I’ve been wondering how long it would take, but it finally happened, as Councillor Jim Handley finally burst Tuesday night. After months of sitting there relatively quietly at Council, “Other Business” came up on the agenda. All that pressure of holding it in became too much and he let loose.
While he had his hand up with just about all the other Councillors to speak, the trigger seemed to be a suggestion by Councillor Longo that staff bring back a report on the possibility of dog parks. Jim was all in favour of it, especially since, he said, he tried to bring it in eight years ago, to be located in a corner of McMillan Park, but was turned down by the Council of the day. This was, he suggested, because the other Councillors were against him and wouldn’t pass anything he suggested.
Intermingled with more remarks that nothing ever got done, he continued.
Councillor Jim proposed a new source of funding for the City, suggesting that the City could have their own impound yard and contract out the towing. “We have a cash cow,” he remarked. “Brock students,” referring to students who park all day in the lower parking lot on Towpath Street (which they can, legally, at present). This topic led him into paid downtown parking and enforcement, before adding, “We’ve been talking about it, but this town has done nothing.” This last was to become a recurring theme in Jim’s speech. “We’ll have to grow some – cojones, I guess I’ll call it…”
Next, an old favourite of the Councillor’s – the Fire Department. He decried the cost of those services, which he are much higher than the 4.5% average, this time throwing in the cost of our Regional Police. Jim suggested that getting rid of one level of the municipal government was the answer, though leaning to the Region’s side for elimination.
With now a full head of steam up, Jim went on to suggest that Council change the Clean Yard bi-law. Noting that some landlords make the City go through the whole notice procedure concerning their messes, he wants to make it so that their is only one notice per year. After that, the City can presumably come in and clean up for every infraction and just charge the owner.
Jim brought up the subject of grow-ops again – the last time was during the last municipal election, three years ago – since legalization is due next Canada Day. At the time, it was generally agreed that Thorold’s Official Plan be amended to spell out just where a grow-op may be located. Since then, nothing but silence from everyone – everyone.
Jim had some good points buried in the bluster and repetition. Some of the measures he spoke about have been long in the works. If he gets his way with impound yards, and internal sidewalk and tree-trimming crews, he will manage to create a number of new jobs – and the new taxes to pay for them and the required equipment to do the work, something Thorold City Council has historically been loath to provide.
Whether Jim’s outburst does any good in the long run, only time will tell. But at least it was entertaining.
Mayor Luciani probably said it all when Jim finished, commenting, “Alright. Quite a performance.” Then he moved onto the next Councillor with his hand up.