Climate change means it’s time to tender

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.
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?
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.
“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:

2 thoughts on “Climate change means it’s time to tender

    Question: If this was Mr. Day’s own money would he shop around for the best deal or just fork over $723,530 in cash?

    At Monday’s council meeting Alderman Baldwin-Sands did not throw her support behind a revitalization project for the St. Thomas Public Library in the discussion of prioritizing the three project applications for funding.
    Warden offered up the priorities as Barwick Street Bridge #1 Parking Lot #2 and Library #3; Chapman, Johnson and Aarts quickly voiced their support and when Chair Shackelton asked “anybody else?” Baldwin-Sands said nothing – she made no comment and offered no opinion, she just said “No” in a recorded vote.

    If the residents of St. Thomas elect me to serve them as one of their Alderman, I am ready, willing and able to work with the other members of council, whoever they may be, for the betterment of our city.
    While that sounds fairly straightforward I sense that this council is somewhat splintered, has become disconnected from the residents and has lost their raison d’être, so the new council will need to regroup and reset.

    Without general elections, without unrestrained freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution…in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. ~ Rosa Luxemburg

    Bill Sandison
    Candidate for St. Thomas Alderman 2010


  2. Bill: It’s always easier to spend someon else’s money. As taxpayers we should seek accountability on expenditures of this amount. Yes we elect politicians to take care of business and by association they are acting on our behalf. But in the final accounting, we expect them to pursue the most cost-efficient path, not the one that makes their job or the job of city staff easier. Automatically renewing this policy because it is a less-demanding route than aggressively pursuing the option that offers the best cost advantage to ratepayers is a dereliction of duty.


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