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People wear face masks as they walk along Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal on Dec. 4, 2021.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Too late

Re Province Unveils Virus Strategy As Cases Rise (March 30): Since March, 2020, many people have assumed that what is allowed by government equates to what is safe. Except it doesn’t, and poor communication about ever-changing rules has made the situation worse.

Ontario should not be surprised that people are “increasing their normal activities more than anticipated as restrictions lifted.” It’s like lifting a teen’s curfew, then being surprised when they don’t come home at 11 p.m.

Marg Heidebrecht Hamilton

Here to help

Re Ukrainian Students In Canada Grapple With War’s Fallout (March 28): In Kingston, the Mayor’s Fund for Students from Ukraine recently made financial aid available to 10 Ukrainian students attending Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College.

Our goal is to help Ukrainian students continue with their educations, even if they are cut off from family support. Our initiative should be copied in university and college towns across Canada.

It’s a modest project, but it blunts some of the great harm done by the Russian war against Ukraine.

Nadia Luciuk Ukrainian Canadian Club of Kingston

Crypto curiosity

Re Province Looks To Become Cryptocurrency Hub (March 28): So Alberta is planning to become a cryptocurrency hub. Yet most of us have no understanding of cryptocurrency.

We know that it is apparently great for money laundering and contributions to questionable, possibly illegal, fundraising. We know that it seems to be a toy for Elon Musk who can single-handedly increase or decrease its value with a single tweet. We know that we are now being bombarded with celebrity promotions and that organizations are entering into sponsorship deals.

Other issues aside, the biggest problem to me is the vast amount of energy consumed by “mining,” with no clear benefit to larger society. At the same time as we are trying to limit fossil fuel consumption for useful endeavours such as food production and travel, we appear ready to increase the climate problem with crypto activity and virtually no regulation.

David Steele Regina

Tell me more

Re Ontario Power Generation Executives Top Province’s Sunshine List Of Best-paid Public-sector Workers (March 26): In the interest of transparency and comparability with the private sector, let’s call the “sunshine list” the “partly cloudy list.”

The list fails to disclose significant aspects of compensation in the public service such as defined benefit pensions, lifetime medical benefits, severance payments on retirement and termination with cause, payment for unused vacation and sick days, etc. These compensation packages are effectively guaranteed by employers that don’t go broke or move to other jurisdictions because it can be cheaper to operate elsewhere.

It seems that only taxpayers who fund the public service can go broke or be forced to move to less taxing jurisdictions.

Richard Austin Toronto

Good things grow …

Re Construction Begins On Ontario Line Subway (March 28): Metrolinx and provincial politicians say that they have learned from the disruption caused by construction of transit along Eglinton Avenue in Toronto. They promise to do better with the Ontario Line subway, yet there appears to be precious little thought to the potential disruption and lasting damage done by this project.

Thorncliffe Park will lose much of its local commercial space to above-grade rail and an at-grade maintenance yard. Granted, transit requires these facilities to operate effectively. But their location, within one of the city’s largest immigrant communities, raises troubling questions about equity and social status.

In spite of assurances to the contrary, it appears that officials have learned little from previous experience. In Thorncliffe Park, a community that truly deserves much better transit service, the heart of it will be destroyed and residents will live with elevated transit structures in perpetuity.

Residents are right to demand better.

David McKillop Toronto

Re Ontario’s Housing Crisis Demands Big Change, And Ford Blinked (March 31): The housing affordability crisis in the Greater Toronto Area is a product of a complex convergence of forces, and will likely continue to defy all sorts of simplistic solutions proposed by the Ford government and its housing task force.

The government has already engaged in an aggressive cutting of “red tape” in favour of the development industry. The result has been a construction boom where the rate of production is exceeding the rate of population growth, but failing to deliver housing that is affordable and communities that are livable and sustainable.

There should be a better and more evidence-based approach, one that responds to the underlying economic, demographic and political drivers of the housing crisis, and produces communities in which people would actually want to live.

Mark Winfield Co-chair, Sustainable Energy Initiative, faculty of environmental and urban change, York University; Toronto

Re Ontario Bill Plans To Boost Housing Supply While Prices Keep Rising (March 31): Look at what is currently being built: In the suburbs, it’s 10,000-square-foot monster homes; in downtown Toronto, it’s 700-square-foot two-bedroom condos – neither of which will address the need for affordable housing.

Where are mid-rise rental buildings? Where are duplexes and triplexes? Where are affordable three-bedroom townhomes? Developers only seem interested in making a profit rather than addressing the housing problem.

There should be a multipronged strategy that includes non-profit development; incentives to build rental units; amended zoning rules that promote densification and diversity in existing built areas; restraints on the development of subdivisions filled with monster homes.

As long as profit is the main driver for the development industry, we likely will not see a solution to the housing problem.

Robert Lachance Toronto

Library landmark

Re A New Chapter Is Set For The University Of Toronto’s Brutalist Behemoth ‘Fort Book’ (March 26): Robarts Library will always be beautiful to me, as it was to Umberto Eco who loved it, and for whom it partially inspired the labyrinthine monastic library in The Name of the Rose.

Robarts is the crown jewel in the third-largest academic library system in North America after Harvard and Yale. To quote the eldest monk of Mr. Eco’s fictional monastery: “The library is a great labyrinth, sign of the labyrinth of the world.” May it ever stand as a monument to the value of inquiry.

Ryan Whyte Toronto

1973 was my first of seven glorious years spent at the University of Toronto. More hours than I can count were spent on the 13th floor of Robarts Library with friends, looking out of the triangular windows and discussing courses, as well as socializing.

I believe I can speak for all of my student confrères: It was the inside of Robarts that was so welcoming; we barely noticed the outside. A building is what one makes of it – I think we made it the best.

Steven Brown Toronto

Open book

Re Willis To Step Away From Acting Due To Illness (March 31): Bruce Willis and his family had the courage to share a diagnosis of aphasia, which prevents him from continuing his acting career. We believe they did a great public service by creating awareness of this debilitating and cruel condition.

Until a good friend was diagnosed with aphasia, we had not heard of it. Too many people, for example, avoid mentioning causes of death in obituaries because of privacy or shame. Doing so could help the public realize that anyone can be hit by any disease.

Is cancer or a heart attack somehow more acceptable than mental illness, suicide or COVID-19? We wish Mr. Willis and his family – and all others who go through difficult times – the strength they need.

Yvonne and Bob Temple Ottawa

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