Unlocking the financial password for the new outdoor recreational complex in St. Thomas


city_scope_logo-cmykAlthough not scheduled to open until midway through next year, the city’s north-side recreation complex will have a spiffy, tech-associated moniker.
It was announced late Thursday afternoon (Nov. 15) across the street at Valleyview Home, the 65-acre complex will be known as 1Password Park.
The naming rights fall to David and Sara Teare of St. Thomas, who committed to a contribution of $500,000 to support the city’s outdoor recreation complex that will include soccer pitches, a full-size lighted artificial turf football field, a community park with play zone and splash pad, basketball courts, multi-use trail, washrooms, concession stand and change rooms.
Orin Contractors Corp. of Concord, Ontario is constructing the $9.1 million complex located on Burwell Road.

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Casting a shadow over development of Alma College property


alma-plaque

Alma College plaque

At a reference committee meeting in February of this year, he promised to build “something that is beautiful” on the 11-acre former site of Alma College.
His proposed development would consist of a trio of seven-storey apartment buildings and the Moore Street property would be laced with a system of pathways, while the iconic amphitheatre would be for the use of “everybody in the community. That’s part of the history of the community and that should be for everybody.”
In the intervening months, the residential undertaking has evolved with one of the towers now pegged at nine stories and the amphitheatre will be for the use of residents and their visitors to the complex.
And, at a site plan control committee meeting Nov. 13, developer Michael Loewith of Patriot Properties suggested the development would be a gated community, putting public access to the trail system and amphitheatre in doubt.

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Advance web vote in St. Thomas fails to turnaround voter turnout


city_scope_logo-cmykFor the first time in St. Thomas, advance polling for the Oct. 22 vote was available via internet and telephone. However, the hoped-for technological turnaround in voter turnout doesn’t turn up in the numbers.
That’s according to a report presented to council at Monday’s (Nov. 5) reference committee meeting compiled by city clerk Maria Konefal.
It’s a comprehensive break-out of the balloting and there are numerous surprises, and the data may pave the way for further electronic advances in the 2022 municipal election.
Tim Hedden, who was unsuccessful in his bid to win a councillor seat nailed it with his observation, “Curious to see if it drives voter turnout up or just made it more convenient for those that already vote.”
In an interview this week, Konefal noted “The thing I found interesting is we didn’t have too much of a change in the percentage turnout. But, of the people who voted, 44 percent of them voted electronically. Most of that was by internet.”

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Christmas Care: Making sure every year the need is met


wreath16On the one hand, these individuals would not be upset if their seasonal program was terminated because of a lack of demand.
However, on the reality side, the coordinators and volunteers at Christmas Care know the necessity of preparing approximately 1,600 food hampers and more than 1,000 children’s presents for close to 4,000 people each December to assist the less fortunate in St. Thomas and neighbouring communities, including more than 300 families at Oneida Nation of the Thames.
This is the 38th year the team is making good on its promise to ensure area residents experience the true spirit of Christmas.

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Sunday night phone call moves MPP Jeff Yurek into high-profile transportation ministry


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter dealing with a devasting forest fire season that blazed a swath through Northern Ontario, Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek is on the move.
Literally.
As announced Monday morning (Nov. 5), Yurek fared prominently in Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet shuffle that sees him replace John Yakabuski as Minister of Transportation. Yakabuski, in turn, will assume Yurek’s previous post as Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, a position he took on after Ford swept into power in June of this year.
The cabinet tweaking, involving a half-dozen MPPs, was necessitated by the resignation last Friday of Economic Development Minister Jim Wilson who, according to Ford, stepped down to deal with an addiction issue related to alcohol.
Global News and other media outlets have since reported allegations of sexual misconduct prompted Wilson’s sudden resignation.
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Thirty years on and Steve Peters is ‘itching to go’


city_scope_logo-cmykThree decades after his introduction to municipal politics in St. Thomas, Steve Peters is returning to the council chambers at city hall.
And he’s taking his place at the horseshoe with an overwhelming mandate from city voters.
Of the 10,259 residents who cast their ballot in the Oct. 22 municipal vote, 8,197 indicated they wanted the former city mayor and Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP back representing their interests.
This past spring, toying with the idea of a return to where it all began, Peters left no doubt as to his intention.
“Standing here (inside his home) I can see the city hall tower and my focus is on that.”
Several days after a resounding vote of confidence, Peters confessed “I have to admit I’m excited that interest in the community is still there. I’m itching to go.
“I’m still humbled by it and pinch myself because a lot of people chose to fill in the round mark beside me.”

