You would think when our mayor and council approve an expenditure of more that $700,000, there would be some sort of competitive process to ensure best value to those who are footing the bill — city ratepayers.
However, it appears to be business as usual Monday when it comes time to approving the city’s 2010 insurance renewal with Frank Cowan Company Ltd.
This year’s tab is $723,530, significantly up from last year’s hit of $659,764, and treasurer Bill Day is recommending council approve the sum, with the observation, “the premium is increasing rather significantly this year.”
The fact the premium increase over the previous three years “has been reasonable,” according to Day, is just not good enough.
Bryce Sibbick, regional manager for the insurance firm, suggests one of the reasons for the impressive increase is, wait for it now, “climate change.”
“Severe storms in Ontario are causing concerns both from a liability perspective and a property perspective,” he informs.
Uh, Bryce, would that climate change be known as winter … generating concerns we’ve experienced forever?
With breath-taking bafflegab like this, the city’s insurance needs must be put out for tender, or at the very least, allow local brokers to bid.
Surely there are firms willing to sharpen their pencil when it comes to commission.
Other municipalities have proceeded in this fashion and so should St. Thomas.
SHIFTING SANDS OF TIME
At Monday’s council meeting, Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands was the lone dissenting vote as members voted 6-1 (Mayor Cliff Barwick was absent) to place the Barwick Street bridge replacement as the city’s top priority for upper-tier funding under the Community Adjustment Fund.
Baldwin-Sands threw her support behind a revitalization project for the St. Thomas Public Library noting, “The priority should be given to the library at this time because it is our community, there is an incredible need.”
Not a particularly compelling argument, particularly in light of her vocal stance 15 months ago when she gushed about the merits of replacing the bridge to accommodate a proposed 70-unit subdivision to the west.
“The downtown businesses are going to be able to do nothing but expand and benefit from this development,” she enthused at the time.
A memory lapse or jumping off the bandwagon?
FIRST HAT IN THE RING
Less than two weeks into the new year and we have our first confirmed candidate in the 2010 St. Thomas municipal vote.
Bill Sandison, known for his ability to get under the skin of Mayor Barwick in quick fashion, filled out his nomination papers on Tuesday and told the T-J, “We need people with a passion for the city, a keen eye on the bottom line, a willingness to explore new ideas and to be accountable.”
Barwick, who is seeking re-election but has yet to make an official move, wishes to reach the zenith of his political career by serving as mayor for one more term.
The imagination fairly tingles at the prospect of these two individuals sharing the same council chamber.
If both are successful, it could be the longest four years in Barwick’s colourful political career and the next hire at city hall may very well be a mediator.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We understand the viability of the library and other services, but we also understand the job depletion in our area. It’s starting to affect small business.”
Peter Ostojic, of Walter Ostojic and Sons Developers, who urged council to move replacement of the Barwick Street bridge to the top of the city’s funding priority list.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.