She survived a bitterly fought election campaign last fall, threats to her well-being this month over the city’s snow-removal efforts and on Wednesday, Mayor Heather Jackson demonstrated in feisty fashion why she has earned the right to wear the chain of office.
Jackson appeared with Southwold Mayor Grant Jones and Central Elgin Mayor Dave Marr at the fifth annual State of the Municipalities luncheon, hosted by the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce at St. Anne’s Centre
While her focus was firmly directed at economic development, the city’s near $300 million infrastructure deficit and cooperation with neighbouring municipalities, it was this observation from Jackson that left no doubt she will no longer tolerate foot dragging on two projects that have unnecessarily languished in the political mire — a byproduct of previous councils.
“I am pleased to report and confirm that council has approved the next stages of development of a new police services facility which will be constructed at the north end of Third Ave., adjacent to the Timken Centre.
“I am equally pleased to report and confirm council approved in Part 1 capital budget $600,000 for development of a new skateboard park. And this will be developed alongside the new police services facility.”
Jackson concluded her remarks with this mission statement.
“As a council, we are entrusted to represent the interests of all our constituents and not just the personal interests of a select few.
“I look forward to debate and a variety of opinions and ideas that are healthy and the essence of what we do.
“I look to my council colleagues to respect each other’s viewpoints, to challenge one another to make decisions and to move forward.”
With the key operative here being movement forward.
A MORAL VICTORY
I can’t fathom the inclusion of homeless advocate Jason McComb and the word quitter in the same sentence.
You need look no further than last Thursday, long before the first traces of light smudged the sky on a bone-numbing morning, to witness Jason hopping on a bicycle to trek 82 kilometres to the library in Thorndale, northeast of London.
He arrived at his destination shortly after 9 a.m., five skin-blistering hours after departing St. Thomas, to honour an invitation to meet Progressive Conservative party leadership hopeful, Christine Elliott.
It was an invite extended to him by Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek.
Jason’s first impression upon entering the library?
“I looked way out of place,” with all the suits and smart dresses clustered in the room, he admits. “I felt awkward.”
But it was Elliott who came right up to the frost-bitten cyclist in the Homeless Happens sweatshirt.
“She shook my hand and said ‘it’s an honour to meet you.’ She got right into it. She said she was a lawyer and these are the things I’m fighting for, for the homeless and the homeless with addiction issues.”
Jason adds, “She spent 15 minutes talking with me. I think it was me who broke it off because I talk too much. She didn’t show it was a waste of time or that I was any hindrance.”
Jason, who will continue his cross-Canada trek later this spring, called the opportunity to promote his homeless agenda a morale booster on a massive scale.
“This was one of the biggest victories for myself on many levels and a moral victory for the less fortunate.”
For anyone who still dares to challenge the sincerity of his mission to make those in elected office most uncomfortable turning a blind eye to the homeless, dwell for a moment on this admittance from Jason at the very lowest point of his trek to Thorndale in Arctic-like conditions.
“I started thinking, should I just turn around. I was bawling my eyes out because of the pain. And I asked myself aloud, ‘If somebody pulled over and asked me do you want to go home, I wonder if I would?’ What got me to Thorndale was me saying over and over pretty loudly, ‘I’m not a quitter.’ So this was a really big victory for me.”
And for society’s downtrodden who have fallen through the cracks.
NO PROBLEMS HERE
Had a call this week from a reader expressing concerns about the city’s waste contractor, Green For Life.
According to this individual, at least some of the drivers had been asked to work half days while employees from elsewhere were coming in to complete the shifts.
On the surface, not a healthy looking picture.
So, we contacted Sarah Blazak of Smithcom Limited who promised a statement from GFL CEO Patrick Dovigi.
Here’s what we received via email late Friday afternoon.
“There have been no changes to driver hours or number of trucks servicing St. Thomas. It’s business as usual. We met with St. Thomas city staff as late as Friday and both of us agree that the partnership has been a success to-date.”
The company with the bright green trucks — profiled this month in The Globe and Mail Report on Business — is one of the fastest-growing waste management firms in Canada.
So, is this simply miscommunication with drivers, a temporary hiccup or should we be reading between the lines of Mr. Dovigi’s email?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“She sang every song, she played the music for everything I’ve been screaming about. She is the instruments for the band I wanted.”
Homeless advocate Jason McComb after his meeting this past week in Thorndale with Progressive Conservative party leadership hopeful, Christine Elliott.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.