Somebody missed the bus with this press release


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A press release from the Chamber of Commerce created an instant stir on the Times-Journal Facebook page after it was posted late Thursday afternoon.
The advisory, from the pen of Chamber CEO Bob Hammersley, “No New Year’s Bus Service?” suggested “there will likely be no free New Year’s Eve bus service in St. Thomas this year.”
A service underwritten by MADD Canada’s St. Thomas-Elgin Chapter for the past four years.
Was this confirmed with Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman or staff at city hall, or was Hammersley jumping to conclusions?

When asked why the chamber opted to issue the release before checking with the city first, Hammersley said city hall was closed by the time they got the news Thursday afternoon.
So why the pressing need to issue the release at 4:30 p.m. without any form of clarification or indication of a back-up plan on the city’s part?
Hammersley’s release promoted this angry response from the mayor on our Facebook page: “Just because MADD isn’t going to be involved this year doesn’t mean the service won’t be available. No need to jump to conclusions — perhaps ask the City if there is a plan in place!”
That was followed by: “The Safe Communities Committee and the Chamber could have easily checked the facts before issuing this press release. It will go ahead. It is an important service to the community.”
Surely this wasn’t an attempt by the chamber’s committee to embarrass the city, the mayor or the new transit operator, Voyageur Transportation Services?

A READER WRITES . . .
Karen Stuart is a former employee at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital and she forwarded to City Scope a copy of her letter to the hospital board of governors.
She is interested in learning why the patient rooms in the Continuing Care Centre were moved to the first floor from their former location on the ground floor.
“As a retired employee who worked in Continuing Care for many years,” she writes, “I know some patients’ only enjoyment was looking into the courtyard.
She continues: “Staying on the first floor, looking out the windows you miss the decorations summer and winter. Ground floor also provided easier access to the courtyard, flowers and fishpond.”
There’s a second part in her request to the board.
“After visiting in CCC, my other concern would be why are the visitors charged a minimum of $5 for parking (most of whom are elderly) and the parking for the active side is $2 minimum.
“I feel you have been remiss in taking into consideration our elderly patients.”
Well Karen, the whole issue of parking charges at hospitals in Ontario is a powder keg that is about to be blown open.
QMI Agency’s Connie Woodcock nailed it in her editorial in Thursday’s T-J.
A sample of reader comments to that editorial on our website include these observations:
“It’s a shame to charge for parking after the taxes we pay. What about those who can’t afford to pay to see a doctor because they are on fixed income, it’s a disgrace.”
“Hospital parking fees are just a hidden tax and a barrier to universal health care no mater how you want to deny this. Let’s not raid the pockets of the sick and poor in our communities and deny them excess to our health care system because of high, onerous parking fees.
Dr. Rajendra Kale, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, got the ball rolling with an editorial charging parking fees are “a barrier to health care” and “a user fee in disguise.”
Our own Nick Lypaczewski is following the parking situation at STEGH and will report on it shortly. His findings will include comments from a health care spokesman in Scotland, where hospital parking charges have been abolished.
Dr. Kale put the charges in context when he noted if our health care system has to rely on parking revenue, we’re in deep trouble.

WE STAND CORRECTED
Last week in this corner we pointed to Neil Darrach as the architect of Balaclava Street School.
Reader Laurence Grant steered us back down the right hallway by advising it was Darrach’s rival, John Zell Long, who should be credited.
Long was the architect who designed the Journal Building, Amasa Wood Hospital, the Idsardi Block, Balmoral Hotel and many others.
Grant, who appeared on the cover of Tuesday’s T-J holding a copy of his collection of historical photos of the CASO station, closed off with this observation.
“The two architects were rivals, vying for the contract for city hall, which Darrach won. Long would be rolling in his grave to have Darrach steal his Balaclava project for posterity.”
Appreciate the correction, Laurence, we certainly don’t want to be charged with altering the course of history and stoking the fires of what must have been, at times, a heated rivalry.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“There’s no magic pixie dust government can throw.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London Tory MP Joe Preston takes umbrage with London-Fanshawe NDP MP Irene Mathyssen’s assertion this area has become a “have-not region.”

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

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