It took a hot grill to fire up the St. Thomas mayoral race.
Who could have imagined the pancake breakfast at last Saturday’s opening of Horton Farmers’ Market would have such lasting impact?
While Ald. Heather Jackson-Chapman and mayoral wannabe Mark Cosens flipped flapjacks, head cook, Mayor Cliff Barwick was elsewhere and now his toque is tussled because candidates for mayor shouldn’t attend events in an official capacity as candidates until nominations close, don’t ya know.
“I do not think it is fair and I do not think it is a level playing field until all candidates are announced and everyone can participate.
That logic drew a predictable response from the parties involved.
“It’s his opinion,” countered Jackson-Chapman, “but once you’ve filed your nomination papers, you’re free to campaign.”
“It’s quite ludicrous that he thinks those are the terms by which everyone else should be running it,” added Cosens.
Hey, you pay your money, you step into the batting cage.
Remember, it was the mayor who announced his intentions back in January in council chambers. Talk about opportunism.
It’s like the spoiled kid who explodes into a hissy-fit and threatens to go home with his ball if you don’t play by his rules.
Bring on the next pancake breakfast.
NO DEAL YET
As of mid-week, the powers-to-be at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health had not responded to the lease offer presented to them by their landlord at 99 Edward St., the County of Elgin.
We outlined in this corner several weeks ago the sweetheart deal proposed by the county and presented last August.
At that time, the County of Elgin offered the publicly-funded organization, whose Edward Street lease expired at the end of April, a new, 10-year lease, with a further option for an additional ten years at a net rate of $13.50 per square foot.
The current contract called for a rate of $25.98 per square foot.
That same August, 2009 tender proposal offered to Elgin St. Thomas Public Health would see the county responsible for major building maintenance, the county would relocate the existing tenant to free up an additional 4,000 square feet and throwing in the parking spaces.
This would equate to an approximate annual reduction/savings of $250,000.
This should be a no-brainer, unless CEO Cynthia St. John has grander aspirations along the lines of the $20 million posh digs now called home in Owen Sound by the Grey-Bruce Health Unit.
It would appear Elgin St. Thomas Public Health had a budget surplus in 2009 (the result of seven lost jobs?), is that money destined for a building reserve?
IT’S A TAXING TIME
Deep into Monday’s council agenda – it’s page 91 – is a letter to Mayor Barwick from PC MPP Joyce Savoline warning of the negative financial impact of the pending Hated Sales Tax on Ontario municipalities.
The representative for Burlington advises the mayor municipalities across the province will receive a 78% rebate on the HST, however she is “aggressively” pressing the Dalton McGuinty government to increase the rebate to a full 100%.
She notes municipalities and consumers will be faced paying an extra 8% on a wide range of services ranging from hydro, natural gas and internet bills to snow removal, maintenance fees, legal work, facility rentals and a shopping cart full of other day-to-day necessities.
“As the former chair at Halton Region,” Savoline informs, “I am acutely aware that municipal budgets are stretched to the limit.”
Hey Joyce, take a look down here for pity’s sake.
What about the great mass of electorate dwelling at the bottom of the feeding chain. You don’t think our budgets aren’t stretched tighter than mom’s sauna pants?
As an elected representative what sort of permanent rebate are you proposing for us to ease the pain of this monumental tax grab?
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?
Talk about planting the seeds of discontent.
Like the first weeds of spring, heated debate threatens to choke the communal plots now being nurtured on Isabel Street, but the over-riding issue is no longer the merits of communal gardens (and they are a wonderful idea).
Nor is it fair to wag fingers at area residents and accuse them of NIMBYism.
The matter at hand is a zoning bylaw infraction and the garden hoe, rake and watering can have been placed squarely at the feet of city council.
As is the case with all such infractions, it is complaint driven and council and city staff have been backed into the proverbial corner.
They obviously have sought legal counsel and the course of action surely must be to act upon the complaint registered by the residents.
Otherwise, city bylaws aren’t worth the paper they’re written on (although in a sense we’ve already seen that in the case of Alma College)..
Get set to enjoy open fires in the backyard, put up those chicken coops and while you’re at it crank up the music till way past midnight because to ignore the proper course of action taken by those who have voiced their concerns is to declare open season on city bylaws.
How unfortunate the launch of a communal garden has torn asunder life in a quite community neighbourhood.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s his prerogative. I’m more concerned about how he gets to use his prerogative at city council meetings from the throne.”
Mayoral candidate Mark Cosens fires a shot across the bow of Mayor Cliff Barwick as the 2010 municipal election campaign begins to display signs of life.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.