It dropped off the radar screen more than a year ago only to surface at Monday’s council meeting. We’re talking about the long-proposed skateboard park, for which a committee was formed several years ago and which hasn’t convened since June, 2013.
Included on the committee were three members of council — aldermen Lori Baldwin-Sands, Mark Cosens and Tom Johnston — and it would appear therein lies the problem.
At least that is the opinion of Shelly Axford, one of three members of the city’s skateboard community to sit on the committee. We talked with her this week on her observations of the committee’s work.
“To my knowledge I’m still on the committee. I haven’t resigned. I don’t know what’s going on with it. The kids need something so they’re not hanging around the streets trying to figure out what to do with themselves.”
The park is supposed to be located east of the Timken Centre and that is about all that has been determined.
“Everything was delayed . . . delayed for this decision and delayed for that decision,” she noted. “It was one delay after another and I thought, people let’s get a fire going.”
While there was good input from parks and recreation director Ross Tucker, our elected reps came up short in the contribution department, according to Shelly.
“At one point, I said to them ‘why are you here?’ For the March meeting (in 2013) there was no quorum. If I remember right Lori and Mark weren’t there. Tom’s attendance was real spotty. At the April meeting, not one of the three showed up. And I think for the May meeting, we couldn’t get a hold of Lori or Tom and we got Mark out at his chicken barn.
“And the only way we could have a meeting was to have a member of council present so we did it by phone.”
The dithering meant the committee lost out on several fundraising opportunities.
“We lost out on the Dorothy Palmer estate and there were some groups who wanted to fundraise for us.”
Because the city couldn’t peg down an exact location at the Timken Centre, the committee couldn’t take advantage of other funding avenues because they couldn’t complete the applications.
“Council knew that information and they never told us. They let us sit there and toss out ideas about fundraising. We got really frustrated and disheartened by that.
“Once we had the public meeting in February (of 2013) the council members lost all interest. They figured they did their thing, brought it to the public and that was it. That is the impression I got.”
But with the Oct. 27 trip to the polls looming, one of the mayoral candidates now feels it would be prudent to fly the coop and make the park a priority.
My, what a difference an election campaign can make.
HE’S NEVER FAR AWAY
We haven’t heard from Bob McCaig since his survey and election poll, however he fired off an email insisting some members of council are in violation of the Ontario Municipal Act for the manner in which, according to him, “they knowingly conspired to spirit Cliff Barwick back on to the council without consultation or debate.”
We’ll reiterate — the process most certainly can be viewed as devious, under-handed and not in the spirit of a cooperative, functioning council. But it was not in contravention of the Ontario Municipal Act.
Promoting a member of the community to fill the council vacancy was one of three options available to council under the act.
We’ll offer the last word to McCaig.
“Oh for those of us who would be candidates but for the curse of age!”
Want to catch up with the candidates in the 2014 municipal vote? Well here’s what a couple of them are up to. Aldermanic candidate John Allen will be scaring up votes at the Tom Zombie Festival next Saturday and on Sunday he will participate in Walk A Mile in Her Shoes. A good chance to walk along with him and sound out his campaign platform.
Ald. Johnston writes to tell us later today he will be attending an event at the Railway City Brewing Company. It’s an evening of fine art, fine music and fine brew and runs from 6 to 9 p.m.
From there, Johnston is off to the 100th anniversary celebrations for the MCRR locomotive shops, which is the home of the Elgin County Railway museum. It is on from 7 to 10 p.m.
If you can’t attend either one of those events today, Johnston says feel free to contact him at email@example.com or phone 519-668-4895.
And last week, Joan Rymal advised she will attend the MCRR festivities tonight.
If you’re running for municipal office on Oct. 27, feel free to pass along your itinerary and we’ll post it here.
Matt Sharpe, president of the St. Thomas Kinsmen Club, forwarded information on an all-candidates meeting.
The St. Thomas Kinsmen are hosting the meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 1 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Wellington St.
An invitation has been extended to all aldermanic and mayoral candidates, Kinsmen, Kinettes, Lions, Rotary, Optimists, Knights of Columbus and the general public to meet and find out how all the candidates plan to work with local service clubs to promote and improve our community.
For more information, contact Matt at president@stthomaskinsmen or call 519-495-2818.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I think there’s across-the-board problems and issues with governance at the municipal level.”
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin talking about Bill 8, legislation that would give the ombudsman’s office oversight over municipalities, school boards and universities.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.