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Letters & Op-Ed, May 11 2022

Congratulations for journalism awards I wish to congratulate the Voice and staff on your awards “haul.” You do a fantastic job and I look forward to receipt of my copy every week.

Congratulations for journalism awards

I wish to congratulate the Voice and staff on your awards “haul.” You do a fantastic job and I look forward to receipt of my copy every week. I lived in the GTA for a number of years and there were local weeklies but none compared to Pelham’s own.

Thank you the job you do and please keep at it.

Doug Howell Fonthill

Geopark project provokes Councillor's reflection

I’m writing to you today from the traditional territory of the Haudanosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum agreement. It is important to recognize that we are in violation of many treaties across the land under which both colonizers and Indigenous peoples were meant to prosper.

It has taken me many years to understand that when the Europeans first arrived here they were critically wrong about something. They saw huge swaths of old-growth forests, large fertile meadows, life-giving wetlands, savanna grasslands and more, and it was assumed that this land was untouched or at best under-utilized by the peoples who have lived here since time before memory.

These diverse landscapes existed precisely because people interacted with them on a regular basis. Species like corn, squash, and others were brought here through trade and travel. Trees such as walnuts, butternuts, chestnuts and more were cultivated and grown for their food giving capacity. Wetlands were maintained and cared for so that cattails and roots could be harvested for medicine when needed most.

I have learned the western science perspective on natural phenomena. It is a powerful tool and it has helped us understand a lot but the hubris of thinking that western science has an unbiased perspective on the world keeps us from understanding the many other perspectives that share with us the stories of the world around us.

I rarely see the words “Indigenous” and “science” in the same sentence. I think that goes to show the level of dissonance our western science has with Indigenous science. I would have to say that Indigenous knowledge is indeed science.

Indigenous science is what I would describe as a form of systems thinking: a field that is still all the rage in manufacturing and certain science bubbles. Interconnected thinking is in built into the cultures and languages of this land. This is the Indigenous science of context, natural phenomena, and the consequences of damaging our environment.

Indigenous science calls upon us to understand the internal steps in a process before we can understand the sequences in the process and the consequences of misunderstanding and bad practices. Through this land and its biodiversity learnings we have access to the stewardship and stories of the many other peoples who traveled and traversed this land long before you and I and all of our teachers got here to share learning.

I understand the incredible benefits of being able to look at the world with multiple perspectives. It’s a start toward seeing things in multiple dimensions and recognizing their place within the world. In small ways I hope to take steps back to that connective understanding that will help me to find my own way to reconciliation with the lands and peoples who have lived on and nurtured the very earth that we stand on today.

I am very thankful to stand atop the work that has already been done and to be able to bring the Geopark project to a bigger stage. A key aspect of the Geopark project is that of building a better relationship and connection with the land, water, air and the environment around us. In doing so we must recognize the nations and the peoples to whom we owe that biodiversity we’re trying to protect today.

Councillor Wayne Olson Pelham Ward 1


Safety taking a backseat in park renovations

Having read that a splash-pad and overhaul of old pool at Marlene Stewart Streit Park are in the works I cannot help but think why in that location. It is not easily accessed by those it is designated for—children and community at large.

A children’s playground area (with equipment, pool and skatepark) should be safe both in location and accessibility. Located nestled below street level there is no sidewalk, a narrow laneway and Regional Road 20 to cross. Dense trees surround the area, therefore hidden from public view, but no shaded area is available with tables or any seating. Regional Road 20 is already busy. With increased density it is about to get much busier as main artery in Pelham. Note the new building adjacent to the laneway will house business and residents, therefore more cars to contend with.

This laneway is not user-friendly to pedestrians, bikes, strollers / wagons, and not even cars. Try exiting onto 20 from the laneway.

This expansion will be very costly regards water and drainage required for both the reno and new splash-pad. It appears the land was chosen because not viable enough to make a profit. In real estate the mantra still is “location, location, location.”

