City hall is the battleground this week in a growing controversy.
The central player in all of this is the Horton Market and whether it should be allowed to open at the end of the month to provide a sales venue for area fruit and vegetable growers, among others.
On Tuesday (May 19) city council, by a 5-4 margin, defeated a motion to provide a letter of support for plans to be submitted to the health unit allowing the popular Saturday market to open for the season under COVID-19 restrictions.
We’ll break down that vote in a few minutes.
It didn’t take long for the controversy to flare up, not unlike the divisive environment associated with debate around the city’s twin-pad arena and the new police headquarters.
Subject to council approval Monday, the city will no longer be officially known as the Corporation of the City of St. Thomas, but instead St. Thomas – The Railway City.
And with it, new branding courtesy of adHome – an advertising and digital agency based in London – and a city administrative team composed of various department staff.
The new identity for the city is designed to “reflect a strong, close-knit community that’s continually looking to move forward,” according to city manager Wendell Graves.
In addition, it is designed to “reflect a vibrant culture and progressive business ideals looking to the future with a nod to the past,” continues Graves in his report to council.
Here’s your hat, there’s the door. That’s much the fashion in which Allan Weatherall was bounced from his position Wednesday as hospital foundation executive director.
The announcement from foundation board president Susan O’Brien couldn’t have been more terse.
“The board is seeking leadership that will fit with the future direction of the foundation.”
When O’Brien and CEO Paul Collins were asked specifically what this new direction is, both were vague at best.
“The foundation board still anticipates a major capital campaign,” advised Collins. “This is all connected to the re-scoped exercise that we are working on with the Ministry of Health and we’re hoping that we have that project.”
Sounds like plenty of doubt and no clear direction on the campaign compass.
Do you think the beginning of the end for Weatherall was his personal email to Ald. Sam Yusuf back in April in which the executive director expressed disappointment the city had no plans to put aside hospital redevelopment funds in its Part 2 capital budget?
Without knowing it, Steve Peters altered the shape of Ontario politics Thursday.
Had he not announced his retirement some time back, he would easily have retained Elgin-Middlesex-London for the Libs and handed Dalton McGuinty his 54th seat and a majority government.
Instead, the baton was handed over to Lori Baldwin-Sands who was thoroughly thumped by Jeff Yurek, who rode an 8,700-vote lead all the way to Queen’s Park.
You knew it was going to be a long night for area Libs when Baldwin-Sands’ celebration HQ at the Knights of Columbus hall at one time was mainly populated by firefighters enjoying the Leafs’ game.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. On Tuesday, Elgin county council met with Bruce Babcock, St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital board of governors chairman, and following the closed-door session, unanimously approved a resolution calling on the board to recruit a replacement for hospital President and CEO Paul Collins within a year.
“Elgin county ratepayers have expressed concerns with the contract of the recently retired hospital president and CEO,” advised Elgin Warden Dave Mennill.
“It’s is council’s considered opinion that the public’s perception of the circumstances . . . are irrevocably tainted and will negatively impact fundraising efforts.”
Keep in mind the city, county and the community at large must raise $12 million as part of Dalton McGuinty’s hospital revitalization promise.
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?'”
Monday’s council meeting was most decidedly the tale of two aldermen.
The definitive issue — who should attend and how much should be spent on conferences and conventions.
Council has budgeted $6,000 for attending such functions this year and four members had sought to attend the Ontario Good Roads Conference coming up in Toronto.
Trouble is, that would eat up about $5,500 of that figure on just one junket.
Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman and the committee chairman, in this case Ald. Tom Johnston, should be the only attendees. Ald. Sam Yusuf read the situation correctly and graciously withdrew his request to participate. In the process exhibiting political maturity beyond his two months of council experience.
On the other hand, Ald. Mark Cosens scoffed at the budget
, calling the amount diminutive, and asserted he will be in Toronto.
It doesn’t matter there is a fixed budget to deal with. It means nought council is attempting to set an example of fiscal responsibility for ratepayers who are picking up the tab in any event.
No, this is all about entitlement — and a complete disregard for the understanding the mayor and aldermen are elected to serve the people.