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Canada Today's letters: Focus should be on social gatherings during COVID, not shutting businesses

15:05  27 february  2021
15:05  27 february  2021 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

COVID-19: Variants could fuel surge of 20,000 cases daily if restrictions eased, federal officials warn

  COVID-19: Variants could fuel surge of 20,000 cases daily if restrictions eased, federal officials warn What you need to know, at a glance New federal modelling indicates COVID-19 variants could fuel a surge of 20,000 new cases per day by mid-March if public health restrictions are relaxed further There are now fewer than 33,000 active cases in Canada, a 60 per cent drop from a month ago. Even with current restrictions, the spread of the variants could push Canada’s caseload to more than 10,000 new diagnoses per day by April Federal government extends 12 weeks of eligibility to the Canada Recovery Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit Ontario reported 47 deaths and 1,150 new COVID-19 cases Friday Hotspots continue to be Toronto (376 new cases), Peel (264 cases) an

Focus should be on social gatherings

a close up of a sign © Provided by Ottawa Citizen

Re: Ottawa to begin vaccinating people over 80 next week, ahead of the rest of the province, Feb. 24.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches has warned that Ottawa is on the brink of moving from the “orange” to the “red” zone, as key COVID-19 indicators are heading in the wrong direction. She has expressed specific concern about people once again gathering in groups of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, as allowed under the current rules.

Rather than imposing additional restrictions on businesses or locking them down yet again, I would suggest that the province simply impose stricter limits on private social gatherings in all zones under the colour-coded framework. Unmonitored gatherings are responsible for much of the community spread of COVID-19, and people tend to relax their behaviours if they are permitted to do so under the rules in place.

Letters to the Editor: Canada at the Beijing Olympics: 'A shocking act of political cowardice'

  Letters to the Editor: Canada at the Beijing Olympics: 'A shocking act of political cowardice' ‘A profound failure of leadership’ Re: Do athletes really want Olympic medals that have been soaked in blood? , Terry Glavin, Feb. 10 It is the federal government’s responsibility to decide whether or not Canada attends the Beijing Olympics. That Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would defer the decision to the Canadian Olympic Committee is a shocking act of political cowardice and a profound failure of leadership. Hugh McCoy, Toronto No Canadian It is the federal government’s responsibility to decide whether or not Canada attends the Beijing Olympics. That Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would defer the decision to the Canadian Olympic Committee is a shocking act of political cowardice and a profound failure of leadership.

Consequently, reducing permitted gathering sizes could contribute significantly to curbing the spread of the virus, while allowing businesses to stay open with the restrictions and protocols currently applicable to them.

Elaine Baxter McLeay, Stittsville

Hillier should stop playing Pangloss

I am perplexed that Ontario is behind the eight ball when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines for its citizenry. Both Alberta and Quebec are ahead of us in this regard, and although the issue of vaccines in arms is too important to be seen as a competition, it is difficult not to make comparisons and acknowledge what can’t be denied.

When he is making presentations, retired general Rick Hillier sounds more like Premier Doug Ford’s press secretary than a vaccine rollout czar. Ontario is a laggard and none of the general’s panglossian verbiage can ameliorate the pickle we are now in.

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Recently, Hillier has told us that the Ontario COVID portal will be up and running on March 15 for those 80 years of age and older. For others, vaccines will come well after that date. Neither of these facts should make us joyful in light of the speed at which other provinces are moving. Whether the issue is a shortage of vaccines as the general sometimes claims, or terrible Ontario planning, or a combination of both, the undeniable fact is that people in this province are still dying daily.

That’s a story that no spokesperson, however articulate, can spin as  good news.

Douglas Parker, Ottawa

Trudeau just recycling old vaccine news

Re: Trudeau isn’t out of danger yet, but appears to be on way back from pandemic low , Feb. 25.

John Ivison’s article notes that “Moderna shipments shift tide of events in Trudeau’s favour.” What the prime minister did was simply confirm something that he had already announced: that Moderna will ship two million doses of vaccine to Canada during the first quarter.

Coronavirus: 11 new cases in London-Middlesex; 8 in Elgin-Oxford, 10 in Sarnia-Lambton

  Coronavirus: 11 new cases in London-Middlesex; 8 in Elgin-Oxford, 10 in Sarnia-Lambton As of Friday, the region's pandemic case tally stands at 6,143, of which 5,871 have resolved and 181 have died. The most recent death occurred on Feb. 12. All 11 of Friday's new cases are from London, with one aged 19 or younger, four in their 20s, one in their 40s, three in their 50s, and two in their 30s. No cases were reported involving anyone in their 30s or over the age of 70. Exposure source data is pending or undetermined for seven cases, while two cases each are listed as being due to close contact and to outbreak.

The very word “news” implies that it is something new. Justin Trudeau has resorted to recycling old announcements for lack of anything new to report. What I would welcome would be an announcement saying that Canada has negotiated a new contract and is now able to exceed the target of six million doses of vaccine in the first quarter that was announced last December.

