Rebuilding community strength “in great little communities like St. Thomas with long histories of contributing massively to the Canadian economy.” – PM Justin Trudeau


city_scope_logo-cmykSeems the PM just can’t get enough of St. Thomas.
For the second time in just over a month, Justin Trudeau dropped into the city Thursday afternoon for a quick lunch at Legends Tavern and then a stop at The Atrium for a sit-down session with local small business entrepreneurs before a quick jaunt over to Streamliner’s to greet customers.
Of course, Trudeau was on hand at the Elgin County Railway Museum at the end of April for the announcement Volkswagen, through its subsidiary PowerCo, had chosen St. Thomas as the home of its first EV battery gigaplant in North America.
Ostensibly this trip to the Railway City was to play up the economic benefits to small business owners after the massive battery facility opens in 2027.
Mayor Joe Preston joined Trudeau for the short walk from Legends to The Atrium and both appeared in high spirits with shirt sleeves rolled up the PM’s trademark down-to-business look.

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Hospice of Elgin – ‘No longer is hospice a place for just final moments’


city_scope_logo-cmykFollowing Monday’s (May 15) council session, there was a public meeting to deal with draft official plan and zoning bylaw amendments.
Now normally these are pretty cut-and-dried affairs, usually devoid of colour.
Not in this case.
The meeting dealt with amendments required at the site of Hospice of Elgin, located at the top of the hill overlooking Waterworks Park.
Part of the meeting was devoted to a short presentation from Laura Sherwood, representing Hospice of Elgin.
Through several visuals, we were able to get a first look at what the facility will look like, with construction expected to begin later this summer.
Sherwood described it as follows.
“Hospice will be quite unique in our community. We have an incredible site at Waterworks Park and hospice will be tucked in the woods and have a cottage-like feel.”
What will the facility look like?

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Land-locked STEGH at the crossroads: Rebuild or relocate?


city_scope_logo-cmykIn a deputation to city council this past Monday, members were updated on capacity issues at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital. President and CEO Karen Davies stressed that ahead of the pandemic, hospital staff and administration were already struggling as they dealt with capacity issues.
She adds it was not abnormal for the hospital to be at 100 per cent occupancy or beyond.
As noted during the presentation, there were close to 7,800 admissions last year. The hospital has 179 beds, with 30 to 40 of those beds occupied by patients who, the belief is, should have outside care.
Davies points out, with the announcement of the EV gigaplant coming to the city – and with it significant population growth – that will only exacerbate matters.
“We’ve got a great story to tell,” reminds Davies. “We were at capacity ahead of the pandemic.
“We did well throughout the pandemic but again, as we talked about the other night (at the council meeting), we’re maximized in our space here and that’s with our current population base.
“And we know it’s growing and we know we’ve got some significant investments coming to Elgin county that are going to put more pressure on that.”

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‘Every job entails paperwork . . . but definitely the balance has shifted’ – Dr. Kellie Scott on the doctor shortage in Elgin and across Ontario


city_scope_logo-cmykWe hear disturbing stories about the doctor shortage in this province and across the country.
According to recent statistics, 2.2 million Ontario residents do not have a family doctor. And it’s not a problem confined to someone else’s backyard. In Elgin county last year, at least 7,000 residents are without a family doctor.
Quite often, it is individuals most vulnerable who have no access.
Just under 2,000 residents with the lowest incomes are particularly hard hit.
About 750 of those have mental health issues and approximately 360 have diabetes.
A condition that requires regular blood tests and medication renewals.
Many of these individuals end up in the emergency department because they have nowhere else to go.
“If you don’t have a family physician and you have an issue that needs to be addressed, you end up sometimes getting referred to a specialist for care that doesn’t need to be provided by a specialist and that just lengthens the wait list for everyone.”
At the beginning of May, we had an insightful conversation with Dr. Kellie Scott, a St. Thomas family physician.
She is also a member of the St. Thomas Elgin Health recruitment partnership.

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The city’s newest supportive housing project in partnership with Indwell is to be known as The Station, offering ‘hope and homes for all’


city_scope_logo-cmykBased on the demonstrated success as a Built for Zero Canada community and the recent recognition of St. Thomas-Elgin as the second community in Canada to achieve functional zero veteran homelessness, city manager Sandra Datars Bere had the opportunity this past week to showcase local efforts to end homelessness.
She participated in a three-person presentation Thursday at the Ontario Small Urban Municipalities (OSUM) conference in Paris, Ontario.
The session recognized the challenges of homelessness are not exclusive to large urban centres.
Datars-Bere highlighted some of the best practices being employed to address homelessness in St. Thomas and Elgin starting with compiling a quality By- Name List of approximately 130 individuals identified as actively experiencing homelessness in the community.
It is updated frequently and supports local processes for matching people to resources and making data-informed decisions.
Multiple service providers meet bi-weekly to review this list to match individuals to available resources.

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A $13+ billion VW investment means “the future is going to be strong and bright for people in St. Thomas and right across the country.” – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau


city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s been many decades since St. Thomas could hoist the banner, Railway Capital of Canada. Before the end of the decade, however, could the city become the EV Battery Capital of Canada?
The numbers bandied about Friday (April 21) sure point in that direction.
Hosted appropriately enough at the Elgin County Railway Museum, politicians from all levels of government plus officials from Volkswagen and its battery operation, PowerCo, along with city staff were on hand to provide further details on the gigafactory to be located in the new industrial park on the eastern limits of the city.
Technically the EV battery announcement was made last month at city hall, yesterday’s event was an opportunity to fill in the many blanks in order to shed more light on just how massive this facility will be, not to mention the financial gigaincentives dangled by the feds and the province.
In his address to the gathering, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called St. Thomas the place to build the future together.
And he wasted no time addressing the elephant in the room.

