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Exposing civic myopia

In his Nov. 22 column, Getting rapid transit just not rapid enough, Dan Lett exposes the myopia and lack of vision at city hall. Mayor Sam Katz has neither vision nor political will for anything progressive.

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Now Coun. Scott Fielding wants to spend money to see if we as citizens want money spent on rapid transit or road repair.

This is just catering to automobile commuter culture. Build rapid transit.

PAUL WIEBE

Winnipeg

Let the chamber pay

Re: Company's coming, let's tidy up the house, Nov. 20). What has the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce been smoking?

Apart from the fact the city expropriated many properties along Route 90 to create this quasi-express route, thereby creating the garage-row look, it should not devote a penny of taxpayer money for its improvement. This is the chamber's idea, so let the chamber pay.

But first, they should address the safety concerns of the residents who are seriously worried the daily 100,000 or so pairs of eyes that pass by now will not be able to see any nefarious goings-on behind an opaque barrier.

There are other ways. We could leave it as is and make airport travellers use Berry Street or Ellice Avenue to get to downtown. Not proud enough of those typical Winnipeg streets? Just to show there's merit in every nutty idea, how about providing the homeowners in the questionable two-block area on Century Street with outright beautification grants (courtesy of the chamber) to pimp up their garage facades? Or offer to add jumbo images to their otherwise drab garage doors.

Just imagine driving by the smiling faces of Winnipeg's most famous faces applied to the doors, nicely lit of course, with decorative planters and ornamental lighting filling the gaps.

But do you really think the average visitor, sitting in a cab on the way to his hotel while he's texting his office, cares? I doubt it -- and certainly not $7 million worth.

JAKE MARKS

Winnipeg

Scolding is inappropriate

Re: Helmet Pardy not going to happen, Jets say (Nov. 21). If Mark Chipman had banned helmets on the basis of fan safety, that would be perfectly reasonable.

Problem is he did not. He chose to demand professionalism and classiness from Jets fans, which is his job, not theirs.

They are there for entertainment and enjoyment, not to make True North look good. Chipman should consult his professional PR staff before he publicly scolds his customers.

JAMES JOHNSON

Winnipeg

Echoing current buzz

Mary Agnes Welch (Pay now... or really pay later, Nov. 16) echoes current policy-making buzz in suggesting putting brain science "into practice, in the form of a broad and co-ordinated early childhood system, could be the solution to almost every intractable social problem we have."

Surely, if we have learned anything at all from English class (not to mention history class), we should be able to hear the dystopian ring to these aspirations.

Brain science itself is great. It always seems to show children develop best when they and surrounding adults do the infinitely variable kinds of things human beings naturally do. The so-called science that tells us how to put this into practice, on the other hand, always seems to claim experts, programs and constant micro-management are needed to ensure everyone is correctly following the instructions for natural development.

Now, I don't want to oversimplify or direct criticism to the wrong places. For kids who are in bad situations and need help right away, some of these early childhood intervention programs may well be the best thing currently on offer.

But, if we are thinking big picture and long term, we should get our ideals straight. The problem with interventions, however necessary they may sometimes be, is they lead to smug self-congratulation and feed the intractable belief more programs are the answer to everything.

No one really wants to be raised by a broad and co-ordinated system, as a means to the solution of all of society's problems. What we should want is a society that is just good enough for children to be able to develop freely within.

Ironically, while aboriginal people are usually the first targets of these early intervention programs, it is traditional aboriginal cultures that show us the deeper poverty of our segregating and systematizing ways of dealing with children.

GORDON MARCE

Winnipeg

Eight lanes of concrete

I feel your Nov. 18 editorial Take back Portage & Main contains errors in its assumptions. On one hand we build rapid-transit corridors to move people faster, while on the other we look for ways to slow traffic at one of the city's busiest intersections.

The heart of this city is not contained within an intersection often known for its wind conditions. I will never agree that you judge this corner a vibrant success by having people walking across eight lanes of concrete looking at three large banks and a business tower.

Winnipeg's historic central-hub design means much of our traffic is routed through the downtown on these two major corridors. Without costly route modifications, the traffic flow will not change.

Instead, I give credit to the traffic planners of the day who designed a simple, cost-effective solution that has well stood the test of time.

A few strategic enhancements could certainly brighten up the corner and make it more esthetically pleasing and user friendly, but just opening it up to pedestrians isn't the answer.

CARL SHIER

Winnipeg

We all have a role

Re: 'King of morality' riles fellow counsellors (Nov. 22). Justin Swandel: the poor man's Rob Ford.

Laurie Johnston

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 23, 2013 A16

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