Aki Watanabe, Ottawa

Ensure quarantine infrastructure is in place

Re: Mandatory hotel quarantine is a good idea poorly executed, Feb. 24.

I agree with columnist John Ivison that if the government insists on holding travellers “hostage” when they arrive on Canadian soil, the least it should do is ensure that the infrastructure is already in place before they get here. Asking people to “book their own hotel” is tantamount to asking the “hostages” to engineer “their own “execution.”

Perhaps, the logistics involved are just too great.

Catherine Devonport, Ottawa

A few contradictions in the rules

In her COVID-19 modelling update of Feb. 19, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, presented a stark picture of a possible third wave resulting from variants of concern (V0C). She said, “People should, as much as possible, have the fewest interactions, with the fewest people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance.” How does this square with gyms, restaurants, hair and nail salons reopening?

Letters to the editor: Simplified taxes, winning the Stanley Cup — more things Canada can't seem to get done

  Letters to the editor: Simplified taxes, winning the Stanley Cup — more things Canada can't seem to get done ‘Crumbling 24 Sussex Drive’ problem has an easy fix. Tear it down Re: From vaccines to pipelines to clean water on reserves, why Canada can’t seem to get anything done , Tristin Hopper, Feb. 22 I have no suggestions for a simple way to fix the problems with military procurement or public transportation. But the “crumbling 24 Sussex Drive” problem has an easy fix. Tear it down and build a suitable replacement; presumably for considerably less than $100 million. The address is meaningful to most Canadians. But the building itself? I doubt one in 10 could pick it out from a lineup of similar stodgy grey mansions. It’s not the White House.

Diane Dumont, Orléans

Extended patio hours are a bad idea

Re: All patios on city property should be allowed to stay open until 2 a.m., Ottawa city staff say, Feb. 22.

City staff’s proposal to allow restaurant patios on city property to operate until 2 a.m. is irresponsible in 2021. Following and strengthening public health measures need to be paramount until the pandemic ends, especially in the context of more infectious variants.

As someone who formally worked security, I know that patios are difficult to control in the best of times. You not only have to be aware of what is happening on the property, you also have to address issues that occur right outside of the property. The clientele at 10 p.m. differs from the clientele after 11 p.m.

Noise complaints are the least of an organization’s concern in terms of liability. The risks and instances of intoxication, fights, sexual assaults, vandalism, drug dealing and other issues increases substantially as the night progresses.

These businesses not only have obligations under the liquor licence act, but they are also required to enforce public health measures as well. All the while, businesses are operating with less staff than ever. Even if we were to punish operators out of existence, these patrons would just go to the next place and cause the same issues there.

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Abdurahman Ibrahim, Ottawa

The Château Laurier fight is far from over

Re: Council design OK puts to bed, turns out the light, says goodnight to the Château Laurier debate, Feb. 24.

Your headline wrongly suggests that final approval of the Château Laurier addition puts an end to the controversy. Residents of Ottawa and visitors alike will continue to question why our mayor and council, the NCC and our federal minister of Canadian Heritage were seemingly so powerless, and how such a widely condemned alteration to an iconic building and vista at the heart of Canada’s capital was allowed to proceed. Controversy will only worsen when we are faced with the brutalist addition itself, and not just the photo mock-ups.

Martha Jackman, Ottawa

Let everyone play a round on this course

Re: Judge upholds legacy agreement protecting Kanata golf course from redevelopment, Feb. 19.

I was pleased to see that natural space in Kanata will be preserved. Surely this is a good thing for the environment and the quality of life in Kanata North.

One thing, however, concerns me. The golf course is at present a private club. I would not be able to enjoy it as a golfer.I would hope that this space would become open to all as public rather than private land.

David Polk, Blackburn Hamlet

Why wreck these post-war neighbourhoods?

Re: When planners run amok, even the leafy, bungalowed streets of Alta Vista aren’t safe, Feb. 23.

When I first heard of the supposed reimagining of the many graceful and heavily treed areas of our fair city built after the Second World War, I was horrified. What can be so fabulous about filling an entire lot with a building, no front yard, no back yard, no room for trees?

21 new coronavirus cases in London and Middlesex, 29 in Aylmer on Sunday

  21 new coronavirus cases in London and Middlesex, 29 in Aylmer on Sunday Southwestern Public Health reported 31 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 29 are from Aylmer. Meanwhile, London and Middlesex saw more than 20 cases for the first time since Feb. 22.The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported 21 new coronavirus cases and 11 recoveries on Sunday.

My city councillor, a gracious person, spoke to me of gradual evolution. But you only have to look at Westboro to see that there is nothing gentle about this level of intensification. What, exactly, is the point of destroying a lovely neighbourhood? I cannot personally afford to live in these leafy, gracious areas but I very much enjoy walking and cycling through them. Can they not exist as part of our history? Can intensification not be achieved by developing condominium and rental tower development in areas where infrastructure can support them?

