Coming up to three months since both sides in the Sutherland saga faced each other again at the Elgin County Courthouse. On May 27, city staff and Toronto owner David McGee – along with their legal counsel – left the fate of the 103-year-old Sutherland Press building in the hands of Justice Gorman.
Have we waited an inordinate amount of time for a decision?
Not really, suggests McGee’s lawyer Valerie M’Garry. There is a lot of supporting documents to digest she notes.
“Stacked together they would be a foot-and-a-half high,” M’Garry points out, “so for her (Justice Gorman) to go through them all, which I think she would want to do for whatever decision she is going to render.”
Was this similar to when both sides appeared in a London courtroom in 2008?
“No, there wasn’t as much (documentation),” says M’Garry. “We didn’t have transcripts of a lot of things and it wasn’t as complete a record.”
This stack of engineering reports is anything but bedtime reading.
“You have to have your intellect fully engaged to follow some of those reports,” M’Garry advises. “The other thing is the general rule is criminal matters would take priority. There are other things that intervene.”
In other words you can’t read anything into the lengthy waiting period.
The uncertainty has created a Catch-22 situation for McGee, argues M’Garry.
“If and when funds become available (to begin any work on the structure) you don’t want to put them into a building if it’s going to get demolished the next week.”
Isn’t it strange how those funds have failed to materialize over the eight years since the last court appearance.
POINT TO PONDER
After ten years at the helm of St. Thomas Public Library, CEO Rudi Denham will retire this fall. What will be the process for hiring a new head at the library?
Although staff are city employees, the library board operates as an independent entity.
So, will city administration be part of this hiring process?
NOT TREE-TED FAIRLY
Last month, things were abuzz on East Avenue when thousands of displaced bees congregated on the home of Steve Hampson and his wife Margo McBurnie, essentially trapping them inside for several days.
This was the result of a large limb snapping off the tree in their front yard. In spite of their pleas, the city’s contractor proceed to cut down a section of a neighbouring branch which included a rather large hive, leaving a considerable number of bees temporarily homeless.
Well, over on Alma Street it is the very opposite situation.
John Moore and his neighbour have been pleading with the mayor and staff to remove a large tree on city property that has caused them nothing but headaches for several years.
Says John, “It constantly drops branches (live and dead) and in the fall it drops just as many branches as leaves.”
To complicate matters, an unending amount of sap drips on to vehicles parked in both driveways and ultimately is tracked into their residences.
The roots are lifting up John’s driveway and now are beginning to heave a short stretch of roadway.
Over the past five years, John and his neighbours have become trapped in the swirl of city bureaucracy.
Catharine Spratley, supervisor of parks and recreation, advised him in an email “the city has a policy that only trees that are either dead, diseased or hazardous are removed to preserve the city’s urban forest. The 31-40-year-old Eastern Cottonwood in question does not meet the criteria for removal as it is in excellent condition.”
Having seen the tree and its drooping branches, it is anything but a beautiful specimen and as for it being in excellent condition, it sure loses a lot of branches on a regular basis.
John and his neighbours would argue the frustration of cleaning up after this tree is hazardous to their health.
The ultimate irony will be the site of a works crew repairing the root damage to the roadway in front of 166 Alma Street.
POINT TO PONDER 2
An intriguing comment posted by one of our Facebook friends this week.
“Something to see the amazing work of our very own firefighters in such hot weather,” she writes. “Never really realized how fast and furious fire could spread … till l I saw it!”
The observation was in regard to the blaze Wednesday on Crestwood Court.
Standing out front of the residence on a blistering afternoon with camera at the ready, that point was driven home when a firefighter knelt down at the side of a pumper truck, turned on a valve and soaked his head in an attempt to cool down.
The heat of the day combined with an intense fire and many pounds of bunker gear must truly be an exhausting experience.
A day later on an equally stifling day in front of a murder scene on Talbot Street, a St. Thomas police officer added to the above insight.
A cohort was in his 14th hour of duty with no end in sight. And he wasn’t the only one. Sure they will get overtime for their efforts but in the long run it is time away from family and, in some cases, the necessary overtime means delaying the start of family vacation.
And imagine standing in the middle of a roadway at an accident scene directing traffic for an hour or so in this heat with 15 to 20 pounds of protective gear on.
Reflected heat off the pavement would make it feel like an oven.
I’m sure the social media lurkers will counter with “yeah but that’s their job, they get big bucks.”
And you are right. It is their chosen profession and they are compensated well.
But every so often it pays to show appreciation to all of the emergency service personnel who serve and protect us, at times under the most adverse conditions.
Your efforts do not go unnoticed.
Many thanks to all of you.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow @ianscityscope