Opinion| Cutting the Cheese

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I was a tad disappointed when I heard Mayor Christian Provenzano Monday night request council put off making a decision as to extending Sackville Road through to Third Line East, as had been recommended by staff.
I recall years ago I thought there were two roads that needed to be either extended or joined to complete the transportation corridors in the city – the extension of Sackville Road being one of them and the joining of Third Line East being the other.
The joining of Third Line East became a reality with the construction of the new Sault Area Hospital, leaving the extension of Sackville Road as the only road remaining for consideration in the city’s Master Plan.
That void would have been filled if staff’s recommendation had been accepted.
However, my disappointment had dissipated before Provenzano finished speaking and council had gone along with his request.
Because it made sense. Now was not the time to make such a decision.
Provenzano said that before the city goes down the road of building a new road, which means another road to plow and maintain, it needs to know where it is going to go in the near term.
He said the committee of adjustment would be presenting a report shortly and that would be the time to have a debate on capital spending.
He said traffic is not the problem, that there are few hours in the day that the area is busy, a reference to the bottleneck that sometimes occurs at  the intersection of Great Northern Road and Second Line.
He’s right.
Actually, we have lived with things the way they are forever without any major problems and there is no indication that the city is going to grow in the near future.
And as Ward 2 Coun. Sandra Hollingsworth pointed out in questioning Fire Chief Mike Figliola’s request for funding for four new vehicles, the city has just been hit hard by the Assessment Appeals Board upholding appeals by Canadian Tire and Home Depot.
Shelley J. Schell, commissioner of finance and treasurer, said in a report that the settlement for the city’s Canadian Tire Store amounts to $1.3 million, of which approximately $930,000 is the municipal share. The settlement for the city’s Home Depot store amounts to $429,000, of which approximately $306,000 is the municipal share. Total assessment lost from 2016 to 2017 is $9.7 million.
As a result of the settlement of the appeal, a refund in the amount of approximately $1.24 million for the municipal share will be paid.
She told council the city has the right to appeal the Minutes of Settlement and require a further
review but it was staff’s opinion that because there was significant municipal involvement in the process, including representation from Northern Ontario in the Municipal Working Group, the likelihood of being successful was minimal.
That kind of loss, of course, should be enough to put a damper on most spending, but council did see its way to let the chief get his new vehicles at a cost of $126,000 and the city’s kids a splash park at a cost of $575,000.
Staff had asked council to approve an amendment to the Official Plan to allow for the Sackville extension.
In providing background in his report Don McConnell, director of planning and enterprise services, said in 2012 council approved an Environmental Assessment Study which considered six different alternatives for improving traffic capacity in the Great Northern Road corridor between Second Line and Third Line. The extension of Sackville Road to Third Line was recommended as the preferred alternative.
Also in February 2015, council approved a new Transportation Master Plan, which also recommended the extension of Sackville Road to Third Line as well as improvements to capacity on Black Road, Second Line and Third Line. And as part of the approved 2017 Capital Works program, council has approved funding for the extension of Sackville Road to Third Line.
So everything actually is in place.
If council decides the bucks are there after hearing the committee of adjustment report, it can go ahead.
If it doesn’t, it can put it off for another day and place the money where it can be put to better use.
One way or the other, it really isn’t going to affect the lives of all that many people, and for some of us, who never travel the area, not at all.
So so much for my short-lived disappointment.
I recently went early to a Soo Greyhound game to have dinner in the Essar Centre restaurant with a friend. We both have season tickets.
It was an enjoyable experience except for the loudness of the music, the same loudness and crappy music that we in the stands have to experience during intermission between the second and third periods.
It makes it hard to think, let alone talk.
It may be too much to ask those in charge to lower the volume for all three periods, dinner and the two intermissions, so I gladly will settle for even just giving those having dinner a break.
My chances? Probably slim to none.
While I am on complaints I will share a couple of others.
Retailers seem to think we are all stupid with their buy one and get one 50% off advertising, which really just means getting 25% off both.
Their assessment of our smarts is enough to keep me away from all such offers.
And now to cheddar cheese as it is packaged in Canada.
It at one time came in a 600-gram slab but now many companies have gone all the way down to 400 grams, meaning the slabs are becoming so thin they will soon be able to be sold as razor blades.
Come on, people. Start cutting the length in half and bulking up the middle.
Doug Millroy can be reached at dmillroy@gmail.com.

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