A clearer vision for Alma College property or another dashed dream?


city_scope_logo-cmykWhat lies ahead for the Alma College property might very well come into sharper focus this fall. London developer Gino Reale is optimistic such is the case.
Speaking to him from his home Friday, Reale was upbeat.
“There have been a lot of positive discussions. We’re getting close to some resolutions. But nothing has been inked.”
While he was unable to reveal details at this time, Reale said discussions are underway with a group on the possibility of constructing a small recreation centre on the Moore Street property geared to seniors. Part of the green space could be utilized for a community garden, suggested Reale. Continue reading

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Answers needed on dealing with Ascent long-term debt


city_scope_logo-cmykWith a 322-page agenda plus several deputations and presentations to deal with, members of council won’t be putting the wraps on Monday’s council meeting in 45 minutes or less, as is often the case.
Especially if they do what they are paid to do and represent St. Thomas ratepayers. Forget lobbing softballs and ask the tough questions. Forget the platitudes to staff about a job well done on this report or that. Of course the report is exceptional, that’s the job of staff at city hall and they do it well.
Start probing.
For instance, how about the city’s consolidated financial report for 2016. We’ll point you in the right direction at Page 275. Continue reading

There’s nothing out of order on the mayor’s out of order call


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Monday’s procedural put down involving the two veterans on city council — Mayor Heather Jackson and Coun. Jeff Kohler — prompted testy exchanges on the Times-Journal website and Facebook page.

To recap, Jackson ruled Kohler out of order as he attempted to table a motion calling for city staff to obtain quotes from local contractors to renovate the second floor of the Colin McGregor Justice Building.

“Abuse of Her Highness’ power at work,” screamed one online poster.

“Kohler is a hot dogging grandstander,” was the retort from another participant.
Continue reading

Last stand for the infamous Barwick Five


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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

Does vacant seat process ‘enhance’ council integrity?


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As referenced last week in this corner John Maddox, the city’s closed meeting investigator, has found no wrong-doing in the process undertaken to bring back Cliff Barwick to fill the seat vacated by Sam Yusuf at the end of April.
In his report to council, precipitated by a complaint from Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands, Maddox concludes, “I have not been able to find any substantive evidence that there in fact was a ‘private’ gathering of any sort that would suggest a closed meeting took place.”
The complaint from Baldwin-Sands suggests the faction on council known as the “Barwick 4” – Mayor Heather Jackson and aldermen Gord Campbell, Tom Johnston and Dave Warden – convened an illegal closed meeting of council.
She could not identify any specific meeting that may have taken place, but felt the process employed by the Barwick 4 on May 6 to fill the vacant seat raised suspicions that some “collaboration may have taken place between a group of council members that could be deemed to have been a meeting and in fact closed to some members of council.”
Of note, Maddox indicates he has received “numerous telephone calls regarding this matter and the process that was followed by council – all of the callers had some degree of objection to the process and outcome.”
Continue reading