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Appreciate what we have.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014   by: David Root

Random thoughts… 

So, the Essar Centre opened in 2006. 

As I recall in the year or so leading up to that, there were a lot of people who opposed the City’s decision to tear down the “beloved” Memorial Garden and replace it with a much more modern, useful building. Quite a few said that would never set foot in the building.

I’m wondering how many of them have stuck to their guns and have actually never gone inside?



The Province announced that there is new Road Safety legislation in the works, including adding demerit points for “Distracted Driving,” and an increased fine for “dooming” cyclists — opening your door without checking first.

I am amazed, though perhaps I shouldn’t be, at the literally hundreds of posters on various news sites that argued against the proposed measures.

One comment, especially, stuck with me. A poster complained that he doesn’t think it fair that the government make a new law that could see him charged just because some cyclist wasn’t watching where he was going.

First of all… it’s not a “new” law. The law already exists, and has since before I started driving per 35 years ago.

Currently, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, section 165, states that… 

No person shall,

(a) open the door of a motor vehicle on a highway without first taking due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle;

I quiz my driving students on this during our “downtown” lesson. As we are driving along Queen Street, I have them identify potential problems. They correctly point out the parked cars, from between which pedestrians could emerge, or which could pull out, or a door could open.

I then ask, “If someone opens the door and you hit it and rip it off, whose fault is it?” Three out of four believe it would be their own fault.

I correct them, and inform them that it cannot be their fault. They have absolutely no way of knowing that the occupant (from either side, not just the driver) is about the fling the door open; only the person opening the door knows that. Therefore, it is that person’s responsibility to ensure that it is safe to open the door before doing so.

The current penalty, by the way, is $85 (plus 25% victim surcharge) and 2 demerits points.

The new proposal would increase the fine and demerits when such a collision involves a cyclist. After all, if you hit someone’s door in your vehicle, there will be damage, but likely no personal injury.

A cyclist hitting a door, however, is very likely to be injured.

And, yes… there are people who are adamant that there needs to be more enforcement of the ‘Rules of the Road’ when it comes to cyclists. We have all seen the cyclists who swerve between motor vehicles, ride between the curb and a line of stopped vehicles to reach the front of the line — some even running the red light in the process, and other glaring infractions.

Certainly, there needs to be accountability for both motorists and cyclists.

However, opening a vehicle door in front of a cyclist who is obeying all the rules and is simply caught unawares is wrong; there can be no argument about this.



By the way… I was “doored” once. Fortunately, I was not travelling all that fast. I guess I was maybe 14 or 15 — it was before I started driving. Back then, and even now, if I’m just out for a leisurely ride, I meander through various neighbourhoods, seeing the sights and enjoying the ride.

This particular time I had just finished pedalling up the hill on Grandview Ave (I was about half the weight I am now, and I could actually pedal up a hill). I had been passed by a car on my way up. The driver went a bit past me then pulled over an parked.

As I was passing him, he flung his door open. I yanked on the brakes, and managed not to hit the door, but I did end up dumping myself onto the road.

The driver got out and yelled at me, telling me to watch where I was going.

He didn’t seem to like me suggesting that it was him that was in the wrong, that he should have looked before opening his door. He simply swore at me and walked away.

A neighbour saw what happened and came out to check if I was okay. He suggested I could call the cops, but I just didn’t see the point. 

I'm not sure if I would be that lenient if it was to happen to me now.



I watched a really cool music video earlier tonight, by singer-songwriter and Sault native Kalle Mattson, called “A Love Song to the City.”

The video has some great footage shot here in the Sault.

It’s really cool to hear someone who is proud of the Sault.

All too often we hear the negatives… things that could be better, comparisons with other cities. Perhaps we are just too close to the situation to be objective, to be able to recognize how good we have it here.

No, it’s not perfect. The old saying is true, the grass is always greener — or, it appears to be greened — on the other side of the fence.

Yeah, I know… some people see the glass half-full, others half-empty. But however we see that glass, maybe we should actually look at the glass itself, and its contents.

Instead of dwelling on what we don’t have, or what we might like to have, we really just need to appreciate what we have.


But… that’s just my opinion.


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Just Curious 3/19/2014 8:05:22 AM Report

Hi Dave;

Re the Essar centre, my only real complaint about it was the fact it was built downtown with lousy parking facilities. I was only ever in the Gardens once for a home show years ago and have never been to the new one.

