Does it take an ex-mayor to get things done around here?


Former mayor Janet Golding left no room for doubt Monday evening — fixing the crosswalk in front of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital is not the responsibility of city police.
The inefficiencies of the Elm Street crossing, and many others in the city, have been conveyed to the mayor and aldermen and the previous edition of council.
As Golding stressed in her deputation to council, there is no further need for traffic studies in the vicinity of the hospital crosswalk.
“A precedent has been established in recognition of traffic volume with the installation of a pedestrian-signalized crossing at Elm Street near Pinafore Park,” she noted.
And, while a police report is pending, “we contend that this is not a police matter. The responsibility is councils, as this is a traffic and safety issue.”

Without a doubt the financial implications have to be taken into consideration and the expense of a pedestrian-signalized crossing may be as high as $75,000.
However, director of environmental services John Dewancker has in his possession information regarding a solar-powered and extremely cost-effective flashing pedestrian crosswalk system, manufactured by a Canadian firm, that carries a price tag in the range of $10,000.
Ald. Tom Johnston, chairman of the environmental services committee, also has an outline of this system marketed in Ontario by Electomega Ltd. of Oakville.
Would it not make sense to put such a system in operation on a trial basis at the Elm Street crosswalk?
Or is the effort needed to overcome inertia too great an obstacle for the players involved?
No disrespect to Joe Pollard and a group of parents who have spent nearly two months trying to talk sense to officials of the Thames Valley District School Board and the Student Transportation Services consortium — the matter of an unsafe school bus stop on Wellington Street should not be in front of city council.
However, the lack of will, or, perhaps stubbornness on both sides, has led to the point where Ald. Gord Campbell noted in frustration this past Monday, “If the school board and transportation company aren’t going to take this seriously, on behalf of St. Thomas residents and their children, perhaps we should.”
Hold that bus for a second, where’s school board trustee Frank Exley in all of this? He was elected to address the concerns of parents and students in St. Thomas and Elgin.
If he has done so, it has been a pitifully weak attempt.
Let the London-centered board know we’ve got a problem down here, because when it reaches the stage of a deputation to city council, Exley, the board and the transportation folks all have missed the bus.
“Representatives from the city and Elgin county are embarking on a new path with respect to future growth and investment opportunities.”
That’s the hook contained in a media release this week from the Elgin Business Resource Centre and its partners who are engaging in a Labour Force Development Strategy.
Some of the LFDS committee members are drawn from the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Local Training Board, St. Thomas Economic Development Corp., Fanshawe College and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
As such, they are holding a development summit Tuesday, Nov. 3 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 265 Wellington St.
The summit is a culmination of a consultation process which included an online survey and key stakeholder interviews.
Issues to be discussed at the two-hour sessions (9-11 a.m. or 4-6 p.m.) include job skills required for the future, programs needed to address those skills, adapting today’s workforce to tomorrow’s needs, encouraging skilled workers to move to Elgin and encouraging entrepreneurship among skilled workers.
There is no need to dwell on the fact the labour situation in Elgin is grim. The loss of highly-paid manufacturing jobs should be at the top of every agenda.
Replacing them with minimum-wage, service-related employment, much of it part-time hours, is not a long-term fix.
The two sessions should prove provocative, to say the least. For more information call 519-672-3499.
“We have to let the board of education know there is a problem and blocking driveways to the east looks, superficially, like an excuse to me.”
Mayor Cliff Barwick on the reluctance of both the Thames Valley District School Board and the Student Transportation Services consortium to resolve an unsafe situation for loading and unloading young students at the intersection of Wellington and Lydia streets.

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

2 thoughts on “Does it take an ex-mayor to get things done around here?


    I took another drive by the hospital and noticed that anybody trying to cross Elm Street between those two painted white lines must also contend with the Route 4 Hospital bus that weaves in across those two lines and stops on the south side of Elm Street.
    While council has decided (?) to wait and wait and wait for a police report, they are effectively rolling the dice that no other pedestrian will be killed at that location while they dawdle.
    Did City negligence contribute to the tragedy that took Mr. Harold Hill’s life?


    Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday. ~ Napoleon Hill



    The urgent matter of pedestrian safety on Elm Street where Mr. Harold Hill was killed on September 25th, 2009, prompted me to write to St. Thomas city council this morning requesting they conduct a special meeting to deal with passing a by-law to immediately undertake installation of a proper/legal pedestrian crosswalk at this location.

    It has been over a month since this tragedy occurred, former Mayor Janet Goulding made a deputation to council October 19th, 2009, still this council is content to sit and wait for a report on November 9th before deciding what to, or not to, do next. You do not need to perform brain surgery when all that is required is an aspirin.

    When I think back to how quickly council blockaded Talbot Street due to questionable concerns about the Sutherland building and pedestrian safety; the slowness to act on this matter when a life has already been lost defies logic.

    A Letter to the Editor from the family of Mr. Harold Hill appeared yesterday in the St. Thomas Times-Journal as a second pedestrian has been killed in as many months. I have posted a couple of excerpts below;
    “Is it not time now for outrage amongst the citizens of St. Thomas — is this not enough?
    When is city hall going to implement action (i.e. traffic light systems) at the type of crosswalk found in front of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital? ….
    It would appear city council is more interested in generating tax dollars than actually taking any interest in the safety of its citizens. Perhaps some of those tax dollars would be better spent creating safe areas for people to walk and cross the streets; after all, it is their money the city is spending.
    They should have the right to decide how it is being used. We cannot wait for yet another fatality to occur, while city council has another non-productive meeting to decide this issue.
    The reality of this situation is another family has lost a father and a grandfather, and a friend to many residents of St. Thomas.”

    Trying to get the council to act is like pushing rope uphill. It appears their legacy will be scorched earth and dead pedestrians.

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


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