Today’s letters: It’s time to reopen Wellington, Canada’s main street

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We don’t need to keep Wellington Street closed

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Re: Why are we closing Wellington for the rest of the year? March 29.

Well done, Kelly Egan. The continued closure of a major thoroughfare is a major inconvenience.

Yes, it makes sense to review the status of Wellington Street, and proposals have been put forward from various perspectives. But we all know that it will take ages to come up with a plan, especially with federal, provincial, municipal, various interest groups and public consultation involved.

In recent times, when threats have been perceived, the frequent response has been to use a sledge hammer to crack a walnut. In this case, a months-long closure of the street is overkill. The barriers will dissuade people from using the road even on foot, but the parliamentary area should be accessible, and be seen to be accessible, to all. Canada is a democracy, isn’t it?

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I would also hope that the police have now developed at least a temporary plan to prevent any potential repeat of the debacle that was the “freedom convoy” or its imitators.

Instead of inconveniencing the public while various levels of government deliberate, please open the darned road.

Eileen Johnson, Blackburn Hamlet

Closing Wellington creates senseless bottleneck

Mayor Jim Watson, you may be well-intentioned, but, in keeping Wellington Street closed, council is punishing the people of Ottawa. You are using us as pawns in your power play with the federal government over policing and security in the parliamentary precinct. We suffered enough during the truckers’ occupation. Now, we need you to support us.

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In building the light-rail system, you cleared up massive traffic bottlenecks on Albert and Slater streets, and on the Mackenzie Bridge. In closing Wellington, you have created a new, senseless bottleneck downtown. It is time to open up Wellington Street to law-abiding Ottawans and Canadians. It is time to let us move freely on Canada’s main street.

Carrie Zatychec, Nepean

Don’t just keep throwing up roadblocks

Kelly Egan is correct. One would hope, at this point, that there would be sufficient advance intelligence to provide adequate time to close off Wellington Street again if need be.

Let’s be realistic: the Ottawa Police were outsmarted by the protesters when it came to securing the Queensway off-ramps to downtown. The convoy trucks were not dropped from a drone and the organizers’ intentions were known in advance.

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Work smarter. Don’t throw up road closures at every hint of a disruption that could have been avoided in the first place.

D.G. Ferguson, Pakenham

Ottawa gets its few minutes of fame

While standing on the beach to see the sunrise at Hilton Head S.C. recently, I exchanged pleasantries with another sunrise watcher. He said he was from Detroit and I said I was from Ottawa, thinking he would ask where that was. “Oh,” he said. “Are you a trucker?” We’re famous.

James Dale, Ottawa

So much for diversity on the police board

Re: Province names three new appointees to Ottawa Police Services Board, March 25.

So we now have three new Ottawa Police Services Board members appointed by the province. Looking at the makeup of the board from a diversity perspective, it seems there is a disconnect with the community the board is supposed to represent.

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Edward Farnworth, Ottawa

Police board has a gender deficit

The Ontario government has appointed three men to the Ottawa Police Services Board. That makes five men on a seven-person board.

It is 2022, isn’t it?

Hunter McGill, Ottawa

How about returning that surplus to property owners?

Re: City posts $52.2M surplus in 2021, helps police find money to offset $8M deficit, March 28.

The City of Ottawa has a $52-million surplus. Where did that money come from? It came from city property owners. Where should that money go? Back to the people who were forced to overpay. When I overpay the federal government, where does that money go? It comes back to me when I do my income tax.

D.J. Phillips, Gloucester

East-end road plan is expensive overkill 

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Re: City hopes dealmaking strategy for LRT can convince NCC to unlock greenbelt for east-end road, March 28.

The city is proposing to build a four-lane road near the Mer Bleue bog, along with two bus-only lanes. This plan is costly and overkill.

First, there is only ever traffic in one direction at a time on Innes Road: towards Ottawa and Blair Station in the morning, and away from them in the evening. Reversible lanes, like on the Champlain Bridge, should be preferred. This would halve the number of lanes but have the same effect on traffic.

Second, since only a single reversible bus lane is needed, it can go from Brian Coburn Boulevard along Navan Road to the Innes Bypass, down the middle of the Bypass to Blair Road, then along Blair to Meadowbrook. Buses would drop off and pick up passengers at the south end of the Blair Station pedestrian walkway over Highway 174. This would avoid the cost of having to widen the 174 overpass.

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Furthermore, the reason there is traffic on Innes is because both Highway 174 and Highway 417 are at capacity, not because the Innes Bypass only has two lanes in each direction. Motorists need to be diverted southward to another east-west road to alleviate traffic at the 174/417 split. Only then can traffic on Innes be reduced.

Norm Vinson, Ottawa

Widening roads isn’t a long-term solution

Hopefully the main goal for choosing the expansion of Bus Rapid Transit from Brian Coburn Boulevard would be to encourage people to take public transit. Widening roads reduces congestion for a very short period of time only, and results in more people driving.

The option the city is proposing takes the bus rapid transit away from Blackburn Hamlet, instead of it running along the Blackburn Hamlet Bypass, closer to homes, making it easier for people to walk or cycle to the BRT. As we have seen in past decisions on light rail, the cheapest option may not be the best in the long run.

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Nancy Biggs, Orléans

National Historic Site should be protected

Re: A historic garden at the Central Experimental Farm is about to be replaced by new Civic hospital’s parking lot, March 21.