Safety is a priority to Pelham families. Elements providing safety must be implemented sooner than later. There isn’t any signage at present. This demonstrates a lack of concern for Pelham families.

L. Morgan Fonthill


Reaction to Town employee flying Confederate flag in Fenwick

I was very disappointed to read the comment by Mayor Marvin Junkin excusing the flying of the Confederate flag in Fenwick. [Anger as Confederate flag flies in Fenwick,” p. 3] It was okay because the man liked a TV show? What? I used to like Hogan’s Heroes. Does that make it okay for me to fly a Nazi swastika flag above my garage? Ridiculous. I believe the Mayor, like Sargeant Shultz, should have just said, “I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!”

R. Anderson Via Voice website

I have a serious question. How is it possible, in 2022, after a hundred years of Klansmen lynchings in the south, after lunch counter sit-ins, after Rosa Parks on that bus, after King’s assassination, all the way to Donald Trump’s vile race-baiting and the white supremacist display in Charlottesville and on January 6, that anyone with the slightest awareness of the world would think it was okay to display a Confederate flag—on a flagpole!—at their home? How unbelievably ignorant do you have to be? This man does not represent my town, and I resent that my tax dollars are going to pay his salary.

Michael O’Brien Ridgeville

Wow! A Town employee flying the Confederate flag in Fenwick? Professing not to know it stood for slavery and white supremacy? Unbelievable! The Town should not employ people that are this uneducated!

What if someone was a collector of WWII memorabilia and hoisted up the Nazi flag—could they get away with the “I didn't know what it stood for” excuse?

What bothers me is that they are so well-connected, and ignorance is an acceptable excuse for them, it never was considered that for people like me with a German last name!

This is not a matter of educating employees now. In case of the Nazis, it has been over 70 years, the Confederate US Nazis, much longer than that. If you did not get it by now, you never will, because you are a part of the problem that persists in Canada. The Confederate flag problem has been on the news for years, so unless you never watch any TV or have no internet connection, there is no excuse here.

I am also very concerned about the reactions from Mayor Junkin, and Councillors Olson and Stewart. I would have expected a much stronger response than excusals, reflection, and disappointment. My response to them will be reflected in my next vote, and trust me, my campaign will start now, because this kind of racism and white supremacy is not something I can tolerate. I was taught in high school in Germany to never let this happen again!

Barbara Stramm Ridgeville

Flying a flag your kids gifted you as a TV show reminder is not a wrongdoing. The fact that it was vilified should be. Dignifying this type of vigilantism with the fight against hate and racism as motive shows how intrusive and hysterical a society can get. What we have is an indication of what the doctrine of Critical Race Theory looks like. Harmony or dominance?

Prof. Peggy McIntosh is said to have begun “white privilege” ideology. Her list of things defined as privileged included owning bandages that matched the colour of your skin.

The Voice’s May 4 flag coverage spoke of one Fenwick resident requesting anonymity for fear of being retaliated against while another surrendered their right to be reminded of fond memories of a television show. So now we have free speech fear, and loss of the right to own your interpretation. In this “white supremacist” battle, did anybody really win?

Have racism issues? Use the Human Rights Code.

Janet Gritter Wellandport

Editor's Note: The writer's mention of Band-Aids got us curious. Readers are strongly encouraged to see this sidebar.



Niagara's new Official Plan nears completion

BY DIANA HUSON Regional Councillor for Pelham

At the end of April, the Region held a final public meeting to collect feedback and comments on the Region’s new draft Official Plan. This document outlines how land will be used across Niagara’s communities to ensure growth meets our planning and development needs.

To signify just how important this document is, the Region has spent nearly four years working through its development, has had multiple points of consultation with lower-tier municipalities and planning staff, and extensive dialogue with a variety of stakeholders including private citizens, environmental groups, the development industry, our Indigenous community, and youth. Last week’s meeting had a total of 33 delegations all wanting a say on what growth in Niagara will look like. The new plan includes important features marking a significant improvement and commitment to specific priorities.