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St. Thomas-Elgin has developed a rapid response system for supporting unhoused veterans . . . a system that can work for other vulnerable populations.


city_scope_logo-cmykSt. Thomas-Elgin has reached a significant milestone in the fight against veterans’ homelessness.
In a brief ceremony prior to Tuesday’s city council meeting (April 11), it was announced St. Thomas-Elgin becomes the second community in Canada to achieve functional zero veteran homelessness.
London was the first city in Canada to be recognized.
The goal was achieved in February of this year and Danielle Neilson, the city’s social housing and homelessness prevention supervisor explains why this is a priority.
“It is part of a federal initiative to end homelessness for all veterans across Canada. And they have put money on the table to be able to do that.
“What happens then is Built for Zero works with Canadian communities to establish a system that is set up to immediately prioritize veterans who are identified in the homeless population and assist them with obtaining housing and then housing stability to ensure that they are anchored into their home.”
St. Thomas-Elgin joined Built for Zero Canada – a national movement of over 40 communities working to end chronic and veteran homelessness – in 2021.

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Who knows what lurks out of sight above Talbot Street?


city_scope_logo-cmykWe referred to them as the city’s forgotten apartments. A pair of decrepit hovels visible from the mayor’s office in city hall.
The first thing you noticed was the gaping holes where the ceilings had fallen away.
Patches of paint which had not yet floated to the floor cling tentatively to the walls.
In other areas, vast expanses of paint blistered like badly burned skin.
Missing tiles in one of the showers had been replaced with duct tape and garbage bags.
The remnants of a skylight were stuffed with a blanket and when it rained, water dripped to the floor and down the front stairs.
When this corner exposed those units in January of 2016 they were home to four tenants, seemingly off the radar of several departments at city hall.
Links to the trio of items written about those apartments and what might have been in the way of affordable housing back in 2016 can be found at the end of this item.
We reference these residences because how many other out-of-sight, out-of-mind units can be found up and down the Talbot Street core?

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St. Thomas Fire Chief Dave Gregory says we’ve got this covered when asked about challenges with the new Volkswagen EV battery plant -‘It’s what we do day-to-day’


city_scope_logo-cmykHe calls it great for St. Thomas.
St. Thomas Fire Chief Dave Gregory likens it to winning the lottery.
Of course, we talked about the announcement earlier this month that Volkswagen is coming to town where it will construct what it refers to as a gigafactory for battery cell manufacturing.
We talked with Gregory earlier this week to get a sense of what that will mean for the fire department in the way of needed resources and planning for when the plant opens in 2027.
“As far as resources and stuff go, I’m unsure at this time because I haven’t seen a footprint or layout of any sort.
“But, it’s what we do,” stressed Gregory. “We have Magna, we have Presstran.
“All the equipment we have, the manpower and the training we do, we’re prepared for anything they will bring to us.”
Gregory doesn’t feel they would need to construct a substation in the new industrial area.

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The new transparency at city hall: Your questions are fair but we don’t want to answer them.


city_scope_logo-cmykIt seemed only a matter of hours after the announcement Volkswagen was to locate its EV battery plant in St. Thomas that crews were on site felling thousands of trees in five wood lots across the 1,500-acre property.
The company involved is CLC Tree Service out of London.
A check of their website and it seems they are more of an operation focussed on tree trimming and removal of diseased or damaged trees in urban areas and not large commercial land clearing.
With heavily wooded areas across the county, is there not a local firm that could have been hired for a project of this size?
What was the tendering process involved and how many firms bid on the job?
A call to Mayor Joe Preston garnered a response of I don’t know, I wasn’t involved.
Why don’t you ask Sean Dyke over at St. Thomas Economic Development Corp?
Fair enough.

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The competition was ‘intense’ however St. Thomas wins the bidding war for Volkswagen EV battery plant


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter about a year’s worth of talks between Volkswagen, and the federal and provincial governments, the deal was made public this past Monday.
The automaker announced it was locating an electric-vehicle battery plant in St. Thomas.
It’s Volkswagen’s first overseas gigafactory.
It’s a logical choice given the city’s location, its proximity to essential minerals mined in Northern Ontario and required for production and the provincial deal just consummated that brings hundreds of acres of Central Elgin land into the confines of St. Thomas.
The plant will be operated by Volkswagen’s battery division, PowerCo.
Few details were made available on the size of the plant, the number of workers to be employed and how much will the deal ultimately cost taxpayers in this country.
More on that in a moment.
Following the announcement around noon on Monday, Mayor Joe Preston advised this is only the beginning.

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St. Thomas/Central Elgin boundary adjustment: ‘Trust is a big part of working together. And in the last six months or so it has been eroded to some degree.’


city_scope_logo-cmykThe Mayor’s Luncheon on Wednesday at St. Anne’s Centre could have been more appropriately billed as A Mayor’s Grilling.
Featuring Southwold Mayor Grant Jones, Central Elgin Mayor Andrew Sloan and St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston, all attention was focused on the latter in what proved to be one of the most lively such functions in recent memory.
All because of recently adopted Bill 63, the St. Thomas-Central Elgin Boundary Adjustment Act, 2023.
The bill allows for the annexation of a portion of Central Elgin to the City of St. Thomas so that the latter can assemble a 1,500-acre parcel of land to attract a mega-industrial project to the city.
It has resulted in a bad taste in the mouths of the city’s neighbours and many unanswered questions.
And so when the floor was opened to questions from the audience on Wednesday, you had to know what direction the conversation would take.
First to the microphone was former Central Elgin Mayor Sally Martyn who needed no warm-up.

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St. Thomas Police Service strategic plan 2023-2026: ‘The police alone cannot solve the problem of crime and social disorder.”


city_scope_logo-cmykClarification: In an effort to establish the identity of the consulting company employed by the St. Thomas Police Service, Chief Marc Roskamp and I spoke this morning. The firm is Consilium Public Sector Services based out of Toronto, which also uses the acronym CP2S. And so any reference to the U.S.-based CP2S (which is not affiliated in any way with the Toronto firm) has been removed.

The St. Thomas Police Service this week released its road map for this year through 2026.
The strategic plan recommends “intentional steps our members will take to ensure the police service is performing in accordance with our community’s values and expectations,” according to police board chairman Dan Reith.
He continues that the priorities of the plan “have been compiled carefully from the concerns and insights offered by St. Thomas citizens, business owners, elected officials, members within the police service and other interested parties.”
Chief Marc Roskamp adds “This plan has been developed with a major emphasis on ensuring all citizens and business owners of St. Thomas, have had an opportunity to share their thoughts about the performance of our police service, and their feelings about crime and safety in our community.
“Through this process, we have identified five major areas to focus our strategic priorities over the next four years. They are; Organizational Service Review, Communications, Technology, Human Resources, and Community Partnerships.”

