Lights out on this curious decision

Something just doesn’t feel right here. The lights are on, but is anyone in the council chamber?
Why would members authorize an expenditure of almost $20,000 to a consulting firm to complete a street light energy efficiency project when, surely, the expertise is right in our own backyard?
Why isn’t council utilizing the resources over at Ascent — the former St. Thomas Energy — to undertake this analysis?
Isn’t this kinda like what they do for a living?
And, hasn’t the city just come to an agreement with Ascent to provide IT services at city hall? Why not go back to the well and tap into their bank of knowledge?

The report to council on Monday notes, “Concern for the environment and reduction of energy consumption are very important issues that are integral to the way a municipality can contribute to the building of a more sustainable community.”
No doubt environmental concerns and a policy of advising customers on how to reduce energy consumption are top-of-mind awareness at Ascent.
So, why isn’t the city keeping this in-house and running with Ascent, which it owns, instead of calling upon the services of LEA Consulting Ltd. of Toronto, which wasn’t even the lowest bidder?
But wait, there’s more.
A special meeting of council has been called for Tuesday — a meeting agreed to several weeks ago — where “Staff will provide the members with an overview of the process relating to the upgrading of the City’s street lighting system,” according to the agenda released Friday.
Why would you make a $20,000 street light energy efficiency decision the night before staff is to huddle with council members to bring them up to speed on upgrading the city’s street lights.
It just gets curiouser and curiouser.

A Queen St. resident is increasingly frustrated with the parking situation around the new consolidated courthouse.
He writes, “like all of our neighbours, have been dealing with parking issues from the time Ellis-Don started work on the new courthouse to now, with everyone, including the OPP, parking illegally in front of our houses every day.”

Elgin County Courthouse

Elgin County Courthouse

He continues, “We have sent many emails, and had numbers of meeting with the mayor, city engineering, CAO Wendell Graves and members of city council, such as Mark Cosens. To this day they still can’t control this problem, even after spending $3.5 million dollars on parking lots and parking officers, we are forced to juggle parking passes when we have visitors, and find it very stressful being forced to live in the city and province’s parking cash cow.”
Do you live in the courthouse area and face daily frustration because of the new parking procedures?
Contact this corner at the email address below. We will be following up on the parking pitfalls.

The police building committee consists of the CAO, Police Chief Darryl Pinnell, aldermen Tom Johnston, Dave Warden and Cosens, and city engineer John Dewancker.
Which committee member didn’t fulfill his mandate and was therefore not a part of the request for proposal for architectural services process completed a week ago?


It wasn’t all that long ago that aldermen Lori Baldwin-Sands and Cliff Barwick reportedly exchanged heated words, prompting Ald. Cosens to accuse Barwick of bullying.
Are both sides hunkered down with lawyers, and ratepayers will be on the hook for legal fees?
Will anyone be forced to undergo sensitivity training, as was the case with Ald. Warden back in 2005?


In Thursday’s T-J, the front page story documented inaction at city hall in dealing with accessibility issues in municipal buildings.
In the story, Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee chairman Ed McLachlan notes, “It took a young guy to sit outside the police station in a wheelchair to get any action on getting an automatic door there.”
Well, that individual is 20-year-old Garrett Smith, an outspoken accessibility advocate who attends Arthur Voaden Secondary School.
A reader reminded us of that detail and pointed out Garrett “wrote and presented a deputation to council, lobbied the city, and over a two-year time frame never gave up the good fight. He is responsible for this button and what it represents to the disabled.”
His appearance before council was in October 2011, when he implored members to fix a dangerous curb at the corner of Wellington and William streets.
Speaking to the T-J at the time, Garrett noted “We (my family) have been fighting this for over a year and we got nowhere with (environmental services) so that’s when I got in contact with Ald. (Gord) Campbell and we did start the process of trying to fix that. But it’s taken a long time, longer than I would like to see.”
He’s a scrapper who said he expects to be somewhat of a fixture at council, fighting for people who need better access to things most take for granted.
“I’m a very strong advocate for other people,” he pointed out.


Ed McLachlan, standing, points out the accessibility issues at Emslie Field in Pinafore Park.

Ed McLachlan, standing, points out the accessibility issues at Emslie Field in Pinafore Park.

“We’ve done all of the reports and a lot of those reports disappeared. We gave the reports to the right people, but we never got answers back.”

Ed McLachlan, chairman of the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, commenting on the lack of action at city hall in the 12 years he has volunteered on the committee.

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

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