One such feature is the natural heritage section. Regional Council was presented with options to inform direction on this component. I’m thrilled to confirm that council endorsed the most robust environmental protection option, recognizing a systems-based approach to preserving and enhancing Niagara’s natural heritage features. This acknowledges the important role of natural corridors and large linkages in supporting our natural features and sites.

The plan also contains a section on climate change, not included in our current plan. This means long-term planning will also incorporate climate modeling and projections to help mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as flooding. As part of this work, we also approved a greening initiative that will result in an increase in tree planting efforts and seek to diversify some of our tree species. A welcome improvement from our current plan!

Finally, facing a projected population of 674,000 people and 272,000 jobs by 2051, the plan emphasizes the importance of an adequate and diverse supply of attainable housing across Niagara. These housing needs also require infrastructure, such as sewers, water mains and roads. However, we also want to create conditions that attract and retain employment. But more importantly, growth or development needs to be channeled into growth-appropriate areas that balance our housing and employment needs with retention of our small-town communities, and protection of our agricultural and green spaces.

Next steps include a final approval by council in June and submission to the Province for approval. Once completed, our local municipalities, including Pelham, will need to develop secondary plans. The secondary plans are where some of the more detailed plans for specific development and growth will occur locally.

I’m hopeful the new Official Plan will pass without issue, recognizing that current development applications and planning continues to follow an official plan developed in the 1970s! As such, does not reflect our current housing challenges, is devoid of any climate change policy and does not reflect the enhanced environmental protections we’ve embraced for Niagara. As far as I’m concerned, this new plan couldn’t come into effect fast enough! A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our consultation process and recognized the value of this important exercise.



Playing politics with our children's health

When decisions between politicians and healthcare providers collide, should schoolchildren be the victims? Over and above the Covid-19 virus itself, there are a number of matters that occur alongside that issue and require the attention of the political, medical and societal leadership of a jurisdiction.

One of the more crucial side-issues has been the matter of accepting or rejecting the advisability of masking. The wearing of a mask has been scientifically proven to be among the most effective measures to avoid and control the spread of this dreadful virus and its variants.

However, despite this undeniable scientific evidence, one in four Canadians reject wearing a mask for a mixed bag of reasons. In effect, these rebels-without-a-vaccine are delaying endeavours to control the spread of the virus and causing inexcusable chaos within the healthcare system. This same incontrovertible science reports that the highest proportion of those currently victimized and hospitalized by the virus are those who rejected the wearing of a mask and avoided vaccines. What are they thinking?

According to many surveys and in spite of the scientific evidence, 39,000 have died out of the nearly 4 million Canadians who have so far contracted the virus. It is now in its sixth wave and who knows of its future directions. Notably, a decision has been made by Ontario’s politicians to discontinue the requirement for children to continue the wearing of masks in their classrooms. Think about it. Classroom space is limited, air handling equipment is inadequate, appropriate social distancing is practically impossible, and the virus has proven to be potent, virulent and resistant. Remarkably, this decision is not a firm requirement and educators and classroom teachers, should they choose, can ignore that quasi-law. To put the onus for such a decision to wear or not wear a mask on an elementary school teacher is unreasonable to say the least.

The virus has not gone away nor is it yet under control. Admittedly, the severity of symptoms for those vaccinated is often not too serious nor debilitating. Sometimes. Maybe.

On the other hand, there are cases where the disease has left victims with serious and perhaps lifelong debilitating effects. Now why on earth put children at risk of such outcomes when the wearing of a mask is not unreasonably uncomfortable and has proven to be very effective?

It would be interesting to know the political reasoning behind such a measure. Especially so when it is not supported by many experts in the healthcare field. Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara’s Acting Medical Officer of Health has said hospitalizations among children is rare, “but it going to become less rare.”

It has been reported that the absentee rate in many classrooms has been high and increasing due to the number of students and school personnel contracting the virus. Might one expect that trend to worsen if the mandate to the wearing of the mask in schools is completely abandoned at this time?