We have in our possession this week a copy of the Economic Development Corporation’s proposed game plan for the coming years, which examines “its current and future economic opportunities and positioning,” in a proactive fashion.
The executive summary of the economic development strategy is chock full of feel good vernacular like: “champion an action,” “supportive infrastructure and delivery model,” and our favourite, “programs must be augmented by service delivery tools.”
The four-page document outlines “four primary pillars of strength” that are keys to the city’s transition away from manufacturing and three specific target sectors in which the city and the EDC must pursue economic development activities.
One of these pursuits involves the need to “attract Lone Eagles to the community.”
My goodness, the EDC appears to have our economic future well in hand.
We hate to curb that enthusiasm, however this document looks suspiciously like the Economic Development Strategy developed by the City of Cambridge back in 2008.
In fact, extensive chunks of the St. Thomas plan are lifted word for word from the Cambridge strategy, including the introduction which deals with “global trade linkages, disruptive technologies, international capital mobility,” and on it goes.
Including the rather incredulous reference to “widespread community consultations” that have been undertaken “to determine how St. Thomas can best position itself.”
What follows that is a four-pronged description that mirrors almost word for word what is contained in the Cambridge strategic plan.
What gives here?
Did St. Thomas ratepayers foot the bill for a re-hash of what was documented in Cambridge last year?
Did the same consulting firm produce the almost identical strategies and charge full billing?
Plagiarism, penny-pinching or pure coincidence … into which category does our economic strategy fall into?
GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT ALMA?
City Scope has learned the city issued a work order in early May against the owners of Alma College.
“There is a property standards order issued,” confirmed Wade Woznuk, city building inspector and property standards officer.
“You have to give a reasonable amount of time to clean up things. And what I can say is they have started things out there. They have put some boarding up and done some clean up. Action has started.”
Woznuk stressed the order was not specifically based on safety concerns, but in general on the condition of the property.
“The chapel was unsecured and it’s secure now. That’s a safety issue, but it was done fairly quick. What we’re looking at is site clean up.’
That includes the bricks and general rubble following the devastating fire more than a year ago.
“It’s basically an eyesore. The owners want to get it cleaned up as much as anyone else.”
Really, talk about a slow boat to China.
So why hasn’t the chapel roof been secured against the elements?
“Hopefully that will be done soon,” assured Woznuk. “If they don’t comply a report will be written to council and council would have to decide what they want to do. There’s a number of different options.”
That’s not a good sign. The main building on the property suffered death by neglect because of the lack of will at all three levels of government.
“There’s progress and that’s the important thing,” stressed Woznuk.
Let’s hope progress prevails, because if cleaning up and securing the property falls back into the lap of council we are reminded of the years of waffling that dominated the recent history of Alma and which reinforces the vulnerability of heritage properties in St. Thomas.
And remember, this work is just to meet minimum property standards, nothing more.
STILL WITH ALMA
So, what happened to one half of the distinctive wrought iron main gate at the former school for girls? After lying in the grass for several years, it has vanished.
Apparently some concerned individuals had hoped to retrieve the gate and secure it from vandals and the elements. When they arrived to do so, it was nowhere to be seen. Needless to say, these gate keepers are disappointed and for several reasons. More to follow in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, this corner welcomes all tips and information.
WE WAITED FOUR MONTHS FOR THIS?
An eagerly-anticipated statement also landed in this corner over the past few days — the travel and expense claim for Mayor Cliff Barwick’s trip to Japan back in mid-February.
It can be best summed up in one word – skimpy.
In fact the entire claim comprises just four lines on an equally vague city expense form.
It was filed with city treasurer Bill Day on June 10 and approved a week later.
During his tenure in Japan, the mayor spent $395.29 on train fares, $3,047.95 on 14 nights accommodation and $120 even on meals for a grand total of $3,563.24.
No itemization or specifics as to what each of these sums represents. No day-by-day break down on what was spent where.
A quick call to the treasurer confirmed supporting receipts were included, but again, no detailed financial itinerary. That and the fact $1,521.76 was the cost of jetting Barwick to and from Japan, bringing the total to just over $5,000.
And the mayor waited four months to submit the slimmest possible expense summary?
No further evidence is needed to illustrate the lack of leadership at the head of this corporation.
This claim sends a loud message to all those employed at city hall that accountability for spending taxpayer dollars is an inconvenience to be dealt with whenever you get around to it.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“As far as I’m concerned they’re working at it and as long as they keep up that kind of work and meet the deadlines that we both agreed upon then I’m happy.”
Wade Woznuk, building inspector and property standards officer for the city, told City Scope he’s satisfied with the work now being undertaken by the owners of Alma College to meet minimum property standards.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.