City staff have come up with a solution to unsafe crosswalks dotting the city … get rid of them.
Supervisor of Roads and Transportation David White will stand before council Monday to recommend “the removal of the pavement markings at existing Courtesy Pedestrian Crossings (17 in total including the one in front of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital where an elderly pedestrian was struck and killed in September).”
Instead, White urges council to approve the installation of additional Pedestrian Ahead signs for advance warning.
What his report confirms is these crossings, assumed safe passages by those attempting to cross the street, are nothing more than “courtesy crossings.”
How’s that for a feeling of comfort. The report stresses, “motorists only have a moral obligation to stop for pedestrians.”
And you thought it was safe to proceed smartly across the roadway.
But wait, this next passage wins bafflegab-of-the-year award.
“Some drivers may choose to yield to pedestrians while others may not, creating both vehicle-pedestrian and vehicle-vehicle conflicts.”
An 82-year-old pedestrian was killed at an assumed safe crossing because he came out on the short end of a vehicle-pedestrian conflict?
No doubt that will bring comfort and closure to the family of Harold Hill.
In a report to be presented to council Monday, treasurer Bill Day paints a red swath across the 2009 budget with his monitoring report detailing the city’s fiscal picture up to the end of September.
You know it’s bad when Day advises, “all city departments and boards to incur expenditures only where such are essential to the provision of approved services levels for the balance of 2009.”
In other words, the treasurer is forecasting a grim tale of the tape as council and staff prepare to tangle with the 2010 budget.
Day estimates an operating deficit of $780,000 and remember we still have three months to go before the final 2009 accounting.
Culprits in the hefty shortfall include: a $200,000 shortfall in investment income; Ontario Disability Support Program deficit of $500,000; increased costs and reduced revenues to the tune of a $260,000 shortage in fleet, transit and roads operations.
So, from here on it it’s essential expenditures only and a careful monitoring of all budgets.
SO, HOW TIGHT ARE THINGS?
Deputy Police Chief Darryl Pinnell advises Mayor Cliff Barwick and council that while the Police Services Board supports all community events, the city has to be aware of the financial implications of policing these activities.
According to Pinnell, that figure is in the range of $6,500, or more than eight per cent of the police overtime budget for 2009.
He advises the increasing number of special events, many with beer tents and the like, may be sources of revenue for organizers but they are a drain on police resources and the costs associated with policing these festivals and activities “are being borne indirectly by the taxpayers of the city.”
As such, Pinnell suggests the city “should consider a policy whereby additional policing costs are included in the permit application and approval process.”
As they should be.
WHO HAS THE REPORT?
By 1 p.m. on Oct. 19, the city was in possession of the police report detailing the events at the crosswalk in front of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital that led to the death of Harold Hill.
That evening during former mayor Janet Golding’s deputation to city council about crosswalk safety, city officials made it clear they were still awaiting the report in question.
So who has it and why is the information contained in that report not being made available to mayor and all members of council?
WHY IS IT …
The powers-to-be dealing with parks and recreation matters at city hall have no problems allowing the T-J to profile newcomer Robert Lilbourne, the recently-hired supervisor of recreational facilities, and yet when environmental services brought on board Michelle Shannon, the city’s waste management coordinator, we were told in no uncertain terms she was off limits.
Is there not a standard policy for such media requests?
Were director John Dewancker and committee chairman Ald. Tom Johnston not equally impressed with their new hire?
Was there not a desire to introduce her to the community and showcase the qualifications that made her such an important addition to city staff?
Speaking of which, what is her background, why was she chosen over other candidates and, in fact, is she still at her desk or is she on leave?
Why the differing approaches to those deemed good enough to join the team?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Now we might as well make a manufacturing museum in St. Thomas because of the loss of the industry.”
Fred Sinclair, CAW Local 2168 president, following the announcement a week ago of the closure of the St. Thomas Ford Assembly Plant in September, 2011.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.