Garbage filled Canada – some photos

Here are a few photos that I took in the area around Toronto Beaches.  This is all just up the street from the lakefront, along the Queen Avenue.  Not exactly something you would want to see while having dinner in an outdoor patio…

Nice, eh?

Trip to Canada? What a horrible experience!

On my usual annual family visitation trip to Canada, I am saddened and disgusted by the state in which I find Windsor and Toronto, both in Ontario.

The public workers of both cities are on strike.  They have been on strike for 3 months in Windsor and now close to 1 month in Toronto.  The strike means no garbage collection, no taking care of parks, no life guards at public swimming pools.  The garbage cans everywhere are overflowing with garbage.  Residents can drop off their garbage at 3rd party collection facilities but these are being picketed by the strikers, making the experience as cumbersome as possible.  In Toronto parks garbage is everywhere: in garbage cans, all over the grass, all over the playgrounds.  In Windsor, the formerly beautiful Jackson park is overrun by weeds and wild vegetation of every kind.  The grass is so tall, they will need a harvester to clear it up, if the city workers ever go back to work.  The whole situation, going to a public park, is completely disgusting and is a public health and safety hazard.  I am surprised that the courts are allowing the strike to continue this long.

I don’t know what exactly the strikers want.  I don’t know all the details behind the current situation.  I was told the demands differ somewhat in different cities: preserving their retirement benefits, increase in pay, increase in benefits.  All in all, in the face of today’s economy, the world-wide credit crisis, the rising unemployment I find it impossible to sympathize with the strikers.  When most people out there feel lucky to still have a job, demanding a pay increase is not likely to provoke any feelings of support.  How will these benefits and increases be funded?  Through increased taxes?  Taxes paid by people who are struggling to make ends meet.

These strikes are thoughtless, irresponsible and selfish.  They are damaging the image and the reputation of these Ontario cities.  They are hurting the image of the public workers.  They are hurting the residents of the cities.  These strikes need to end and the strikers need to issue public apologies.

If the strikers do win, and I hope that they won’t, I wonder how they will sleep at night, knowing at what cost to their neighbors and friends this victory was achieved.

In the mean time, I’m going to do my best to try to deal with the filth while I’m here, in Canada.

Illinois Tollway Authority — I want my money back

I have just one question for ISTHA (That’s Illinois State Toll Highway Authority for those not from around here.) This question pops into my head every time I drive past one of those electronic information boards on a Chicago tollway. I want to know how much of MY toll/tax/whatever money went towards putting up these boards. And I want all of that money back. All of it! I refuse to pay for something that doesn’t work. I refuse to pay for an information board that is off 5 days straight. I refuse to pay for an “information” board that does NOT provide any information. Well, any useful information. Sure, if I’m lucky enough and the board is even on, it reminds me to buckle up or not to drink and drive. But at 7 am on my way into the city, approaching a pivotal junction of 2 highways, either of which can take me into downtown Chicago, all I want to know is how long of a trip it would be on one of them vs. the other. Apparently, most of the days, that is too much to ask.

So, welcome to the windy city of wide shoulders. Our taxes are up, our gas prices are the highest in the nation, our tolls are up — where is all that money going? Where are the visible, the obvious results and benefits of all that? Pay the toll, zigzag through a minefield of potholes, endure a traffic jam through yet another never-ending construction zone where the only activity is a newly instituted photo radar van and arrive to a blank information board, leaving you to fear the worst — the traffic up ahead is so bad we don’t even want to tell you about it.

And if you need a “U drink, U drive, U lose” reminder at 7 am, we have a whole different set of issues here.