As if you didn’t already know this, the return of Cliff Barwick to St. Thomas council is all about balance of power and, ultimately, the construction of a new police headquarters.
Prior to the departure of Sam Yusuf, you had two, equal-sized camps in the council chamber, not unlike the disfunctional council of 2003 in which deadlocked votes were the norm.
With Yusuf’s departure last month, the balance shifted and the ‘Barwick 4’ – as Mayor Heather Jackson and aldermen Gord Campbell, Tom Johnston and Dave Warden have now been christened – were able to out-muscle the remaining three members of council in filling the vacancy.
There is no doubt Barwick will bring experience and decorum to the horseshoe. And the deciding vote needed to proceed with a new facility to house the city’s police service.
While still mayor of St. Thomas in 2010, Barwick announced the selection and purchase of a four-acre site adjacent to the Timken Centre as the proposed new police headquarters.
Barwick went on to stress it was up to the incoming council to determine whether or not to proceed with construction of a new building.
“Let me offer a word of advice from an experienced politician: This is a good thing for the city,” advised Barwick.
“The present facility is not adequate,” he continued. “So I would say to those people who are running for office, be careful what you are talking about. If you don’t know what you are talking about, keep your mouth shut and smile.”
All right, maybe not the best example of decorum on Barwick’s part.
The definitive vote on a new police station will come sooner rather than later and aldermen Jeff Kohler, Mark Cosens and Lori Baldwin-Sands, who support renovating the existing headquarters, are dealing in futility at this point.
But remember, it was this trio that employed the same strategy in April when, along with Yusuf, they attempted to parlay Cosens’ motion to proceed with a new building into a 4-4 stalemate that would have killed the deal.
What followed was unanimous support for the motion, which left the door open for reconsideration once Barwick was sworn in.
As closed meeting investigator John Maddox will determine, there were no secret meetings or illegal shenanigans employed by the Barwick 4.
However, the manner in which Yusuf’s seat was filled – minutes after it was declared officially vacant and with no debate on which option to chose – will find the Barwick 4 guilty in the court of public opinion.
A MATTER OF TIMING
Ironic isn’t it. While the mayor is off in South Korea trying to drum up business for St. Thomas, along comes the announcement work could soon begin on a $700-million, food industry development on the site of Ford Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant.
And with it, the possibility of 1,500 or so jobs.
All of this generated literally right in our own backyard.
ALWAYS HERE TO HELP
It’s not like I want to shut down a topic of conversation that has generated plenty of ink in this corner, however I have a suggestion that could virtually eliminate travel expenses in the annual budget over at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.
We received a breathless email Friday from Sadie Chapple, client coordinator over at Enterprise Canada. They’re “a leading strategic communications, public relations and government relations firm with a reputation for producing results.”
So you know they are important people.
Well, one of their clients is the new hospital in St. Catharines operated by Niagara Health System.
According to Sadie, the hospital is “the highest-tech hospital in the country right now. At nearly one-million-square feet, the comprehensive acute-care hospital is a showcase of technological innovation that helps medical professionals provide better care and allows patients to better enjoy their stay.”
I told you it was breathless.
You notice the emphasis on patient care, and isn’t that the buzzword over at STEGH.
Why travel around the world and risk jet lag or even worse when you can see the very best in hospital care just a short jaunt down the QEW.
Say goodbye to Singapore, the U.K., Texas, Las Vegas and other distant and expensive venues.
And say hello to Sadie at Enterprise Canada, who closes off her email with a welcoming, “I’d be happy to help you make arrangements for an interview with the Niagara Health System.”
So, to the board and administrators at STEGH, feel free to call me for contact info.
You know, it feels good when you’re able to save people money.
TELLING IT LIKE IT IS
Our website and Facebook pages are fascinating water coolers to hang around and gauge public opinion.
Reader “Tellitlikeitisnow” certainly did that with this commentary on city hall.
“Corruption is a stable in this city from city council (Where is the $40K Mark, and the taxes owed Tom?) to the council meetings at the Seniors Centre,” writes our intrepid poster.
“The people of this city are being taken for everything they have and our city’s elected officials, economic development and chamber of commerce sit back, watch and applaud each other blowing smoke up each other’s backsides.
“Really folks, it is time for some changes to be made. How about a ward system for elections and we can see how many will be gone.
“No wonder those up on Talbot Street won’t consider that, maybe too afraid to lose their job!”
And that is telling it like it is.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I would think by the fall, this will come to a head. And it needs to. One way or another, it needs to.”
Ald. David Warden stressed Tuesday debate on whether to renovate the existing police service headquarters or construct a new facility has dragged on for too long.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope