Letters to the Editor for April 1

Former teacher deserves all the praise she gets

My brothers Frederick and Patrick Roberts (twins) and I had Mrs. Vince as our junior and senior kindergarten teacher in the 1970s.

Later on, in 1980-1981 she left as my Grade 6 teacher and started a special class for seven or eight students, some developmentally challenged (my two brothers) and some with behavioural and learning difficulties. For three years she taught my brothers, and was the one great teacher in their schooling. They suffered greatly when sent to a regular high school after Corpus Christi.

Few other than trained special education specialists have the patience or aptitude for this type of work, and I can say after witnessing both the good and the bad as they attended mainstream school,  much was bad. Mrs. Vince was a rare exception.

Teaching wasn’t just a job for her, but a responsibility.

Terry Roberts
Amherst, Nova Scotia


Councillor earns high mark from constituent

I would like to challenge Brian Graff’s recent comments about Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon [Letters to the Editor, March 18, 2014, Beach Metro News].

I have lived in the Beach for more than 30 years and thanks to Mary-Margaret I have never felt more connected to my community. Her enthusiasm and energy for our neighbourhood and her consultative approach in bringing groups and individuals together is the secret to community engagement.

I wish her nothing but success as she continues to fight for our ward.

Lynn Wilson
Rainsford Road


Neighbourhood comes together for children

It was a Monday morning, unremarkable to start. I woke up, still exhausted, dragged my arse downstairs. Got our two-and-a-half year-old, Kennedy, some “distraction” Cheerios, combed her hair, and dressed her for pre-school.

In the meantime, our 10 month-old, Spencer, was rising and it was time to collect her and get everyone packed up and out the door. Due to the extreme temperature (-32°C) I bundled the girls up, despite the short ride in a heated car.

All of the doors to our car automatically unlock when the keys are taken out of the ignition, so it was OCD and unnecessary for me to double click the unlock button, again. When I went to open my toddler’s door it was locked! With every subsequent attempt to open another door to find it also locked, my anxiety grew. The kids and I were a window apart; surely I could solve this and get in. Surely!

For what felt like an eternity, but in real time was about 10 to 15 minutes, I tried desperately to have my toddler undo her car seat buckle, to “push that button and pull hard.”

“I can’t do it mommy!,” she told me. “I have no muscles.”

By this point I’d contacted my husband, who was on his way.  Due to the extreme temperature the school administrator, Joanne, was having a difficult time getting through to CAA.

I knew that I could smash a window before the cold became a hazardous situation, and this gave me some solace. I also didn’t want to alarm Kennedy or Spencer, so I wanted to avoid that if possible.

Joanne showed tremendous support, reassuring me, singing and playing peek-a-boo with the girls, getting through to CAA, and suggesting calling the police. My husband Ryan and his colleague Dave also worked tirelessly attempting to get into the car. Dave worked with such determination and dedication you would have sworn they were his own kids.

Within minutes of calling, a fire truck and police cruiser arrived with sirens blaring, making me feel like I could breathe again. By this point both children were crying hysterically. Spence was sleepy and hungry. Kennedy was over the whole thing and had to go potty.  Emotions were running high, and no kind gesture went unnoticed.

Eventually the firefighters were able to get in. Hearing the “click” of the UN-lock button had a similar effect to hearing the first cries when my babies were born: sweet relief!

Kennedy proclaimed “I DID IT!,” and beamed ear to ear with pride. The firefighters walked her to her school door (yes, she still wanted to go!), and badged her with an “honorary junior firefighter” sticker for her bravery. Her classmates cheered and applauded her arrival.

My most cherished memory of the day’s events was the rallying of the community, everyone coming together. Amidst a crisis I saw the innate love and goodness in those that surrounded me. The feeling of stress has since gone, but the feeling of love will stay with me always!

Alia Anderson
Claremore Avenue


Time to fix monumental spelling error

I read the letter from Bob Murdoch [Letters to the Editor, March 18, 2014, Beach Metro News] about refreshing the monument at Kew Gardens.

There is a spelling mistake on the existing monument and it would be nice if we could correct it while we are refreshing it. The word ‘honour’ is misspelled, using the US Webster spelling, contrary to all proper Canadian conventions including the Canadian Press guide.

I am suggesting this only if the stone is being resurfaced or replaced. It is not easy to correct this without removing all of the lettering and resurfacing the stone.

