heritage Impact Assessment.

The assessment was deeply flawed because it justified demolition based on projected future maintenance costs. That cannot be a deciding factor when considering the retention versus replacement options. Van Leeuwen seems confused about CWHC’s concern. The concern was not about finances. It was about faulty methodology – i.e., lack of due process.

Van Leeuwen said that a “second round of [council] discussions happened because council and staff respect the work that is done by all committees and felt it was appropriate to engage with the bridge report a second time.”

Perhaps he needs to refresh his memory by watching the June 29 council meeting video. The second discussion happened because CWHC voted to recommend designation. However, what Van Leeuwen doesn’t say is that at the meeting, CWHC recommended deferring a vote on designation to allow the consultation that should have taken place as required by the EA process. Council rejected CWHC’s suggestion. How does that show respect of CWHC’s work or a willingness to reopen discussion?

Van Leeuwen says he’s disappointed that the township is facing a Part II order request. So am I. In December, I wrote to staff expressing concerns. The EA process says that concerns should be resolved through dialogue. Instead of discussion, I got a letter essentially telling me to go away. There was no dialogue.

Van Leeuwen’s disappointment would be better placed if directed at staff. By not being open to dialogue as provided by the EA process, township staff left me no option but to request a Part II order, which is what the process requires. The councillor speculates as to costs and delay caused by the Part II request. If there are costs or delays, the township caused them.

Council is required to consult with its heritage committee on matters of heritage. All the praise that council showers on its volunteers rings hollow if the committee is not allowed to do its job to ensure the heritage process is followed. Without hearing CWHC’s advice, council’s “fulsome” discussions about heritage attributes are a meaningless waste of time.

It is unfortunate that the residents who use the bridges continue to use them in disrepair. Heritage bridges must not be allowed to deteriorate to a state where rehabilitation becomes prohibitive. Necessary maintenance and repair actions were not carried out on these bridges. Why not?

I do appreciate that Van Leeuwen has shown more willingness to have discourse on heritage issues through your newspaper than at any other time in my dealings with him.

However, when he shifts blame for a failed process onto a concerned resident who is trying to hold council and staff accountable, that’s reprehensible.

Jean Gerrard,


Poor ‘pronouncements’

Dear Editor:
RE: Let’s work together, Aug. 27.

As we embark on a new school year, students, parents, teachers and all educational workers have legitimate concerns regarding health and safety.

It was therefore very disappointing to read the publisher’s editorial of Aug. 27. Citing tweets on social media is hardly a credible source of information when it comes to the realities of opening the schools.

An elementary teacher I know went into his classroom to arrange his desks to follow the two-metre guidelines. He could fit in only five desks; he is teaching 28 students. Physical distancing is the highest priority cited by the Sick Kids report, and is certainly top of mind for parents and teachers. It will be the school – teachers, educational assistants, ECEs, admin, secretaries and custodians – that will be doing their very best to keep everyone safe.

Those who make pronouncements without the experience of working in education (much different than simply attending school) should be grateful for the dedication of the past spring and what you will witness in the coming months.

Ninety per cent of families have chosen to send their kids back to school. That is a serious trust. Like all our esteemed frontline workers, the adults in the schools are more at risk than their students. COVID-19 has not gone away. Until there is a reliable vaccine, nothing has changed about this pandemic. Our only defences are barriers.

Masks up, everyone. Stay safe. Welcome back.

Kelly Janzen,



Dear Editor:
RE: Local man collects trash to help clean up parks, ditches, Aug. 27.

Save Our Water wants to protect local water and to support Tyler Bowley’s clean up efforts in Centre Wellington. Our community sees his efforts as an inspiration and Tyler as a proactive role model.

We are appreciative of his time, effort and example. We know the dangers of plastic pollution to our rivers and streams.
Let’s help him out.

When I talked to him, he said a one day clean up is not good enough. We need an ongoing, make it a “way of life,” conscious-of-our-environment effort. Good approach!

So get on board. When you go for a walk, take a pair of gloves and a container and pick up what thoughtless folks have carelessly thrown away. Make it a habit. Or take an hour or two each week to clean up your neighbourhood, local parks, streets or roadways.

Challenge your family, your neighbours and friends to see what you can find. Anyone can get involved! This simple everyday action can make all the difference locally.

Take a picture of what you have found, post it and tag #CleaningUpCW to get shared on social media. Let us see what we all can gather, recycle, or get into the trash can before the snow flies to keep our community and our waterways safer and cleaner.

Donna McCaw,


Where to begin?

Dear Editor:

Without any doubt, the first and foremost concern regarding the opening of our educational institutions must be the health and safety of all students. That has been the solitary theme in the world of the media since the reopening was first announced, and so it should be.

Just what do we expect from this institution? Is it merely a setting for social interaction for children and their friends? Is it simply an alternative to the boredom brought on by X-Box or Playstation? Is it a place where parents can pack off the kids so they can get on with their own workday lives?

Or is it a place for actual learning; learning basic attitudes, skills, and background knowledge required in their own future lives?

With the latter in mind, a simple question arises for the September teacher: where to begin? The closure of schools in March wiped out a significant part of the previous year’s skill requirements.

