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The European company set to build a spa and waterpark complex at Ontario Place says it listened to concerns from Toronto officials and community activists and has enlarged the planned parkland that would surround its facility, submitting plans that include 12 acres of publicly accessible pathways and gardens and a 200-metre long beach. The Vienna-based Therme Group’s Canadian arm provided The Globe and Mail with new detailed designs for its $350-milllion greenhouse-like complex, and the public park the company says it would build around it, that were included in redevelopment plans the Ontario government submitted to the City of Toronto.Therme Group

Sharing the roads

Re “Governments must invest in bike infrastructure to prevent cyclist injuries and deaths” (Opinion, Aug. 12): There’s that expression, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Well, cyclists and pedestrians have an inch and motorists have a mile. It’s been that way forever.

You have to wonder what the resistance to bike lanes is all about. Motorists have the safety of two tonnes of armour, their own lanes and bottomless taxpayer financing for roads and free parking. They speak about the “war on cars” as though it’s a bad thing.

There are some people who, from the comfort of their windshields, seem to be in favour of other people’s smashed faces, collapsed lungs, perforated guts and brain injuries. For those needing a more vivid description, emergency physician Brian Wall goes into gruesome detail in his opinion piece about perfectly avoidable situations that routinely ruin the lives of people on bicycles.

We are in a climate catastrophe and obesity epidemic. This needs to change immediately if not sooner with car-free urban bike lane networks to meaningful destinations. “Inconvenience” to motorists, cost and space are obsolete excuses for inaction. The popularity of bike commuting has spread and must be supported with public safety measures.

Anne Hansen Victoria

As a pedestrian who frequents the Spirit Trail in North Vancouver, B.C., I can attest that this shared trail is not safe for pedestrians.

There are a large number of selfish cyclists who refuse to ring their bells or yell to warn us. Similarly with motorized scooters. I have now taken to walking on the left so as to face oncoming cyclists.

Should I now invest in a helmet and other protective gear before my daily walk? Tell me, Brian Wall, what do I need to do to avoid finding myself or my friends in your ER?

Peter Davidson North Vancouver, B.C.

Driveway debate

Re “Unblocking the secret to urban bliss” (Aug. 21): I agree with the editorial that we should turn Ottawa’s Queen Elizabeth Driveway into a year-round park.

For a decade more than 40 years ago, my wife and I raised our two teenaged daughters on the Driveway. It was a delightful downtown location from which parents walked to work and children could make their way to school independently. We used the Rideau Canal for skating parties in winter and for pleasant walks to Dow’s Lake in the open-water seasons.

Our residence wasn’t intended for cars (there was a narrow laneway at the rear with a small space for parking), and our auto remained parked most of the time. Cars, trucks and buses were a nuisance on the narrow, winding roadway of the Driveway.

Les Dominy Renfrew, Ont.

While I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of reducing traffic in cities, I wonder if the editorial board or the many well-meaning and supportive letter-writers (”Driving out cars” – Letters, Aug. 24) have actually seen the situation first-hand, as I have.

I would be surprised if even one of the affected commuters has turned to public transit as a result of this odd measure.

All that has happened is the dense stream of cars that once drove downtown relatively unencumbered via the Queen Elizabeth Driveway must now divert west for a short slog through a residential neighbourhood. After eight blocks of stop signs, speed bumps, crossing guards, parents, children, shoppers, cyclists, skateboarders and occasional ball hockey games, they roar back onto the Driveway to continue their commute.

A better idea: Close the whole Driveway. But first, build a workable public transit system.

Donald Hall Ottawa

For the people

Re “Ontario Place is a battle for the public good. Its architects are on the wrong side” (Aug. 17): Alex Bozikovic’s column is a much-needed rebuttal to the opinion piece by Donald Schmitt and Gary McCluskie (“As the architects behind Therme’s Ontario Place project, we feel the park’s revitalization is key to Toronto’s future” – July 21).

The architects’ thinly-veiled promotional piece for privatizing precious public land refers to the public consultation process. What’s the point of consulting if the government doesn’t adjust its plan based on what it hears?

The Ontario government has ignored the almost unanimously negative public reaction to the Therme Spa 95-year lease plan and the objections made by the City of Toronto. The hundreds of online comments to these two articles point to many flaws in the plan. Keeping Ontario Place green and free is the most common suggestion. If only the Ford government would listen.

Rosemary Waterston Toronto

Midway memories

Re “It’s special having the CNE as a generational tradition” (First Person, Aug. 17): Brad Furlott’s lovely essay on his unbroken visits to the beloved Canadian National Exhibition every year could have been written by me.

It was heartwarming to read the essay after hearing many radio hosts say it’s time to change the fair or close it down.

His memories of entering the baby contest, attending many times with his mom and aunts, and sitting on the grass eating food brought from home to cut costs are all mirror replays of my childhood. My biggest smile was his memory of cutting daily coupons called the Tely Fun Cheques out of the paper to save money on the rides.

He talks of continuing the CNE tradition with all his family and extended family, keeping his streak alive. The “old girl” has changed, as he said, but the magic and tradition still rings true.

Laurel Grasset Oakville, Ont.

Brad Furlott’s reminiscences about going to the Canadian National Exhibition prompted me to recall my own travels to the CNE in the 1950s.

By the age of 13, I and my friend Sandy were deemed old enough and presumably responsible enough to go to the CNE, on our own, from Burlington, Ont., about 40 kilometres away, by Greyhound bus. It was truly a rite of passage.

No one had previously taken us to the CNE. How did we even know about it? Maybe from older children? By 8 a.m., we were at the designated bus stop on Lakeshore Boulevard. We perhaps had $10 each for our big adventure. It was easy to know when to exit the bus: Everyone was getting off to go to the CNE.

Very quickly we made our way to the food building where we picked up a free bag and as many samples of free food as we could – little hot dogs, cheese, a small cup of tomato soup. We were scroungers and the challenge was to not purchase any food the whole day, but to find sufficient free samples. And have money for the midway rides. I loved the roller coaster.

The horse and agricultural barns were most interesting, but the highlight of the day was the afternoon grandstand show. One year we were entertained by Bob Hope. Wow.

I never attended the CNE as an adult, but transferred my longings for the CNE to the Calgary Stampede. I suppose a day at the Stampede for someone in their early 80s is another rite of passage.

Mary Valentich Calgary

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