Putting transparency to the test at city open house


After decades of dawdling, similar in process to the consoldiated courthouse project finally underway, an open house will be held 5 p.m. Wednesday at city hall to unveil plans and cost of the new police headquarters.
The long-awaited home of the police service is to located on city-owned land adjacent to the Timken Centre.
Ald. Dave Warden, chairman of the new building committee, says it’s an occasion to not only inform ratepayers, but demonstrate “the transparency of everything that’s going on,” and attach a price tag to the project.
Warden continues: “We’ll lay to rest all the rumours and everything else there is about the police building. We’ll have the actual cost.”
Nowhere near the $30 million sticker price being promoted by one member of council.

A second meeting will be held some time in February, at which point public input will be sought.
Council will then determine, likely in March, whether shovels will strike the ground.
It will be a watershed moment for this edition of council since one alderman is strongly opposed to the project; another alderman produced a pre-election video supporting the undertaking only to show signs of waffling once elected; and a third member thanked police for their support during last October’s provincial vote, but has a record of flip-flopping as witnessed in many preliminary votes on the new courthouse.
We’ll reiterate what has been said in the past — the status quo is not an option.

Now that the time has come to roll out the sales pitch, it’s a much more conciliatory tone emanating from St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.
While CEO Paul Collins and board chairman Bruce Babcock told the city and county to ‘buzz off’ last fall, foundation board chairman Steve Knipe will appear before council Monday in the hope the city will “provide a significant gift.”
That gift will be the city’s portion of the “community share” of $13 million required by the province. That’s up from the initial figure of $12 million bandied about at the time of the project announcement.
The foundation is requesting $4.5 from St. Thomas and a similar amount from the county. An amount that can be spread out over seven years max, according to Knipe.
The remainder of the funds will be garnered from the community at large.
If Knipe and the other members of the hospital delegation expect a quick response, CAO Wendell Graves, in his report to council, recommends the grant request be received for information.
Furthermore, council should strike a select committee, in conjunction with Elgin county council, to consider the request.
The considerations for the committee include the amount of the contribution to the hospital; the time frame; the role of the city and county in and representation on, if any, in the hospital’s building process/building committee; and the accountability requirements for the release of funds.
In other words Messrs. Collins and Babcock, we’re about to get involved in how STEGH undertakes business.
But, as we’ve seen so far this year, hospital administration is now all about accountability and transparency.
When mandated or, in this case, the shoe is on the other foot.

Should this corner choose to take a week off this summer, we’ve found a natural replacement.
For the second consecutive week, Ald. Gord Campbell earns the last word honour (see below) for his fiesty performance at city hall.
In this instance, Campbell directed his scathing comments at BFI Canada, the city’s waste contractor.
What prompted the impressive verbal eruption was a recommendation in the Integrated Waste Management Master Plan calling for the city to hire a consultant to prepare tender documents for the 2014 waste-collection contract.
“That is the most welcome thing I’ve seen in the council chambers for some time,” observed Campbell during his warm up.
He continued, “. . . it’s time we hired someone who would pay some attention to some of the individuals that have to pay the taxes in this town.”
From BFI trucks turning around in open fields to staff placing empty receptacles anywhere but back on front lawns, Campbell asserted he’s fielded enough complaints from residents and it’s time for accountability on the part of the waste contractor.
Campbell wasn’t finished at that point, elaborating afterward to T-J reporter Nick Lypaczewski: “I’m sure our staff is getting a hold of BFI, but BFI are doing absolutely nothing and that’s the way I’d like to read it in the paper.”
There it is in black and white. Now, when you have a moment, we’ll discuss what’s required when filling in this summer.
Although, based on the past two weeks, you’re getting the knack quite nicely.

“I wouldn’t be voting for these people to carry on this contract unless they clean up their blooming act.”
Ald. Gord Campbell, who no doubt would liked to have employed a more descriptive adjective than blooming, vented his displeasure Monday with the performance of BFI Canada, the city’s current waste contractor.

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

One thought on “Putting transparency to the test at city open house

  1. Re: Hospital transparency: “…as we’ve seen so far this year, hospital administration is now all about accountability and transparency.”

    There are quite a few people that can’t recommend supporting the hospital foundation because of the way the hospital is being mismanaged and putting patients and staff in danger. They are unlikely to speak publicly for various reasons.

    The hospital has to spend a lot to hire and train nursing staff, but many staff quit to go elsewhere because of the way it’s managed compared to other hospitals. The hospital is often operating short-staffed and has difficulty covering all shifts. Nursing staff are overworked, getting sick, hurt and burning out. This isn’t just about staff not being able to get everything done they’re supposed to or missing all their meal breaks. This is also a public safety and patient care issue.

    While there are several things that need to be changed, a major one is the hospital should be using GRASP software* to help solve this expensive employee retention, sickness and burn-out problem. (While they “tried” the software for a little while and claimed the system of implementing correct staffing levels was “too expensive”, I’d like to know what the true cost – and risk- of the situation now where it’s only a matter of time before people die from negligence the hospital gets sued.) The conditions there are unsafe for patients and front-line overworked staff.

    *GRASP is a system of patient dependency and staffing workload analysis so that you have the correct number of staff working. It’s designed to create solutions that help improve quality of patient care, and increase levels of staff efficiency and satisfaction.


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