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As Woody Guthrie sang, ‘This land is your land, this land is my land’


city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s a tale of two municipalities and their respective leaders.
St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston is ecstatic.
Central Elgin Mayor Andrew Sloan, on the other hand, is a lot more guarded.
Their differing reactions are in response to an announcement on Wednesday (Feb. 23) the province is introducing legislation to attract new investment to the 800-acre parcel of land east of Highbury Avenue assembled by the city last summer.
Oops, let’s correct that because the release from the province refers to 1,500 acres of land.
We’ll sort that out as we go.
The original 800 acres are located in St. Thomas and Central Elgin and have been identified as one of the most invest-ready mega sites in Ontario.
However, with the land divided between two municipalities with different permitting requirements, potential investors could face red tape and delays from unnecessary duplication.
And so the province has stepped in. We’re unsure if that was at the city’s request but we’ll try to sort that one out as we go as well.

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Former Elgin MP Ken Monteith was cut from a special kind of cloth


city_scope_logo-cmykHe is remembered as the consummate politician and a mentor to those considering tossing their hat in the political ring.
Former Elgin MP and Southwold resident Ken Monteith died on Feb. 3 at the age of 84.
City councillor Steve Peters recalls Monteith not only was a well-respected politician, but he also continued to give back to the community after he left politics.
“Ken was the consummate public servant. He started in the 1970s on Southwold council. Served as the warden in 1981, and went on to become the MP in 1988.
Monteith served as Elgin MP until 1993.
“But even after his defeat, he continued to give back to the community, whether it was supporting the hospital or the plowing match.”
Most recently he helped fundraise for Hospice of Elgin.
“Ken really had a life-long commitment to helping others in the community. He’s the type of person that is going to be really difficult to replace because a lot of times people will retire, but Ken stayed active until the end.”

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The 40 housing units in Project Tiny Hope ‘will make a significant difference in our community however there is much more work to be done’


city_scope_logo-cmykIn December of 2021, the partners involved in Project Tiny Hope – YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin, Doug Tarry Homes and Sanctuary Homes – requested $3 million in funding from the city for the imaginative project at 21 Kains Street.
What will the affordable housing look like?
“The creation of new YWCA rental units will be inclusive to diverse populations from all walks of life,” advised Lindsay Rice, YWCA executive director in the support case for the undertaking released in December of 2022.
It is to be “A mix of one, two and three-bedroom rental units will accommodate adults, youth and families.
“Each tiny home will be equipped with a full kitchen, bathroom, laundry, private bedrooms and living room providing dignity and comfort.”
Just over a year after the release of the project information, city council will return to the $3 million funding request at Monday’s (Feb. 13) council meeting.
At that time, Heather Sheridan, director of St. Thomas Elgin Social Services, recommends council approve the request in principle, “contingent on a successful outcome from the Rapid Housing Initiative application process and the provincial contribution request.”

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Preventing the community from ever getting into this homelessness bottleneck again


city_scope_logo-cmykIn November of last year, Danielle Neilson reminded city council that the solution to homelessness is housing and housing with supports.
Neilson is the city’s Homelessness Prevention and Housing Programs Coordinator and at that meeting of council, she presented a thorough overview of the homeless situation in St. Thomas, including an analysis of unsheltered homelessness.
She observed, “. . . this is not only the result of increased demands on our emergency shelter beds, some of my firsthand experiences with people living unsheltered in St. Thomas revealed other factors as well.
“Such as needing lower barrier supports that are matched more appropriately to someone’s mental health or addiction challenges that may result in unpredictable behaviours.
“Having personal belongings or accumulating personal belongings at a rate that exceeds the shelter’s ability to store them.
“Having a complete desire to live unsheltered, even when housing options are available.

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Mayor Joe Preston is starting to feel ‘very comfortable’ about the prospect of a regional transit pilot project for St. Thomas


city_scope_logo-cmykThe Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference wrapped up Tuesday in Toronto. The city sent a delegation to the event with Mayor Joe Preston, Coun. Gary Clarke and city manager Sandra Datars Bere in attendance.
The city’s delegation had confirmed meetings with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of the Attorney General.
We’ll deal with the former off the top as it was to address regional transit and accessible transit options, priorities for the city with the opening of the Amazon facility and the Maple Leaf Foods processing plant this year.
In a conversation with Preston following the conference, he indicated he felt “very comfortable” with the time spent with Associate Minister of Transportation Stan Cho.
Sitting in on the discussion was Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Rob Flack.
Preston zeroed in on the city’s pilot project which would see some form of transit between St. Thomas and the regional hub in the south end of London at White Oaks Mall.

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Estimated meter readings are water torture for some St. Thomas customers


city_scope_logo-cmykHow’s that water bill of yours? Are you going to have to dip into your savings or line of credit to pay the latest bill?
Some city residents have received much higher bills than normal and we contacted Jim Hogan, president and CEO of Entegrus. The city of St. Thomas contracts out meter reading to the utility who, we find out, subcontracts it to a third party.
According to Hogan, the bills have been estimated readings only for several months and those estimates do not necessarily jive with actual usage.
“It’s kind of a catch-up and a balancing between some of the estimates may be a little high and some were a little low and we’re working hard to get out there to do the actual reads, to verify the actual reads.”
The money collected is then paid to the city on a contractual basis.
According to the formal agreement between the city and Ascent/St. Thomas Energy signed in April 2014, St. Thomas Energy “will pay to the municipality the water and wastewater charges billed to the customers by the end of the month following the date of invoicing.”

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C.J. Allen delegation to St. Thomas council Monday to focus on “bureaucratic and redundant red tape and restrictive bylaws”


city_scope_logo-cmykThe agenda for Monday’s (Jan. 16) council meeting reveals what should prove to be a no-punches-pulled deputation from C.J. Allen.
He is the chair of the Good Vibes Community Association (GVCA)board of governors.
If you are not familiar with the GVCA, it was the producer of last year’s inaugural Summer Harvest Festival held in Pinafore Park.
A well-attended event that is to become an annual attraction in the park.
Allen has outlined four areas of discussion and with deputations limited to 10 minutes, he’s going to have to move quickly through his presentation.
First up is GVCA’s experience and feedback concerning the city’s special event process and the interaction with city departments, specifically in relation to last year’s festival.
Next up is a look at the city’s strategic plan and specifically Commitment 1 under the Vibrant Community banner.
This area of the plan has a mandate to “Enhance opportunities for connection and development to promote growth for people and businesses in the city.”

