Here’s your $750, now go away

Ian McCallum

Ian McCallum

Mayor Cliff Barwick admits 15 homeowners on Montgomery Road have been through “absolute hell,” and yet council and city staff continue to deny these ratepayers adequate compensation for damage sustained in January, 2008 due to heavy rainfall which overloaded the sewer system.
To haggle over whether a 50-millimetre deluge, combined with melting snow on Jan. 8-9 last year, qualifies as a true disaster is an insult to these residents.
Take a look at the damage done to their homes, and this is not the first time they have suffered this fate, and then talk to them about the meaning of disaster.
In fact the problem is so persistent, some residents can no longer obtain flood insurance.

To offer these people a token $750 for their troubles is nothing short of demeaning. Moreso, in light of the thousands of dollars wasted each year at city hall.
If that’s not enough of a slap in the face, city staff have already admitted they were aware of potential difficulties with a sewer pipe in that area, but proceeded on the assumption this would not result in problems when, in fact, a root mass caused sewage to back up into the basements of the 15 residences.
“I will not say the city has been negligent, as the head of this council, I must protect the interest of the city,” stressed Barwick.
And what are these good ratepayers on Montgomery, second class citizens?

A report to come before council on Monday should end all argument as to why Ald. David Warden’s fair and equitable remuneration package, which came into effect Jan. 1, was entirely necessary.
As documented in the schedule of 2008 remuneration, Ald. Terry Shackelton, who polled the most aldermanic votes in 2006, pocketed $16,374.95 for his efforts. The lowest salary on council.
In contrast, Ald. Tom Johnston ended 2008 with $27,609.06 in compensation.
The difference, for the most part, is courtesy of St. Thomas Energy and Ald. Johnston’s position on the board of directors.
No wonder he vehemently opposed Ald. Warden’s efforts to standardize remuneration for city aldermen.
And still, Johnston argues it’s not about money.
Well, it’s all there in black and white.
For 2009, their base salary will be $19,000. Now, let’s see who does how much and sits on which committees.

As discussed in this corner last week, membership in the city’s Sunshine Club ballooned to 27 in 2008, up from 22 in 2007.
How does that compare with similar sized communities?
In 2007, Stratford had 10 municipal employees in the $100,000 club, Orillia had eight and Woodstock checked in with six.
Ah, the price of attracting good talent to this city.

 This corner has no quarrel whatsoever with naming the new southwest St. Thomas school after John Wise, who served as federal agriculture minister under the governments of Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark.
 We have talked to John on several occasions at political functions and appreciated his insight. Time has also been spent in more casual surroundings, such as pumping gas while jawing over the benefits of cycling.
 But I can’t help but question why the Thames Valley District School Board chose to forego naming the new public school in honour of Ellis Sifton, Elgin county’s only Victoria Cross recipient.
We would hate to think for one minute the school board’s policy to distance itself from any association with law-abiding gun owners was behind it’s decision to bypass Sifton, a true First World War hero, because of his military association.
What was the naming criteria and who put forth the suggested names, because it sure appears politics may have reared its ugly head somewhere in this process.

You have to love the honesty of Central Elgin Mayor Sylvia Hofhuis when questioned about the latest ferry proposal for Port Stanley.
“I’ve lived in Port long enough to see four or five of these boats sail in and they all sailed back out again.”
Been there, done that.


Reader Matt Janes wonders how residents feel about the downtown fortress that has lived to fight another battle.
Should it be turned into an apartment complex and would you wish to live there? What about office suites or the home of an art community?
How do you think this structure can best contribute to a vibrant downtown?
“Certainly If I were in the situation that these people were in, and was given the $750 or even $1,500, I would take it directly to a lawyer and have them sue the city for the balance. And I’d use your money to do it.”
Ald. Gord Campbell says it is up to the courts to determine who is negligent in the case of flooding last year in the Montgomery Road area.

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


One thought on “Here’s your $750, now go away

  1. Re: Here’s your $750, now go away

    Spot on Ian, keeping in mind it has taken the Mayor a little over a year to provide this non-response. If he had moved any quicker on this matter, he’d be travelling at the speed of snail. And then to end up leaving the Montgomery area residents flailing in the wind with an option to dig into their pockets to issue a class law suit against the city is absurd.

    Question 1: If there was/is some culpability (that is my personal belief) on the part of the city, should they not use the money being spent on legal representation to go after the insurance company on the behalf of the affected residents rather than giving them the finger?

    Question 2: I wonder if we gave the Mayor $750, he’d go away?


    I think Ald. Tom Johnston was quick to jump ship and adjusted his contribution in light of his pay cut by walking away from both the Boards of Management for Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System and the St. Thomas Area Secondary Water Supply System.

    It’s merely a coincidence that Johnston’s contribution declined at the same time his salary did.

    Bill Sandison
    Advocate for a Better Municipal Government
    STR8TALK in St. Thomas

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