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Spring Breakup

The spring breakup has begun along the shores of on Lake Nipissing.
The spring breakup has begun along the shores of on Lake Nipissing. Do not rush down to Marathon beach expecting to paddle, pant legs rolled up, in the shallow cold water, or safely wade in black rubber boots almost high enough to keep out the frigid water. Wait a few weeks before you drag the kayak out of winter storage. Breakup is only in its first stage.

The first stage of spring breakup starts about 150 meters from the shoreline. It starts on the east side of Lakeshore Drive and then slowly works its way to the beaches. The first signs are there now – pavement breaking up like black ice, deceptive puddles that are deep enough to bend a tire rim, hundreds of thumping holes that will require a trip to the wheel alignment shop.

Anyone who drives Lakeshore knows that the road is long overdue for resurfacing. It is not unique in the City in that regard. In the meantime, I suppose City Works crews can do little to patch these holes when they are filled with water that freezes at night, thaws in the daytime and is covered with snow a couple of times a week. Even the smallest crack seems to quickly erode into a crater with the pounding of traffic until the hole gets big enough to warrant a pylon or sign and finally some cold mix.

Filling potential potholes in the last warm days of fall to make sure the roads are ready for winter may be part of the answer to the spring breakup. I suspect there is a fortune to be made by someone who can devise a cold weather asphalt patching method for spring potholes. Is anyone working on this?

There are other signs of breakups this spring. The Federal Liberal party is breaking up many of the old Chrétien alliances prior to an election call. The Martinites are taking control, trying to address the weekly scandals and mismanagement that are popping up like spring dog doodoo in the back yard. The promises of change by CSL Martin are as refreshing as a spring crocus, but will likely only last as long as said blooms.

In Toronto, the Dalton Gang is meddling further with Hydro, scheming to change all the electricity meters in the province (at no cost to the consumer!) so we can hourly monitor how much power we are using. With the announcement of fiscal problems at Ontario Power Generation, Dalton will be looking at breaking up that company’s management – again.

John Manley presented his report on the status of our electricity system in Ontario. The idea to encourage private/public partnership in building new nuclear power generation sounds very much like Mike Harris’ plan for electricity restructuring. Manley strongly recommended that the politicians keep their hands off hydro, other than setting policy. If only Eves had listened to such advice.

On the international scene, the sad events in Spain may be signaling another spring breakup. If the terrorists are successful in changing the government in one country we can be certain they will try it again. Any country in the American coalition that is facing an election will be wary of going to the polls. If Spain leaves, the coalition could face a real breakup as public support for the war in Iraq in many coalition countries melts away.

It is not beyond the realm of reason to expect similar tactics in any country that supported the war in Iraq. Even in the United States later this fall. The Americans, often through covert operations, have meddled in foreign elections in the past, putting or supporting puppets in power in many countries. Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, for instance. Now terrorists are taking a page from history and not so subtly changing governments and foreign policy by bombs in public places.

On the home front, little spring breakup cracks are appearing within the circle of mayor and council. Every time one of the new councilors or the mayor mentions the rail lands, the old guard bristles. Mention the Conservation Authority and you can sense the tension. A special Rail Lands levy printed on the tax bill for the rail lands is petty politics. Hubris.

There are signs that the 100-day honeymoon may be ending as property owners begin to see exactly what selling parklands will mean in their neighbourhoods. The notion that abutting owners should buy the land from the city rings hollow. Part of the appeal for many original owners was for that very parkland that they paid for in their purchase price. It was given to the city in the understanding that it would always be open space. But times change like the seasons and desperate councils will look to short-term answers.

Hopefully, we will see a return to solidarity when the Heritage Festival and Airshow budget is formally presented Monday evening. Let’s limit the spring breakup to Lakeshore Drive.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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