The “California stop,” two-wheel-style

As I read John Swart’s contribution last week, “Understanding the true value of rural Pelham” [The Balanced Life, Aug. 31, p.22], I could not help but laugh. Mr. Swart was upset that an old Chrysler van blew through a four-way stop, stopping him and two motorists in their tracks. I have lived in rural Thorold (yes, Thorold has a rural area) all of my life, and for years have seen hundreds of cyclists blow through stop signs, causing myself and others (quite often while driving large farm equipment) to stop in our tracks. I have heard numerous reasons why cyclists do not stop. I keep looking to see if there is a notation on a stop sign that states “Everyone STOP except for cyclists.” Perhaps when cyclists purchase their helmets and bike shorts they are given a letter that says “Now you can blow through stop signs.”

I wonder if Mr. Swart stopped at all stop signs he encountered on his ride through the countryside?

Jim Yungblut


But sometimes the exit ramps are so tempting…

Recently, in a small town cafe on the other side of the river, I leafed through their local weekly paper. The first page mentioned some local event or another. After that, it was page after page of generic newsfeed content. There was no detailed, pointed coverage of the local town meetings. There was no mention of the local athletes, the new Town Hall employees, nor any coverage of local land planning issues.

Local reporting is an important component of a healthy community. It’s generally undervalued, easily substituted and—hopefully— never the most interesting news of the day. While the latest Trump or Putin exploit will always dominate the lunch table conversation, local land-use designations, bylaw updates and town politics are just as likely to have a direct impact on our lives. In short, local reporting is damned important stuff.

I’m guessing that there are a myriad of ready-made news services that would love to make an editor’s life much easier, and perhaps even less expensive. I wonder how much effort it takes for the Voice to stay committed to what appears to be the harder road.

So, I am writing to say how grateful I am to live in a town that still has a local publication with local reporting. It seems even Town Councillors don’t want to be at Town meetings, so I am very glad that I can read the highlights over my morning coffee and stay at least somewhat in-the-know. Thanks, and please keep to the hard road.

Thom Hounsell

Applauds CCC

Congratulations are in order for the Cannabis Control Committee (CCC) for the important role it played in the long and difficult task to lay the groundwork for the regulation of the cannabis growing industry in Pelham. The Ontario Land Tribunal has ruled in favour of the work that the CCC has done on Pelham’s behalf and rejected the growers’ appeal.

There is no question in my mind that we would not be in the place we are in today without the CCC. The members of this committee have made a difference and I know that the residents of Pelham will be forever in your debt. I suspect other Ontario municipalities may profit from your work. I would like to thank as well the Chair of the CCC, Tim Nohara, for his skillful and dedicated leadership, and Pelham Town Council for its support of the committee.

One final thought… The Cannabis Control Committee for “Citizen of the Year”?

Tillie Clapp


Scientists still have souls

David Fowler concludes in his letter last week that science and a biblical perspective don’t fit. But lacking in laureate credentials means he too relies on faith for a belief system— faith in experts. Consider the biblical presupposition that God, intelligent designer, made “heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them.” Christians credit their origins to the originator of nature and the sciences. No affront to the soul takes place in studying and revering the attributes of science.

Fowler’s mention of DNA got me thinking about Francis Collins, one of the preeminent geneticists in the world. He helped complete groundbreaking research into human DNA and gene sequences as a leader of the Human Genome Project. This Christian scientist was a Nobel laureate. Internet searching reveals many.

Janet Gritter


Human micro-evolution

Pastor Weatherby outlines the difference between biological micro-evolution and biological macro-evolution [Avoiding the E-words, Faith Lift, Aug. 24, p.19]. He acknowledges that Darwin and other scientists have convincingly demonstrated that micro- evolution occurs through gradual change within a species in response to environmental changes that endangers its survival. Pastor Weatherby states that “micro-evolution is a fact and not a theory.”

However, Pastor Weatherby challenges the significance of biological macro-evolution. In particular as it applies to the origin of humans. He describes macro –evolution as a process in which “single-cell organisms became more complex forms, which eventually changed into fish, which morphed into amphibians and reptiles, which then evolved into birds and mammals which finally produced the first primitive humans.”

This is a process which occurred over billions of years. As a result there are gaps in this narrative which Pastor Weatherby describes as “faith leaps.” He employs gaps in the narrative to insert the creation story, “God exists and created the universe which includes you. He made you in his image.”

It may be difficult, at present, to fully document the macro-evolution of humans. However there is ample, irrefutable evidence demonstrating the micro-evolution of humans. The fossil record indicates that the earliest known members of our species, Homo sapiens, inhabited Africa about 195,000 years ago. They began migrating from Africa to Europe and Asia about 80,000 years ago. Movement into different and colder environments triggered evolutionary adaptation to new circumstances. As a consequence of these evolutionary adaptations, the species Homo sapiens now includes populations that differ significantly in appearance (Black, brown, white, European, Asian, etc.).

The classic example of micro – evolutionary adaptation is the loss of skin pigmentation as Homo sapiens migrated from Africa to less sunny locations. The pigment protects the skin from too much sun.

Clearly, not all are made “in his image.”

Alan Bown


Border chaos

On a recent Saturday afternoon I crossed the Lewiston border into the US at 4:30 PM and noticed a mile-long line of traffic waiting to get into Canada. When I returned at 10 PM the line was still backed up on the 190 northbound. After two hours of idling I made it to the border agent’s booth. Why? Two out of 13 booths were open.

