Former mayor seeks to light fire of desire in city hearts


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After two failed attempts to return to municipal council in St. Thomas (in 2006 and this past October), Peter Ostojic now wants to skate in the provincial arena.

Mid-week, Ostojic announced he would love to represent the city at Queen’s Park and has entered the fray to become the Progressive Conservative candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London in this fall’s provincial vote.

 It’s a crowded field — when announcing his intention, there were six other hopefuls. That’s down to five now that Bill Fehr left in a huff, mortified that former MPP Peter North has the temerity to ask for the confidence of riding constituents in a bid to resurrect his political career.

Not one to pass on the opportunity to gain political traction, Ostojic dropped City Scope a line to pick up on where Bob McCaig left off last week in his call to action for the community to financially support St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital. Read here

To recap, civic booster McCaig checked in to advise, “I am far more concerned about the long-term damage being done to our hospital by city council’s failure to make any contribution to the hospital’s capital fund, as was promised under the mayoralty of Peter Ostojic.”

 Not missing a beat, Ostojic reminds, “It was during my tenure that the matter was brought before council and a total of $500,000 was promised, in $100,000 increments.

 ”However, at budget time, there was no money available and the commitment was changed to read that the payments would begin when the hospital started to build. With our failure to even start to set money aside, that time may never come. It’s such an easy slide into complacency.”

Councils never seem to have money for reserve funds for capital projects down the road, Ostojic observes.

“It is not that they don’t mean well,” Ostojic stresses, “they do, but we need a resolve by more than just elected officials. Citizens need to get behind the project and fundraise throughout the hospital catchment area.”

Improvements to the hospital will cost millions and Ostojic notes, “The private sector should raise a good portion of that amount, leaving elected councils to commit the remainder over a five or even ten-year period.”

It’s a tall order in difficult times, Ostojic concedes, “but one that can be met with a little belt-tightening in areas where municipal costs have gotten out of line. We all have good ideas where those savings can be found.”

For starters, how about escalating legal fees, the result of developers launching frivolous law suits against the city and who will settle for a cool million dollars to quietly drop out of sight?

“Chatham has raised millions for its hospital, Stratford has raised millions as has Woodstock,” Ostojic points out.

 Other communities have done it, St. Thomas should do no less.”

Ostojic signs off with an invitation to get on board and “light a fire of desire in St. Thomas hearts. Get behind our capital campaign to renew St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.”

A significant outpouring of support in this space over the past seven days and not a whiff of acknowledgement from behind the hospital door marked CEO.

READY TO ROLL

Seems like Elgin-Middlesex-London Liberals are about to unveil their big shooter for the October provincial vote.

We have it on good authority Ald. Lori Baldiwn-Sands will be out and about this weekend soliciting membership signatures.

A STIR AT THE STATION

Bob Hammersley over at the Chamber of Commerce passed along a reminder it wasn’t that long ago when St. Thomas was the subject of a lot of news as the manufacturing sector job losses hit.

Now, it’s time for some very good news, teases Bob.

Which prompted a call from this corner over to the chamber office to find out more.

All we could pry out of the president and CEO is the forthcoming news will be big, very big!

In the meantime, we’ll have to wait until 4 p.m. Thursday for the media conference at the CASO Station.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Our days we can ignore accessibility issues are numbered.”

During budget debate Monday, Ald. Gord Campbell stated the obvious. The comment was in reaction to a $40,000 project to install curb ramps for sidewalks.

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

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