In-camera report might reveal true cost of renovating Colin McGregor Justice Building


city_scope_logo-cmykA confusing few moments at Monday’s council meeting so this corner thought it wise to confer with Ald. Jeff Kohler on what he is attempting to uncover.
To briefly summarize, Kohler was seeking to have a report brought out into open session, but the majority of council had difficulty establishing just what document he was referring to and the matter was deferred to the August meeting.
By way of explanation, Kohler noted the report – dealt with during a 2015 in-camera meeting of council – presented different location options for Elgin-St. Thomas Ontario Works, whose lease in the Mickleborough Building on Talbot Street expires this year.
Several sites for a new home for Ontario Works were catalogued, including the Colin McGregor Justice Building, vacated this month by the St. Thomas Police Service.
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For the Professor, latest accessibility report would just be more of the same


city_scope_logo-cmykWhile he had become accustomed to findings similar to those contained in a report to council Monday, the Professor would be far from pleased with the latest report card.
Prior to his death in February, Ed McLachlan spent years as a member of the St. Thomas Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee and filed many reports to council  on accessibility issues in all city-owned facilities.
Lesley Buchanan is now chair of the committee and the annual site audit is on the agenda for all to see.
Here is a sampling of the ongoing barriers the handicapped face.

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The Professor taught us all a lesson


city_scope_logo-cmykThe latest edition of City Scope was mapped out and ready to put on the page Friday afternoon when this corner received a message, via Facebook, from long-time friend Joe Docherty alerting me to the death Thursday of Ed McLachlan, or the Professor as he was better known.
Hearing the sombre news, I could think of no better tribute to a fellow Scot (he from Dundee and myself a southerner from Edinburgh) than to scrap what I had written and begin anew.
While I was quite at home with the honourable Sensei’s dojo family, who could be found out back in his converted garage, Ed also left his indelible stamp on this city through his tireless work as a member of the St. Thomas Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee.
For anyone who thought Ed was passionate about the martial arts, he was downright feisty when it came to matters of accessibility.

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There’s always room for one more manager at city hall


city_scope_logo-cmykAs far as media releases go, Wednesday’s city hall advisory was brimming with corporate bravado.
“With its sights set on the strengthening of its leadership and organizational management, streamlining corporate financial management and the continued renewal of the Environmental Services Department,” the release breathlessly announced, “City Council has put in motion a number of strategic changes.”
What this declaration shamefully failed to include was three people would lose their jobs in the organizational restructuring.
Why the oversight?
Does their escort out the doors of city hall cast doubt on the true motives at play?
This restructuring is predicated, in part, by the findings of a curious report presented to council last fall.
The Dobbie Report — ostensibly an organizational review of the environmental services department — noted senior managers at city hall felt the lack of staff was an issue along with the need for more advanced equipment and technology such as cell phones and laptop computers. Continue reading

Is this a snow job on snow removal?


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It’s a hot topic for a bitterly cold day . . . the effectiveness of snow removal efforts in St. Thomas. The debate has generated a bevy of comments, both passionate and bitter, on the Times-Journal website and Facebook page. The intensity of which hasn’t been witnessed since last October’s municipal election.

The manner in which Dave White, roads and transportation supervisor, defended his snow fighting strategy during Monday’s council meeting did little to satisfy members of council, not to mention ratepayers.

One was left with the impression the Jan. 7 snow squalls caught him off guard, as he advised plows did not hit the streets until after staff arrived for work at 7:30 that morning.

You would think when Environment Canada issued a snow squall watch more than 26 hours previous, specifically targetting St. Thomas, that all resources would be on alert prior to the morning commute instead of trying to battle the elements in the middle of the drive to work.
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That was the year that was, in words


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After an enjoyable Christmas and New Year’s hiatus, City Scope returns with a tradition dating back to 2005, when we welcomed the incoming year by casting a final glance back to focus on the wit and wisdom served up by some of those individuals who graced this corner over the previous 365 days.

Since that debut, we have broadened our horizon to include quotes from a variety of sources, including Times-Journal readers.

As an unabashed collector of quotes, this flashback is an enviable task that neatly ties the preceding 12 months into a compact package to open and savor at the demise of another year.

And, as American writer and editor Daniel Okrent deftly observed, “I’m afraid we’ll see reporters stop chasing quotes around the same time dogs stop chasing cars.”
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Beware of guys with carnations in their lapels


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A municipal election campaign that had all the excitement of watching paint dry exploded into life Tuesday with Cliff Barwick’s announcement he is seeking a return to the mayor’s office at city hall.
That pits the two primary combatants in the 2010 mayoral showdown — Mayor Heather Jackson and Barwick — in a rematch on Oct. 27.
But, it is going to get better.
Over the next week or so, expect either Ald. Jeff Kohler or Ald. Mark Cosens to join the fray.
If it’s the former, that sets up a tantalizing scenario pitting the last three St. Thomas mayors in a winner-take-all smackdown.
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