As for the biking, I will be biking and hopefully Ebiking anywhere I have to go the rest of my life so anything to make it safer is a good idea. Living in the downtown now I agree about the airheads that pay no attention whatever to rules,riding the wrong way,ignoring stop signs, see it all the time here. I am not against bikes on the sidewalks at certain times and on certain streets but they need to give way for pedestrians. I like the Soo for the fact that you can get almost anywhere via back alleys in the older parts of town. Find more of them all the time walking my dog.

And yes, altho not born and raised here, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else...As long as we don't get more winters like this one has been. Been a long time since one like this..:)
right wing 3/20/2014 9:15:37 AM Report

Sam C

Perhaps I misread but I thought they were increasing the distance a driver must allow between a motor vehicle and a bicycle when the driver of the motor vehicle is passing the cyclist.
AHappyMan 3/20/2014 1:18:27 PM Report

I actually think that it is time for our Government to get even stricter when it comes to the 'rules of the road ' but it is very doubtful that they will have the courage to do so. I think that in order to make it entirely fair to everyone ( both drivers and cyclists ) it should be mandatory that all cyclists over 16 years of age should have to carry 'insurance ' the same way a driver must when he or she owns a vehicle. This may or may not make some of the more ridiculous riders out there who break every kind of 'rule of the road' with abandonment become a tiny bit more conscious if they could face not only fines but also increased insurance rates when they get caught breaking the rules of the road. I am NOT saying that all cyclists are maniacs on the road however because I have met many, many cyclists when I have been out driving here and there are a lot of them who obey every rule of the road. That being said, I DO agree that it has always been and probably always will be the fault of the person who is opening his or her vehicle door without looking who should always be held responsible for their actions if in doing so, they happen to cause some sort of accident or injure someone.

As for the Essar Centre, I will admit that I was against it being built at first. I just did not like the idea of losing the 'tower' because that meant something to me. When it was decided that the 'tower' would remain, I have supported it ever since. I am of the same sort of thought as yourself when you ask "I wonder how many of those people who were against it being built have ever actually kept their word and stayed away since it was built?" I think that most of those same people were just venting or whatever because everyone enjoys a night out watching our Hounds beat the living tar out of most of the teams they have played this year :)

My final comment is that I was born and raised in the little town of Thessalon, I did a lot of traveling around our great Country when I was much younger, then I joined the army and when I finished boot camp, I ended up in Southern Ontario where I lived for many years. One of the best decisions I have ever made was to come back to Northern Ontario to live. I chose the Sault because there really is a lot more going on here than most people even realize. In Southern Ontario they have things called 'rush hours' but here in the Sault I would classify those times as 'rush minutes' because it usually takes less than half an hour to get from end of this beautiful city to the other. I also love the absolutely clean air and the relatively awesome water although I will admit that our drinking water has changed over the past couple of years. Regardless however, it is still a lot better tasting than most of the drinking water in Southern Ontario.
To those detractors who always want to run down our great city I would simply say ... If you are not completely enjoying yourself here in our great city, why are you still living here? ... Other views are always welcomed.
right wing 4/14/2014 9:03:19 AM Report

What I appreciate the most about these columns is all the participation in the form of responses that the author provides.

Notperfect 4/16/2014 9:30:38 PM Report

I am not responding to this story but have a question to ask. Since I didn't know where to post it, and this looked like a good column, I thought I would try here. Re-direct me, if necessary.
The question - I have had flooding in my basement and am considering contracting SST Basement Systems to correct the problem. Is there someone in the Sault who can vouch for this business. I looked at their website. It is very professional; however, testimonials do not include the persons' last name. Before putting out lots of money, I want to be sure that this business is reputable. Thanks for any help or direction I can get.
Mr. Poster 4/17/2014 11:39:50 PM Report

This column need a refresh.
right wing 4/19/2014 4:20:15 PM Report's only a month old.
That's a new one by Sootoday standards.

Mr. Poster 4/21/2014 7:26:12 AM Report

ya...your right...I shall check back in a month and see if there is a new one lol
Sam C 4/30/2014 12:15:42 PM Report

Sorry, folks.

I do intend to post a new column each week, but... it seems that a week or three go by before I get to it.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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