A new council, a new attitude, a fresh start


Whither the Sutherland Press building? That was the point to ponder last week in this corner, and it didn’t take long for Suzanne vanBommel to take the bait.

Speaking on behalf of owner David McGee, she answered in succinct fashion.

“A new council, a new attitude, a fresh start.”

There is hope yet for the derelict and semi-roofless building that two years ago prompted the closure of Talbot Street.

“Previously, where the door was closed to even a civil discussion, we’re really pleased with the new council,” enthused vanBommel.

The plan now, she told City Scope, is to meet one-on-one with council for preliminary discussions.

Sutherland Press building in 2008, prior to partial demolition of front face

“We had some artistic drawings done up to show conceptually where he (McGee) wants to go with the building. We want to let them know about that. We want to look at community improvements. We need to get some people into the core. This might be a little spark for revitalization.”

While we have yet to get a glimpse of those drawings, vanBommel informed, “we’re looking at mixed-use, with the potential for some commercial retail at the front end on the lower level. And even on the residential end, perhaps some geared to income for seniors. And then there’s the potential for lofts and higher-end units.”

When asked about the partial demolition of the building, she suggested, “when you see the drawings, it actually could be very interesting. We all know the project needs a new roof, which is great from a solar perspective. The drawing has glassed-in green space at the front. A beautiful glassed-in portion at the front.”

Does the Sutherland Press building have the potential to function in tandem with the CASO station as the vanguard for downtown revitalization?

“It’s going to be a showcase, and this one (Sutherland Press building) can be too,” stressed vanBommel.


Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman delivered an inspiring opening address Monday and looked entirely cool and confident in the process. And in true trooper fashion, she ended with a flourish.

“Tonight we are an assembly of recently-elected officials; veterans and novices, in whom you have vested your trust,” she observed.

“We have a choice: to serve you as politicians or statesmen. The difference between a politician and a statesman is simple: A politician is thinking only about the next election while a statesman is thinking about the next generation.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I commit to you and on behalf of this elected assembly we will work as a council of statesmen.

“Lastly, I have a number of people to thank. To that end, you know

who you are and to you I say, thank you.”

Departing from her prepared script, she brought the large gathering in the council chamber to its feet with this zinger.

“For those of you who thought I was just the girl that wanted to wear

the sash and cut the ribbon, watch close, you’ll be amazed at what I

can do in the right pair of shoes.”

I am mayor, hear me roar.


Rev. Matthew Penny took time from his congregation in Lambeth to deliver his charge to the in-coming council.

He assumed the role of prophet, not to preach right from wrong, but instead, to speak of potential.

“Tonight we celebrate possibilities,” Penny noted. “Your possibilities. Tonight, as a council, you begin to build. The voters of this city chose you because they want a solid house, a solid city. They chose you to lead, to listen and to create something new.

“All that is the past, the history of this city is only the foundation of the house you have chosen to build. Members of council, you joined a team.

“And while it needs to be said that each person comes with an agenda, whether they know it or not, that person also comes to work in a group. However, you will find there are people who get under your skin, bother and annoy. Yet, will you be strong enough to accept that person’s good idea, even if you don’t like the person?

“If you can, then you know that, that is the mark of good leadership. If you go out simply to knock another person’s ideas down, just because of where that idea comes from, then you are not a leader. And the people of this city expect you to lead.”

Words well worth re-visiting at this time next year to see who on council are leaders and who is encumbered by their personal agenda.


“If you do this right from a business point of view, it’s not going to

cost you $1 million over four years. That’s total crap. I wouldn’t vote for this if it were going to cost us $1 million to do it.”

Ald. Dave Warden makes it clear how he feels about claims made prior to the Oct. 25 municipal vote on the high price of a CAO at city hall.

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

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