Of camels and rich men and costly back-tracking


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The cost of the proposed new police headquarters has nearly doubled over the past eight years because
of the feet dragging of successive councils.

Dithering being perpetuated by some aldermen who, as a result, are directly hitting ratepayers where it hurts most — the pocket.

In 2003, a building condition assessment and space needs assessment study of the justice building was undertaken by the Stonewall Group.

Its recommendation: “the principal strategy to meet the long-term accommodation needs of the St. Thomas Police Service would be best served by building a totally new facility.”

Estimated cost, $10.5 million.

Who endorsed that recommendation?

None other than Ald. Jeff Kohler, a member of council’s study team at the time.

Now, who is leading the charge to explore the possibility of renovating the justice building. The very same
individual who concluded a new facility is the best possible solution.

Time is money . . . your money.

Read this report and the most recent study here, and find out for yourself why, as some members of council stall to satisfy their own personal agenda, you will end up paying even more for a new police service headquarters.

OF CAMELS AND RICH MEN

Well, you had to know this was coming.

Bob McCaig’s dressing down of Ald. Gord Campbell in this corner last week brought an immediate response from the veteran politician in the form of a letter hand delivered to the T-J.

To quickly recap, Campbell took heat from reader Deb Sawatzky over comments he made in council
chambers on the quality of service provided by the city’s waste contractor, BFI Canada.

McCaig inflamed matters, in what can best be described in football terms as piling on after the whistle, when he sided with Sawatzky and threw in a couple of solid jabs for good measure.

Campbell, however, has bounced back with his sense of humour intact to offer this rebuttal.

“I am going to forgo some advice I received from good friends, that it was best not to respond to articles in the press,” writes Campbell.

“In response to Mrs. Sawatzky, I’m sorry if she felt that I under-appreciate the work the BFI workers do. I understand they work long hours at a difficult job in all kinds of weather. I just want them to finish
the job by putting garbage containers back on lawns instead of the street or sidewalk.”

Campbell continues: “I have a constant list of complaints from citizens that they have to navigate around garbage receptacles on the sidewalk. This is particularly perilous for those with visibility problems, the elderly and those whose mode of transportation are wheelchairs and motorized scooters.

“It is extremely dangerous for them to go out on the road to avoid these receptacles. It is also in violation of not only a city bylaw, but the BFI contract itself. City staff have constantly forwarded those complaints to BFI. ”

As to the matter of McCaig’s personal observations, Campbell advises of progress made over the past couple of weeks.

“As Mr. McCaig puts it, my latest search and destroy mission caught the eye of the district director of BFI,
and the appropriate city staff and myself sat down with him in a cool, calm and friendly manner and believe we have resolved many of the issues we discussed, including containers on the sidewalk.

“Finally, Mr. McCaig’s comment about politicians who have never achieved anything in life take great glee in trying to destroy those who have — Bob, I take that insensitive remark as a slam against me. I am quite happy with my accomplishments in life and have to consider the source of the remark.

“I guess if you are comparing bank balances, you’re right, there is no contest. But, I want you to know I don’t spend a lot of time pondering the biblical parable about a rich man passing through the eye of the needle
either.

As an aside Gord, I think Matthew refers to a camel passing through the eye of a needle as more likely than a rich man entering into the Kingdom of God, but the argument is well taken.

“The other point about grandstanding for votes, I thought I made it clear some months ago I was on my last term. However, I intend to do my job until that time. I guess one of the reasons for retirement was expressed
by another friend when asked why he was quitting politics. His response was: ‘I’m tired of always being wrong.’”

We’re glad Campbell ignored the advice about not having enough ink and elevated the discussion to a
higher level of consciousness.

HEALTH UNIT UPDATE

It’s been quiet at 99 Edward St., so we checked in this week with Ald. Dave Warden, Elgin St. Thomas Public Health board chairman.

The call was prompted by an ad that appears on page 17 of today’s T-J in which the health unit is inviting
proposals for professional design services “related to the construction of a health unit office building.”

Sounds like a new facility is to be built, however Warden says not necessarily so.

There was a unanimous vote of the board on Wednesday, “that we go out for request for proposal. That’s all we’re doing.”

Warden stresses the proposal is not limited to a new building.

“It’s options for us to look at. The county was excellent in extending us a year on the lease (at 99 Edward St.).

This is an open tender. You come back with options for us and what’s it going to cost.”

After several years of bitter wrangling, it’s encouraging to see the city and county working on the same
page as to which address will appear next on health unit letterhead.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We’re going to do this the right way and we have the full support of the people in the county.”

Ald. Dave Warden on the request for proposal to provide office building design services for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.

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

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One thought on “Of camels and rich men and costly back-tracking

  1. On page 3 of the St. Thomas Police Service – Needs Assessment & Concept Plan Project Status Report, it says;

    “Staffing growth is anticipated to be substantially higher than the population growth – an ongoing increase in the police-to-population ratio is consistent with national and international trends over the past few decades. Many factors have contributed to this, including the ‘Adequacy Standards’ included in the Police Services Act.”

    Who has created these ‘Adequacy Standards’ included in the Police Services Act, in which the number of staff in Police Services increases the police-to-population ratio?

    Well, according to (http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/police_serv/about/about.html) it is the Ontario Government.

    Perhaps St. Thomas should consider downsizing the staff in its Police Services, so that the present building will continue to be adequate for Police Services needs. This will minimize the cost to the taxpayer, helping to alleviate the tax burden from those in our community who have to make due with what they have, as the result of job losses and little or no wage increases.

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