Exactly four years ago, we wrote at length about workplace harassment at city hall, referring to it as a “toxic environment.”
At that time, we postulated the City of St. Thomas, as a corporation, should be held to a high standard of excellence with regard to a workplace environment.
The issue in 2015 involved a city employee we identified as ‘Dave’ and his allegations of verbal and physical abuse involving fellow employees and managers.
In a conversation in June of that year with human resources manager Graham Dart, he conceded “As an employer, we don’t have to guarantee a harassment-free workplace, because we can’t do that.
“There is no expectation or requirement of that. But there is an obligation on our part — especially under the Occupational Health & Safety Act — that we address harassment in the workplace.”
Against a panoramic backdrop of the city’s rich railway heritage, 15 of 19 candidates vying for the opportunity to shape the future of St. Thomas fielded a bevy of questions Wednesday (Sept. 26) at a sparsely attended town hall forum.
As was the case a week ago at a mayoral candidates forum, the event was hosted by three multi-media journalists and the guiding hand behind the city’s newest media outlet.
STEAM Education Centre board member Andrew Gunn served as moderator at the Elgin County Railway Museum while a trio of 16-year-old high school students – Jenn Klassen, Maddie King and Alex Popen – peppered the councillor hopefuls with questions covering a broad spectrum, from economic development to arts and culture and social issues. Continue reading
He is the first to admit when people hear Dave Warden will not seek re-election this fall there will be no shortage of fists pumping the air in jubilation — those of ratepayers and several peers on council.
Citing a loss of passion and the desire to spend more time with family, Warden made the announcement Friday after serious deliberation.
“I’ve lost the passion for politics and, basically, I want my life back,” Warden advised. “I’m leaving politics with my head held high. And, I’m leaving on my terms.”
The story on page 3 of today’s Times-Journal fills in the details so we’ll get to the candid stuff.
Regarding Ald. Mark Cosens’ alluding to corrupt dealings in the council chamber, Warden says don’t go there.
“Don’t accuse me of things I was accused of the other day. But I won’t lower myself to his level. Instead, I am very grateful to the people who supported me. And, it’s been an honour for me to serve the people of St. Thomas.
“To turn around and resort to this mud-slinging bullshit, I’m sorry. Municipal politics has changed. You think St. Thomas is immune to this? You wait until this election heats up. It’s started already.”
It’s a question on the minds of many city ratepayers: Could the Silver St. temporary courthouse serve as the new home for St. Thomas police?
However, without even touring the one-level building that has served the province for four years, city council has flatly rejected what could be the least expensive option to house the St. Thomas Police Service well into the future.
In fact, in a letter to the building owner — H.D. Palmer & Associates of Windsor — St. Thomas CAO Wendell Graves stressed the intention of council is to pursue a new facility.
During a tour of the 38,000 sq. ft. building Tuesday, company spokesman Jon Palmer said his firm submitted a proposal to the city four years ago but withdrew it when approached by Ontario Realty Corp. (now Infrastructure Ontario) which wanted to lease the entire structure as a temporary courthouse during construction of the Elgin Consolidated Courthouse on Wellington St.
The province pumped $5.5 million into the Silver St. building to serve as a court facility, with the lease expiring on Dec. 31.
The cost of the proposed new police headquarters has nearly doubled over the past eight years because
of the feet dragging of successive councils.
Dithering being perpetuated by some aldermen who, as a result, are directly hitting ratepayers where it hurts most — the pocket.
In 2003, a building condition assessment and space needs assessment study of the justice building was undertaken by the Stonewall Group.
Its recommendation: “the principal strategy to meet the long-term accommodation needs of the St. Thomas Police Service would be best served by building a totally new facility.”
Estimated cost, $10.5 million.
The woman of mystery T-J reporter Nick Lypaczewski writes about today certainly has the hospital board chairman and foundation chairman flustered.
Why they can’t even get their stories in synch.
To quickly re-cap, Ald. Dave Warden has relinquished his seat on the STEGH board of directors so Ald. Sam Yusuf can move over, freeing up his spot on the foundation board for his girlfriend.
STEGH board chairman Bruce Babcock insists city council is behind the musical chairs, but that doesn’t pass the litmus test.
In a conversation with City Scope this week, Warden didn’t pull any punches.
“Sam came to me a week ago and said, ‘Dave, would you be interested in switching?'”