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Leaving ‘bookmarks as to how we can move forward’ – St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter a much-enjoyed two-week Christmas hiatus, City Scope returns eager to document what transpires in the new year and what got us to this point over the past 365 days.
When looking back at 2022 – the fourth and final year for the previous municipal council – St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston lists housing as the top story. And Preston is quick to add growth in the city is not going to stop any time soon.
“We’re excited with what we’ve been able to accomplish on housing and have left bookmarks as to how we can move forward.
“Yes, it’s probably the Number 1 story across Ontario and we feel very comfortable with St. Thomas at all ranges, from the homeless side to the single-family homes side, have made incredible progress.”
Preston goes on to note the work undertaken in the past four years paves the way for what needs to be accomplished on the housing front by the recently elected council.
In reflecting on other accomplishments of city council in the past year, Preston turns to the acquisition of 800 acres of farmland east of Highbury Avenue.

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Project Tiny Hope: ‘More than just housing, it’s a new beginning’


city_scope_logo-cmykThe YWCA St.Thomas-Elgin has unveiled its case support for Project Tiny Hope, an affordable housing partnership with Doug Tarry Homes and Sanctuary Homes.
Under the heading, “Now more than ever, our community needs affordable housing,” comes the following statistic, “The waitlist for subsidized housing is over 1100 households translating to a 5-10 year wait.”
Their support paper goes on to stress, “The new YWCA affordable housing community is more than just housing, it’s a new beginning.”
The YWCA provides housing for youth, women and men with five independent apartment units and 42 congregate living units within St. Thomas.
Project Tiny Hope will nearly double that number.
“Safe and stable housing is the foundation of a healthy and vibrant community,” advises Lindsay Rice, YWCA executive director.
“Project Tiny Hope will revitalize 21 Kains Street in the downtown core of St. Thomas and create a thriving community where youth, adults and families live and grow for years to come.”

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‘We’re aware of sensitivities, but where is the best spot for a shelter?’ – Brian Elliot, executive director of The Inn, St. Thomas


city_scope_logo-cmykThe Inn, the city’s emergency shelter which opened back in January, has a new executive director.
Brian Elliot, who came on board last month, was employed in the same role previously with Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario.
He replaces interim executive director Pastor Cherisse Swarath.
In an interview with Elliot this week, we asked what is it about the emergency shelter and St. Thomas that attracted him to the position.
“I’ve been involved with non-profits, one way or another, my entire life and so I really saw The Inn as a place in St. Thomas that had been very progressive in trying to find longer-term solutions to the homeless situation.”
To minimize the number of homeless individuals in St. Thomas and Elgin, Elliot stresses the need to work with community partners.
“Habitat was all about families and, in some cases, individuals and helping them succeed. And The Inn is no different. We’re working with individuals and we’re finding the right supports and the right solutions to allow them to be more successful in their lives.
“I think there are a lot of similarities.”

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‘In many ways, food banks are like the paramedics of social support’ – Feed Ontario Hunger Report 2022


city_scope_logo-cmykA coalition of hunger relief organizations in Ontario says 2022 marked the sixth straight year that food banks in the province saw an increase in users and visits.
Feed Ontario says 587,000 adults and children visited the province’s food banks a total of 4.3 million times between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.
An increase of 15 per cent over the last three years.
The organization says in its most recent annual report that the troubling trend appeared to escalate during the most recent year on record.
It’s no different at the St. Thomas Elgin Food Bank, confirms general manager Karen McDade.
“It is trending upward. It’s probably up since 2019 or even pre-COVID, 53 per cent the demand has gone up at the St. Thomas Elgin Food Bank, easily.”
And that increase in demand has resulted in a change in policy at the St. Thomas Elgin Food Bank, explains McDade.
“The cost of food, fuel, housing, it has just inflated so much that it is just very difficult for any of our clients to survive. We’ve stuck to a mandate of still doing the hampers that we hand out monthly, but instead of a 30-day timeframe, now it’s 21 days.”
McDade adds there are some weeks when the local food bank is helping to feed 400 to 500 people.
And that used to be the monthly total, she notes.

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“We must act like where we want to be and not where we have been” – St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston’s expectation for the next four years of council


city_scope_logo-cmyk“It’s quite fun to be here . . . and it’s pretty exciting.”
That was Mayor Joe Preston’s giddy reaction to Monday’s (Nov. 21) swearing-in procedure for the incoming council.
It was also the occasion of his inaugural speech to open the very first meeting – albeit ceremonial in nature – of this new council.
Preston prefaced his remarks to council, staff and the residents of St. Thomas by praising all of the individuals who put forth their names for office.
“To all of the other candidates who ran in this race, and it was as pleasant and good a group as I have ever been associated with . . . I’d take that whole group and we could do great things with it but this is the group that has been elected.”
Preston continued, “So could we please ask those candidates, put your heart into St. Thomas still and help us make St. Thomas a better place and come to us if you need help. We’ll certainly be there to help you do it.
“To our St. Thomas team, to the hundreds of employees and directors that this community has that over this last term of council and now, going forward, will continue to do the hard work that a great staff in a city does.”

He then paid tribute to the two members who did not seek re-election.
“I wanted to say thank you again to Joan Rymal and Mark Burgess who decided at the end of the last council not to re-enter the race and stay with us.
“The work that they did in the last four years – or most of four years, Mr. Burgess joined us part way through – was equal to the task.
“And also, since that last first day of council, we had sitting in these chairs Mark Tinlin and Linda Stevenson, two other great members of parliament but, not through their choice, did leave. They passed on during the last council and I miss them both, dearly.
City council 2022 inaugurationBoth were great advisors to me in my first term and so thank you Mark and thank you, Linda.”
Preston then delved into the nitty-gritty of the path he would like to see council head in over the next four years.
A council he praised as his “dream team.”
He elaborated, “I asked what could we get that would be the best to move St. Thomas forward in the way we were doing so and what else we can do.
“Look, this is as good as it gets from a council. We will have a hard time messing this up, folks, so let’s work together to make it work.”

