Engaging debate or Mixed Martial Arts?

After signing the appropriate paperwork Tuesday at city hall, Downtown Development Board chairman Mark Cosens delivered what will surely be the understatement of the year.

“Over the next eight months we will, I am sure, be having a full, lively and engaging debate about how it is we move our city forward.”

You have to delve back no further than the closure of Talbot Street in the summer of 2008 to get the essence of how the hopeful mayor Mark and the incumbent Mayor Cliff Barwick regard each other’s political abilities.

With the downtown thoroughfare barricaded due to safety concerns swirling around the Sutherland Press building and downtown merchants fuming at Barwick’s declaration of war on absentee owners, Cosens had the temerity to question the city’s need to shut down a critical stretch of Talbot Street.

“To me, it seems that the city should be looking at the engineering reports and seeing if it’s really necessary to have that street closed,” ventured Cosens in a Times-Journal interview.

That challenge to the integrity of the city’s engineering department and council resulted in a furious retort from the mayor’s office.

“The DDB must clarify its position or I have no alternative but to recommend to council a review of the use of the city hall facilities by your organization,” shot back Barwick.

When invited to attend the next DDB meeting to address Cosens’ remarks, Barwick chose to take a pass instead of putting aside personal differences to the detriment of increasingly frustrated business owners.

Engaging debate?

Hand-to-hand combat would be more like it.

All of which sets the stage for a third mayoral candidate to sit on the sidelines for a couple of months while Messrs. Barwick and Cosens debate the merits of a CAO, and who has the business acumen to run a $100 million corporation, and who has the keenest long-term vision to best develop St. Thomas.

Shades of Barwick versus Janet Golding and the launch of Steve Peters’ political career.


Can we assume the appearance of a staffer from Peters’ office as Cosens filed his nomination papers is evidence the MPP’s campaign team will be mustered to direct the drive to unseat Barwick?

This in spite of Cosens’ assurance he is “building a strong and diverse bipartisan campaign team.”


If the environmental services folks at city hall wonder why a paltry 133 Christmas trees were dropped off at a temporary depot for recycling, perhaps they should look within the department.

Running a minimal number of public notices several weeks in advance of the holidays informing homeowners how to dispose of the shedding conifers is not exactly promoting the service to best advantage.

And having one of the department’s upper management attempt to discourage a Times-Journal staffer from photographing the tree disposal process to promote recycling of trees during the week-long campaign is evidence the program was never intended to succeed in the first place.

You have to look no further than the half-hearted effort by the city to solve this mystery.


“The police are extremely expensive babysitters. If you want them, you’re going to pay for them.”

Mayor Cliff Barwick offers up a description of the role of the city’s police service Monday during debate on who should pay for policing at for-profit public events in St. Thomas.

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

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