Most of all, I cannot understand what is desirable about turning these neighbourhoods into a replica of our current “inner urban” areas of concrete, overcrowding and under-served disadvantaged populations. The lack of trees, and the space for them, makes everything a bit grim. If the (predicted) massive wave of humanity actually moves to Ottawa in the future, I am not sure it will be anxious to live in ugly, crowded neighbourhoods without room for trees.

Janet Thornton, Ottawa

Sports dome NIMBYism is at play

Re: Garneau Sports Dome: right idea, wrong place, Feb. 23.

Doug MacQuarrie’s article makes valuable points about negative aspects of a permanent sports dome “plopped” in the midst of an established neighbourhood “close to existing homes … obliterating views … wiping out backyard enjoyment” and attempting to “shoehorn an outlier into a space not meant for it.”

However, he then points to Le Collège Catholique Mer Bleue as a more suitable property to house such a permanent structure as it has “ample space to accommodate such a structure without encroaching on existing residences.” “No domes near homes” is OK as long as the dome goes to another neighbourhood? This smacks of NIMBYism, urged on by the local councillor’s inept handling of this proposal.

To apply the same criteria to the CCMB location, it is clear to even the most spatially challenged that there is even less space, more homes abutting the property, and virtually no green space for sports. The dome would usurp 100 per cent of the playing fields at this location. It is also no secret that the area has woefully inadequate road infrastructure to accommodate added traffic.

One year later, COVID-19 has left no part of Alberta untouched

  One year later, COVID-19 has left no part of Alberta untouched It's been a year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Alberta. From remote communities to large workforces, the pandemic has forever changed the province.Though there were only dozens of cases of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 reported in Canada, health officials were resigned that the pandemic would eventually spread into Alberta.

The fact is, the Garneau site is preferred by the Catholic School Board as it does have the extra playing field space, ample parking and it has established community sports clubs currently using the fields there. It has partnered with Bengals Football, Mavericks Volleyball, MIFO, Ottawa Pickleball Association and Tennis Canada at the  Garneau proposed location.

Heather Buchanan, Orleans

Proposed nuclear waste site isn’t benign

Re: Nuclear waste dump opponents press City of Ottawa to reject the upstream project at Chalk River, Feb. 22.

The proposed radioactive waste facility on the Ottawa River upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau has been flying under the radar in Ottawa since it was proposed in 2016. If approved, it would contain one million tonnes of wast — a very large pile of radioactive and hazardous garbage, including plutonium, one of the deadliest radioactive materials if inhaled or ingested, and  tonnes of arsenic and lead.

The proponent’s studies describe many ways the facility would leak during construction and after closure. Long-lived radioactive materials such as plutonium would remain hazardous for thousands of years, long after the facility’s base liner and cover failed.

International safety standards say radioactive waste must be kept out of the biosphere for as long as it remains radioactive. There is no way this facility can do that. The proponent’s own “performance assessment” study shows it is expected to eventually disintegrate in a process called “normal evolution.”

There are many very good reasons for city councillors to speak up in opposition to this facility that threatens Ottawa’s drinking water.

For additional information on the expected disintegration of the mound, the ways it would leak and its proposed contents readers can visit the website of Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area , a non-profit public interest citizens’ group that has been working for more than 40 years to prevent and clean up radioactive pollution in the Ottawa Valley.

Lynn Jones, Ottawa

Cutting bus service would heighten risk

Re: Letter, How about reducing the bus service? Feb. 20.

Reducing bus service would be cruel during this pandemic. Remember when people were anxious at crowded bus and train stops in October 2019? That is a drop in the ocean compared to the current state of affairs.

Yes, masks are required when using OC Transpo, and yes, 20-per-cent ridership capacity from pre-pandemic baselines allows for more social distancing. But reducing bus service will inevitably reduce the social distancing safety measure. And people using OC Transpo during the pandemic are not using it to just get out of the house; it is likely their only transportation option aside from walking. Cutting bus service would expose people to higher risk.

The one thing cutting bus service will do is save money, but when has that ever led us astray?

Peter Gaudet, Nepean

Trudeau ducked tough decision on Uighurs

Re: Canada’s Parliament passes motion saying China’s treatment of Uighurs is genocide, Feb. 22.

Justin Trudeau’s failure to stand up for those who can not speak for themselves, like the oppressed and violated Uighur people in China makes him unfit to be prime minister. Likewise, deflecting to the Canadian Olympic Committee the decision over whether Canada should take part in the Being Winter Olympics is an abduction of responsibility. This is a political decision, not a sports decision.  His inability to take tough political decisions makes him unfit.

Huib van der Staay, Ottawa

No price too steep for science

Re: Science-ship project cost sails up, Feb. 22.

A ship operating offshore? And a science one at that! Now there’s

an innovation all Canadians can be proud of. A billion bucks? Well worth

the price.

Thomas Frisch, Ottawa

One year later, COVID-19 has left no part of Alberta untouched .
It's been a year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Alberta. From remote communities to large workforces, the pandemic has forever changed the province.Though there were only dozens of cases of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 reported in Canada, health officials were resigned that the pandemic would eventually spread into Alberta.

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