“As the fastest-growing city in southwestern Ontario, we must act like where we want to be and not where we have been. This means this council must fulfill our destiny and achieve smart growth in the city with the assets available to it.”

Preston went out on a limb with an ambitious objective. He committed the new council to hitting a target of 500 housing units built each year over the four terms of this council.
“And, it doesn’t mean all single-family housing. Five hundred units include supportive housing as the previous council has done and is doing under the new council.
Preston added, “Together, we will continue to build a thriving, safe and compassionate city for all residents.”
He has great expectations not only for himself but the new council over its four-year term.
“As the fastest-growing city in southwestern Ontario, we must act like where we want to be and not where we have been.
“This means this council must fulfill our destiny and achieve smart growth in the city with the assets available to it.
“I look forward to this team taking the assets of our city to a great new level.

“That they looked ahead, they saw the future and they went there. They looked forward and no one was left behind.”

Preston noted council must focus on exceptional and smart growth, supportive and market rent housing and jobs.
“With our large land acquisition (the 800 acres east of Highbury Avenue) in order to grow great new jobs in our community, we’ve got to prove to anybody who will come to start a new business in St. Thomas that we have the employment base they will need to do those jobs.
“So let’s work together on that.”
Preston closed by stressing council must look forward while leaving no one in the city behind.
“That they looked ahead, they saw the future and they went there. They looked forward and no one was left behind.
“And they looked forward to finding the best ways to grow using all of the partners that we have in the city and we will help lead, but we need lots more partners in our city and certainly the other levels of government.”

HOW ARE WE TRENDING?

Up until the start of fall, little attention had been paid for quite some time to the COVID dashboard, updated weekly on the Southwestern Public Health website.
That has changed with the triple threat of the flu, RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) and COVID which is taxing the resources of hospitals across the province.
Just this week, the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre announced it has made the difficult decision to reduce surgeries as it reports daily visits to its emergency department are 80 per cent higher than usual and its inpatient beds are well over capacity.
The move will allow teams to prioritize urgent, time-sensitive surgeries and help manage patients admitted to critical care and in-patient units.

coviddashboard

And on Wednesday of this week (Nov. 23), the health unit launched an enhanced COVID-19 dashboard (see photo) which not only showcases raw data but also assesses the risk to the community associated with that data.
According to epidemiologist Kerry Bastian, since the original dashboard launched, almost 290,000 people have visited the site.
Bastian points out, “We don’t recall a time in our history that there was such an interest in the intricacies of the data that drives public health decision-making.”

“. . . individuals and health system partners such as long-term care homes and hospitals to more easily interpret their personal risk or the risk of those they care for and act accordingly.”

The updated dashboard highlights four indicators: confirmed cases, per cent positivity, new hospitalizations and active outbreaks.
And then, an indication of whether those domains are trending upward or down. And the risk assessment is labelled as low, moderate, high or very high.
So what does the provision of this enhanced date mean?
Bastian notes it will allow “individuals and health system partners such as long-term care homes and hospitals to more easily interpret their personal risk or the risk of those they care for and act accordingly.”
The new dashboard is updated every Tuesday and can be found at https://www.swpublichealth.ca/en/reports-and-statistics/covid-19-dashboard.aspx
For the week ending Nov. 19, the overall COVID-19 risk level was high, but compared to the previous week it is trending downward.

A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DISCRIMINATION

In February of this year, city council received a report that unpacked the experiences of discrimination in St. Thomas and Elgin county.
It contained the results of a survey undertaken by the St.Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership (STELIP).
The report noted, “Discrimination is happening in locations that are managed by the City of St. Thomas and this reality needs to be addressed.”
Discrimination in St. Thomas and ElginSecondly, the document stated, “With no immigrants, visible minorities, nor Indigenous People represented on the City of St. Thomas Council, this report can help all of us better understand how these groups are experiencing life in our community.”
You can read a copy of that report at https://www.stthomas.ca/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18316516 beginning at page 40 of the agenda.
STELIP is undertaking a second discrimination survey in partnership with Western University’s Network for Social and Economic Trends.
To complete the survey, 30 volunteers are sought who will be interviewed about experiences of discrimination that immigrants and racialized people (often called visible minorities) may have faced in the community.

” . . . is if someone feels they have been discriminated against, that is important information for us to know.”

We talked this week with Fiona Murray, community coordinator with STELIP about the undertaking.
She explained the interview with survey participants is conducted via Zoom in the language of their choice and should take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes.
Participants will receive a $30 gift card as compensation for their time.
The hope is to answer the question, what does discrimination look like?
Murray said, “Specifically, we are looking for people who experienced discrimination in any area in the last three years in a public place.”
That could include a job setting, any public space or a situation involving the police.

“We are not an organization that makes policy recommendations per se. But hopefully it will be a tool people in the community can use.”

The bottom line, adds Murray “is if someone feels they have been discriminated against, that is important information for us to know.”
As was the case with the initial survey, the findings will be made public on STELIP’s website.
Once posted Murray advised, “in the case of the city or the police, if they want to take that data we have made public and then use that to inform their policies or decisions, that is our hope.
“Obviously, that is not something we are particularly controlling, but hopefully by making this information available that really can (occur).”
Murray stressed the final report – as was the case with the initial survey – will not make recommendations.
“We are not an organization that makes policy recommendations per se.
“But hopefully it will be a tool people in the community can use.”
To find out more or to participate in the survey visit https://stelip.ca/projects/experiences-of-discrimination-survey-st-thomas-and-elgin/#qualitativesurvey

Related post:

St. Thomas municipal council asked to renew its commitment to addressing discrimination in the community

COMING UP

The first regular meeting of the new city council will be 5 p.m. on Dec. 5.
Immediately following – projected to be around – 5:30 p.m., council begins preliminary deliberations on the 2023 municipal budget.

Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.

