No Garden of Eden over there on Isabel Street

What a sad commentary that the crop getting the most attention in the St. Thomas Community Garden is the abundant supply of hot potatoes.

Let’s be honest here, the joy of horticulture at 26 Isabel Street has now been supplanted by the nastiest of political posturing — in the process choking out rational thought as if under siege by the most pervasive of weeds.

And, there are no winners. In fact, the city’s reputation has been the target of thousands of insults from internet eejits who couldn’t point out St. Thomas on a map, let alone Canada.

To be fair, both sides in the garden hoe-down must share responsibility for ratcheting up the rhetoric.

Organizer Brigitte Cosens emphatically told the T-J on Wednesday she had concerns about the inflammatory comments posted on YouTube over the past week.

She assured reporter Kyle Rea she would talk to the city resident who uploaded a video that has garnered thousands of views and pages of comments ranging from inane to downright insulting.

So, what does she do? Turn around and agree to appear on a second YouTube video that already has attracted a bushel load of rants.

Some residents of the neighbourhood haven’t shied away from taunts and barbs either, as witness these email comments to Cosens.

” I am of the opinion that this type of venture is not a welcome addition to this neighborhood,” writes one individual.

“This type of endeavor could be perceived as nothing more that an election year “social activist” ploy set forth by both you and your husband (mayoral candidate Mark Cosens). I have neither the time nor the intent to placate a fledgling politician and his election ambitions.”

Another neighbour writes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease … and I’ll tell ya … you squeak and I’ll x’s your squeak by 10 fold …. it will just be more subtle.”

The latter certainly falls into the threatening category.

Oblivious to all of this nastiness, a fine crop of sundry vegetables has popped through the ground at the communal garden — no doubt a prelude to a bountiful harvest.

Is there not a compromise here on the part of residents and the city?

Let Brigitte Cosens and one or two volunteers tend to this summer’s crop of tomatoes, cabbages, lettuce and whatever. Then sell the produce at the Horton Farmers’ Market and donate the proceeds to charity.

Perhaps that’s when the healing process can really begin.


In a way, we have a front seat for the spectacle unfolding across the country as frustration mounts over keeping MPs’ detailed expenses away from the prying eyes of media and the electorate.

You see, our very own Joe Preston is a member of Parliament’s Board of Internal Economy, that ultra-secretive body of MPs that reviews those expenses.

However, being able to rub shoulders with Preston gets us no closer to copping a comment on the clandestine committee.

Preston is unwilling to wade into the controversy, but if approached, his office will fire out a letter to constituents to assure them everything is just hunky-dory, thank-you.

Curiosity got the better of this corner, so we couldn’t resist calling the very efficient Karen Vecchio, who promptly emailed us a copy of Preston’s missive.

Here’s his response:

“Thank you for writing me with your concerns.

“The House of Commons’ budget is independently audited each year. All past audits have resulted in the optimal outcome of an unqualified audit opinion.

“As well, individual Members’ reports, including my own expenditure reports, are posted on the Parliament of Canada website each year and have been for as long as I have been a Representative of Elgin-Middlesex-London.

“Further information and full disclosure of Individual Member’s Expenditures Reports can be found on the Board of Internal Economy and Public Disclosure web page linked below:”

A quick trip over to that address and you’ll discover in the period April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009, Preston spent $248,753 on staff and other expenses and $62,923 on travel.

Aye, but here’s the rub — don’t expect an itemized breakdown of those totals. Joe and the board have everything under control, so just move along.


“I’m very proud of them, I don’t want to send them to Value Village.”

Central Elgin Mayor Tom Marks says it’s time to move forward and relax the dress code of blue blazer and classic Bruce tartan at meetings of Elgin county council.

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

One thought on “No Garden of Eden over there on Isabel Street

  1. Am I missing something with regards to the community garden zoning infraction? This is not an R-3 zone issue. Someone needs to follow up on Section 4 General Provisons, which clearly allows “a garden site”. Does not have to be an accessory use. Is the Property Standards officer suggesting in his Zoning Order that a garden cannot be used by in common by numerous persons. What if you are a tenant in an apartment with a garden? Will the City community garden also not comply? Not sure what zone it is to be located.


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