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Serving up more than food

By Bob Vrbanac

The holidays are a great time to catch up with family, but they are also a great way to to see what’s going on outside our own comfortable bubbles.

And with a big, ethnic family, mostly residing in Kitchener, there were plenty of opinions expressed around the dinner table.

There was the usual consternation about what’s going on in the US. and the rest of the world. There was also a lot of talk about the real-world impact of the restructuring going on at Research In Motion and an economy still struggling to get back on its feet.

My cousins are about 10 years younger than me, and it was interesting to hear how they and their friends are struggling through the economic downturn. They could count as many as six of their friends who had been downsized at RIM, and the others worried about more changes to come.

You look for reassurance where you can, and a lot of them are putting their faith in the rollout of the new BlackBerry 10.

But it’s the meat and potato issues that come out when you are having meat and potatoes that sometimes linger for days.

One of my cousins named Nick is not shy about the dust-ups he has with local government officials. He’s sharp and he knows bureaucratic nonsense when he hears it.

He recently called a regional road official about the new Fairway Road bridge and the speedway the new extension has become. He is concerned about all the near misses he’s seen as students try to cross the road to get to Blessed John Paul II Catholic elementary school.

He said it is almost impossible to turn right out of his subdivision on to Fairway Road because of the traffic volume in the morning. Peak traffic volumes and pedestrians are a dangerous mix.

But when he brought up these concerns with the regional official, and suggested options such as a signal light or pedestrian crossing, he was quickly dismissed.

Nick said it’s going to take an accident before they eventually respond, but it’s a shame that it could take a tragedy to spur some action.

He said the police have figured out there’s a problem with speed coming off the bridge, and the same officer has been running a speed trap for consecutive days. It got to the point where his wife recognized the officer and waved as she passed each day.

I drove the route myself the other day and I can see his point. It’s a raceway.

It’s too bad the regional official seemed more interested in providing pat answers than legitimately responding to his concern. Sometimes insight comes from the simplest places, like sitting around a table with your family.

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