Today’s letters: The frustrations of the ArriveCAN app; LRT blues; and protesters

Saturday, July 9: You can write to us too, at [email protected]

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What use is the ArriveCAN app?

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Re: Letter, This app breaches our privacy,  July 4.

To reduce the risk of importing and transmitting COVID-19 and its variants, the government of Canada created ArriveCAN.  However, no evidence of the benefits and costs of ArriveCAN is offered. Has ArriveCAN reduced the incidence of COVID or even helped track the number of cases? The prime minister said that his government follows “the science”: — so what is the science behind ArriveCAN?

Reports indicate that ArriveCAN adds to the delays when entering Canada by air or land, which adds to the frustration and resentment of Canadian and foreign travellers. Even Canada Border Services Agents are reportedly frustrated with ArriveCAN.

Once a traveller has crossed into Canada using ArriveCAN with proof of vaccination, re-inputting proof of vaccination on subsequent crossings is not needed. So exactly what new information is ArriveCAN contributing on subsequent crossings? And if vaccinations were received several months earlier and there is no new information, why does ArriveCAN have to be completed within 72 hours of entering Canada?

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Given today’s technology, why does the government need to know the specific land border crossing?  And why does ArriveCAN require the specific time of day of the planned crossing?

Arthur Rabinovitch, Ottawa

You don’t really need this app

I don’t have a cellphone, so I have no ArriveCAN app when travelling. Returning recently from London Heathrow, I was asked at the airport to complete a two-page form in lieu of the ArriveCAN. I gave the form to the check-in person at the gate and everything was fine.

A tip: Stop over in Halifax en route to Ottawa — it’s super easy when there’s no direct flight to Ottawa from London — thereby avoiding Toronto and Montreal.

Anne Marie Knox, Carleton Place

Not everyone can use ArriveCAN

The letter-writer who found the ArriveCAN app so easy to use is missing the point. It is a problem for people like myself who do not have a smartphone. I am told that it isn’t a problem, as I can just go to a public computer, input the information, print out a receipt and show this on entry to Canada.

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It’s not always easy to do this. There are also people who are computer-illiterate. While many boomers have embraced 21st-century technology, many cannot or do not wish to. Do not put roadblocks in our way so that we cannot travel.

Judith O’Rourke, Aylmer

How to never lose your luggage

In addition to late and cancelled flights, another of the many ills plaguing the folks suffering through the summer of discontent in Canada’s airports is lost luggage. There is a simple solution: travel with only a carry-on.

We have been doing this for years and it has saved us countless headaches. And please note that the carry-on is enough whether your trip is a long weekend or five weeks. The trick is planning to do a bit of laundry along the way and not packing for every eventuality. A quick shopping trip can solve most “emergency” needs.

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A friend once told me: “There are two kinds of luggage: carry-on and lost.” Having experienced the latter on more than one occasion, I was won over to the former and have not looked back. There is no better feeling than knowing that your vacation will not be ruined by lost luggage, unless it is breezing your way to passport control while everyone else anxiously plays luggage roulette at the carousel.

Sharon W. Moren, Kanata

Keep Escapade out of urban area

While I did not buy a ticket, I attended the Escapade Music Festival in Ottawa without leaving my home, located four kilometres away and 21 storeys up from Lansdowne Park. I did so not because I wanted to, not even because I enjoyed what passed for music at the event; rather I attended because I had no other choice. I have a bilateral hearing impairment, and even without the use of my hearing aides the noise was so loud it was as if it were playing in my living room. Coun. Shawn Menard is quoted as tweeting, “I know there is a rethink going on about where this (festival) should be located.”  The solution is quite simple: as far away from urban areas as possible.

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I have been told that my discomfort over the noise is the price of living in such a vibrant cultural city. I am not convinced. The statistics paint a very different picture: one person who attended Escapade is dead; 16 others were taken to hospital for life-threatening overdoses and heat exhaustion, among other things. It put an unnecessary strain on an already over-burdened medical system. I spoke with business owners who found the crowds unruly and frustrating. The festival has been held in several different locations throughout the city over the years. Why? Perhaps because of noise levels impacting the quiet enjoyment of people who did not want to have anything to do with the festival.

As an artist myself, I understand what it’s been like living without concerts and live theatre events these past two years. But I also know that not everyone wants to take part in every single outdoor event that occurs because, through no fault of their own, they live within earshot of the venue. I suggest you either rethink the Escapade location or hold it in an enclosed venue with much better security and narcotics enforcement.

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Catherine McDowell, Ottawa

Tax-break criteria should be stricter

Re: Council OK’s tax break program for development around Ottawa airport, July 6.

One could possibly rationalize giving out property-tax breaks for future development projects at the Ottawa Airport if it can be clearly demonstrated that such developments would only happen because of the financial incentive. If the new development was going to go ahead anyways, then the tax break is nothing but a public subsidy or bonus to the land owner or business tenant (the new Porsche dealership on St. Laurent Boulevard comes to mind) and the resultant tax shortfall has to be picked up by the rest of us. It is not free, as city staff claim.

The Airport Community Improvement Plan purposely leaves this decision criterion out when future grant applications involving airport properties are brought forward for council approval, thereby removing any political accountability and at a time when the city is facing serious budget challenges.

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Dan Stankovic, Orléans

Bravo to a citizen who intervened

Re: ‘It’s just who I am’ — Man says he confronted Alta Vista murder suspect as he harassed teenager weeks prior to killings, June 5.

