Talk about lights out.
It appears the powers to be at city hall were totally unaware of Earth Hour, to be observed this evening, until T-J reporter Kyle Rea contacted the mayor’s office on Monday of this week.
After that phone call, the city scrambled into action and registered Tuesday for the world-wide event.
The observance “slipped under the radar,” admitted Mayor Cliff Barwick to our erstwhile reporter.
Nothing was brought forward at any council meeting and our mayor advised the city didn’t receive “proper notice of it.”
Over at the Chamber of Commerce, it’s a similar story.
“The only request we had came on Tuesday and was relayed by the city,” advised chamber president and CEO Bob Hammersley, “asking us to join in their effort to power down. We’re certainly planning to do it, but by the late arrival we’ve missed all the deadline opportunities for weekly transmissions and newsletters.”
Hello. The scope of Earth Hour is nothing short of global. Stories have been in the mainstream media, all over the Internet, in schools and other public institutions for months.
What more notice do you need?
Meantime, Elgin county has anticipated Earth Hour for some time, under the direction of CAO Mark McDonald.
In fact, the county is lending its support by promoting the event across the entire day.
Not only shutting off lights, but turning down thermostats and powering off computers.
“There are significant things that can be done and will be done,” asserted McDonald.
Tens of millions of people around the world will turn out the lights tonight in a personal statement with global impact.
And city hall is still waiting for a press release.
One individual with a pulse on the inner workings of the corporation put it best — it would never have happened in this fashion if we had a CAO.
IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT
The unwanted bags of organic compost lining streets all over the city certainly are doing wonders for the reputation of Bob McCaig.
Never one to appear on a Top 10 popularity list, the real face behind Green Lane Environmental is now coming to light.
The current contractor, BFI Canada, is holding fast to the letter of its agreement with the city and will only pick up one 64-gallon green compostainer from each residence once every two weeks.
No extra bags of leaves, garden and lawn clippings, etc.
Even though in the past all of that recyclable material was hoisted into the Green Lane trucks.
The company, via Bob McCaig, did the city “a favour” acknowledges Ald. Tom Johnston, chairman of environmental services.
“They were performing a service that was above and beyond what was required,” adds Michelle Shannon, the city’s recently hired waste management co-ordinator.
“Green Lane had set a precedent and BFI is just doing what’s obligated,” she added.
“The prior contractor was just doing it as a favour,” continued Johnston. Just like picking up Christmas trees. That wasn’t in the contract either.”
He noted the city is logging all complaints, and they must be numerous based on calls from residents to the T-J, to be included in future contract negotiations.
“Maybe discussions have to be more intense at a city level if we want to improve it.”
The difference is McCaig lived in the community, donated resources to many civic projects and was visible (which may be good or bad, depending on your viewpoint).
But at least he was approachable and had a stake in St. Thomas and Elgin. If you remember, he always ran notices in the paper when there were problems or changes to the pick-up schedules.
BFI, on the other hand, is based in London and will not even return phone calls placed by the T-J newsroom.
Under-commit and over-perform is a valuable tenet for good customer service.
Now we’re finding out that’s exactly what McCaig and Green Lane did in the past.
The McGuinty government brings down the most important and far-reaching budget in the history of this province and who at city hall is available to comment?
Not Mayor Barwick, he’s out of town and made no arrangement to deal with media questions or reaction.
No member of council was approached to fill in as acting mayor, so that corner of the building remains silent.
Treasurer Bill Day was heading off to a conference and was not able to comment in a timely fashion.
Is this city open for business?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The people who are suffering the most in this recession are the people who don’t pay taxes anymore because they don’t have a job. But, they will still have to pay eight per cent on all those other goodies.”
Ernie Hardeman, Progressive Conservative MPP for Oxford County calls the provincial budget the biggest tax grab in Ontario history.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.