We can’t seem to keep our own face clean

Ian McCallum

Ian McCallum

Call it a spring awakening, but as the sun and warming temperatures greeted us this past week, the disappearing mountains of snow uncovered the detritus remaining from what felt like an interminably long winter.
The transition from March to April is far from the most picturesque time of year, what with grotty grey banks of frozen debris slowly surrendering to the solar rays, in the process uncovering an unsightly, if not interesting, array of garbage/items in the melting mess.
But, have you noticed over the past couple of years this eyesore landscape has not been confined to the dawning of spring, instead the downtown core and other quarters of the city, including the length of the CASO-St. Thomas Trans-Canada Trail, have an unkempt look at all times.
We understand the city will again undertake road and curb sweeping toward the end of April, but what about the general appearance of St. Thomas, areas where businesses and the public can participate in housekeeping?
During the glory days of our Communities in Bloom participation, St. Thomas leaned towards spick and span rather than gritty and garbage-strewn.
And, whatever became of the Green Team, that pick-up partnership between the city and Green Lane Environmental Trust Fund, whereby students were hired for the summer months to lasso litter?
Where’s Bob McCaig when you need him?
Sure, it is convenient to accredit this down-at-the-heels appearance as nothing more than the spoils of winter, or perhaps an unfortunate victim of budget constraints.
But in these days of economic woe, when the onus is on attracting new business opportunities to the city, it is more important than ever to ensure we’re keeping up appearances.

The fact London developer Shmuel Farhi has a new five-year deal deal with Ontario Realty Corp. for continued use of his Elgin County Courthouse is likely not being applauded by the city’s legal profession.
As reported in this column in February, the Elgin Law Association has turned their collective nose up at the prospect of continuing to ply their trade in the historic edifice that predates Confederation.
This, in spite of Farhi’s pledge to upgrade and add on to the attractive courthouse with the prestigious address.
Apparently spiffing up the building will not result in a place of business swanky enough for area lawyers.
In a letter to ORC in February of this year, Lisa Gunn, president of the law association, noted “any proposal to convert the Wellington Street building to a consolidated facility sufficient to satisfy the current and future needs of this community makes neither practical nor economic sense.”
A puzzling stance according to Farhi, who suggests the Elgin legal team may have the blinders on when less than a quorum attended a public meeting at city hall last year where he documented his plans for a new consolidated facility on the courthouse property.
In a court of law, are you not directed to sift through all of the available documentation and supporting evidence before passing judgment?

Continuing with the legal theme, according to figures obtained from clerk Wendell Graves, the city spent $194,236.48 last year on legal fees and expenses.
That’s up from $190,711.36 in 2007.
Why for that amount, you could hire a top-notch CAO and still have change to undertake infrastructure project.

“I work full time and do a job trying to keep all the rules straight but, to be honest, it sometimes is too complicated and I cannot imagine how a large household can keep it straight, not to mention seniors.”
T-J reader Wanda Sauson wonders why the St. Thomas garbage contractor appears to be leaving recyclable goods behind, resulting in some of this material being streamed in with household garbage.

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


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