Mayoral hopeful Steve Wookey is not giving up his campaign to allow small craft and fishing at Lake Margaret.
Wookey first expressed this desire at an April 24, 2017 reference committee meeting when he declared, “In my world there should be fishing and canoeing.”
He was reminded the decision to prohibit fishing in Lake Margaret was a recommendation of the 2010 Lake Margaret Environmental Plan.
Under discussion that meeting was the transfer of ownership of Lake Margaret to the city from developer Doug Tarry Limited.
City manager Wendell Graves particularly stressed the need to enforce the no fishing regulation.
And, the aim of striking an environmental stewardship committee which would report to city council. It would include members of council, city staff, developers, the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority and members of the public who would, among other things, develop an action plan and pursue funding opportunities for stewardship.
The transfer of ownership was consummated Nov. 6 of last year at a regular meeting of city council. On three different occasions, Wookey was reminded watercraft and fishing are not permitted on Lake Margaret.
The matter will surface again at Monday’s meeting (June 4) when council will be asked to deal with concerns raised by residents of the Lake Margaret area.
They are reminding Mayor Heather Jackson in a report to council to “take this opportunity to make it abundantly clear to all council members that the Lake Margaret Environmental Management Plan is the council approved document that must be adhered to when dealing with the lake.”
It gets more intriguing with further correspondence from Kara Taylor, Elgin Sleightholm and David Collins referencing a letter to David and Barbara Collins dated May 1 of this year in which Coun. Wookey asserts “I have canvassed many people in the Lake Margaret area. The vast majority agree with my position.”
He closes off the email with the rather snarky observation, “The argument to oppose it (watercraft and fishing) would either be on the basis of safety, which I understand, or the mistaken notion that you own the lake, which I find hard to believe from a person as bright as yourself.”
Ouch. Catty remarks from a mayoral wannabe.
The concerned residents challenge Wookey’s assertion he canvassed many people in the area.
They conducted their own survey of 57 Lake Margaret residences and, of those, residents at 49 of the homes indicated Wookey did not email, visit or phone them regarding the opening of Lake Margaret to public use.
Occupants of six other home responded No to the question but did not sign the survey.
So 55 of 57 residences indicated that, in fact, Wookey had not been in contact.
The residents conclude, “It is obvious from these responses that Mr. Wookey did not canvass people in the Lake Margaret area who would be directly and adversely affected by opening the lake to kayaks, canoes and fishing . . . Is this indicative of his integrity?”
The concerned residents are also requesting copies of Wookey’s collected data.
The city’s position is clearly indicated in the Lake Margaret Environmental Management Plan. Why are we now re-visiting what Coun. Wookey would like to see in his world?
WHEN ADDITIONS CAN MEAN SAVINGS
With an overtime budget hovering in the $500,000 range this year, St. Thomas fire chief Bob Davidson is looking to affect cost savings through the hiring of a pair of temporary firefighters.
He will seek council’s approval Monday (June 4) to temporarily increase the regular staffing complement by hiring the two temporary firefighters as eventual replacements for two members of the department who face mandatory retirement later this year as they reach age 60.
In his report to council, Davidson notes “Once hired, these temporary recruit firefighters move into the next permanent vacancies that occur. This allows the department to implement a more effective and efficient process for employee training and orientation and to reduce overtime costs.”
He continues, “hiring new firefighters early will also offset other overtime costs that would normally occur due to sickness, other approved leaves or training.”
He estimates the cost savings, should council approve the move, to be in the range of $50,000.
CANDIDATE UPDATE: JIM HERBERT
We briefly touched upon the announcement last week Jim Herbert has filed nomination papers to seek a seat on council.
Long associated with St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, Herbert was also chairman of the board of directors of St. Thomas Energy and Ascent Group. He’s also past president of the St. Thomas Curling Club and YMCA and most recently was a manager at Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital.
In a conversation with Herbert last week, he indicated at this time he has no pressing issues he would like addressed, but he stressed he is a big supporter of emergency services in St. Thomas.
“I like the way St. Thomas is going,” advised Herbert. “I was born and raised here. I’m not one to bash anybody. If I was fortunate to be elected, I figure I’m a team player. If there’s a burning issue somewhere, we need to take a step back and take a look at it. I don’t think we need to be hard-nosed.”
Herbert continued, “Our job is to make a decision and when we make it, we all stand by it. I may not agree with it . . . I’m going to say we voted on it and we’re moving forward with it. I’m happy to put my name in and represent St. Thomas. Hopefully I can be a part of it.”
Herbert leaves with this point to ponder regarding the dismal voter turnout in recent municipal votes.
“The only sad thing is not enough people vote. I’ve voted every time because if I wanted to complain, at least I can say I voted.”
CANDIDATE UPDATE: SERGE LAVOIE
Last week we also noted Serge Lavoie – the Liberal candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London in the 2014 provincial vote – has also entered the race for one of eight councillor seats in this fall’s municipal vote.
In a release forwarded by Lavoie, he points out “I have been fortunate to have developed an extensive and varied professional career for 45 years, 35 of those as chief executive of eight different national provincial trade associations. In that time, I learned that the best way to tackle issues and challenges is through cooperative planning and action. I want to bring that thinking to council.”
He stresses, if elected, he wants to work with fellow councillors to explore opportunities for better and smarter growth.
This would include creating “meaningful partnerships with the many volunteer and not-for-profit groups that have added so much value to our heritage, arts and culture sectors.
“Improving cooperation with neighbouring communities and municipalities. There are opportunities for cost savings through shared services and consolidations.
“Identifying every mechanism available to stop the property neglect that has held back the full redevelopment of our downtown area. It’s time to get tough on owners of derelict buildings. My overall focus will be on continued economic growth, community development and quality of life.”
MUNICIPAL ELECTION UPDATE
A couple of individuals recently filed nomination papers, with Tim Hedden running for councillor and Meagan Ruddock seeking to become a Thames Valley District School Board trustee.
If you are a regular attendee at Elgin Theatre Guild productions, you may be familiar with Hedden through his acting and producer skills.
More info on both to follow.
And, the final day for candidates to file nomination papers is July 27.
FOR THE CALENDAR
The Long-term Care Homes Inquiry opens Tuesday (June 5) at the Elgin County Courthouse. It is scheduled to run until the week of Sept. 24.
Justice Eileen Gillese of the Ontario Court of Appeal will lead the inquiry to look into the deaths of eight individuals under the care of ex-nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer and the policies and procedures in place over the seven-year period they went undetected.
The hearings – open to the public – run Monday through Thursday each week from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 2 p.m. to approximately 4:30 p.m. each day.
The final inquiry report is to be completed by July 31 of next year.
Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope
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