Editorials - Dec. 24, 2020
After weeks of varying levels of restrictions in our colour-coded system and days of waffling on further restrictions, Premier Doug Ford’s government has decided to put the entire province into lockdown to try and stamp out the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The mixed messaging for months between districts left members of the public confused and perhaps not taking the danger as seriously as they should have. Reports of stores on one side of a street being allowed to open, while competitors across the way were forced into curbside pick-up made the rules seem quite arbitrary. The differences between yellow and orange felt like the fine print on an insurance contract.
Hopefully now the message is clear and tangible. The numbers can’t continue to climb without overwhelming our hospitals and intensive care units. The 28-day reset for southern Ontario seems to be the only way to get us to take the virus seriously enough to flatten the curve and protect our most vulnerable citizens and front-line healthcare workers. – DS
A year to remember
This year will be one we always remember. It was the year the world changed. And while it’s true that it was in late 2019 when a little-known virus began spreading in a little-known Chinese city, it was in 2020 that we all grew to know more about COVID-19. The virus has caused a worldwide pandemic, infecting over 75 million people and killing over 1.6 million, though it’s fair to add “and counting” to both numbers.
It was easy to marvel at the universal response from around the world in late March and early April as the world shut down, working together to “flatten the curve” as the experts put it. People stayed home to keep themselves and others safe and essential workers – everyone from the most high-profile doctors to small-town grocery store employees – were lauded for their courage and contribution to society. But, as two weeks turned into a month, and one month turned into 10 (again, and counting), some grew tired and their attitudes changed. There have since been protests from the “live free or die” crowds and the deniers are now out in full force, not only questioning the science behind the coming vaccine, seen as long-awaited salvation by many, but there are others, doomed to the wrong side of history, who deny the pandemic itself.
This was a year of people showing their true colours. It was a year of loss and longing and a year in which people couldn’t grieve those losses or celebrate milestones that may have passed. Many will call it a lost year. It was a year when people showed how much or how little they cared about their fellow humans. It was a year that took an incredible toll on the mental health of many, pushing them to utter hopelessness.
The hope is that 2021 will be a year of rebirth and a year of hope; that the vaccine will keep us safe and the world will slowly return to normal. People will be reunited and their celebrations will be boisterous. January and February may be dark and cold, but spring will usher in a new era. As Thomas Fuller said, the darkest hour is just before dawn. – SL
You can’t skip the line
It’s hard not to draw parallels between the proposed floating glass factory in Stratford and the proposed A2A development in Wingham: they both are raising a lot of eyebrows, concerns and questions about where the money is coming from. The Stratford project, called Xinyi Canada Glass Limited, has some more intricacies which, given that it’s a $400 million project, makes sense, but both foreign-funded projects have resulted in significant concerns from ratepayers.
During recent council meetings, for example, North Huron Council members have questioned whether the people they are or will be talking to regarding the residential development do, indeed, have the right to speak on behalf of the hundreds of investors involved in the project.
In Stratford, activist groups are alleging that the driving forces behind the industrial project may actually put Canada’s economic and national security in jeopardy. Critics are also panning the use of a Minister’s Zoning Order last April that cleared potential legal hurdles.
There are differences between the situations, but Stratford City Council could learn from what North Huron Council is going through. Before council started to pursue the Hutton Heights project, most of its residential development eggs were in the A2A basket, and those eggs went rotten while waiting. Stratford, in allowing the redevelopment for a one-million-square-foot plant, could be doing the same by betting a huge plot of industrial land on one foreign-controlled company.
As North Huron councillors have pointed out, it’s difficult to deal with development when you don’t know who the face of the company is. Loreena McKennitt, founder of Wise Communities Stratford, which stands opposed to the development, says that, similarly, no one has put Xinyi Canada Glass Limited “through its paces.” Foreign investment is great, but sometimes the risk of outside money needs to be weighed against the reward and the resources tied up in the meantime. – JDS