The meter keeps ticking to maintain the status quo


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A supplementary item St. Thomas council will deal with Monday leaves the distinct impression we are going to be slowly nickle-and-dimed to death while some aldermen press their case to rehabilitate the existing police headquarters in the Colin McGregor Justice Building.
To wit, a report from John Dewancker, director of environmental services, requesting $24,000 in additional funding to complete the Phase 2 environmental site assessment at 30 St. Catherine St.
The work is being undertaken at the request of those members of council who would rather pump money into a toxic site, rather than construct a new facility on land the city has already purchased for that purpose.
To date, the environmental assessment, undertaken by Conestoga Rovers, indicates soil samples from the northern portion of the property exceed Ministry of the Environment standards for benzene, lead and petroleum hydrocarbon contamination.

You see, the site of the police building, in a former life, was a coal gasification plant.

JUSTICE BUILDING -R

In addition, groundwater results show several samples were impacted with acenaphthylene – one of a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs for short – likely related to the coal gasification plant and benzene from an unknown source.
The amounts did not exceed MOE standards, and the funds requested will be used to continue monitoring and the collection of groundwater, soil and soil vapor samples.
All of this data will be presented to council early in the new year.
The cost of this additional investigative work will be borne by the police headquarters capital budget.
And, Dewancker warns, “While there is adequate funding in this account at the present time, the overall budget of this account will likely need to be augmented towards the end of this project to pay for all project components and activities that need to be completed under this multifaceted project.”
So, the meter will continue to tick over, all in the name of maintaining the status quo at 30 St. Catherine Street.

A CHANGE TO YOUR LINEUP
By popular demand, Ald. Dave Warden returns to St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital, where he will sit as the city’s representative on the board of directors.
If you remember, he stood aside earlier this year to make way for Ald. Sam ‘No-show’ Yusuf, who sought a move to the board to make way for a seat on the hospital foundation board for his girlfriend.
Hey, we’re not making this up.
So what happens?
Yusuf goes missing in action during a critical time in the life of the hospital redevelopment project, and for months on end the city has no representation on the hospital board.
However, Yusuf has made one good decision of late – he won’t seek re-election.

OPEN FOR DISCUSSION
An intriguing piece of correspondence appears on Monday’s council agenda. It’s a letter from Bill Sandison asking CAO Wendell Graves to table the following item for discussion.
Sandison asks: “Should an individual who owes taxes to the City of St. Thomas be allowed to sit on council and, if so, should they be allowed to vote on financial matters?”
He continues with two specific questions he would like council to respond to in open session.
“Is any member of council currently in arrears to the City of St. Thomas in taxes as individuals or through businesses or properties owned or previously owned?
“If so, what is the amount of taxes owed and when does that council member expect to pay the amount in full.”
Hmm, wonder why Sandison didn’t expand his line of questioning to include any member of council who might have declared bankruptcy?

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK LIKE THE WINTER FESTIVE SEASON
A tip of the City Scope mistletoe to MPP Jeff Yurek and family for sending out a greeting card this year that actually wishes the recipient a Merry Christmas.
It’s a sad commentary on the times when such an action is to be applauded.
This corner harped on this last year after we’d reached the limit with politically correct cards from groups and organizations (some of which I recognize) wishing us: A Happy Festive Season; All The Best This Holiday Season; Hope You Enjoy the Winter Festival Season; and Merry Xmas.
Just this week, what landed but a very expensive calendar card from architects The Ventin Group, complete with a festive green wrapper festooned with a multitude of greetings from around the world, including Feliz Navidad and Joyeux Noel.
But, what does it wish in English – Season’s Greetings.
If you’re doing this to avoid offending anyone, it’s not working here.
For the half-dozen or so individuals out there who still send cards our way (I have yet to completely annoy these good people), it’s perfectly acceptable to wish me Merry Christmas.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I think we all know the answer to that question. It’s a city project, so I’m sure that’s what will be happening.”
Mayor Heather Jackson in response to Ald. Gord Campbell’s question as to whether city ratepayers would be on the hook for any shortages related to the $600,000 estimated price tag for a new skateboard park.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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