Skateboard park info session likely to open old wounds


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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.
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A quotation for everything: the past year in review


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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.
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The meter keeps ticking to maintain the status quo


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A supplementary item St. Thomas council will deal with Monday leaves the distinct impression we are going to be slowly nickle-and-dimed to death while some aldermen press their case to rehabilitate the existing police headquarters in the Colin McGregor Justice Building.
To wit, a report from John Dewancker, director of environmental services, requesting $24,000 in additional funding to complete the Phase 2 environmental site assessment at 30 St. Catherine St.
The work is being undertaken at the request of those members of council who would rather pump money into a toxic site, rather than construct a new facility on land the city has already purchased for that purpose.
To date, the environmental assessment, undertaken by Conestoga Rovers, indicates soil samples from the northern portion of the property exceed Ministry of the Environment standards for benzene, lead and petroleum hydrocarbon contamination.
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Thank goodness they only lost some money


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It seems like just yesterday that Ald. Gord Campbell made this observation regarding Ascent, formerly St. Thomas Holdings Inc.
“I can’t support this recommendation. St. Thomas Holdings had a difficult year, lost some money.”
Campbell was referring to a council vote a month or so ago on whether the Ascent board of directors should receive a hike in remuneration. Board members currently receive in the neighbourhood of $8,500 for attending 10 or so meetings a year and then chairman, Ald. Tom Johnston, was seeking an unspecified increase in that compensation.
Thankfully, council was united in deep-sixing the motion.
But, when Campbell notes they “lost some money,” how much might that be?
Lots.
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Health unit ‘reverses and changes’ will impact ratepayers, warns London developer


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We opened up City Scope seven days ago by suggesting the ball was in the court of London developer Shmuel Farhi.
The comment was in reference to the decision by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health to seek new digs, not located on property owned by Farhi in the city’s west end.
Well, Farhi has rifled the ball back into this corner in convincing fashion.
He is most upset at a comment we made as to where the allegiance of members of council lie.
Specifically, my observation “any dissenting voice on city council (on a minor zoning variation needed by Family and Children’s of St. Thomas and Elgin to move into the 99 Edward St. location that is the current home of the health unit) would certainly be based on allegiance to Farhi . . . rather than to city ratepayers.
That prompted a terse email from Farhi, who asserts he had a deal in place with the health unit for his Talbot Street property.

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The full story, Elgin St. Thomas Public Health – as related in a Shmuel Farhi email


WITHOUT PREJUDICE

London developer Shmuel Farhi’s accounts of the events leading up to a tentative deal with Farhi for property at the west end of Talbot Street to be the new home of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health as taken from an April 19, 2012 email to Ald. David Warden and Mayor Heather Jackson, with copies to Ald. Gord Campbell and Ald. Tom Johnston. This follows April 28,2012 discussion in City Scope which you can read here. The email is entitled Without Prejudice . . .

Hello Dave:

I am very pleased we finally had the opportunity to talk at length yesterday about the history of the Health Unit’s search for a new building.

As I told you, I met with Paul Smith, Cynthia St. John, Amy Dale and others in my office in the early fall of 2009 and we received “verbal agreement” on a design/build/lease package.

On November 5, 2009, Cynthia sent an email that included the following: “I am pleased to report that Amy will be in touch with you and Colleen to finalize the offer to lease. The board did have some specific questions about materials used in the design and such but nothing that will hold us up. Once Amy, Colleen and I have finalized the offer to lease, I have direction from my board to sign it so we are moving ahead which is great news. Thank you for your patience and availability over the last while to finalize this deal.” (Emphasis mine.)

On November 5, 2009, Kim Eitel of the Health Unit emailed the following to me: “Amy Dale will be in touch with your office Friday or Monday to finalize the “offer to lease”.” (Emphasis mine.)

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Hey, I was just trying to be helpful!


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The Oopsie of the Week award winner is no contest as Ald. Sam Yusuf’s decision to forward a personal email from the executive-director of the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital Foundation on to all members of council proved to be somewhat embarrassing, especially to its author, Allan Weatherall.
While Weatherall asserts, after the fact, there was no ill intent in his correspondence to Yusuf, the Times-Journal has obtained a copy of the email and it definitely has a sucker-punch quality to it.
He is miffed the city will not put aside hospital funding in the 2012 city budget.
“That is not forward thinking at all as the hospital will in some form, in some way need rebuilding. So why does the city not set some money aside to be ready for a time when it will be required? That is true community leadership and forward thinking, being proactive and not reactive.”
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