Not the time to mix-master the issues

So, what exactly is the art of ‘gentle persuasion’ as practiced by St. Thomas developer Bob McCaig?
That strategy to oppose construction of a new police station and the petition he is circulating around the city prompted this corner to call McCaig for clarification.
“We don’t need it, we can’t afford it and our community is in trouble financially,” Bob stresses.
While the petition surely will garner hundreds if not a couple thousand signatures, McCaig admits it likely will have little impact at city hall.
“There is nothing that will come of it (the petition) that will force anybody to do anything. It’s all about gentle persuasion. The time for tough talk is over. It’s time to lay the information on in terms of facts.”
And for Bob, the information points to renovation of the existing police station in the Colin McGregor Justice Building.
“This concept of a new police station should be dropped and the current one renovated. They should put off a new station for 20 years.”

Now if you remember in this corner last week, we chastised Ald. Mark Cosens for his about-face on contamination. Specifically, Cosens stated ground contamination at the site of the current police headquarters wouldn’t interfere with renovations. That is why we should consider that option instead of a new police facility.

Bob McCaig

Bob McCaig

Later in the police building committee meeting, Cosens warned it’s going to be difficult to get rid of a building that’s sitting on a contaminated site.
Well, Bob travels down the same contradictory road with this observation.
“They can’t sell the old one as is. The coal tar blob would have to be moved. It would have to be taken out. So, you’re talking millions of dollars to build and sell the old one. It’s just crazy.”
But, there would be no problem with major renovations that may involve breaking ground?
At this point Bob is well into high gear and the real reason for the push back against construction of a new station is summed up in two words — Cliff Barwick.
“I don’t believe they have the right to make that decision. Especially since they brought Cliff Barwick on (to council to replace the departed Sam Yusuf). And they brought him on specifically to push that thing through.
“He was an unelected member of council in their last year of a four-year term jamming through a decision to do something that should not be done.”
Bob indicated, on that last point, he is seeking a legal determination as per the Ontario Municipal Act.
It’s a safe bet he will be advised the process to return Barwick to council was entirely legal under the act.
Entirely legal, but undertaken in a somewhat sleazy fashion. Yusuf had no sooner vacated his seat and Barwick was arranging his agenda on the desk.
Keeping in mind council had 90 days to undertake any action. They chose to allow no cooling of the departed body.

Expect dire warnings of serious tax implications as the next step in the no-new-police-station-at-any-cost campaign.
Any day now, certain members of council will start throwing around unsubstantiated percentage increases you can expect on your tax rate if council approves construction of a new police station at a yet-to-be-determined cost.
These will be accompanied by warnings the city will lose its entire industrial base because Presstran, Formet and others will be hit with massive tax hikes to pay for new police digs.
Don’t believe a word of this clap-trap.
As stressed during 2014 budget deliberations, and reiterated Monday at the third police building committee meeting, council has determined by substituting one debt for another — in this case the $979,000 annual repayment of long-term debt financing on the Timken Centre to be paid down next July — the city can avoid any increase in the property tax rate related to construction of a new police facility.
In fact, it was Ald. Jeff Kohler who pushed hard to have the $225,000 expenditure to begin the request for proposal process for architectural services be assigned to long-term debt in the city’s 2014 capital budget.
Remember, this is an election year and there will be a lot of running fast and loose with the facts. That is why it is important to attend the police building committee meetings or visit the city hall website at for copies of the minutes and other documents.

After being switched on to a siding last summer, the Iron Horse Festival is steaming up and ready for fun and games this summer.
In a letter to city council for Monday’s meeting, festival president Jayden Abel writes the event will be held in a new location behind the CASO station in the railway yard.
The festival will run from Aug. 21 to 24 and Abel anticipates attendance in the 25,000 range.
Abel continues, “This year’s festival is packed with entertainment. This year we have two stages running full schedules. Our Kids Junction promises to be delightful with crafts and facepainting.”
Takes us back to the early days of the festival when the railway yard was the venue for what started as a small and comfortable, end-of-summer event which took off in popularity.

“They are asking for an RFP (request for proposal). Too bad they don’t have enough balls to say let’s have an RFP for renovation of the old one. Come on. If you really care about your municipality, you would make that effort.”
Bob McCaig with a colourful line of reasoning as to why the city should seek an RFP to determine an accurate cost of renovating the existing police headquarters.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to

2 thoughts on “Not the time to mix-master the issues

    How much would it cost to outsource police services to the OPP?
    That number along with any future savings/costs should be fully understood by council and discussed in open chamber before any decision is made on whether to renovate or build a new police station.
    If it is cost effective to use the OPP (where’s Bill Day when you need a straight shooter to run the numbers) then whatever money that would have otherwise been borrowed should be earmarked 100% to roads, sewers and sidewalks – it’s the infrastructure that’s on life support in St. Thomas.


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