The dog-and-pony show known as the Sutherland Saga returned to the courtroom Friday as city staff and legal counsel sat across from Toronto owner David McGee and his lawyer Valerie McGarry in the Elgin County Courthouse.
McGarry, by the way, was McGee’s lawyer in 2008 who successfully argued the city should not be allowed to continue with demolition of the four-storey structure constructed in 1913.
That victory, noted McGarry, “gives him (McGee) an opportunity to demonstrate that he always intended to restore and maintain and refurbish that building.”
Really.So why are ratepayers on the hook for another legal tussle that will hit them in the pocket for thousands in court costs and possible penalties owing to Schouten Excavating who submitted the lowest demolition tender in the amount of $101,135. They were expected to begin last month.
So what transpired Friday?
In airline parlance, we’re in a holding pattern.
The M & M team appears uncertain as to how to ensure the case has been properly transferred from London court to St. Thomas and they would like further examination of transcripts. And they want assurances the city won’t proceed with demolition.
McGarry continued, “we have to be practical here. We do not accept the feeling of imminent collapse (of the structure).”
Oh, and you’ll be glad to know McGee has finally taken out insurance on the building. That’s small comfort for those who frequent the downtown core on a regular basis.
As for the city, it has submitted engineering reports questioning integrity of the building.
“We understand this process is involved,” said John Sanders, city legal counsel, “but this is a huge investment in cost.”
We need clarity on this, he added warning, “we cannot speak for nature,” in reference to the heavy toll inflicted on the building by the elements.
“If the situation gets dangerous, we may have to apply another (emergency) order.”
So, what’s next in this drawn-out drama? Back in court, 10 a.m. Monday.
It still doesn’t add up. Last September, Cyril McCready, then supervisor of water and wastewater, was promoted to manager. You would have to assume this promotion would require council’s blessing.
Late last month, McCready is escorted out of city hall. Again you would have to assume council would have some knowledge of what transpired.
City manager Wendell Graves told this corner McCready’s dismissal has nothing to do with the Dobbie Report, commissioned to deal with reorganization of the environmental services department in which McCready was employed.
But for some obscure reason, that same report recommended elevating Graves to city manager and appointing a separate city clerk.
Only two members of this council were elected representatives when the Dobbie Report was delivered: Mayor Heather Jackson and Coun. Jeff Kohler.
Is it possible there are two versions of the Dobbie Report?
The very much pared down executive summary given to the public and a more comprehensive version mayor and council are consulting during in-camera meetings. And you have to know legal action surely will emanate from McCready’s dismissal/departure.
Thanks to Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas for allowing us a sneak peak of the master plan for development of an elevated park atop the Michigan Central Railway bridge.
It’s an ambitious and exciting project with numerous goals and objectives intertwined to ensure “The iconic structure will become a centrepiece of and benefit to the identity and character of the entire community,” according to the executive summary.
Three concepts are in play, including the minimalist approach — a simple lighted walkway across the bridge; outdoor garden concept — to create a park-like environment with gardens, trees and seating areas; a sculptured, monumental approach — which would create a trestle within the existing bridge.
The aim is to open a basic version of the park in time for next summer in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.
The master plan will be unveiled Tuesday at a special town hall meeting beginning at 7 p.m. at the CASO station.
There’s life and pressing concerns beyond the GTA
Back in 2003, when Alma College was still with us — albeit a tattered remnant of its former glory — a move was afoot to convince the city to locate the new Valleyview Home on the grounds of the former school for girls.
In fact, a petition was circulated that garnered a considerable number of signatures, we are told.
If you were one of the authors of that document or have knowledge of the origins of the petition, contact City Scope at the address below.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Maybe if they tried teaching math the way they did 50 years ago the children might learn.”
Reader Gary Gordon posting on the T-J Facebook page in response to the announcement by Education Minister Liz Sandals the province is to spend $60 million to help pupils improve math test results
City Scope appears Saturday in the St. Thomas Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to email@example.com.Follow @ianscityscope