What do downtown barriers portend?


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It took a month, however we finally have had someone step up to the plate to declare their candidacy in the October municipal election.
Mayor Heather Jackson filed her nomination papers first thing Monday morning, although she has not finalized her campaign platform.
We talked with her Tuesday on what her strategy may be in a bid for a second term as mayor.
“I’m working with my team on finalizing the platform. We’ll be releasing that in the coming weeks. I don’t want to take the focus away from the work that needs to be done right now.
“We’ve been elected to a four-year term so we’ve got work to continue to do.”
The one thing she wants to avoid is a repeat of the down-and-dirty 2010 election campaign — a black eye for the city on several fronts.
“I can stand behind everything we’ve accomplished as a council and continue to do. It’s certainly not what I’m looking to do. I don’t believe that is in the best interest of anybody and I certainly hope that anybody else who runs for either alderman or mayor keeps that in mind.”

It comes down to the best interests of ratepayers, advised Jackson.
“It certainly makes it more difficult for ratepayers to make a selection when you’re bickering and fighting. We’re here trying to do a job, trying to make the community better. It’s always about quality of life and what we can do to improve that.”
There’s no place for American-style campaigning at the municipal level, she stressed.
“That’s not what St. Thomas is about. It’s frustrating and that’s not what we’re all about here.”
Instead, it’s about dwelling on the issues, reminded Jackson.
“That’s what I heard last time as well. Let’s here about the issues and where you stand on things. And certainly, that’s what we have to do.”
That doesn’t leave much room for a flip-flop wannabe here.
So, who is going to direct the campaign?
“There is no one officially yet,” notes Jackson. “We’re still trying to sort that out. I’ve got some great support.”
How long before the next mayoral candidate takes up the challenge?
Well, read on.

POLITICAL POSTURING
In what must be the worst-kept secret at city hall, Ald. Mark Cosens will attempt to unseat Mayor Jackson in the October municipal vote and lay claim to the chain of office.
Cosens broke the smile meter at Monday’s council meeting, popping out of his chair incessantly to thank various visitors to the speaker’s podium.
Likewise he could produce a video on tie straightening.
He was seen at a mid-week function where he spent the evening in the shadow of city developer Bob McCaig who is, no doubt, a leading supporter in the Cosens-for-Mayor campaign.
So why the hesitation to announce his intentions?
If it is a matter of waiting to see who else tests the waters, then does Cosens really have the ratepayers’ best interests at heart? Or is this all about political strategizing to improve chances of success?
What if a veteran campaigner with mayoral experience were to rock the political boat by dipping his oar in the water? He’s got nothing to lose.
Reminiscent of the closing cemetery scene in a popular spaghetti western.
Who is going to blink, who is going to draw?

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
What’s with the barriers on Talbot Street in front of the Sutherland Press building? Why it almost takes you back to when the downtown edifice played a critical role in the 2010 municipal election.

Sutherland Press building in 2008, prior to partial demolition of front face

Sutherland Press building in 2008, prior to partial demolition of front face


Fears of public safety, a lengthy closing of Talbot, talk of protecting a supposed-heritage building, a verbal scrap between the head of the Downtown Development Board at the time, Mr. Cosens, and then-mayor Cliff Barwick and finally a failed lawsuit by building owner David McGee citing the city, Barwick, city staff, the police and anybody who looked suspicious or owned a dog that barked too loudly.
That was followed by robocalls from McGee — some suggest orchestrated by Cosens and political strategist Suzanne Van Bommel — in the anybody-but-Barwick movement.
Is this a prelude of what is to come this fall?
Say it ain’t so.

ON THE HORIZON
Coming up in a month or so it’s goodbye BFI and hello to GFL (Green for Life) as the city’s new waste management contract comes into effect.
Not a good omen, however, when the new provider is battling bad press elsewhere.
Seems the residents of communities in the Lake Simcoe area are losing patience with GFL over failing to live up to contracted terms.
In fact several municipalities are talking about penalties or even pulling the plug on GFL because of reliability, equipment and service issues.
Makes you almost wish for a return to the good old days of the McCaig boys and Green Lane Environmental.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Some things have been outstanding for a long time. For example the drinking fountains at the Timken Centre.”
Ald. Gord Campbell commenting on the city’s municipal accessibility committee report to council Monday on the deficiencies in public buildings, including the Timken Centre, which fills in as a cooling station during hot weather alerts.

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

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