Anyone waiting for comic relief during last Thursday’s all-candidate’s meeting for St. Marys Town Council was forced to hang around a long time. Aside from a couple of characteristics Bill Osborne-isms (did he mention his wife?; or a body part?) from the long-serving councillor, the talk generally was pretty serious until almost 10 p.m.
That’s when Tony Lamond stepped to the microphone and, like a ghost from all candidate’s meetings past, mentioned the ball diamond promised to slow pitch leagues by the Town when the construction of Little Falls Public School eliminated one diamond.
There were a tense few moments . . . and then Lamond reminded everyone that it wasn’t 2010 — when the very same slow pitch representative stood at the microphone and demanded from candidates a commitment to follow through on the Town’s bargain.
The new diamond has, of course, since been constructed through a collaborative Town of St. Marys/Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame effort. Lamond, in an almost complete reversal of the challenging questions that had been so far posed of the candidates up until that point, instead thanked Council for following through. (And then, for comic relief, asked them if, this time, they could commit to paying off his student loans.)
Incumbent Councillor Carey Pope then recalled that, indeed, the big issues four years ago were the ball diamond and labour costs. The Quarry high dive, the Water Street Bridge, truck traffic throughout the town, questions of how to revive a sagging downtown — it seems like, this time around, it’s hard even to decide which current controversy to tackle first.
It was interesting, though, that some of the biggest controversies to hit the streets and coffeeshops in the past four years weren’t even on the radar at last week’s session.
Where, for example, was Cadzow Pool? Notwithstanding that there was also no discussion of the pending demolition of the former Friendship Centre in Cadzow Park (perhaps, in contrast to some of the comments being spread around social media recently, there isn’t all that much of an outcry about the demise of the aging former factory, and the murals which will adorn its cinder block walls until it comes down in the very near future), the pool was certainly the most talked-about thing in town for several months not that long ago.
And no permanent solution was put in place. It was simply decided that, due to some fine print in a government grant program utilized for pool upgrades several years ago, it would be imprudent to close it now. But the time will come, within this upcoming term of Council, to decide on its fate for real.
Do we need three swimming facilities in the Town? Can we pay to maintain them all? Regarding the Quarry, there was significant discussion on Thursday about either finding a way to bring the high dive and cliff back into use, or utilizing other attractions to keep tourists and locals coming back and paying admission. But there was no talk about other aquatics services — something that certainly couldn’t be said back in the heady days when Pyramid Centre pool supporters and Cadzow Pool supporters hosted back-to-back protests, one week after the other, on the steps of Town Hall.
Also seemingly gone from the minds of the 2014 candidates were a number of initiatives promoted early in the outgoing term by the now-disbanded Green Committee. These include the e-waste program and the loop trail — both of which received a lot of exposure in this newspaper at the time.
Is the Town less well-served without this committee? It perhaps would now be more vocally calling on Council to deal with a looming challenge at the landfill, where a heightened level of waste reduction could play a role in delaying the need for costly expansions.