It is funny to notice that there seems to be room for one more letter after the word ‘served’. I am sure that at one time US spelling was acceptable because of its use in newspapers up until some time in the 1980s.

Webster really had fun messing around with English. The best mistake he made is changing inflammable to flammable, without realizing there is a whole family of words. So now we have a flammable liquid, but inflammatory statements and skin inflammations. I would like to hear someone say, “That statement is flammatory.”

In the US they like to say, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

If we are going to fix it – and I hope we do – we should make this correction. I am quite sure that Bob would agree we should use this opportunity to get it right and Canadian once and for all.

John Bailes

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Sadly, US spellings are gradually taking over and Canadian ones becoming less common – I blame Spellcheck and most people not resetting the Language.

And I thought that it was the other way around – that Canadian publications were moving away from British spellings after the 1980s, leaving this mystery of the cenotaph unexplained.

But then, prior to the 1960s, many people crossed the border to live and work without needing to go through all the hoops we do now.

Finally, not all Daniel Webster’s spellings are that bad compared to some of the Samuel Johnson or older British spellings we have long since rejected – like “gaol” versus “jail” – it took me a while to figure out “gaol” when i first saw it written in a book when i was in my teens.

In response to Lynn Wilson:

Lynn Wilson is free to “challenge” my comments about Councillor McMahon, but she offers no examples. She has lived her for 30 years, and maybe McMahon only deserves “high marks” when compared to Bussin and Jakobek – both of whom left politics with their reputations in tatters!

McMahon may have enthusiasm (you can tell by the over-use of exclamation marks!) and lots of energy, and she is good at “self-promotion” (an accusation she hurled at Bussin – she is 15th out of 44 in office spending) via emails, mailings and showing up at community events, but she has not been not a leader on Council, unless your top issues were chicken coops, hoarding, the now-failed Bixi, or promoting ugly, noisy polluting food trucks to compete with struggling restaurants (she wants to expand them, beyond what Council just passed). She had to backtrack on having food trucks in Woodbine Park. She flip-flopped on the expensive Scarborough subway.

She either had no “success”, or didn’t even try, on many key issues, like failing when opposing the car barns (with a boondoggle of an extra $105 million for sewer work on Leslie), and at least 6 condos on Kippendavie, Kingston Road and Queen are being built without any substantial reductions in size or impact. More massive condos are on the way, but developers have nothing to fear… after all, her father was one, as well as being an OMB member.

She has done little to “fight” for our ward and achieved nothing when she has fought, because she won’t listen to ideas like having an Interim Control Bylaw (because she listens to city staff, and not us) though oddly enough, she voted for one on Bathurst! Only now is she supporting an Official Plan Policy for Queen, when this should have been part of the Visioning Study in the first place.

As for consultation, she voted in favour of the Lick’s condos (1960-2 Queen) despite strong community opposition – this was after she secretly negotiated one trivial change at the last minute, and, on the mistaken assumption that the developer would get a bigger building at the OMB if Council voted “no”. She kept insisting that developers were “reasonable” and she blamed Bussin for setting precedents, but those were actually far smaller than what she approved, or not located close enough to be relevant.

She rushed passage of the Visioning Study Guidelines despite a mass of requests to defer them and improve them – and then the OMB ignored the guidelines as lacking any weight! She sided with the planning department or accepted their bad advice, rather than fighting to keep Queen as a “low-rise” street.

The Kew Gardens project is in progress, but where was the consultation meeting with the community before it was decided that the north end of the park was the top problem to fix? The problem is at the south end of the park – people on the Boardwalk cannot easily see how to get into the park because the hockey rink and lawn bowling are barriers – there is no major entrance drawing people into the park, and up to Queen Street. This $490,000 might not produce the economic benefits intended, because of a lack of “engagement” earlier in the process.

Cllr.McMahon has some serious shortcomings and ill equipped to perform at a level expected of our municipal representative.I received no support or action from her office on safety issues affecting our neighbourhood, for example, I requested that she meet with local residents to discuss concerns regarding a number of attempted child abductions – no response from her office, nothing. I wish I could opt out of funding her salary and office budget. To make matters worse, at present, there is no viable alternative come election time in October. I encourage Ward 32 residents to ask yourself, how has Cllr. McMahon made a measurable and positive improvement on your street and in your neighbourhood? Tweeting about cemetery walks? Pimping food trucks? Seriously, please consider alternate employment opportunities.

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