We caught up with Jason McComb this week after his return to St. Thomas from Edmonton where he halted, for the winter, his cross-Canada trek to raise awareness for homeless issues.
He is heading to the North Bay area for a well-deserved retreat to recharge mentally and physically.
If you have seen Jason this week you know he is extremely gaunt, although he never was a Pillsbury dough boy
To allay any fears, Jason assures he hasn’t lost any enthusiasm for his Walking in the Free World undertaking.
“Christmas is coming, “reminds Jason, “and Christmas is when there is the highest suicide rate amongst the homeless. It’s going to become clear when I come home why I’ve gone away. I want to do a lot of writing and I want to take care of my health.
“It was three years ago yesterday (Thursday) when I tried to sleep on city hall steps. I’m still just as passionate about getting people to help. St. Thomas has come a long way. We’ve got Grace Cafe, Destination Church and Inn out of the Cold, which I’m fighting to be open year round.”
Jason’s original intention was to only spend a week or so in St. Thomas and then move on down the pike.
“St. Thomas has come so far but that’s not to say there’s not still room for more. But I’m proud of St. Thomas . . . so proud it is taking action and I want to see that continue.
“I’ve still got work to do. I’m not done . . . I gave my life away for the last three years.”
To be continued.
At Monday’s meeting, city council awarded the St. Thomas Police HQ project manager contract to METTKO Engineering of Toronto in the amount of $65,536.
For this, METTKO will provide an allotment of 512 hours of project management at a rate of $128 per hour.
That’s about eight hours of on-site supervision per week.
Yet the city had estimated a sum of $150,000 for project management services.
Why not beef up the time a project manager is actually on site?
It sure worked out for construction of the new home of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, where the project came in well under budget.
On the flip side, skimping on project management services proved disastrous during and after construction of the Timken Centre, where the maintenance/replacement bills continue to pile up.
The controversy that has dogged the new police HQ doesn’t need to be fueled back to life with similar unforeseen problems and pitfalls.
Now that ground has been broken over at the Timken Centre to accommodate construction of the new home for the St. Thomas Police Service, planning can begin for a new city skate park.
As such, the parks and recreation department will hold what it calls “an interactive design workshop” for what is to be known as the Railway City Skatepark.
Early in September, city council entered into an agreement with New Line Skateparks Inc. for the design and construction of the much-anticipated St. Thomas skate park.
The firm submitted a bid of $589,000 to design and create the park.
New Line calls itself “Canada’s longest-running and most respected municipal skatepark design and construction team.”
It has undertaken close to 200 projects, including Kiwanis Skate Plaza in London.
This coming Tuesday, from 6 to 8 p.m., interested parties are invited to the Timken Centre to participate in establishing the design direction for the park.
According to a release from the city, preliminary designs will be available and it’s your opportunity to rub elbows with New Line Skateparks designers.
Kudos to Ed McLachlanand the St. Thomas Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee which this week presented a $3,000 cheque to the city to begin construction on the first barrier-free picnic tables. These will eventually be standard fare in all parks and recreation facilities.
The committee advises council on the preparation, implementation and effectiveness of the city’s accessibility plan covering all municipal facilities.
Unfortunately, the committee at times takes heat from individuals complaining about accessibility issues in retail outlets, restaurants and private businesses, which are not its mandate.
McLachlan also greatly assisted this corner on a couple of occasions with our City Scope accessibility challenge, most recently prior to the 2014 municipal election when several candidates insisted the existing police headquarters could easily be brought up to snuff to meet all existing standards.
Couldn’t be done.
Was this week’s federal election the final chapter in the political career of Lori Baldwin-Sands?
She lost badly to MP-elect Karen Vecchio, who garnered just over 28,000 votes to 17,629 for the Liberal candidate.
Not exactly a close race, in fact Vecchio had pulled well ahead after the first few polls had been tallied.
A carbon copy of the 2011 provincial vote when Baldwin-Sands finished more than 8,000 votes in arrears of Conservative Jeff Yurek.
It’s obvious she wanted to be the voice of Elgin-Middlesex-London riding at Queen’s Park and then this week in Ottawa.
Perhaps the fact she would go weeks on end as a St. Thomas alderman and not utter a peep — during discussion on some weighty issues — negatively influenced city constituents.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I look at the job Jeff Yurek has done as an Opposition MPP. Just because you’re not in government doesn’t mean you can’t do good things for the community.”
MP-elect Karen Vecchio in a post-election interview Tuesday with Times-Journal reporter Jennifer Bieman.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.