West Avenue Cemetery
The cards were laid on the table Wednesday at a special reference committee meeting of city council held at the Seniors Centre.
After a summer of deliberation, the steering committee struck by council on April 20 to develop a business plan “that reflects the ability of St. Thomas Cemetery Company to be sustainable” delivered the goods.
And it wasn’t music to the ears of Mayor Heather Jackson and most councillors.
“There are only two options,” advised cemetery board member and former alderman Gord Campbell.
“The city gives us money or we go to the province. And that’s not a threat, that’s reality.”
Not only will it be a new-look council on Dec. 1, the method in which our municipal representatives conduct city business is about to be overhauled.
We talked with Mayor Heather Jackson on Friday to get a sense of her expectations as head of a council comprised of a sole returnee.
“I see this all as opportunities. I don’t see any challenges. There is a lot of learning that is going to happen in a short period of time.”
To assist with the formidable learning curve, Jackson and CAO Wendell Graves are establishing an online resource centre for the six new aldermen.
After more than ten years of costly dithering, council finally made a decision on what route to take on a home for the city’s police service. However, don’t for one minute assume that will shut the tap on the steady stream of misinformation that has been leaking out from some quarters.
Figures from $20 million all the way up to $30 million have been bandied about by some aldermen and a blog in the city is stoking the fire with a cost analysis that is pure figment of the imagination. If you want to legitimize your point of view, then compare apples to apples.
With her Tweet just prior to Monday’s council meeting, Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands deftly demonstrated the fine art of fearmongering.
Her assertion a new police station “could cost average taxpayer $150.00 per year for 10 yr.” enraged Mayor Heather Jackson and Ald. Gord Campbell.
Such has been the posturing and playing fast and loose with numbers that has dominated debate over the past decade.
Progressive by nature is a catchy marketing slogan employed by the County of Elgin that, unfortunately, is not readily applicable to all members of St. Thomas council.
That was painfully evident Monday when a motion to allow internet voting during a portion of the advance polling period in the October municipal election was defeated on a 4-4 vote.
Aldermen Cliff Barwick, Tom Johnston, Gord Campbell and Dave Warden presented some of the flimsiest arguments possible to maintain the status quo, i.e. the traditional paper ballot.
Had this been evidence in a court case it would have been dismissed as not germane.
The concern seniors would not vote because they prefer the traditional ballot over computer voting is a smoke screen since the paper ballot would remain as the primary method of casting one’s vote.
With the very distinct possibility we’ll undertake a couple of trips to the polls in 2014, the wind and water are coming together for what should prove to be an entertaining year in the council chamber at city hall.
Thursday was the first day nomination papers could be filed for the Oct. 27 municipal vote and, to the best of our knowledge, no sitting member of council has taken the first step on the road to re-election.
So, let’s do a little armchair quarterbacking and go around the horseshoe and speculate on who is going to do what this year.
Starting at the top, Mayor Heather Jackson will certainly seek a second term at the helm. Will she retain her voter base and has she managed to gain the confidence of a significant number of ratepayers who shied away from her in 2010?
There is a good possibility she will be in at least a three-horse race; has she the stamina and resources to fend off challengers?
The city lost a good one with the death Wednesday of Maurice Beaudry. The consummate community booster, Maurice loved to tell it like it is.
That was never more evident than his shoot-from-the-hip message for Daimler AG, the parent company preparing to close the Sterling Truck Plant up on South Edgeware in November, 2008.
In a conversation that month in City Scope, Maurice conveyed the following to the German multinational: you screwed up and why should St. Thomas ratepayers suffer?
And Maurice knew of what he spoke, because in his former position as manager of the Economic Development Corporation in the early 1990s, he played a leading role in convincing Freightliner to locate in St. Thomas.
A question for you: What is this city’s greatest export? Why, of course, shipping mayors off to China and Japan.
With no fanfare, Mayor Heather Jackson announced this past Wednesday at the State of the Municipalities luncheon she plans to join other representatives from the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance in May for a trip to South Korea and Japan.
It’s a safe bet if you polled the aldermen at city hall they had not an inkling of this trip.
A trip that continues a tradition in St. Thomas dating back to 2006, when then Mayor Jeff Kohler winged his way to Japan.
That junket resulted in the first ripples of discontent amongst city ratepayers.
Reader Eric Swales fired off this comment to City Scope at the time: “Maybe the mayor can forget the trip to Japan and put the cost savings to some road or sidewalk upgrades instead. Isn’t that why we pay the Economic Development Corporation’s manager (Bob Wheeler) to go on these trips?”
A public information session will be held Wednesday at the Timken Centre to unveil plans for the three potential sites for the city’s new skate park.
However, a T-J reader writes to urge one of those locations be struck from the list. Specifically, Jonas Park, which has been promoted as a skatepark venue dating back to 2003.
It is being touted along with the yet-to-be conceived Joanne Brooks Memorial Park on Inkerman Street and the Timken Centre.
Jim Collard has been a resident for more than 40 years in the Ross and Wellington street part of town that encompasses Jonas, Lydia, Verna and Barnes streets and he and his neighbours contend this quiet residential area of St. Thomas is no place to plonk down a skateboard park.
It’s been a City Scope tradition to greet the incoming year by surveying the past 365 days to savor the wit and wisdom of our elected representatives.
As a collector of quotes from a variety of sources, it lends credence to the words of wisdom from British author Dorothy L. Sayers: “I always have a quotation for everything – it saves original thinking.”
Of course, when media scribes document a response or comment to the pages for posterity, we must be prepared for the inevitable charge of being taken out of context.
Or, as one anonymous wag noted, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.”
With the preamble out of the way, let’s glean through a year’s worth of columns to fully appreciate what transpired in 2012.