Lest we forget, prior to that, the students and parents had to endure withdrawal of services, rotating strikes, incomplete reporting of progress, work-to-rule campaigns, etc. To say last year’s academic learning was a write-off is a vast understatement. Nevertheless, onward and upward!

Which brings us to now; again to re-iterate the question, where does the September learning begin?

We are basically asking students with a Grade 7 skill base to dial into concepts and skills in Grade 9. We are asking those with a Grade 11 knowledge base to begin college and university courses. The same scenario plays out for every grade level. Does the classroom teacher start where his/her course outline dictates? How can that even be possible given the following examples?

How can we expect a Grade 9 French language teacher to carry on without Grade 8 vocabulary being taught? How can we expect a history teacher to teach 20th century events with no knowledge base from the previous century? How can we expect a child to understand Euclidean geometry without first understanding characteristics of basic geometric shapes?

One answer is fairly simple: standardized tests for assessment and placement followed by learning modules, and individualized progress. Perhaps the age of placement based on age, and an education system based originally on the seasonal needs of the farming community are over. Perhaps the role of the classroom teacher must be altered to reflect a new reality.

Current EQAO standardized tests (Grade 3, 6 and 9) highlight shortcomings in today’s education system. Maybe these should be addressed before suggesting more radical solutions to education, but with less than a week, where do we begin?

Ron Johnson,
Mount Forest


Unwanted ‘drop-offs’

Dear Editor:
RE: Local man collects trash to help clean up parks, ditches, Aug. 27.

I was enthused to hear of Tyler Bowley’s project to collect roadside litter in Centre Wellington.

For the past 20 years we have tried to keep up with the “drop-offs” that arrive weekly in the provincially significant wetland and coldwater stream that forms a dip in the road in front of our farm.

It is bewildering that some folks have a pernicious habit of discarding their cups, cans and food packages into the same space as showy lady’s slipper orchids and other beauties of nature.

Litterers beware! We’re building a profile of a particular offender whose same blend-marked Tim Hortons cups show up every week, year round.

It would be appreciated if the local producers of all this unrecycled waste would offer to pay for “no litter” signs to help protect our beautiful roadsides from some of their customers’ bad habits.

Jim Dougan,
RR2 Alma


Ode to library staff

Dear Editor:

The following is a poem dedicated to the staff in the Wellington County library system.

I wish to sing your praises
To thank each one of you
For your kindness and efficiency
In everything you do.

You’ve always been this way
But the recent months, have shown
You’ve exceeded our expectations,
And appreciation for you has grown.

The faces of our library,
You became “beacons in the dark.”
With curbside pick-up and on-line service
“You hit it right out of the park.”

For readers like myself,
Books can be refuge from the storm.
As the pandemic blew around us
Reading continued to be the norm.

With life around us changing,
We got to know you all by name.
And the joy of a book to hold and read
You ensured it remained the same.

Thank you for a “job well done.”

Janet Murphy,
Wellington North


Duplicate flyers?

Dear Editor:

For a long time now residents of Elora/Fergus/WhoKnowsWhere have been receiving two bundles of advertising flyers every week – one containing the Wellington Advertiser paper that you are reading right now. It’s only been recently that both bundles started appearing on our driveway on the same day.

That raised my awareness to question: how many duplicate flyers do we really need?
For example, today’s plastic delivery bags both contained flyers for: Staples, Canadian Tire (and two copies of the Canadian Tire “Tool Guide”), Home Hardware, TSC, Tootsies, as well as two copies of the Guelph “Course Guide Fall 2020”, and many more individual single copy flyers.

The total weight of those flyers came to 1.86 pounds (that’s 700 grams for those who bought into the metric system) – not including the newspaper itself – delivered to each household; and then, delivered to the landfill garbage dump unread.

Well, okay, we all read the Advertiser – you’re reading it right now (I meant all the other stuff).

I am by no means a tree hugging, conservationist; indeed, I will admit to coining the expression “green makes me puke” many years ago. However, I know stupid when I see it. My answer to my question is: one copy. The tree hugger’s answer to that question might be none.

Brian Cameron,


‘Hollow’ calls

Dear Editor:

Currently we are hearing wails from the opposition in Ottawa demanding that the prime minister resign.

The Conservatives also have accused the Liberals of plotting a snap election for this fall. You can’t have it both ways.

Back in the 1960s the prime minister could be voted out by the caucus. Since then the Prime Minister’s Office has accumulated so much power that the PM is a virtual dictator between elections. The issue is power without accountability.

England and Australia maintained caucus strength, avoiding the Canadian changes.

As the Conservatives do not want an election at this time, all the calls for the PM to resign ring hollow in light of the known reality.

Chris Woode,



Dear Editor:
RE: Entitlement, Aug. 27.

Yes, I will exercise my right to protect my personal information despite the disapproval of Cinda Martin, Judy Wiebe and various bar owners.

Now, in this COVID moment, which dismisses your physician and is devoid of scientific evidence, politics writes your prescription: contact tracing! Contact tracing is not medical treatment. It is an Orwellian tool serving to identify you, where you go, who you’re with and what you’re doing.

And no, my husband and I did not go to this pub “because it met health and safety standards.” We assumed this. We went because they served cold beer on a shady patio on a very hot day.

Doreen Henschel,