As a parent, I was pleased to read about the unnamed landscaper who came to the rescue of the young lady who was in obvious distress and possible danger from Joshua Graves. What a great citizen of our city.

Even without hindsight from what transpired later (the killing of a mother and daughter by Graves), I’m dismayed to hear the landscaper’s company reprimanded him for getting involved.

John D. Maxwell, Metcalfe

LRT badly needed good communication

Re: City manager defends decision on LRT failures, July 5.

“It’s like sitting down and writing a three-hour exam in university. I don’t do well in the first three questions, but I ace the next 15 and I pass the exam,” city manager Steve Kanellakos told the commission studying the light-rail system.

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No, a train that will carry thousands of people should pass every single test. I voted for a councillor with enough intelligence to understand the importance of testing a new, complex and very expensive train. He was needlessly kept in the dark by the city manager and mayor. The alternative isn’t “rescinding (Kanellakos’s) authority”; it’s better communication. And here we are.

Pat Drummond, Manotick

Was the initial design properly evaluated? 

While I have not followed the LRT inquiry on a regular basis, it seems there has been a lot of attention on the back-and-forth communications on the pre-rollout period and on those early after-launch problems. What I have not seen is information on whether or not the initial design and specifications were thoroughly evaluated.

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Considering that most, if not all, LRTs/subways are built on straight tracks/rails with only gentle curves that do not require the rolling equipment to slow to a crawl, like that section between the St. Laurent and Lees stations, what criteria were used in making the decision to use that section of curved transitway, one that been designed for buses and not an LRT system?

Rollout issues aside, taxpayers need to be reassured that the design and specifications were consistent with what had been done elsewhere in places with conditions that mirrored those in Ottawa. Or, did cost considerations influence a “good enough” mentality in order to secure the required funding?

Dale Boire, Ottawa

Anti-vaccine vet deserves congratulations

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Re: James Topp says he’ll continue his anti-vaccine mandate march to Newfoundland, July 6.

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Canadian veteran James Topp for completing his walk across Canada. Few citizens would have the courage to complete such a feat.

To a vocal minority which showed up downtown to heckle and shout profanities as he entered the city, your behaviour is appalling, and the energy would been better spent doing something more productive.

Matthew Lemieux, Orléans

Tamara Lich has been treated poorly

I am incensed at the treatment of protester Tamara Lich. She has been treated like a murderer or worse. A Canada-wide search warrant (reserved for the most dangerous of offenders) dragged her back to Ottawa from her place of work (embarrassing her in front of co-workers), and put her in detention just before Canada’s national holiday (away from her family). All for what? Because she allegedly breached a bail condition for having her picture taken with someone while in the presence of her lawyers (as per her bail condition).

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And why was she on bail anyway? Accused of counselling mischief? Good grief.

I am thoroughly fed up with this witch-hunt against honest, hard-working Canadians like Tamara Lich, and all the protesters who came to Ottawa to fight for MY freedom.

Patricia Maloney, Ottawa

Help make Ottawa roads safer

On Canada Day, an Ottawa man was killed in a two-vehicle crash while out getting sparklers. Earlier last month, a driver allegedly struck a pedestrian in Lowertown and fled the scene. This past February, a 13-year-old girl was severely injured and underwent emergency brain surgery and was put into a medically induced coma after being struck by a driver. This driver also fled the scene.

Road related collisions have an immense human cost. In 2020, 1,745 Canadians were killed on our roads (Transport Canada 2020). In Ottawa, between 2016 and 2020, more than 16,699 injuries resulted from vehicular collisions, including 131 fatalities and 676 major injuries (Collision Data Summary Ottawa, City of Ottawa 2022).

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Road-related collisions also have a significant economic cost. The total economic cost of injury in Canada is estimated at $29.4 billion, including $20.4 billion in direct health-care costs. This translates to an average of $56 million spent per day in the health-care system that could be allocated to other needs in the system. Everyone can play a role in making the roads safer for all.

The Ottawa Safety Council is seeking the public’s support in making roads safer. Join us in being Road Smart to ensure that everyone can get to where they need to go, safely. We offer many free resources on our website: www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca.

Jamie Kwong, Executive Director, Ottawa Safety Council

Be careful how you label people

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Re: Elderly Woman Dies After Being Hit By Garbage Truck, July 6.

I resent the fact your print edition labelled this individual “an elderly woman.”This woman most likely still had a vibrant life to live. Being in your 70s does not automatically make you “elderly.” My heart goes out to her family for the loss of life.

Donna Frank, Carp

Closing The Driveway is ludicrous

Part of The Queen Elizabeth Driveway is closed to vehicles until Labour Day. This is ludicrous considering it is barely used during the week by “active people” — who are supposedly at work. It is also guarded by security people with cars that are often left running, a dreadful and unnecessary expense as well as a pollutant.

There are several high rises nearby, with many residents inconvenienced by this closure. The closure also impedes emergency vehicles, and discriminates against those with accessibility issues who cannot drive by to enjoy the canal.

The NCC needs to consider the needs of everyone, not just one group.

Ros Biggar, Ottawa

Senators’ departure won’t hurt Kanata

Re: Letter, Kanata will suffer if the arena moves, July 2.

It is doubtful that Kanata will suffer significantly with the exit of the Ottawa Senators. Atomic Energy of Canada relocated there in 1965, followed by Mitel and a host of companies and businesses, 27 years before the Senators arrived. People came to Kanata for the environment and job opportunities.

Kanata will continue to sustain “a vibrant economy” long after the Senators leave.

David Russell, Kanata

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