Opinion: Wood not water soluble, is it?

By Mike Williscraft
NewsNow

This week is a bit of a “corner turner” if you will on a few fronts.

With the new super school site for West Niagara Secondary the latest – and likely the most complete information the public is likely to see – is compiled in this week’s story. I will be filing an FOI inquiry to get the results of the ground water and soil testing…just haven’t gotten around to that yet.

Heck, I have not even had my arbitration hearing for my request for Grimsby’s third party investigation into CAO issues last summer yet. So, I suspect it will take close to the end of the year to get anything done on a water/soil inquiry, which is fine, just not very relevant to the immediate issue.

Also included in the story is land sale information. This was done mainly because I was cc’d on an inquiry from a Smithville resident who asked West Lincoln/Wainfleet Trustee Doug

Newton what the purchase price was for the new school’s land. The taxpayer was told, “All land transactions are matter of public record at the land registry office.”

Not exactly responsive representation there. It took a while to get the information, but it is there. The actual cost of the land is really not a question for me. It really is about the misdirection, shall we say, which District School Board of Niagara employed as they ran up the bill for remediating the site. Information eventually came out that Ministry of the Environment was aware of all. Which proved true. It also proved true that the ministry which pays the freight for DSBN, name that of the education variety, was not.

Now, I am no expert, but I am pretty sure anyone out there reading this information was a kid at one time. I don’t think there is a child alive who did not play the divide and conquer game with their parents at a very early age. For me, I was five years old when I figured it out. I would tell my mom that Dad said it was ok if I slept over at my next-door neighbour Chuck Mady’s house. My Dad was always the hard one to get, so when I played that card with my mom: A) My parents never questioned the other’s judgment, and B) Mom was the softy, so she always went along. Mady’s always had Cheezies, my fave at the time….but I digress.

So, some hairs were split there to say the Province knew. I am sure any official at MoE would assume all pertinent parties were up to speed on the serious situation there, but they assumed wrong if they did.

The reason I will be seeking the water/soil study results is this mammoth black membrane I saw at the bottom of the pit before it was filled back in. As I worked back through the dozens of people who were contacting me for information on this issue over 4-6 weeks the question came up time and time again – if there was no ground water impact and all the test results were hunky-dory, why would a membrane bigger than a football field (at least that is how it appeared from the road) be necessary at all?

Simply, it wouldn’t.

If the main culprit of contaminants was really construction materials, wood, and such as purported, those materials are not exactly water soluble.

So, there’s that. And believe me, I have more than enough fires to chase, I don’t want to keep going back to that one, but if I don’t nobody else will. It’s hard to believe other area media have looked right past these unapproved expenditures but that is the difference between a news sources and PR agencies.

And with that, we turn to Grimsby Council. Nothing tragic on that front this week, likely because only a public meeting for the Casablanca Winery Inn site was the only meeting on the menu. Regardless, I’ll take it.

But it was budget time last week and I’ll admit right here in print, I totally missed it. I saw the minutes of the budget committee off the whole meeting approved, but it didn’t occur me the Town would pass a one-and-done budget with NO public notice and precious little input.

When the process was first talked about in January, there was supposed to be two passes at council. Great it was simple and could be done in one, but if that was the case, there absolutely should have been a delay to allow for public notice.

The financial question to ask, coming off a $1.1 million surplus is, why was there not a rollback. A small increase is nice, and reserves are solid, so how does this year not end up as a surplus as well, unless you are looking to fill out ways to spend money – which is exactly what you don’t want.

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