Timken Centre donors deserve better

Ian McCallum

Ian McCallum

The puck has been dropped, again, on fundraising efforts for the $12.1 million Timken Centre.
From the onset, the capital campaign (and not the hard-working fundraisers) has drawn criticism from this corner for the manner in which it has operated. Under the direction of Hilary Vaughan, there has been little accountability to council (and ultimately city ratepayers) and now those who donated to the construction costs of the twin-pad facility find themselves the centre of attention in an embarrassing recognition ruckus.

Ald. David Warden brought the latest oopsy to the attention of council Monday and suggested the city owes these donors an apology since the wall to be erected last summer to recognize their financial contribution will now not be installed until some time this spring.
Some thank-you to those who stepped up to support the Timken Centre.
Donor information from the capital campaign was not made available to the city until last fall and the firm hired to erect the donor wall is on the hook financially at this point.
The campaign chairman is not the only individual who should be held accountable. Where was Ald. Bill Aarts, community services chairman, during all of this?
The fact Ald. Warden was asked to assume leadership of community services illustrates this is just the first of numerous concerns that will surface.
And not just with the Timken Centre itself.

This corner has always advocated thinking outside the box, particularly when faced with the ramifications of massive job evaporation in St. Thomas Elgin county and across the county.
Reader Tom Ford takes this out-of-the-box thought process a quantum leap further as he writes to propose hockey could be the stimulus package to jump start the Canadian economy.
No doubt you are as intrigued as we were when his puck proposition landed this week.
Here’s how it would work, Tom explains.
“Have the government make it compulsory for every man, woman and child between the ages of five and 65 to participate in at least 20 hours of week in hockey. Either as a player, score keeper, referee, Zamboni driver, coach, a fan or in something related to hockey. Leagues would be based on skill age and ability.”
So far so good, however here’s where the intrigue factor hits overdrive.
“Everyone over the age of 15 involved in the program would receive a salary.”
“However, the range would be $25,000 to a maximum of $1,000,000. The amount of course is dependent on the level you are at. Remember this is for 20 hours a week of participation, so there is time left over for another job or entrepreneurial endeavors. NHL players could still play in the NHL but they would still be required to give the 20 hours a week.”
For those with a passion for hockey, it’s like dying and going to heaven. But Tom, how will this benefit our moribund economy?
“First we would have an intense hockey rink building boom across the country,” he advises. Not to mention all the equipment and other paraphernalia we’ll need.
 “Our schools and colleges could offer degree programs for the coaches, trainers, organizers and referees, resulting in additional teaching positions. This would also provide a much needed avenue for job retraining initiatives that the federal government is speaking about in the current budget.”
 o close his sales pitch, Tom presents the pride factor.
 “Finally this program could result in a higher national pride, since the number of elite players would be higher resulting in more world championships and gold at the Olympics. Who would ever have thought that the game we so passionately love could also be the economic kick start we need?”
As a child, Tom must have loved to colour outside the lines because this is so far out in left field he is no longer in the stadium.
But you know what? It’s more imaginative and beyond the scope of creative problem-solving than anything our elected reps have come up with to date.
Are pucks the answer to our anemic economy?
Should we nominate Tom Ford as this country’s first Minister of Hockey?

Tucked away in an innocent looking letter on the last page of Monday’s city council agenda is a note from Ald. Tom Johnston, chairman of St. Thomas Holdings Inc.
Lest you forget, this is the St. Thomas Energy people.
An upcoming special shareholder meeting will be held on Feb. 23, and of course it will be behind closed doors away from the inquisitive minds of city taxpayers.
What’s at stake this time? Another attempt to foist an increase in the obscene stipend for board members on the backs of the public?
In April of last year, Brian Hollywood, president and CEO of St. Thomas Holding Inc., sent a letter to city council urging them to deal with board compensation behind closed doors.
“When dealing with these matters, the Shareholder felt the recommendation with respect to compensation would be best dealt … in an in-camera session,” wrote Hollywood.
So, this corner is not being overly cynical.

“Those people deserve the recognition and that should have been done a long time ago. I said when I took over parks and recreation (as chairman) I wanted this done.”
Ald. David Warden assures those who donated to the $12.1 million Timken Centre capital campaign will finally be recognized after a long delay in receiving information from the fundraising committee.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.


3 thoughts on “Timken Centre donors deserve better

  1. Not the only one!
    Talking about recognition, the St. Thomas Soccer Club contributed in excess of $ 100,000 towards the support building at the Athletic Park in 1992. The club is still waiting for a plaque commemorating the event over 15 years ago!

  2. Bob:
    You are absolutely right. If it wasn’t for the tireless work of organizations like the St. Thomas Soccer Club and others, many of the activities and venues we take for granted would not be in operation at all.I can also think of the work minor baseball has done at Emslie Field and the new ball complex on Sauve Ave. There are times in the recent past when sports such as soccer were treated as second-class citizens and now it has the highest registration of any sport in the city.

  3. Posted by Ian:
    My how quickly matters can be rectified. New parks and rec. chairman Ald. David Warden has contacted Bob Luft and the St. Thomas Soccer Club with the following response.

    Good morning Robert, In regards to the St.Thomas Soccer Club, if you send me the information and what you would like on the plaque I will see that this is looked after, unfortunately I was not around when this mistake was made. I will certainly correct the mistake.

    Alderman David Warden
    Chairman of Parks and Recreation

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