On any given night, anywhere from a dozen to 18 of the city’s most vulnerable citizens lay down their heads in bed bug infested rooms at a dilapidated facility wanting for even the most basic of housekeeping efforts.
Their daily menu, as aptly described by lawyer advocate Elena Dempsey, is appalling not appealing.
And now, we find out these residents of Walnut Manor will not even benefit from the simple comfort of knowing their long-past-the-best-before-date hovel will be equipped with a life-saving sprinkler system.
Why is it other residential care facilities in St. Thomas are mandated to install sprinkler systems by the end of the year and yet this independent supportive living home operated by Niagara Supportive Living of Welland is exempt from this regulation?
Why is it, once again, the residents of Walnut Manor fall through the cracks?
It’s official, the residential development proposed for the Alma College property will be a gated community, but there will be no similarity to large undertakings of the same nature south of the border.
That’s according to a letter from developer Michael Loewith, whose Patriot Properties is seeking to begin construction of a three-tower project on the Moore Street property.
The letter and several updated supporting documents are in response to questions and concerns raised at a site plan committee meeting held Nov. 13.
In his clarification letter, to be presented with the other reports at the next site plan committee meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 12), Loewith responds to questions relating to public access to the 11-acre site and, in particular, the amphitheatre.
Loewith writes, “While we attempted to provide a clear response regarding these concerns at the meeting, we may not have been as descriptive about our plans as we would have like, and so we are providing this letter to make our intentions clear.”
Mayor Joe Preston and the incoming councillors were sworn in during a ceremony at city hall Monday (Dec. 3). Prior to Preston’s inaugural speech, Pastor Steven McCready from Faith Church, in his charge to council, noted: “This city has changed immensely in the three years I’ve been here.”
However, McCready pointed out, “Mayor, there is still lots to do. Let’s work together and make St. Thomas proud. When the city prospers, the people prosper. And when the people prosper, they find peace. The thing all people are searching for.”
And McCready reminded all in attendance, “Prosperity is not the same as wealth. It means to flourish and be successful.”
The following is the full transcript of Mayor Joe Preston’s inaugural address.
“This is the beginning of something new and the word propel is exactly what we’re looking to do. I’d like to give my thanks to the past council and Mayor (Heather) Jackson for moving this city into a place we can be exceptionally proud of. The group of you who were here and the new people who are here, we are happy to take the torch.
“Thank you to city management and city staff for doing the same thing. St. Thomas is a place we can be proud of because we have great people who think the same way. Thank you to the voters of St. Thomas for electing this team.
“I want to talk a little bit about smart growth. St. Thomas is growing at a very rapid pace and we need to be smart about what we do and how we do that. We want to make sure we end up with not just growth but end up with a place all of the citizens of St. Thomas would truly want this to be.
The message was designed to elicit a response, and it did just that.
A recent Tweet from St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge advised, “This morning we hit 17,000 incidents, the highest I can remember since starting in 1989. We are on pace to potentially reach 19,000 – averaging over 52 incidents daily. In 2011 we reached 16,031 – our highest before this year. The dedication of staff at STPS has not wavered!”
A phone call to Herridge this past week uncovered other disturbing facts.
So far this year, criminal charges are up 72 per cent and property crime in the city is up 89 per cent over last year.
“So what’s happening is, I believe, there are social issues that are impacting St. Thomas,” advises Herridge. “No different than what I’m hearing from my colleagues in other parts of the province.”
Herridge continues, “And for us, there’s no doubt it’s connected to poverty, homelessness and addictions. Yes, you’re getting people who haven’t been involved in criminal activity. But, a lot of the names we are seeing are repeat offenders.”
As Canada’s first elevated park, it is already an ambitious undertaking. However, at a ceremony held Thursday (Nov. 22) at the CASO station, a bold new step forward in the design of the St. Thomas Elevated Park was unveiled. An enhanced vision that could see the entire length of the Michigan Central Railway bridge open to the public next summer.
This week’s event formalized a $100,000 investment by Doug Tarry Homes Ltd., along with a commitment to reach out to the region’s business community with a Doug Tarry Challenge, a fundraising campaign by the St. Thomas homebuilder.
The Doug Tarry Homes End-To-End Challenge has a goal of raising $500,000, which is enough to construct and install the remaining railings and decks required to span the entire bridge, end to end.
“The generous donation by Doug Tarry Homes gave us a unique opportunity to rethink our original plans and set a more ambitious timetable for opening,” says Matt Janes, vice-president of the On Track St. Thomas board of directors and a co-chair of the Doug Tarry Challenge.
Monday’s meeting (Nov. 19) marked the end of term for council and with it the departure from the chamber of Mayor Heather Jackson and councillors Steve Wookey and Mark Burgess.
While the latter two chose to forego any closing words, Jackson took the opportunity to deliver an emotional farewell after 15 years on council, the last eight as mayor.
Calling it a great honour and opportunity to serve as mayor, Jackson opened her remarks by thanking “all of you who have allowed me this opportunity to serve you and I wish to thank you for your exemplary citizenship that has allowed this city to become a higher, more just and beautiful and liveable city.”
Jackson noted the job of mayor “is very fulfilling in that the responsibilities are not abstract or theoretical, but rather direct, specific and intimate.
“The responsibility for you and your children’s safety at home and at work, on the streets, for your neighbourhood parks to be safe, beautiful and active for you and your children’s play.
“Your garbage and recycling need to be collected, your neighbourhood peaceful and tidy.
“An economy bustling benefits your livelihood. A city growing in fiscal strength and fairness. The inspiration of art is accessible to all. Lovely and positive civic spaces.
“Your reason for optimism for the future. And to serve you in time of crisis and so much more.” Continue reading
Although 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.
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.
For 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.”
On 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.
After 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.
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.