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Today’s letters: 24 Sussex Drive is part of our history. Preserve it

Today’s letters: 24 Sussex Drive is part of our history. Preserve it

Saturday, Sept. 2: The fate of the prime minister’s residence, the state of shipbuilding, and the Queen Elizabeth Driveway draw readers’ attention. You can write to us too, at

Published Sep 02, 2023  •  Last updated 12 hours ago  •  10 minute read

24 Sussex Drive
24 Sussex Drive: What to do with the crumbling edifice? Photo by Tony Caldwell /POSTMEDIA

It should always be the prime minister’s residence

Re: Deachman: Don’t light a match to 24 Sussex just yet, Aug. 30.

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24 Sussex Drive is a part of Canada. It is part of our heritage much like 10 Downing Street is to England or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is to the United States. The property should be renovated, restored, preserved and protected. You don’t tear down or demolish that which is part of Canada.

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An on-time, on-budget tender should be put out to private Canadian contractors. “On time” means just that, not months or years of delays and cost overruns. Hire a contractor that knows the fixed-cost budget beforehand.

The NCC just spent four years and $20 million renovating a boat house, yet forgot to budget for a parking lot. The NCC should not be involved in the renovations and restoration of 24 Sussex. A budget of $25 million should be more than enough to clean the place up, with new wiring, new plumbing, new windows, new roof, appliances, new walls, painting and flooring. Let’s get it back to what it’s always been and always will be known as: the residence of the prime minister of Canada.

Peter A. Ferguson, Gatineau

Let the PM live at Rideau Hall

We should move the prime minister into Rideau Hall and build a tiny house for the Governor General.

Jonas Barter, Almonte

What about taxes for 24 Sussex?

Re: Revised Vacant Unit Tax to carry on, Aug. 24.

I want to express my opposition to the Vacant Unit Tax. It is bureaucratic, unequal and unfair.

As we know, 24 Sussex Drive has been left vacant for the past eight years. Has the owner paid the 2023 Vacant Unit Tax? I didn’t think so.

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Vincent Licandro, Kanata

Vandalizing art is just childish

Re: Climate protester throws paint on Thompson painting at the National Gallery of Canada; one person arrested, Aug 29.

Tom Thomson was probably more at home and at peace with himself when he was in nature than elsewhere, and this love and respect for nature is evident in his paintings, so the connection between this iconic Canadian artist and an angry paint hurling protester is a head-scratcher.

Attempting to damage famous art is not a new trend, but apart from gaining attention and ending up charged and possibly going to jail, how does this help solve the climate change crisis?

Great artists open people’s eyes to beauty and truth. Trying to destroy a creative work under the pretence of calling attention to the environment is twisted logic. Everyone knows that climate change is a real threat, but destruction is not the answer. If protesters care so much and are so stressed out about the climate, then perhaps they might be more helpful by getting involved with solutions, rather than in shallow and exhibitionist activities.

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This is protesting for protest’s sake. It’s not a means to an end; it is a childishly futile and dead-end exercise.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

Boom-and-bust in shipbuilding

Re: Irving gets $463 million more from taxpayers for troubled warship program, Aug. 15.

The handful of large shipbuilders in Canada is largely dependent on purchases by the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. Neither buys many ships, nor do they buy them often. It is a precarious business of boom-and-bust.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy attempts to stabilize the industry by stretching procurements over longer periods and designating yards that can bid on projects. Irving Shipbuilding is responsible for the Canadian Surface Combatant project, winning a contract in 2021 to deliver 15 ships between 2005 and 2050. Presumably, their bid convinced evaluators that they are capable of building the ships.

David Pugliese reported that the government was investing $463 million in Irving infrastructure to enhance and accelerate construction. Accelerating construction contradicts efforts to stabilize the workforce over a longer period. Boom-or-bust again. Enhancing infrastructure is not the responsibility of the government, as Irving has conceded by investing “more than $400 million.” If I agreed on a price for a new car, should I be liable to pay the dealer an extra sum to upgrade his service department ?

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To the workers of Irving, I can’t find where Pugliese insulted you. No one questions your ability to build good ships, and your record is great. The Halifax Class are among the best multi-purpose frigates in the world. The shipbuilding strategy is your friend; accelerated production may not be.

Contrary to the president of Irving Shipbuilding, I found  Pugliese’s article convincing, and well written.

Cdr.(Retd.) John W. McDermott, RCN,  Carlsbad Springs

Turn the Driveway into a park

Re: What happens when Mark Sutcliffe’s Queen Elizabeth Drive data gets driven too far? Aug. 28.

As a long-time user of Colonel By Drive and the Queen Elizabeth Driveway on my way to work at the courthouse downtown, it was hard for me to imagine shutting down those crucial commuter routes. The beautiful homes, the canal, the gardens — these were the best part of any morning or evening drive.

Which is why I changed my mind after parking at Dow’s Lake one day and walking the length of the canal to the Ottawa River and back. The entire distance deserves to become one of the world’s great urban parks. Tearing up the asphalt and leaving it to walkers, bikes, wheelchairs, scooters and park benches would be one of the finest things that could be done to make a statement about the city, especially if there was an equal commitment to ensuring it was well plowed and usable in winter.

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There are few things in the city that do not scream “designed by a committee.” Compromise is the best adjectival description of Ottawa. The canal is a unique landscape that has few equals in Canada, and — the city having given much of Lansdowne over to shopping — it offers a chance to rectify that awful wrong.

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe: in my view, you are a breath of fresh air in a stifled city hall, but on this one you are wrong.  Drivers can find an alternative, but there is only one Rideau Canal, and it should be a park.

