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Cottage fees not truly frozen

Re: Bills for cottages in provincial parks coming soon, Jan. 31).

The statement "Fees for cottages in 18 provincial parks have been frozen for more than a decade" is inaccurate. I have been a cottager in Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park for several years and know first-hand that fees have not been frozen.

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There are two components to the annual billings Manitoba Parks sends out to cottagers: service fees and land rent. Service fees are for road maintenance, garbage disposal and other basics. These fees have never been frozen -- at least mine have not. In fact, my service fees have almost doubled since 2000-01.

The other component of the billings is land rent. This is the payment cottagers on leased land make to the province for the use of the land.

While it may be correct to say land rents have not increased, overall fees have not been frozen.




More independence needed

I, too, applaud Justin Trudeau's bold action to reform the Senate (Senate salvageable, Letters, Jan. 30).

But why stop there? If Senators could operate better with no party affiliation, shouldn't all elected officials be independent?

It seems problems only arise when politicians band together. The U.S. government is in constant gridlock for no other reason than ideological obstruction, regardless of whether the proposed legislation is good or bad.

Independence nurtures individual creative thought. If all elected officials were chosen based on their intelligence, understanding and, most importantly, ability to compromise for good policy, we would all benefit.




Stephen Harper should not wait for the Supreme Court's decision on the Senate (Manitoba member applauds 'gutsy guy', Jan. 30). The Senate should be independent of any political party and do the job we are paying them to do.

Mr. Trudeau is right to start fresh. As Manitoba Sen. Maria Chaput said, "It was a moment of history."




Cabbies aren't caregivers

I must be missing something about a cab driver's job description if the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority thinks they should be given the responsibility for patient safety after discharge (Cabbies, WRHA to meet, Jan. 31).

A cab driver is a convenient scapegoat if someone is discharged before they are ready.

How about a real plan that involves social-service agencies for at-risk seniors? A real process would take more into account than just someone's transportation home. With our aging population, tragic incidents like those we have seen could easily become the norm.




Balance economy, energy needs

Josh Brandon feels we should panic because of a 6.4 per cent increase in the cost of natural gas (Hydroelectricity the way to go, Letters, Jan. 25), but doesn't present all the facts. The increase can be attributed to the extremely cold winter that has increased the demand for natural gas.

Overall, natural gas prices in Manitoba have decreased substantially over the past 10 years, while electricity has seen increases over the same period. Natural gas prices will likely decrease once we see warming temperatures and supply catches up with the demand.

Brandon's comments are based on conjecture and do nothing to advance the debate on how best to tackle Manitoba's short- and long-term energy needs. Weaning ourselves off fossil fuels is an admirable goal; this cannot be done, however, without considering our way of life and Manitoba's economic viability.

While I agree with Brandon when it comes to conservation, efficiency and cleaner hydroelectricity generation, we must move ahead cautiously to ensure any energy production decisions do not have an adverse effect on Manitoba's economy.




Drivers disregard crosswalk

Something definitely has to change at the city's controlled crosswalks (Crosswalk concerns, Letters, Jan. 31). On four different occasions this week while trying to cross at Pembina Highway and Thatcher Drive, I dutifully pressed the button, only to watch one or two drivers sail through the crosswalk.

It was not a question of slippery road conditions. Other cars had stopped, but these other drivers drove right past the stopped vehicles, with one driver nearly running me down.

I recently gave up my car for safety and financial reasons. Maybe I should go back to driving for my own safety -- to heck with the money.




Accessible grocer needed

Re: Getting groceries downtown, Letters, Jan. 21.

Seniors, students, low-income families and the physically challenged that live in Winnipeg's downtown do not have access to fresh produce and other groceries in their neighbourhoods. We need an affordable and accessible grocery store downtown.

The lack of a nearby grocery store has created hardships for many of us living downtown. Some of us can't just pick up and head off to the nearest store 18 blocks away. It's not always as simple as jumping on a bus, calling a cab or driving off to the closest food emporium.

Food, shelter and safety are the cornerstones of a healthy functioning society. Those of us living downtown need a fully functioning, full-service grocery store.




Deep-freeze continues

In his letter Revelling in the cold (Jan. 4), John Perrin said "I have always thought we should revel in our reputation as the world's coldest large city."

Perrin's words reminded me of something Joe Clark said while addressing the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce back in the early '80s. He urged Canadians to be proud of "settling the winter half of North America."

Good words to live by.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 3, 2014 A8

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