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‘The people pay their taxes, they expect some kind of service for their money and I hope we can deliver up to their expectations’ – St. Thomas Deputy Fire Chief Kyle Smith


city_scope_logo-cmykFor the past four years, the St. Thomas Fire Department has faced the equivalent of an internal multi-alarm blaze.
And, it is to be hoped with the announcement this week of Kyle Smith’s promotion to deputy fire chief that the final embers of controversy have been suppressed.
You have to delve back to August of 2017 and the death of popular fire chief Rob Broadbent to discover the source of the flames of discontent.
The decision was made somewhere in the corridors of city hall to look elsewhere for a replacement for the outgoing, community-minded Broadbent.
This is despite a strong candidate in Deputy Fire Chief Ray Ormerod who, according to some sources, was not even granted an interview.
We’ll wend our way back to Ormerod shortly.
So the search for a new chief ended in Chatham-Kent where the deputy chief in that municipality, Bob Davidson was deemed the ideal replacement.
Davidson arrived in St. Thomas in January of 2018 only to abruptly tender his resignation in July 2021.

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‘The solution to homelessness is housing and housing with supports’ – Danielle Neilson


city_scope_logo-cmykIt was a critical talking point throughout this year’s municipal election campaign.
But homelessness and, in particular, its impact on the downtown core has been a front-burner issue now for several years.
To kick off the city council meeting this past Monday (Nov. 7) Danielle Neilson, the city’s Homelessness Prevention and Housing Programs Coordinator initiated a deep dive into the lives of homeless individuals in St. Thomas and Elgin.
Her presentation and subsequent Q & A consumed a good 30 minutes.
She kicked off her information session with a reminder, “I would like to start by acknowledging that the complexity, humanity and tragedy of the impact of homelessness on people’s lives in St. Thomas are no different from what people are experiencing across all of Canada today.”
She continued, “Experiences of homelessness today are the result of deep, historic, system-level errors that have accumulated over decades.
“Such as colonialism and divestments in affordable housing. These combined with other social inequities such as deep poverty, unresolved inter-generational trauma, an inflated and unaffordable housing market, the current cost of living crisis, the impacts of the pandemic – and these are just to name a few – have cumulatively increased housing instability, including occurrences of homelessness at a higher rate than we have ever seen historically before.

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‘If we’re healthy on the inside, we will be healthy on the outside to deliver services to the community’ – incoming St. Thomas Police Chief Marc Roskamp


city_scope_logo-cmykThe city’s new police chief – as of January next year – wants to ensure the St. Thomas Police Service continues to deliver services to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.
That was abundantly evident during our conversation this week with current Deputy Chief, Marc Roskamp.
He’s a 25-year veteran of the St. Thomas Police Service with 16 years in uniform patrol before moving up to the Criminal Investigation Branch and then being appointed Deputy Chief in 2018.
The announcement of the retirement of Chief Chris Herridge and the promotion of Roskamp has an added personal touch.
Born and raised in Chatham, Roskamp’s father was also involved in policing.
“My father was a police officer in Chatham and, coincidently, he retired as the chief of police for the Chatham Police Service.
“So this is quite an honour, both personally and professionally, for myself and my family.
“My research tells me it is rare to have a father and then a son reach the office of chief.”

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St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge readies himself ‘for a new journey’


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter a nearly 35-year career with the St. Thomas Police Service – the last five at the helm – Chief Chris Herridge, this week announced he is retiring.
“It is time for a new journey,” noted Herridge.
Speaking with Herridge minutes before the official announcement on Thursday, he confided, “It is a personal and professional decision.”
He continued, “My family, Kim and the girls, have given up so much for my career in policing.
“The time has come, I have 34-plus years when it is all said and done and it’s time to give back to them. I’m a grandfather now.”
Like an athlete hanging up the cleats or skates, Herridge stressed, “It’s time.”
Herridge observed, “People always say you will realize it. I still love this job but as much as I love it, it’s time.”
To use another sports analogy, you are best to go out on a winning or high note.
“We have made tremendous strides in transforming into one of the most professional, advanced and transparent police services in Ontario,” noted Herridge.
“Leadership is about preparing, empowering and inspiring others to lead. Continue reading

‘I’m a collaborative leader who believes that everyone deserves a fair shot at their best life’ – St. Thomas mayoral candidate Heather Jackson


city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s a re-match of the 2018 mayoral campaign in St. Thomas, only this time around Heather Jackson is not the incumbent.
She filed her nomination papers on Aug. 19, the final day to do so, joining newcomer Gregg McCart in what became a last-minute three-horse race with Joe Preston seeking the nod for a second term.
Looking back at the 2018 race, Preston prevailed by 542 votes, quashing Jackon’s bid at a third term as mayor.
It’s not as if Jackson stepped away from the political spotlight, however.
She was the Liberal candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London in this year’s June provincial election, finishing third to Conservative Rob Flack and the NDPs Andy Kroeker.
She polled 7,615 votes, almost double the number garnered by Liberal candidate Carlie Forsythe in the 2018 provincial vote.

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For Devon Church, what St. Thomas municipal council needs is a candidate with ‘lived experience’


city_scope_logo-cmykAs he campaigns for a seat on city council, Devon Church confidently proclaims when elected, not if.
Specifically, “When elected, I will be accountable, dedicated and propel council towards innovation and positive change.”
Church is a registered nurse at Southwestern Public Health who bemoans the lack of lived experience on the present council.
Church feels members of council “were mostly folks from a higher income level trying to figure out what to do with folks from lower incomes.”
Every candidate points to the need for solutions to issues plaguing the downtown core.
Church offers alternatives.
“I believe we need a downtown drop-in space that is accessible to all, that includes food and beds.”
But it is not the existing emergency shelter known as The Inn.

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‘It’s not always about drugs . . . It’s about losing that job’ – St. Thomas municipal candidate Rose Gibson


city_scope_logo-cmykShe has yet to win a seat on city council and yet no candidate in the St. Thomas municipal election has more campaign experience than Rose Gibson.
This is her sixth run for the roses and, on that alone, you have to respect her tenacity.
In 2018 she finished 10th in a 19-candidate field, less than 500 votes away from knocking Jim Herbert out of the running.
Her first outing was in 2000 and she returned to the fray in 2003, 2010 and 2014. Of note, each time she secured more votes than in her previous attempt.
And that vote differential four years ago is the driving force in this campaign, advised Gibson.
“I have a good group of people who really believe in me. I think the voters last time believed in me.
“You know there is an area that you learn where you made your mistakes and I realize that.

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An answer to ‘Why are we still talking about this?’


