You owe us an explanation, Joe and Steve


Posted by Ian:
In February, two levels of government doled out millions of dollars in Build Canada infrastructure funding and St. Thomas was shut out.
There was no shortage of cash to lavish on the rest of Elgin. In fact, Aylmer, Bayham, Dutton/Dunwich, Malahide, Southwold and the county itself hit paydirt on projects ranging from road and sewer maintenance to facility upgrades.
The exclusion of St. Thomas from the funding beneficiaries had council, city staff, Police Chief Bill Lynch and the rest of the St. Thomas Police Service scratching their heads.

You see the provincial and federal dollars were pegged for construction of a badly-needed police headquarters, which, when completed, would have eased the burden somewhat on the strained courts that share the Colin McGregor Justice Building.
And remember, the city was only allowed to submit one project for consideration.
Two months later, the truth begins to emerge in the form of a letter from Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston to the St. Thomas Times-Journal in which he informs, “I take very seriously my role as your representative at the federal level as well as the local level.”
Just how seriously, Joe?
Because later on you note, “many communities in Elgin-Middlesex-London have been able to secure funding and have started work now through the Building Canada Fund that totals $8.8 billion over seven years.”
Now, digest this next paragraph carefully.
“The priority funding categories for the fund are our core national highway system routes, drinking water, waste water, public transit and green energy,” stresses Joe in the letter.
Joe, and by extension MPP Steve Peters, in which category exactly would a new police headquarters fit?
Both of you knew the priority funding categories, so why would you endorse the city’s application for funding to construct a new home for city police?
Our application, was doomed from the get-go.
Steve and Joe, you owe our mayor and city council, city staff, Chief Bill Lynch and every member of the St. Thomas Police Service and every city ratepayer an explanation.
We’re waiting.

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4 thoughts on “You owe us an explanation, Joe and Steve

  1. Ian,

    Personally, I do not believe that a new Police Headquarters is the #1 priority facing our city despite council’s decision to the contrary. We have more pressing issues like 40 year old sewage pumping stations that are living on borrowed time and roads in total disrepair.
    The Build Canada Fund funding priorities are correctly stated but do not exclude other projects from consideration. Maybe the new Cop Shop will catch the next wave.

    Here is the full statement from the Conservative website; http://www.buildingcanada-chantierscanada.gc.ca/plandocs/booklet-livret/booklet-livret09-eng.html#bcfund-mic

    “Building Canada Fund

    The Building Canada Fund (BCF) will total $8.8 billion over seven years. The BCF will focus on projects that deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits to all Canadians. The priority funding categories for the fund will be Core National Highway System (NHS) Routes, Drinking Water, Wastewater, Public Transit and Green Energy. Other eligible investment priority areas include environmental projects (Solid Waste Management), projects that support economic growth and development (Short-line Rail and Short-sea Shipping, Connectivity and Broadband, Tourism and Regional and Local Airports), as well as projects that contribute to the ongoing development of safe and strong communities (Disaster Mitigation, Culture, Sport, Local Roads and Bridges, and Brownfield Redevelopment). Funding will be used to support public infrastructure owned by provincial, territorial and municipal governments and entities, as well as private industry, in certain cases.

    Funding will be allocated for projects in the various provinces and territories based on their population (as of the 2006 Census). The program will operate through two components: the Major Infrastructure Component (MIC) and the Communities Component. All projects will be cost shared, with the maximum federal contribution to any single project being 50 percent. However, generally speaking, municipal infrastructure projects will be cost-shared on a one-third basis. For projects where the asset is owned by a private entity, the maximum federal contribution will be 25 percent.

    The MIC will target larger, strategic projects of national and regional significance. Under the MIC two-thirds of funding, on a national basis, will be directed to the above-mentioned National Priorities. Projects under the MIC will be selected on the basis of merit through a federal-provincial/territorial negotiation process and all projects will be required to meet criteria targeting environmental, economic and quality of life objectives—regardless of the category. Innovative technologies and partnerships will also be emphasized.

    The Communities Component is focused on projects in communities with populations of less than 100,000. Projects will be selected through an application-based process and, like projects under the MIC, will be evaluated on the extent to which they meet environmental, economic and quality of life objectives. This will significantly help smaller communities address their infrastructure pressures and serve as a complementary instrument to GTF funding. ”

    Bill

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

  2. Bill:
    The decision to promote a new police headquarters as the city’s main infrastructure priority is a great subject for debate. You have to remember it also entails the courts which are pitifully overcrowded in the space upstairs. In fact there are privacy and disability issues to factor in. However, if they city had been advised up front by Steve and Joe the project was unlikely to meet priority criteria, it never would have been submitted as a top infrastructure undertaking and more than likely one of the projects you put forth or the rebuilding of Wellington Street would have been moved to top of the list.

  3. Ian,

    Do we actually know what Steve and Joe told Barwick up front?

    There was a letter last week titled “Civic leaders not to blame” and while this has become the mantra of the mayor, I for one am not drinking the Kool-aid. Let’s face it; Barwick’s credibility is questionable at best.

    Towards the end of this Monday’s council meeting, Barwick stated that he wanted to inform the residents of St. Thomas that the reason we did not receive recent funding is that “we were misled”. It was insinuated that either or both MP Joe Preston and MPP Steve Peters were at fault.

    Eight infrastructure projects were announced in Elgin-Middlesex-London region totalling $27 million. It seems the civic leaders in Aylmer, Bayham, Dutton/Dunwich, Elgin County Malahide, Middlesex County, Southwold and Thames Centre were not “misled”, so why would anyone single out St. Thomas and mislead us? It doesn’t make sense.

    So, what I’d like to know is; who specifically “misled” the mayor and in what context was he “misled”.

    Further, why did Barwick wait until April to make this accusation – if it’s true, why did he not scream bloody murder from the rafters in February when we found out we had been shut out of the infrastructure funding? (Too busy planning his vacation?)

    Here’s what Patrick Brennan reported about Barwick’s reaction at the time;
    ““We’re disappointed we did not get on this list,” Mayor Cliff Barwick said in an interview from his home as he made preparations to leave for Japan next week with economic development officials.
    Still, the mayor managed to put a hopeful spin on the news, noting he had been told by Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston that there were other announcements coming.
    “His conversation with me was encouraging,” Barwick said. Preston told Barwick the city’s application could qualify for a grant under an environmental program that might generate cash for a new police station.”

    It strikes me that it is Barwick that owes us an explanation.

    Bill

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

  4. Bill:

    I have never been a strong supporter of Mayor Barwick, but in this case I believe there are valid issues with upper level government. There is an extensive paper trail on the meetings between Barwick, Steve and Joe as per clerk Wendell Graves, who is perhaps one of the best city employees ever and would make a strong CAO. The matter of being misled has apparently been discussed in closed session. However I still maintain we are not getting our fair share of funding because of short-term thinking on the part of city staff and council along with the lack of a CAO. The corporation is not the model of an astute, well-run business.

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