Tom Curran, Prince Edward County

Many other things to focus on

I wish Mayor Mark Sutcliffe would focus his energy on homelessness, the LRT, city services for families and climate actions instead of locking horns with everyone and his dog using willy-nilly numbers to prove his point about the Queen Elizabeth Driveway closure to vehicles during the summer.

Bruce Deachman is right to point out that if you have your head in the oven and your feet in the freezer, statistically you are doing OK.

Marie-Lyne Fréchette, Orléans

Everyone’s data is incomplete

I take issue with the NCC’s data on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway as much as Bruce Deachman takes issue with the municipal data.

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No one is counting the cyclists and pedestrians who are still using the cycling and walking paths while the Driveway is closed to vehicles. I bike this road three days a week, and there are usually more cyclists and pedestrians on the paths than on the road.

No one has offered a baseline of data from when the Driveway was always open to vehicles. Everyone’s conclusions will be flawed without these accompanying, comparative points.

Both the mayor and Deachman are simply inflaming a poor decision by the NCC. The closure is not informed by any existing, local, public policy problem, and the NCC is ignoring the fact that it has jurisdiction over a road that is located in a broader context.

Closing this path is very limited and exclusive. What is being achieved, except for a very few local residents? There are many residents of the Glebe who do not support this closure.

Randy Innes, Ottawa

Experimental farm is unique to us

Re: Denley: Be bold and transform the Experimental Farm, Aug. 16.

Randall Denley’s suggestion for the Central Experimental Farm is outrageous and incredible. Turn it into Central Park? I don’t think so. Why would we want to copy Americans?

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What is distinct about the farm is that it is Canadian. It is a historical tribute and memory of our agricultural past. It is not a green space park. We are not American and don’t want to be culturally influenced by them more than we already are.

This is not NIMBYism. This is about preserving our past and treasuring something that is unique among today’s cities. How many other places have a farm in the middle of a population of one million?

This is also about respect for science and research, something sorely lacking in today’s climate change-challenged world. Denley downplays the scientific aspect with his suggestion, giving no credence to the ongoing research. He is wrong.

Ann Bird, Ottawa

Three questions on transparency

Re: Transparency, communication top new city manager’s agenda, Aug. 24.

If rhetoric counted, the City of Ottawa would be top-ranked in promises about trust, transparency and accountability.

However, in the real world rhetoric does not count, especially when most members of two councils, including mayors Jim Watson and Mark Sutcliffe, did not respond to recent surveys asking the question, “Do you agree that citizens are entitled to free, easy, timely, and direct online access to City of Ottawa public records?”

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That level of access to public records is the only way to hold politicians to levels of trust, transparency and accountability set by citizens.

As the survey author, I have three questions to ask Sutcliffe on behalf of citizens:

1. Do you agree that citizens are entitled to free, easy, timely, and direct online access to City of Ottawa public records?

2. If you agree, what are you doing to ensure that level of access is achieved to the standard of best practice?

3. If you do not agree, what are you doing to ensure that citizens have proper access to the evidence needed to establish that claims about trust, transparency and accountability are the real deal and not just empty rhetoric?

I suggest that Mayor Sutcliffe reply on these pages.

Barry Wellar, Ottawa

No wonder some seniors favour MAiD

Re: It’s not OK for Boomers because governments did not plan for their dignified old age, Aug. 23.

Patrician Spindel is overly optimistic about boomers getting the kind of care they want and deserve. I see no evidence that the Doug Ford government is getting the message, and the kind of change Spindel talks about is not going to happen overnight.

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With the current state of long-term care in Ontario, is it any wonder that there is heightened interest in Medical Assistance in Dying (MaiD) and concerns that the enabling legislation is being abused?

Boomers, especially those who have recent experience with parents or grandparents, vigorously reject the current iteration of long-term care in Ontario. The opportunity to face death in a dignified manner on your own terms through MaiD is understandably appealing to many. We need to consider laws that would allow us to plan in advance for the day when lack of capacity robs us of the ability to provide the contemporaneous consent called for by the current legislation.

This would not be an easy task, and one that may ultimately prove impossible due to the legal, medical and ethical minefields to be navigated. Still, it is a discussion worth having.

Gerald Dust, Orléans

Cohen captures cultural shift

Re: The American West is having its moment — thanks to Barbie and Beyoncé, Aug. 30.

Hats off to Andrew Cohen for presenting a unique and sometimes amusing view of how the evolution of culture has influenced our view of the American West. Well done.

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Rod Ralph, Nepean

Thanks for gentle treatment of friend

A sincere thanks to the very kind, compassionate police officer who helped me rescue a dear friend who was in distress but was securely locked inside her home.

This officer managed to find a way inside. He was kind and gentle with my somewhat confused friend. I’m sorry I did not get his name or thank him properly. Same for the EMT team who followed.

My friend is now in safe hands, her future to be determined.  I, and her family, are very grateful and thankful for the kind, efficient service received.

Mary James, Ottawa

Golda review wasn’t balanced

It is most unfortunate  that the Ottawa Citizen chose to use the review of the movie “Golda” from the Washington Post rather than have a local and more objective reviewer.

The initial comment, “The film (is) a dull portrait of the prime minister that only scratches the surface of her life“ was erroneous as the film was meant to capture only a period when she was in power during the Yom Kippur War.

Many with whom I have spoken with found it riveting and informative, with brilliant actors. The direction and script were flawless and I hope people will go to see it to learn more about the era and the angst of leadership.

Congratulations to the writer of this magnificent screenplay, Nicholas Martin. What a combination: the incredible actor Helen Mirren, Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, and screenwriter Martin.

Paula Agulnik, Ottawa


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