We live today in a house so divided. city_scope_logo-cmykHowever, yesterday (Friday) over the noon hour at city hall, a hundred or so individuals were able to cast aside their differences and unite in what the colour orange represents.
The sea of orange gathered to commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day.
A day to remember but equally important to learn.
To learn what we were never taught in school.
The dark chapter in this country’s history.
A chapter finally seeing the light of day as a result of hundreds and ultimately thousands of unmarked graves of young children.
Young Indigenous children, the victims of cultural genocide.
Students snapped from their homes and shuffled off to residential schools where their identities were erased.
The last of which closed as recently as 1996.

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‘It really comes down to your choice for a thriving community for all residents’- St. Thomas city councillor candidate Tara McCaulley


city_scope_logo-cmykShe stresses you have to go for it. Even if that means initiating your charge four years ahead of schedule.
Tara McCaulley had hoped to enter municipal politics in 2026, but now she is seeking a seat on city council in the Oct. 24 municipal vote.
McCaulley feels her experience gained over the past 10 years with the Small Business Enterprise Centre and the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation can be put to good use as the city deals with a variety of challenges.
That’s in addition to her experience dealing with all three levels of government.
“I feel this is a good time,” advises McCaulley. “There are lots of exciting things happening in our community and also some challenges.
She stresses the need for affordable housing is a critical priority along with the health of the downtown core and preparing for future growth.

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‘Our once-thriving downtown core is at a critical threshold’ – St. Thomas lawyer Hilary Vaughan


city_scope_logo-cmykIn a deputation last Monday (Sept. 12) to city council she stressed was devoid of “ill will, malintent or hidden agenda,” Hilary Vaughan hit one out of the park with her no-nonsense presentation on the complex issues plaguing downtown.
In a six-and-a-half-minute span, the St. Thomas lawyer delivered a tell-it-like-it-is synopsis, warning the core area is at a critical threshold.
Her closing remarks left members momentarily flummoxed. Vaughan made it clear she was not open to questions, instead it is time to “find a real solution, in real-time, for real people.”
That can be done by striking a working group to tackle the increasingly dire situation.
Because the picture she painted of the downtown core’s immediate prospects is bleak.

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New London South-St. Thomas electoral district ‘ignores well-established systems of service’


city_scope_logo-cmykNote: Due to the death of Queen Elizabeth, the open house scheduled for Saturday at the CASO station has been postponed. We will update you when a new date has been announced.

At the end of last month, we featured a lengthy discussion with Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio on a proposed boundary alignment for the riding she represents.
Well, it’s coming down to crunch time when it comes to public input and Vecchio is hosting an open house next Saturday (Sept. 17) from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the CASO station to garner feedback from constituents.
We talked again this week about the impact new electoral boundaries proposed by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario could have on the outcome of federal and provincial elections in both St. Thomas and Elgin.
An important area that requires clarification is the adjustment to this riding and others across the country is not gerrymandering on the part of any political party, as is often the case south of the border.

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This is Mathew’s story: His last gift to mankind was to let someone else live


city_scope_logo-cmykA ceremony was held Wednesday morning on the steps of city hall to commemorate the third annual International Overdose Awareness Day.
Later in the day, The Nameless, in partnership with Southwestern Public Health, held an open house at White Street Parkette in St. Thomas.
That was where Anna Maria Iredale of St. Marys dug deep into her reserve of fortitude to step forward with her personal tale of tragedy.
We’re documenting it in its entirety as a tribute to Anna Maria and her son.
That’s a photo of him below and every picture does tell a story. This one is well worth the time and effort it takes to absorb.

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New electoral boundaries: ‘It’s about population and not about communities’ – Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio


city_scope_logo-cmykNew electoral boundaries proposed by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario could have a significant impact on the outcome of federal and provincial elections in both St. Thomas and Elgin.
Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio is quick to admit she has concerns with the proposed re-alignment.
The aim is to have all ridings in the province fairly equal in population, around the 115,500 mark.
The new electoral roadmap was unveiled a week ago and it would see St. Thomas incorporated into a new riding to be known as London South–St. Thomas.
It would stretch north to Commissioners Road and the Thames River, east to Springwater Road to include Belmont and Mapleton, south to John Wise Line and west to Sunset/Westdel Bourne/Wonderland Road, but would not include Lambeth (see map).
The London South-St. Thomas riding has a population of over 120,000 right now, the majority of residents living in London.

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‘No half measures for me. It’s about dreaming big’ – St. Thomas city council hopeful, Gregg McCart


city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s now a three-horse mayoral race in the Oct. 24 St. Thomas municipal vote. Joining Joe Preston is former mayor Heather Jackson and newcomer Gregg McCart, who admits it’s a daunting task trying to unseat a high-profile incumbent.
However, McCart feels he may have an advantage in one area, that being his experience in dealing with homelessness in the city.
With reference to Mayor Preston, he admits, “I kind of like the guy, to be honest. But I believe that he is too far away from this particular problem.”
That problem is the scourge of homelessness, particularly in the downtown core.
McCart continues, “I don’t want to say anything bad, but it is my peers who are suffering the most, as far as income levels.
“And I believe, because of that, I have an advantage over him. So, maybe I can do something.”

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‘Accountability, integrity and trust, where are those these days?’ – St. Thomas council candidate Shawn DeNeire


city_scope_logo-cmykHe’s the owner of DeNeire’s Gallery of Fine Art in downtown St. Thomas and now Shawn DeNeire is plunging into the fine art of municipal politics.
As of yesterday (Aug. 12), NeNeire was one of 10 individuals seeking to fill eight councillor seats at city hall.
DeNeire was born and raised in St. Thomas and was a Central Elgin Collegiate grad although he also spent time at Arthur Voaden Secondary School and Parkside Collegiate Institute.
Ask why he is eager to sit around the horseshoe in the council chamber and DeNeire will relay the following observation.
“I’ve talked to several businesses on Talbot Street and they haven’t had one council person come down in the last four years and say, ‘Hey, how’s it going? I’m so and so and have you got any concerns?’
“Not one. And that bothers me. Who are we being paid by? The taxpayers.
“Who should be in our best interest? The taxpayers.”
I am sure there are members of council who will challenge the above and they have been seen patronizing downtown establishments.

