A jam-packed City Scope agenda this week, so let’s get right to it.
If you’re not familiar with the name, the buzz next week will be the release of the Drummond Report on Wednesday.
To set the scene, the Dalton McGuinty government hired former TD Bank economist Don Drummond to review all government programs and services to allow for extensive paring of the province’s $16 billion deficit.
Expect some radical chopping, including a proposal to deep six all-day kindergarten.
The alarm is also being sounded for the well-being of the health care system in Ontario.
Is spending out of control or is the province manufacturing a crisis to justify cuts down the road?
If indeed cuts to health care are inevitable, what is the status of the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital revitalization project?
Oh sure, the Libs committed to dropping $100 million into the undertaking. Remember, however, the timing of this announcement — three weeks prior to last fall’s provincial vote in a riding no longer a slam dunk for McGuinty.
Having lost the seat, and in the process a Liberal majority, is McGuinty going to live up to that campaign promise with the Drummond Report pressuring for cuts, cuts, cuts?
Is the compromise a slimming back of the revitalization project to only proceed with the mental health beds component?
After all, those were the priority before McGuinty upped the election ante by mix-mastering in a bunch of hospital goodies, to the tune of $100 million, in a failed attempt to promote Lori Baldwin-Sands.
ON THE WRITE TRACK
We’re introducing a new, semi-regular feature this week to showcase the observations of readers who drop by the T-J website or Facebook page to comment on a variety of topics.
The dispute over when downtown merchants should put out their trash for pick-up on Talbot Street prompted this response from ‘bouquetla.’
“A couple of things. Why is trash put out onto Talbot Street anyway? In years past, that’s what the back alleys were used for. No one would consider littering our main street with garbage.
“The other is one of the reasons that people go out of town and to the malls and big box stores to do their shopping. Like the merchant said, she closes at 4 p.m. And she probably doesn’t even open till 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. Extend your business hours by opening earlier, staying open later so that the normal working person could patronize your store. Don’t close so that you can then go and take advantage of the other stores that are business savvy enough to be open later.”
‘Marcus 33’ checks in on the proposed police headquarters with this comment.
“If the land has already been purchased for the new building site, then why is this still being discussed? If they decide to simply renovate, what are they going to do with the land that has already been purchased? Won’t that have been a waste of money, adding to the costs, which seem to be the major issue in the first place? ”
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Picking up on the above point, March 3 is the date set aside for the St. Thomas Police Service open house to deal with their space needs.
The public is invited to drop in between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for an escorted tour of their cramped quarters, but call ahead for reservations at 519-631-1224, ext. 266.
See for yourself the conditions under which the service operates and take the time to ask Chief Bill Lynch how supposedly ‘fancy’ the new headquarters will be.
While you’re at it, have him elaborate on how renovating the existing structure is a non-starter.
Tour the facility, ask questions and the likelihood is you’ll realize the efforts of some council members to sidetrack this project are nothing more than self-serving stall tactics.
That, if successful, will further drive up the cost of the new headquarters.
And, to those who suggest the city has to choose between the hospital revitalization project and the police HQ, your logic doesn’t stand up under scrutiny.
Moving ahead with the Timken Centre certainly didn’t put the kibosh on construction of the new Valleyview Home at the same time.
To suggest otherwise is fearmongering.
POINT TO PONDER
The two members of St. Thomas council recently appointed to the city/county hospital revitalization committee, Ald. Gord Campbell and Baldwin Sands, are on the public record stating hospital funding is a provincial — not municipal — responsibility.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We’re saying this is going to buy us five years, so when do we start planning for that replacement and start putting the money away. I’m tired of spending money on studies on bridges and fixing bridges when we really need to be dealing with (removal).”
Mayor Heather Jackson’s reaction to council’s decision Monday to spend $40,000 for short-term maintenance on two city bridges.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope