Jumping to conclusions about queue jumpers

In a city wrestling with the prospect of a crippling transit strike, you would think there would be plenty of fodder floating about in London to preoccupy the media.
Instead some elements are getting themselves in a lather about queue-jumping police officers at the St. Thomas flu clinic in the Timken Centre.
Talk about a slow news day.
A chat on Thursday with Chief Bill Lynch, who should have been consulted before this story ever hit the light of day in the Forest City, reveals city police were simply following the direction of Laura McLachlin, director of health protection for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.

While police officers are not technically eligible for early flu shots under the province’s pandemic plan, the municipality undertook its own pandemic strategy some time ago and reasoned front-line providers, including police and firefighters, perhaps should be considered for early vaccination.
It’s being done elsewhere in the province, advises McLachlin, who went on to note accusations of queue jumping might be stretching things just a tad.
If anything, the manner in which emergency service personnel are dealt with at the clinic may need refining.
However, to quibble over early innoculation for police and firefighters, who face enough risk and danger in their normal routine of making St. Thomas a safe place in which to live, is to entirely lose perspective.
As to the folks in London, we’re doing just fine, thank you.
Common sense prevailed this past Monday in the form of the leadership role adopted by Ald. Gord Campbell when dealing with the Elm Street crosswalk at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.
At the urging of Campbell, his peers on council approved a pedestrian-activated signal at the scene of a fatal accident which claimed the life of 82-year-old Harold Hill on Sept. 24.
Campbell is to be commended on his resolve to press for action instead of hiding behind a staff report that went out of its way to dehumanize the victim.
As a T-J reader observed about the use of the term “vehicle-pedestrian conflict” in the report presented to council, it is a “psychological variant of moral disengagement. It fosters disassociation from guilt, displaces responsibility and in my opinion the use of the term is deplorable,” wrote Bill Sandison.
No doubt the Hill family must have been devastated when Harold’s death was reduced to nothing more than a conflict between a pedestrian and a vehicle.
The report from Supervisor of Roads and Transportation David White stated no signal was warranted on Elm Street, according to traffic standards adopted by the city.
Instead, as is the case with so many issues in this city, the alternative is more studies and/or the time-consuming task of alternative regulations.
“In that length of time,” reasoned Ald. Campbell, “God help us if we have another accident.”
And, while Ald. Terry Shackelton supported Campbell’s motion to add about $100,000 to next year’s budget to improve safety on Elm Street, you have to scratch your head at his logic that accidents are going to happen anyway.
Likewise, Mayor Cliff Barwick has concerns council is setting a precedent, forcing it to install signals at other locations should there be accidents on those streets.
“If that happens, it happens,” is Campbell’s retort. “If it’s public safety in one area, it’s public safety in another.
Otherwise, is the alternative to do nothing? Bury all traces of pedestrian-vehicle conflicts in bafflegab, remove all traces of existing courtesy crosswalks and pats on the back all around for a job well done?
Not this time, thanks to the gumption of Ald. Campbell.
It seems a boil water advisory issued two months ago for some residents of Elmwood Avenue may have impacted the staffing situation in the city’s environmental services department.
Just how serious was the situation that prompted this alert, issued on the afternoon of Sept. 21?
As the T-J reported at the time, the advisory was necessary after high bacteria levels were detected in the water supply in an area just outside the city limits, which was under construction at the time.
While Elmwood Avenue is located in the municipality of Central Elgin, St. Thomas is responsible for testing water.
Was there a lapse in testing protocol and how long had area residents been exposed to bacteria at a level necessitating the intervention of Dr. Frank Warsh, acting medical officer of health for St. Thomas and Elgin, who issued the advisory?
“This is just Year 1 of the hardship. Expect this to last two or three years. We really have to tighten our belts and make good use of the money we have.”
Finance chairman Ald. Terry Shackelton with a heads up this week on what’s in store fiscally as the city prepares its 2010 capital budget.

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

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