During the pandemic lockdown, city council decided to hire a commissionaire to sit at the city hall entrance and find out where visitors were going.
The decision was framed as a health measure to prevent spread of the Covid-19 disease. Fine.
The lockdown is over for many months and the commissionaire is still at city hall.
Why the commissionaire remains was a mystery to me. And it was a mystery to some members of city council.
During budget discussions, the matter was raised as a question to city management.
The answer was for security -to keep the 100 or so inside employees feeling safe from abuse by the public, to boost their morale.
The idea that our city hall and city council needs police-like protection from the public seems strange.
One recalls the late Bob Calvert and his reflections on a newspaper business trip to Paris, France. He was astonished and disturbed by the presence of armed guards/soldiers all over the airport maintaining security.
The commissionaires at city hall aren't armed but the point is their presence in the city's bastion of democracy hints at a loss of freedom for city residents.
Does one have to feel they are being treated like a criminal every time they enter city hall?
Is there a real need to spend $38,000 a year to hire a commissionaire to sit at the front door? Is this an unintentional or intentional way to limit freedoms? Or a means of controlling who gets to see someone at city hall?
If something untoward does happen, how effective will the commissionaire be?
The $5,000 spent for a commissionaire at city council meetings is likely filling a need.
The recent condo board shooting in Toronto indicates politicians of every level are subject to abuse/attack from irate insane constituents.
A tiny portion of the population has become unbalanced and go Rambo to settle their complaints violently.
The need to protect safety of those elected to government shows how far our sense of respect has fallen in recent years.
The ice-snow storm that turned city streets into ice skating rinks just before Santa arrived has turned winter driving into a risky and scary activity.
The manager who told city employees to leave larger windrows of snow blocking parking spaces all along First Avenue Northwest and elsewhere in the downtown possibly made a poor choice.
The rain turned the blocked parking spots into pure ice that will be difficult to remove.
The question arises: If we don't need these metered spots in winter, why do we need them in spring, summer and fall? Are they just another tax grab?
Some residents have been complaining about the "teaspoons'' of sand dropped at icy intersections. One or two cars through the intersection and there is no sand left to grip tires.
Some engineers and contractors with experience believe the city's sand is too fine to be effective. Much coarser sand would stick around longer and perhaps require fewer applications.
Ron Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.