Grant or sponsorship, nixing request the right move


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Sponsorship or grant, council made the right decision by not immediately approving a request to financially support a new Elgin Business Resource Centre and St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce awards event.
We dwelt on this last week and our municipal officials hashed it around Monday before turning thumbs down on the $5,000 call for support from chamber president Bob Hammersley, who wanted the process fast-tracked.
This is one more reason why the city should follow the lead of Elgin county council and put the hammer down on all new grant requests.
Ratepayers should not be on the hook to support various causes and events cherry-picked by council for consideration.

Least of all from organizations such as the chamber, which could easily poll its membership for support, whether monetary or in kind.
We are led to believe Hammersley is less than happy with coverage in the Times-Journal by reporter Nick Lypaczewski from the Feb. 4 council meeting where the request was originally introduced.
If the words ‘sponsorship’ and ‘grant’ were interchanged, it was by direction of council, as the city does not formally sponsor events or activities, it supports them through grants as was accurately documented by Lypaczewski
For Hammersley to suggest this was an intentional distortion of the facts on the part of the T-J is a scurrilous attack on the reporter.
Perhaps the over-riding factor in the delay of approving any request was the lack of financial disclosure on the awards event, as noted by Mayor Heather Jackson.
“I was told it was forthcoming. I haven’t received it,” Jackson stressed on Monday.
Surely Hammersley must know the city doesn’t just cut cheques to organizations requesting funding support without detailed financial documentation.
That is council’s ultimate obligation to ratepayers.

And, as an aside to Hammersley, our reporter has kept his notes and audio tape from the two council meetings in question and we can arrange for a time to meet with him to determine where we have strayed off track on reporting this story.

ON THE RADAR
When council sits Tuesday, it will be asked to deal with a recommendation from the Municipal Heritage Committee to designate Grace United Church as a heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Committee chairman Serge Lavoie advises, “The committee clearly understands the difficult timing of this recommendation given the recent purchase of the church property, however committee members respectfully suggest that council consider the potential loss of a church building with undeniable cultural and heritage value.”
This is a motion with plenty of ramifications for council and the city.

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
No surprise, but Gail McNaughton takes umbrage at City Scope’s cool reception last week to her vision for the hillside below the Jumbo statue.
By way of clarification, McNaughton notes this week in an email the train I mentioned was supposed to be constructed out of stone with steel rails as only one idea.
Certainly not clear in her written presentation to council, but let’s move on.
“The motion was defeated by one vote at council so there is definite interest in this type of a project,” McNaughton writes.
“My first suggestion to improve the look of the hill a number of years ago was to erect bird houses, stone and wild flowers. Many simple things can be done by pulling together ideas and brainstorming is very important and that is what I once again did by going to city council. It is important for people to come forward with ideas and not be shot down for them.”
In my response to McNaughton, I stressed it was not her ideas that were being challenged, instead it was any suggestion taxpayers should be on the hook for geotechnical studies deemed necessary before proceeding with any beautification.
Especially in light of the fact Jumbo may be on the move in the near future as part of the city’s downtown London & Port Stanley rail corridor project which includes final placement of the replica L&PS station to serve as a tourist information booth.

LET THE NAME LIVE ON
Faithful reader Sally Nixon forwards an observation that warrants action.
She writes, “Earlier this week we were driving by Timken and I took a long, sad look and spotted the neon sign on top of the building. I thought that should not be lost to this city.
“Wouldn’t it be great if the powers that be at Timken would donate that sign to the city to be part of the Timken Centre,” she continues.
“I could just picture it on the outside north wall so that it would be visible from Talbot Street. It would be a beacon to people coming to the city for hockey games or skating competitions. If no one from Timken comes forward with this offer, could the mayor or a councillor approach the person in charge at Timken. Just another of the many legacies from Timken to this city.
“Another item that should not fall to the wrecking ball is the large lintel over the front door. I am sure that could find a place in our museum. Maybe our chief historian Steve Peters could broker this deal.”
Great suggestion Sally. Watch this corner for reaction from Steve.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I think we should take my best, my new best friend Bob McCaig’s advice and just stop this matter right where it is and carry on with life as we know it.”
Ald. Gord Campbell, who is opposed to the city sponsoring a joint Elgin Business Resource Centre and St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce awards event, proclaimed Monday he’s siding with new-found friend and St. Thomas entrepreneur Bob McCaig, whose take on the matter appeared in this corner last Saturday.

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

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