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‘I’m your guy if you want someone who is really invested in solving these issues – St. Thomas city council candidate Timothy Hedden


Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

city_scope_logo-cmykAfter pitching in with the Heather Jackson campaign team in the June provincial vote, Timothy Hedden is turning his attention to this fall’s municipal vote.
This is his second run for a seat on city council. He was in a crowded field of 19 candidates, finishing 15th with 1,711 votes in the 2018 municipal election.
Hedden tells us he learned plenty from that unsuccessful run and now has a clearer understanding of the role of a city councillor.
“It’s an interesting role that I think I understand a lot better now having been through the process once and watching council meet and paying attention to the things they actually do.”
His understanding of a councillor’s responsibilities and mandates has matured over the past four years, and his campaigning on the plight of the homeless likewise has taken on a sharper focus.
“You might be able to stamp out not homelessness entirely because it is a revolving thing, but I think you can get to the point where there are very, very few individuals that we are having to help out.

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‘Protecting victims takes precedence over protecting hockey players and government officials’ – EML MP Karen Vecchio


city_scope_logo-cmykAs the calls for Hockey Canada to be held accountable regarding their handling of a growing number of sexual assault allegations escalate, one local MP says it is time to reform the culture within not only that organization but within the Ministry of Sport.
The latter is the domain of MP Pascale St-Onge.
And, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth this week was one of three MPs who issued a statement on the pair of emergency committee hearings into those allegations.
That would be Elgin-Middlesex-London MP, Karen Vecchio.
In the statement, the trio asserts, “The hearings at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage into Hockey Canada’s involvement in allegations of sexual assault have heard the testimony of a secretive and unaccountable organization where allegations of sexual assault have been covered up.

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Unplugging the homelessness bottleneck in St. Thomas-Elgin


city_scope_logo-cmyk“I think it’s very important that we keep in mind that the solution to homelessness is not an emergency shelter.
“The solution to homelessness is housing and housing with supports.”
That was the salient takeaway from the lengthy discussion at the July 11 council meeting revolving around The Inn, the city’s emergency shelter.
The observation, which pivoted the dialogue back on track to long-term solutions instead of short-term fixes, was put forward by Danielle Neilson, the city’s homelessness and housing supervisor.
She followed that with, “And, in our community, we have plans, not only in place or being considered, but actions that are working.
“And, we have lots to be proud of in St. Thomas.”
Proof of that was evident in a media release issued July 8 by Built For Zero, a program of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

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‘We have got to find a way for The Inn to be a better neighbour to its neighbours’ – St. Thomas Councillor Steve Peters


Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

city_scope_logo-cmykDiscussion on the status and future of the city’s emergency shelter, The Inn, consumed more than an hour of Monday’s (July 11) council meeting.
It resolved little but revealed much.
Margaret Barrie, chair of the board of directors and Pastor Cherisse Swarath, Interim Executive Director, Inn Out of the Cold, in a deputation to council updated members on progress at the shelter in its new location and then fielded a bevy of questions from councillors.
Many of those questions were prompted by a letter to Mayor Joe Preston from Brad Beausoleil, who owns several properties in St. Thomas, including 6 Princess Avenue which is adjacent to The Inn.
We delved into that correspondence two weeks ago and there is a link to that post below.
And, Beausoleil forwarded this corner a follow-up email with his impressions of the delegation which we will deal with in the following item.

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‘There is a need to try and make sure our council represents a little bit more of the population that we see here’ – St. Thomas municipal council candidate Petrusia Hontar


She is taking a second run for a seat on city council in the fall municipal election.
And, Petrusia Hontar, project manager at St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership stresses she doesn’t have all the answers to all of the issues.
So, suggests Hontar, open up a dialogue with those individuals and groups who can provide insight.
“My answer is always going to be who can we bring to the table to be more informed on this decision?
“I think that is a really strong piece I am advocating for.”
Hontar finished 14th in a field of 19 candidates for councillor with 1,995 votes in 2018.
For Hontar, establishing a safe injection site was a priority in that campaign, along with more affordable housing in conjunction with a housing strategy.

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STEGH is facing capacity challenges and hospitals across the province “are having to adjust their services based on the staff that are not available”


city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s not a situation unique to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) as facilities across the province are grappling with staffing challenges, inpatient overcapacity and stressed emergency departments.
All of which is creating capacity challenges which ultimately impact those requiring emergency care.
In an interview with Karen Davies, STEGH president and CEO, on Thursday (June 30), she confided that the hospital is dealing with a more than 30 percent increase in ER visits.
“In March of this year, we were seeing about 900 patients a week and now we’re seeing over 1,200 patients.
“And so the impact in our emergency department and also our inpatient side where we added 22 new beds in the early days of the pandemic.
“All 22 of those beds are full.”

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Charges against St. Thomas music teacher a warning we need to protect children ‘without hesitation or reservation about others’ opinions’


city_scope_logo-cmykEugene Francois made a brief video court appearance yesterday (June 24) at the Elgin County Courthouse.
He is facing 16 charges in relation to 10 victims who attended his Talbot Street residence – which is also his music studio – where he filmed individuals without their knowledge or consent.
The new charges include voyeurism, making child pornography and possession of child pornography.
St. Thomas Police believe there are more victims and they are asking females who attended his residence between 2009 and May of last year to contact their Criminal Investigation Branch if they have not done so already.
These new charges are in addition to human trafficking, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, traffic in persons under the age of 18, benefitting from trafficking and possession of child pornography charges laid one year ago.
He was arrested by St. Thomas Police on May 27 of 2021 after a search warrant was issued for his apartment.

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Invigorated by the accomplishments of this council, Jeff Kohler is pursuing another term at St. Thomas city hall


city_scope_logo-cmykHe’s the longest-serving mayor/alderman/councillor currently in St. Thomas and earlier this month, Jeff Kohler declared his intention to seek another four-year term on city council.
Kohler has served in that capacity since 2010, but his introduction to municipal politics is a story unto itself.
He first threw his hat into the ring in 1997 and finished as third runner-up in that year’s municipal vote.
Referencing Eric Bunnell’s People column from April of 2000, Ald. Helen Cole had announced her resignation and council met behind closed doors to unanimously agree Kohler should fill the vacant seat.
The top vote-getter in 1997, Terry Shackelton had already moved on to council and the next hopeful in line, former alderman Hugh Shields, declined the appointment to council.

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