City Scope update: You owe us an explanation, Joe and Steve


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In February, two levels of government doled out millions of dollars in Building 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 that appeared in Tuesday’s T-J 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.
This funding cold shoulder so infuriated Mayor Cliff Barwick, he wagged his finger at Joe and Steve during Monday’s council meeting and declared, “we were misled.”
“In fact, we have documentation that shows we were encouraged to pursue this funding and and that it was going to be immediately available. It was a garden path.”
Steve and Joe, you owe our mayor and city council, city staff, Chief Lynch and every member of the St. Thomas Police Service and every city ratepayer an explanation.

STUMPING FOR TRASH
IN TALBOTVILLE

Have you noticed this week as you drive towards Talbotville, there are fewer tree stumps on the 700-acre plot of farmland, zoned industrial, on the east side of Sunset Road that was sold last May?
This corner wondered at the time what if a savvy businessman, with a keen knowledge of waste collection, recycling and materials recovery, an individual like Bob McCaig, is the purchaser of this tract of land with a plan to haul Toronto’s garbage by rail to a transload facility where it will be off-loaded for the short trip by truck to the Southwold landfill site?
 The City Scope speculation last June generated a terse response from Steve Whitter, director of new infrastructure development and contracted services for the City of Toronto.
 “There is nothing that would convince me as the individual responsible for looking after that landfill (Green Lane in Southwold) that would convince me to haul it (Toronto’s garbage) by rail,” challenged Whitter.
Well, we’re going to stand by our recycling bags and ask once again, what if this piece of property is destined to become the site of a proposed mixed-waste processing facility that would allow Toronto to dramatically improve its diversion rate from landfill?
The end product from such a process could be turned into Class B compost, with methane as a byproduct.
Add tree stumps to our trash, trains and Talbotville line of thinking.

SAFETY FIRST
Earlier this month, reader Al Grech questioned the need for city police to order new firearms to replace their existing time-expired guns which were purchased in 1994.
“I must have missed all the news articles about the ongoing police shootouts in the city since 1993 that have “worn out “ police officers’ handguns,” wrote Grech.
A fair enough observation, so this corner contacted Chief Lynch to shed light on the $70,000 expenditure.
“What happens is it’s the wear and tear from training,” he stressed. “There’s mandatory training each year and every member has to qualify so there are thousands and thousands of rounds that have been through these guns and over time the parts wear on them.
“The problem we have, along with a number of forces that have the same model,” added Lynch, “is they no longer make that particular model. So parts aren’t available, which necessitated the need to look at another gun.”
The force has begged and borrowed parts, he noted, but that option is no longer viable.
“There is a responsibility on the service to ensure that the equipment is in proper working order. In the case of a gun, so as to protect the officers and the public they are out there protecting.
What Chief Lynch is saying is when it comes to the welfare of officers and the public, safety is paramount.
 
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“This is about winning, not about who didn’t win.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston sidesteps Mayor Cliff Barwick’s assertion the city was misled in the grant application process for a new police headquarters.

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

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