The fish are approaching from all directions


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There’s a lot riding on Thursday’s announcement of a $7 billion deal between the province and South Korean conglomerate Samsung.

While it is an affirmation of Dalton McGuinty’s Green Energy Act, it is much, much more for St. Thomas which is poised, hopefully, to benefit from the economic spinoffs.

With acres of vacant industrial space along South Edgeware Road and a vast pool of skilled labour, it is easy to see why Mayor Cliff Barwick is confident we can direct some of that massive investment in wind farm and solar energy technology into the city.

“We have space, we have skilled workers, we are a manufacturing city with an awful lot of skills,” Barwick noted after the announcement.

“It is like fishing,” he continued. “I cannot say we have one snagged, but it looks good.”

With a lot of irons in the fire, you would hope the odds will play in our favour at some point soon because, of late, if it hadn’t been for bad luck, we would have no luck at all.

And, the winds of change may be closer than anticipated, as this corner has learned Magna is poised to make an announcement shortly (it was pushed back from this coming Monday) related to green energy.

The only down side to all of this is at the bottom of the feeding chain — green energy comes with a hefty price tag as will be reflected down the eco-trail on our monthly utility bill.

In the U.K. residents are in shock as household electricity bills are expected to balloon by the end of the decade to meet government-imposed green targets.

From an on-line story found here , “A massive rethink on the cost of ‘green energy’ is taking place … among senior regulators and industry, leading some to question whether the public will be prepared to pay increasingly high bills for the UK to become greener than most countries.”

Be prepared, going green is going to cost a lot of green.

A NICE THOUGHT, BUT …

Having council freeze its remuneration for this year is a bit like trying to put out a fire with an eye dropper.

However, it’s a prudent gesture — they become the vanguard for the higher-priced talent, like department heads.

With an estimated 45 employees earning more than $100,000 a year, according to Ald. Gord Campbell, that’s where you look at real savings.

The breakdown on the impact of a wage freeze at that level, to be presented by Graham Dart, director of human resources, is a significant starting point.

For the 2010 operating budget, it will be cut costs or cut services.

THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

An interesting conundrum facing council over the move by office supplier Staples to open up shop in St. Thomas.

Council reviewed a report by planner Jim McCoomb on Monday and then requested more information from the consultant who prepared a market analysis in 2007 on the impact of the new kid in town on Van Pelt’s Office Plus, a long-established name in St. Thomas.

A public meeting is set for Feb. 16 at 6:40 p.m. at city hall to re-visit the findings of W. Scott Morgan and Associates which concluded opening a Staples outlet would not put Van Pelt’s “at risk of closure or imply damage to planned function in Talbot East.”

It wouldn’t make sense to shutter one business in order to accomodate a new player not that distant, geographically.

On the other hand, does St. Thomas want to send a message to interested parties that we’re not open for business?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“This isn’t ground we haven’t plowed before. If you’re looking at savings in a budget, you don’t look at the $20,000 salaries of the aldermen.”

Ald. Gord Campbell during debate Monday on a wage freeze for council.

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

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One thought on “The fish are approaching from all directions

  1. More of what we can expect over the next decade as a result of McGuinty’s deal with Samsung. This is what U.K. residents are facing … “The Government’s plans for wind are wildly unrealistic. Wind power is going to be very expensive, very difficult and ultimately very costly.” And, “Subsidising wind farms is far too expensive, and the money could be better spent by investing in other forms of power.” Read the full story here … http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/7061552/Wind-farm-subsidies-top-1-billion-a-year.html.

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