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Municipal politics is ‘liberating’ says St. Thomas mayor-elect Joe Preston, the city’s unabashed official cheerleader


city_scope_logo-cmykIn announcing his entry into the St. Thomas mayor’s race back in July, Joe Preston stressed municipal politics is “where rubber hits the road.”
Three months later as mayor-elect, after a 550-vote win over incumbent Heather Jackson, Preston isn’t waiting until the Dec. 3 swearing-in ceremony to get the gears in motion.
In a lengthy conversation with Preston yesterday (Oct. 26), he chuckled, “They’ve already started.”
Noting the increased demands on his schedule this week, Preston continued, “The election is over, now let’s get going. I’ve got a fantastic elected council, so I’m already talking to most of them. I already had a great meeting with (city manager) Wendell Graves about where we are and what I need to know. And with a lot of different community groups who want my ear at the moment.”

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Lack of police communication cited in acquittal of Aylmer Express journalists charged with obstruction


city_scope_logo-cmykLittle did a father-and-son team of journalists realize attempting to communicate to their readers the details at a possible crime scene would haunt their lives for an agonizing 16 months – and possibly impact them forever – due to a lack of communication on the part of police.
On June 24 of last year, Aylmer Express publisher John Hueston and his son Brett navigated around a road-closed barrier on Springfield Road at Nova Scotia Line in Malahide in an attempt to gather details relating to information received via an Elgin OPP media release of a car driven over the cliff edge and into Lake Erie the previous day.
As they headed down the short stretch of road near to where emergency workers were preparing to lift the vehicle – with a deceased person inside – out of the water, they were intercepted and a tense exchange followed between members of the Elgin OPP and the Huestons.

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2018 St. Thomas municipal election unoffical results


Here are the unoffical results in the Oct. 22 St. Thomas municipal election:

MAYOR

Joe Preston 3,731
Heather Jackson 3,189
Steve Wookey 2,949
Malichi Male 338

COUNCILLOR

Steve Peters 8,197
Jeff Kohler 5,888
Gary Clarke 5,032
Lori Baldwin-Sands 5,019
Linda Stevenson 4,080
Mark Tinlin 3,939
Joan Rymal 3,477
Jim Herbert 3,417

John Laverty 3,036
Rose Gibson 2,927
Lesley Buchanan 2,607
Dave Mathers 2,423
Serge Lavoie 2,296
Petrusia Hontar 1,995
Timothy Hedden 1,711
Greg Graham 1,496
Kevin Smith 1,190
James Murray 842
Michael Manary 785

The voter turnout was 36.07 per cent. It was 35.79 per cent in 2014.

The new council will be sworn in Dec. 3.

Are advance polling numbers an indication St. Thomas voters are engaged?


city_scope_logo-cmykThe municipal vote is Monday and for the first time in St. Thomas, advance polling is available via internet and telephone. As of 11 a.m. Friday, 12.73 per cent of the 28,034 eligible voters in the city had cast their ballot, with 3,300 voting via the internet and 268 by telephone.
By comparison, 9.67 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot through in-person advance voting in the 2014 municipal election.
The total voter turnout that year was 37 per cent.
Tim Hedden, one of 19 candidates running for councillor, asked the obvious question in response to a City Scope Tweet on this year’s advance polling system.
“Curious to see if it drives voter turnout up or just made it more convenient for those that already vote.”

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City of St. Thomas named in $7.8 million lawsuit over decision to wind down Ascent Renewables


city_scope_logo-cmykThe recent merger of Ascent/St. Thomas Energy and Entegrus Powerlines appears to have done little to unplug the city from controversial business decisions previously undertaken by the utility.
As a case in point, on Monday (Oct. 15), the city was named in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
The City of St. Thomas, Ascent Renewables, Ascent Group Inc, Ascent Energy Services and a numbered company, 2154310 Ontario Inc., are being sued for general damages in the amount of $7,850,000 by a numbered company, 1787868, operating as Focus Group based in London.
The statement of claim was filed at the Elgin County Courthouse.
All of the defendants are ultimately owned and controlled by the city.
According to the claim, nearly 20 years ago the city undertook an initiative identified as “Partners in Power.” Through its ownership and funding provided by St. Thomas Energy Inc., the city created a series of corporations to allow it to attempt to capitalize on growth opportunities and become more involved in the growing renewable energy sector.
These corporations included Ascent Energy Services Inc. (formerly known as St. Thomas Energy Services Inc., STESI) and Ascent Group Inc. (formerly known as St. Thomas Holding Inc., STHI). These companies operated under the name Ascent Group, with all shares controlled by the city.

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