Ascent financial picture a shocker


city_scope_logo-cmyk
You may not realize this, but as a city ratepayer you are, in essence, a shareholder in the former St. Thomas Energy or what is now known as Ascent.

With that in mind we offer a word of caution: take a deep breath and sit down before proceeding any further.

Monday night, city council will be in receipt of the 2014 audited Ascent financial statement — although as shareholders and with two members sitting on the Ascent board of directors — the gory details were laid bare some time ago.

This corner has warned the picture would be grim — we never could have imagined it is more a financial free fall.
Continue reading

Sutherland Press building roof collapse raises ‘significant concerns’


16jt01collapsejpg
It was a key factor in the defeat of Cliff Barwick in the 2010 mayoral vote and now the Sutherland Press building is back in the news to haunt Mayor Heather Jackson and city staff.

At a hastily called media conference Tuesday afternoon, CAO Wendell Graves and Jackson advised they have “significant concerns” about the structural integrity of the Talbot St. structure following a roof collapse Friday at the southwest corner of the building, east of Moore St.

The city has hired a structural engineer to update staff on measures needed to minimize risk to the public until the future of the building, constructed around 1910, is determined.
Continue reading

What’s it like living next door to a disaster?


city_scope_logo-cmyk
She lives in a well-maintained, tree-shaded 1890’s-era house on Kains St. Pride of ownership includes custom stain glass windows inside, one of which once graced Alma College.

Sounds like an ideal abode to retreat to.

Not quite, cautions owner Pauline Wimbush.

“I live next door to a disaster.”

She is referring to the abandoned and derelict cottage-style house at 46 Kains St.

A quaint residence that, in its prime, no doubt could have been described as picture postcard perfect.

Today it is a vermin-infested tragedy in waiting. Continue reading

Last stand for the infamous Barwick Five


city_scope_logo-cmyk

The clock is ticking down on the term of what many ratepayers have deemed the most ineffectual council in recent memory.
That may be an overly harsh evaluation — one only has to look at the two councils in power during the lengthy and feisty new arena debate a decade ago — however there is little doubt the individuals who became known as the Barwick Five were no crowd favourites, with the exception of Heather Jackson, voted in for a second term as mayor.
She and Ald. Jeff Kohler are all who remain as a new council is installed next month.
While many voters will surely take credit for the house cleaning at city hall, the reality is the makeover was self-inspired.
Aldermen Dave Warden, Lori Baldwin-Sands and Gord Campbell announced their retirement from municipal politics and aldermen Cliff Barwick and Mark Cosens were the two casualties in the mayoral race with Jackson. Continue reading

Voters hung up on robocalls, now it’s time to dial in on issues.


city_scope_logo-cmyk

In a municipal election campaign that deeply divided the city, it would be fair to say most residents do agree on one thing — thank goodness the damn thing is over with.

The focus on a new police station and, to a lesser extent, revisiting the two-year-old Ascent remuneration boondoggle that ensnared Ald. Tom Johnston, completely shifted the focus away from more pressing concerns.

Will this new council work as a unified body to address unemployment, poverty and homelessness, a staggering infrastructure deficit, the city’s woeful transit system and the west end of Talbot St., to name but a few items requiring urgent attention?

And, while it would be easy for us all to take credit for electing a new-look council, the realization is fresh faces in the council chamber at city hall was an inevitable reality as three veterans were retiring and another two would be casualties in the mayoral race.
Continue reading

There’s no video to see here people, so just move along


city_scope_logo-cmyk

Last week in this corner we tabelled the first of a two-part thumbnail summary of each aldermanic candidate’s presentation at a meeting held Oct. 1 at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

Each candidate was allotted five minutes in which to introduce themselves and their platform to about 150 people in attendance.

Here are the remaining individuals who appear in the order established by the organizers.

Ald. Jeff Kohler, Mark Burgess, Walter H. Green and Mike Manary were not present.

Continue reading

Legitimate option or a case of sour grapes?


city_scope_logo-cmyk

A possible third option as a home for the St. Thomas Police Service was rejected — sight unseen — by city council back in April and a Times-Journal article Wednesday indicated there was no appetite at city hall to pursue the Silver St. location, the temporary home leased by the province for the courts in St. Thomas.

Ald. Dave Warden, chairman of the police building committee, said the decision by council in April was unanimous.

“Council was adamant the building be close to downtown,” advised Warden. “And to do the renovations (at Silver St.) you would easily be pushing $10 million.”

The owner of the building — H.D. Palmer & Associates of Windsor — has offered it to the city for $8 million and this would include “all cost required to bring the building up to today’s standard as to post-disaster construction, replace the (exterior) siding, fill in the depressed loading dock on the south side and add any minor changes to the building.”
Continue reading