A young mother this week posted on the Times-Journal Facebook page her desperate plea for assistance. “I needed bread and milk. Quite desperately. I have a week left until I get CCTB (Canada child tax benefit) and I am almost out of both.”
She did what many in St. Thomas would do, she gathered up spare change and headed to the Caring Cupboard food bank.
On her arrival, she discovered numerous changes, including a new executive director, Janice Kinnaird.
The young mother had previously complied with the need to show personal ID, proof of income and rental information so she could receive much-needed food assistance in the future simply by arriving with an item of identification.
She was denied assistance this time out because she could not comply with the new policy of presenting full ID.
We’ll let her relate the final outcome.
“This woman (Kinnaird) turned her back (as others were trying to ask questions) and walked into her office. Completely heartbroken, I broke down in tears. All I wanted was some milk and bread, there’s no way I can afford to get back downtown to the food bank.”
This is not the first such tale we’ve been made aware of this week. Two incredibly determined and strong-willed women — graduates of the Bridges out of Poverty program — spent an hour with me detailing a litany of horror stories associated with the new regime at the Caring Cupboard.
We were made aware of a trip to the food bank by homeless advocate Jason McComb who couldn’t even get the executive director to speak with him.
That prompted a phone call to the organization’s board chairman, Ward Houghton, who confirmed he has fielded similar complaints over the past couple of months.
Asked if there is an appeals process, Houghton affirmed, “they call me.”
He continued, “This is Janice’s job. She could lose her job if she doesn’t comply with the board regulations (to gather the proper items of identification). She puts herself at risk for not complying with what we have mandated.
“Obviously I want to give more. Our biggest problem is numbers. We are overwhelmed.”
Houghton invited this corner to attend their annual general meeting on Monday and we have accepted in order to determine the new direction for the food bank and how to minimize the impact of its policies on those who need it most.
And, to answer the question of one individual turned away this week: “Is there no caring anymore in Caring Cupboard?”
A TRUE SAVINGS?
The city’s solution to closure of the Bush Line Transfer station is to become a player in the waste disposal business.
Thursday, the select waste committee held a media scrum to outline alternative plans for residents to dispose of bulky waste and recyclables not accepted for curbside pickup.
The short-term solution is a trip to one of two recycling facilities in south London to dispose of household items and construction waste.
For the long term, the city is investing in a community recycling centre. The location has yet to be revealed as the city will have to deal with neighbouring property owners.
Construction won’t begin until mid-2015 and the projected cost of the facility is $1.4 million.
John Dewancker, director of environmental services, has pegged the operating cost of the recycling centre at $200,000 annually, with the hope that might be offset by recovery costs and user fees.
The goal is to be cost neutral.
“That’s the goal ultimately,” noted Mayor Heather Jackson. “Although it may take awhile to get there.”
“The clientele will build up over time,” added Dewancker. “There will be two streams at the facility. A stream where material can be dropped off at no cost and a circuit where material will be weighed and a fee paid for disposal.”
Separation of the various materials and trucking it away would likely be negotiated under a haulage contract.
In entering into a new waste management contract with Green for Life Environmental effective March 1, the city will realize a saving of about $300,000 on its previous arrangement with BFI Canada.
Why the switch to Green for Life?
“The contract had been extended a number of times,” pointed out Jackson. “So it was a very old contract, so this allowed us to update it to segregate out the recycling and diversion so we had separate pieces for each thing that went to tender.
“It allows us to modernize that and offer better service to the community. In the long run, we’re hoping we’re going to see the recoveries now which we weren’t seeing before and that should start to lower the cost of the programs.”
It’s a calculated gamble — one in which residents must buy into more than a year of carting their bulky waste to London before reaping any benefits here.
Posted on our Facebook page is this comment, “We knew this was going to happen, where was the planning, mid-2015 is not right.”
Will that be a universal sentiment and residents respond by dumping their old couches and chairs in creek beds or along back roads?
Do you think after being shuttered twice in 18 months by the health unit, Kings Buffet will open for a third chance to impress diners?
On the plus side, it hammers home the case for some form of scorecard to alert patrons of what dining adventure lies beyond the doors of St. Thomas eateries.
In talking to Cathie Walker, director of health protection for Elgin-St. Thomas Public Health, she noted diners will soon benefit from the health unit’s food inspection disclosure system.
“People will have more information about the performance of premises. We will have an open/close system but we’re also going to have the ability for members of the public to go on the website and look at the inspection reports.”
Cathie indicated the system will be up and running later this year.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I’m having more fun, there might be bad moments – but I’m having great days.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston says after 10 years in office he is still enjoying himself. Will he seek re-election? Joe says he’ll announce on the 10th anniversary of his first election to Parliament — June 28.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow @ianscityscope