According the Buffalo news article I read with comments from the President of the Niagara Region bridge authority, this is a result of staff being on holidays at the same time. Someone negotiated a labour contract that allows employees to take two weeks a year of vacation in July and August. Rainbow and Fort Erie also saw long delays. The government website reporting wait times is clearly inaccurate, suggesting 45 minutes.

This is a disgrace for Canada and ruinous for our economy as it struggles to deal with a self-induced recession. The public safety minister responsible for this fiasco also has his hand in the airport mess that also tarnishes our reputation and hurts our economy.

This minister needs to roll up his shirtsleeves and fix this mess. A new management team that works the agent booths when staff are on holiday or call in sick is one solution. What responsible manager lets all staff take holidays at the same peak time for holiday travel?

This is not a Covid issue— it’s just bad or absent management starting at the top

Alan Morgan


Sailing, sailing away

The iconic red sailboat on Rice Road has finally sailed on— the recent sale of the property has triggered a clean up. A wave of development in the Niagara area has sunk this ship, giving way to new homes soon to be replacing it.

As the old saying goes, Bin there, Done that!

Tim Milenkoff


This neighbourhood stinks

We have been in heatwave all summer long with our windows closed and our AC units on.

The first break in the heat and we can open the windows and air out the house, but wait, the idiot neighbor thinks it’s a great time to start a nice little fire in the backyard.

Yes, he’s got his permit to burn from the Town, so it’s okay to light-up. What about your neighborhood? Do you think smoke that you create from your nice little burn in the backyard stops at your property line? This town has a canopy of trees along the trail system that stops the smoke from going anywhere but into your neighbour’s open windows. The fire department has better things to do than chase after smoke complaints. Please have just a little bit consideration for your neighborhood before you light-up! If I were to walk into a public building with a lit cigarette there would outrage. I can’t move my home out of the smoke!

Mark Tustin


Adamson’s behaviour disappoints

On several occasions this week I have passed Mayor Junkin’s campaign office in downtown Fonthill, and every single time I have seen his opponent Frank Adamson’s car parked directly in front, with a large sign in the back window for Adamson.

This is childish behaviour at its worst. We have just endured four years of such petty conduct from the Gang of Four. We do not need to elect anyone else to office who would engage in this spiteful nonsense.

Mr. Adamson, you have shown me who you are and you have lost my vote, even if you do move your damned car like a decent person.

Roger Anderson


Wish-list for mental health initiative

A few months ago the City of Niagara Falls and the City of Thorold declared a state of emergency on mental health, homelessness and addiction after significant pushback by Niagara Regional Council last October. Many people lately have been asking me what happens next with a state of emergency. I have put together some recommendations in response to the questions the public have about the state of emergency by creating a “wish-list” of what Niagara Falls and Thorold should be asking the province in terms of managing these issues (in a state of emergency, the coordination is between the province and the municipality that declares the emergency, per emergency management legislation.

This wish-list was sent to the Mayor of Niagara Falls, Jim Diodati, Thorold Mayor Terry Ugulini, Councillor Wayne Campbell of Niagara Falls, and Sam Oosterhoff, the PC MPP for the Niagara West riding.

The wish-list” is meant to re-imagine, overhaul, and completely transform very complex, not user-friendly mental health, homelessness and addiction systems.

Some ideas I have been brainstorming are as follows:

A. A database of families who are willing to support those with mental health, homelessness and addictions issues (can go out to bid and tender for the municipalities). Can incorporate faith-based communities and ministries.

B. Specialized classes for students with mental health issues in Niagara (the Katey Marie Campbell fund successfully did this at Eastdale in 2019, and the fund has zero administration fees, which means all money goes to end-users through the Niagara Community Foundation).

C. Preventative education campaigns on the dangers of drugs.

D. Addressing expensive and costly offloading at hospital sites, and more therapeutic approaches for those seeking psychiatric care.

E. Experienced community navigators who can help end-users navigate a complicated system. (Distress Centre Niagara is a great resource to start this work.)

F. More intensive intakes for services (i.e., employment services), so people don’t just feel brushed aside.

G. Tiny homes (cost effective, great for singles and couples). Municipalities are tasked with the zoning and planning and this is a great way to tackle a 16-18 year affordable housing wait list. Texas also does tiny home communities with connecting services.

H. Temporary modular housing. I believe we have a company in Niagara that produces shipping containers, but again this would go out to bid and tender.

I. New drug treatment centres in Thorold and Niagara Falls. We only currently have Newport in Port Colborne and it doesn’t come close to addressing the need, and there are a ton of barriers and they operate at limited capacity because of Covid and being under the guise of the hospital system.

J. Employment support (Employment Ontario) also needs to be looked at. Mental health, homelessness and addiction directly connects to labour productivity (we lose $50 billion on mental health costs and $40 billion on substance abuse costs in Canada annually) and there are way too many Employment Ontario entities (silos) in Niagara and they don’t focus on the mental health side enough, and, in my opinion, create dependency because of their policies.

These are just some of my ideas when we coordinate with the province on the state of emergency, and I am happy to report that our work has even reached Peterborough, where advocates are asking their councils to declare an emergency on housing!

Steven Soos
Mental health advocate