So, another slice of our beloved Arboretum at the Central Experimental Farm is to be razed for a paved parking lot. Never mind that it is a National Historic Site, protected by heritage legislation.

In the late 1960s, Joni Mitchell wrote a song with the words, “They paved Paradise. Put up a parking lot.” Half a century later we still haven’t got the message, despite increasing alarm about climate change and the recognition that mature trees help combat carbon emissions.

How did this happen? How did Canadian Heritage, a government department entrusted with the protection of our National Historic Sites, overrule the NCC’s recommendation, based on public consultation and numerous studies, to put the new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital at Tunney’s Pasture?

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The rule of law in Canada is discretionary, it would seem. Be warned, all National Historic Sites, a convoy of concrete mixers dispatched by Canadian Heritage may be rolling your way.

Is it really too late to respect the integrity of the entire National Historic Site as designated? Could it happen to England’s Kew Gardens, the Royal Gardens of Versailles, New York’s Central Park? Would a new government restore and respect the integrity of our heritage laws? Couldn’t we pause now for sober second thought?

Jean Palmer, Ottawa (member of the Heritage Ottawa committee that first proposed National Designation for the Central Experimental Farm in 1994)

Raymond V. Hession, Ottawa (former chair of the Board of Governors, Ottawa Hospital)

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Hospital executive salaries are well worth it

Re: Ottawa Hospital CEO tops sunshine list in Ottawa, March 28.

When the Ontario Sunshine List was established in 1996, the minimum cut-off for this list of public sector wages was set at $100,000. In 2021, 25 years later, the annual average of the national CPI, as a measure of inflation, was about 59 per cent higher than the annual average in 1996. Thus, to provide a Sunshine list, on a comparable purchasing power basis, the criterion in 2021 should be about $159,000; and it should be adjusted each year for the annual increase in the CPI (either national or provincial).

Management guru Peter Drucker once stated that he thought hospitals were the most complex organizations to manage. On that basis, the salaries and benefits of hospital CEOs are a bargain compared to the salaries of CEOS in the private sector.

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Richard Zuker, Ottawa

Apparently nurses’ salaries don’t matter

The recently published “Sunshine list” indicates that 54 per cent of the six-figure earners locally were working at the Ottawa Police Services, Ottawa Fire Services or Ottawa Paramedic Services. Meanwhile, nurses are constrained by Bill 124 since 2019 to a salary increase of one per cent, not even the cost of living.

I guess this is how Premier Doug Ford appreciates his front-line “heroes.” Is it because nursing is a female dominated profession? Just asking.

Pamela Sheehan, RN, Ottawa

Endometriosis is an elusive foe

Re: Ottawa patients, surgeon call for national endometriosis strategy, March 28.

Thank you for this article. More than 50 years ago, I started my search for answers to my infertility and also for what one of my doctors termed a nervous gut  (“If you weren’t so upset about it, it would go away”).

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I saw doctors at Mount Sinai, The Royal Vic, and at British hospitals, but it was only when we returned to live in Ottawa and I saw Dr. Elaine Jolly that she listened to my entire story and connected the pieces. I didn’t have painful periods, I wasn’t irregular, I didn’t bleed heavily but I did have agonizing bowel cramps the night before and morning of my periods and I couldn’t conceive.

Tests showed her hunch was correct. Surgeries followed to remove some of the damage from the endometriosis and when I was no longer dying to conceive (we had adopted two wonderful children by then), I had that surprise announcement: you’re eight weeks pregnant. Post partum, they also discovered lactose intolerance and the final ghosts of my “over-active imagination” were swept away.

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So often women are poorly treated because their doctors haven’t suffered from feminine issues. As pediatrician Dr. Sylvia Lin would say, “If God were a woman, we would not have been built this way.”

Susan Prior, Carp (blessed with four children and some really super doctors)

Joining the military isn’t just a matter of money

Re: Joining Canada’s military is no longer a ‘passport to poverty,’ March 29.

While the pay scale for serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces may be competitive with some civilian occupations, there is more to enticing recruits and retaining CF members than money.

With 68,000 regular force and 27,000 reserves, there have been accounts of how the forces are suffering from a lack of sailors to crew ships, and training shortfalls for pilots. The question is “Why?”

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Decades of government funding cuts and personnel reductions have left the forces pared to the bone, having to do more with less. On top of this, there has been a decades-long marketing scheme to brand the Canadian Armed Forces as a peacekeeping or disaster relief force rather than a professional military trained to engage in armed combat.

Add to this a country where a very small percentage have ever served in the military and a public blissfully unaware that Canada even has a military and you have perhaps the “perfect storm” with respect to a lack of potential candidates walking into recruiting centres. The military has attempted to entice new recruits by changing the navy ranks to non-gender specific names and by rewriting the dress instructions, but these are just cosmetic solutions to a problem that is much deeper.

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The Canadian Armed Forces really needs to seriously look at personnel management, from recruiting to retirement, and be prepared to make changes. Things such as the length of time it takes to process a potential recruit before joining the military (it can take upwards to a year) must certainly affect how many people enlist. But there are other factors once a person is in uniform, such as the training and educational opportunities available during a military career, how that career is managed, and what milestones a person can expect to achieve.

Job satisfaction and working conditions are also factors but there also needs to be better awareness of retirement benefits and more than just government platitudes that service-related injures will be looked after once a person has put away their uniform.

Ed Storey, Nepean

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