Letters to the editor, March 7, 2013

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Flat notes
The musicians and management of Symphony Nova Scotia have reached a new collective agreement after 11 months of negotiating ("Musicians in tune with management," Reality Bites by Hilary Beaumont, February 21).

While it may appear that all is well now in symphony land, and musicians have agreed to work along with management to find additional funding for the orchestra, not all musicians agree that this is the solution to ongoing issues. Some of us still believe that how the annual budget is being spent, and the priority of musicians in the expense hierarchy of SNS, are the real issues. The truth still remains that additional funding to SNS will not guarantee additional salaries for musicians.

As a 28-year veteran of SNS, I would ask that everyone wishing to congratulate musicians for a successful round of negotiations take a moment to revisit the numbers involved. As a section violinist with SNS, I will receive an increase of $800 this year, before taxes, bringing my annual salary to $29,000. This is, indeed, what a 3.1 percent raise amounted to for me and many other colleagues. Next year my salary will finally reach $30,000, with the added 3.4 percent.

Yes, I am thankful to finally reach $30K after 29 years of service to the organization. But I must point out that a new employee, fresh out of school, will make the same amount if hired to play in the violin section. And is it really something to cele-brate, finally earning $30,000, as a highly skilled professional, by 2014? Sadly, I think not.

While many people may be greatly relieved that this dispute is finally over, I am resigned to the fact that many musicians in SNS will continue to be extremely underpaid for their skills. Whether or not additional funding will actually find its way into the pockets of the musicians making the music remains to be seen. —Karen Langille, first violinist, Symphony Nova Scotia

Where is the truth?
On the evening on February 26 (possibly the very early morning of the 27th), myself and two other friends spotted a very bright green light with a ring of red lights circling around it in the sky approximately over Citadel Hill. At first it appeared to be a weather balloon of some sort or a Chinese lantern or maybe even a firework slowly rising into the sky. Then the speed changed and the direction changed three or four different times, going up, down, left and right in sporadic order, no set path whatsoever. We watched it for about 45 seconds. If anyone at all has seen this please respond to this! Looking for video or others who had seen it! —James Milne, Halifax

Beyond the seats
Tim Bousquet deserves credit for educating the public with his article "Two week wait for buses" (Reality Bites, February 28), detailing the cost of new buses. If we do some math using the numbers in the article, Haligonians will pay $406,422 for a 36-seat bus. This works out to a capital cost of $11,289.50 for each seat.

If HRM operated cabs instead, the capital cost would be in the range of $7,500 per seat. Not only would we save on the initial purchase but we could see savings in operations. The local economy would benefit by spending $9,324,508 locally. The environment would benefit from A to B trips instead of empty buses doing loops. There really is no downside to operating smaller vehicles on those routes that don't warrant larger buses with their special housing, repair and thirst for fuel. —Dave Grimshire, Middle Sackville

Replacing buses that have 49 seats with new "accessible" ones that have only 36 seats means more overcrowding, more standees and more dissatisfaction with transit. How often do wheelchairs actually end up on buses? A better solution to the accessibility problem is needed. Inconveniencing 99 percent of your customers to accommodate one percent is hardly a sound business strategy. —posted by Bo Gus at thecoast.ca

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