Wednesday’s special meeting of council to deal with the proposed new police headquarters provides further evidence much of what transpires at city hall is driven by personal agendas.
Which, in turn, sucks more dollars out of the pockets of hard-working ratepayers.
Council was presented with a report from Rebanks Pepper Littlewood Architects that outlined the specifics of the project, including the sticker price of approximately $19 million.
That figure sent some members into shock, with the result their ability to think logically was severely hampered.
Let’s review some undeniable facts.
On every resolution presented to this council pertaining to the police project, there has yet to be a single vote in opposition.
That includes the need for a new headquarters, the need to strike a building committee, approval for the purchase of land and the go-ahead to hire the architect who delivered his report this week.
And, now that the mayor and aldermen have the report and some who sit in the council chamber discover the findings don’t mesh with their personal agendas, there is a move to investigate renovating the existing home of the police service.
Not once in the life of this council has there been a suggestion that renovation is the route to undertake.
There is one word to describe what these three or four members are attempting to do: stall.
That ultimately will drive the final cost higher, as has been the case with this chapter of the undertaking that has painfully dragged on for nearly five years.
The architect’s report should quash the daffy notion of one alderman who feels an hour Googling makes her an expert on the construction of police stations.
Architect John Pepper clearly warns: “The existing police facility no longer meets the needs of the St. Thomas Police Service, and it is unfeasible to consider renovation or expansion to meet interim or long-term needs.”
Why hire experts when you’re not going to heed their advice?
Oh, I forgot — that advice doesn’t support personal agendas.
Earlier this month at city hall, Ald. Gord Campbell literally threw everything but the kitchen sink in the direction of BFI Canada, the city’s waste contractor.
In his comments on the city’s Integrated Waste Management Master Plan, Campbell said, “. . . it’s time we hired someone who would pay some attention to some of the individuals that have to pay the taxes in this town.”
That prompted an immediate response from T-J reader Deb Sawatzky who, in the form of a letter to the editor (Jan. 25), chided Campbell in no uncertain terms.
“Ald. Gord Campbell should review the facts instead of trying to solicit votes with his political rubbish.”
In turn, Bob McCaig, the city’s previous waste contractor, checked in with the following critique.
“Alderman Campbell, in his latest search and destroy mission, didn’t reckon with the likes of Deb Sawatzky, wife of a BFI employee, who succinctly laid out the facts relating to the life of a waste disposal worker.
“She closed by noting that Alderman Campbell might want to learn a little about the industry and the service it provides before spouting off about that which he knows virtually nothing.
McCaig continued with this personal and damning anecdote.
“Some years ago I had the opportunity to experience first hand his efforts to destroy the former waste contractor, Green Lane Environmental and Green Lane Landfill.
“Alderman Campbell said publicly that he had inside information that the St. Thomas Assembly Plant of the Ford Motor Company had secretly disposed of hazardous material at Green Lane Landfill.
McCaig continued: “I immediately forwarded to Alderman Campbell, with a copy to Ford Motor, a registered letter demanding that he either produce information providing proof of his verbal hysterics or shut up.
“That letter was delivered the same day that terrorists struck the twin towers in New York and more momentous news replaced the daily fare in the T-J. Nothing again was ever heard from Alderman Campbell on the matter.”
In conclusion, McCaig noted: “It is unfortunate that politicians, who having never achieved anything in life themselves, take great glee in trying to destroy those who have.
“BFI employs a host of honest, hard-working men and women who own homes, pay taxes and make their lives in and around St. Thomas. How much more helpful it could be to work to improve the service the city seeks, rather than to threaten the jobs and lives of those who serve this municipality.”
Oh how it pays to explore the story from all angles.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I’m enjoying the show. No, I’m just taking it all in. I have toured the police station and met with the officers. Thanks, I’m enjoying it.”
Ald. Sam Yusuf displays shocking insensitivity to his peers on council, city staff, the consultant and city police with his response to Ald. Dave Warden during Wednesday’s presentation on a proposed new police headquarters. Perhaps if he had a copy of the consultant’s report with him he may have been able to put forth informed observations.
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