Merry Christmas from MacKinnon Transport

Mike Fox, a former employee with Walker Transport passes along news he was one of 20 local drivers terminated by MacKinnon Transport out of Guelph, Ont., which acquired Walker Transport in St. Thomas this past fall. At the time, although Julie Tanguay of Walker was coy about the matter, we wrote the move would result in cuts to the local operation, if not the entire withdrawal of operations in St. Thomas. Little did we anticipate MacKinnon would pull the plug on these employees one week prior to Christmas. Read Mike’s comment and the full story here and a further backgrounder, including an interview with MacKinnon President and CEO Evan MacKinnon can be found here .

At that time he told the Times-Journal of the 140 or so employees at Walker, all 100 drivers have already been offered jobs while they’re hoping to hire 20 mechanics, dispatchers and other staff at the company’s headquarters in Guelph.
“We’re remaining optimistic that we can fill those roles with people from St. Thomas,” assured MacKinnon.

Of leaky hulls, righted ships and the strength of hometown papers

If you’re reading this week’s edition of City Scope, then you’re doing so online as the T-J family is enjoying a well-deserved Christmas break and the next printed copy of the paper is Dec. 29.
In the past that would have meant a one-week hiatus, but as our journalistic future increasingly shifts to electronic media, references to “this corner” may soon refer to cyberspace and not the column on an ink-stained page.
Especially given the vagaries of newspaper publishers on this continent.
All of which allows me to take liberties over the Christmas holiday to mirror the sentiments of Carl M. Cannon, Senior Washington Correspondent for Daily Politics, an online political news magazine comprised of a small team of old pros committed to traditional journalistic values.
Cannon’s wish this Christmas is that in 2010, “newspaper publishers will patch up their leaky hulls and right their ships. A great deal depends on it.”
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Navistar content to keep its Ontario workers idling

Navistar Inc. plans to keep its heavy truck assembly plant in Chatham idle “for now,” but the company’s top official isn’t giving any sign that it will reopen.

Dan Ustian, the company’s chairman and chief executive, told analysts Tuesday that the company has wrestled with the issue for several months but still has made no final decision on whether to close the plant in southwestern Ontario.

The plant has not produced a vehicle in almost six months after 350 employees were laid off and negotiations with the Canadian Auto Workers for a new contract hit an impasse. The shutdown is also adversely affecting numerous suppliers and their workforces.
Full story

Posted by Ian:
On Sept. 4, 2003 International Truck and Engine Corporation announced it would keep its Chatham, Ontario plant open and maintain a production schedule of heavy trucks, as the result of a long-term investment by the company, Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. Another promise not worth the paper it was written on. Here is the full transcript of that 2003 company release.

‘Git ‘er done’ not the rallying cry for this council

Hitting the home stretch of another year, it’s the obvious time to take stock of what has transpired over the past 365 days, and this corner will undertake that in a couple of weeks.
However, as we hover on the doorstep of 2010, it is a sense of anticipation that greets us in the form of the municipal vote looming in October.
With 10 months remaining in the term of city council, it is unlikely the members will be fondly recalled as a take-charge body whose motto was, “Git ‘er done.”
So, time for a little City Scope speculation as to who is on board for another kick at the cat.
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Here’s how a similar mindset to Dalton’s Green Energy Act is playing out in the north of England

Posted by Ian:

Does this not sound very much like Dalton McGuinty’s Green Energy Act which severely limits local municipal and resident opposition to wind farms. And where is the requested study on the effects of wind turbine noise? Here’s what is unfolding on the Yorkshire Dales, one of the most scenic environments in the north of England …

Government officials suppressed a damning report on the noise caused by wind turbines in order to push ahead with the building of hundreds of on-line windfarms in England, a report in the Sunday Times alleged yesterday (December 13).

This will come to a shock to residents of the western Yorkshire Dales, where a planning enquiry is to be held in the New Year into plans by a German company to erect five giant wind turbines the size of Big Ben just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park near Gargrave.

The turbines could be seen across 40 miles of the most beautiful countryside in the north of England, not just from the national park but also from the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire and Pendle Hill, site of the infamous witch trials and a tourist magnet.

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The law of diminishing returns is about to impact ratepayers

My how time flies by when you’re dialing for dollars.
It’s been more than two years since council had a professional appraisal from fundraising chairman Hilary Vaughan on the status of the Timken Centre capital campaign, however that will be rectified Monday (and not Dec. 21 as mentioned in this corner last week) when treasurer Bill Day reveals the grim reality of contributions to date.
As an update for readers, the last accounting to council was back in August of 2007 when former parks and recreation director Kent McVittie advised little progress at that point with $2.6 million in cash or pledges on the books, but with just $1.37 million actually collected.
On the expense side, more than $135,000 had been spent, a figure projected to grow to $214,000.
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Changes proposed for pair of Oxford County wind farms

The developer behind two potential wind farms in Oxford has revised its proposal for both, increasing the wattage and changing how the turbines might be laid out across the landscape.

The information from ProWind Canada Inc. was sent out in two separate e-mails Friday to a list of local contacts. The e-mails outlined changes to the designs of both projects, noting a slight increase from 18 megawatts to 19 for Innerkip and a more-than-double increase from 10 megawatts to 25 for Gunn’s Hill Road in Norwich Township. ProWind stated the Innerkip project would still have a maximum of eight turbines, with Gunn’s Hill at a maximum of 10.

“We’re starting that process from scratch and the scope of the project has changed slightly,” ProWind’s Bart Geleynse said in a Monday phone interview. “The original plan was 10 megawatts on a much smaller area of land. We’ve expanded in terms of capacity and in terms of spread.

Full story

Comments to Central Elgin council from ratepayers association

December 3, 2009

The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors
The Corporation of the Municipality of Central Elgin
450 Sunset Drive
St. Thomas, ON N5R 5V1

2010 Municipal Budget

Ladies & Gentleman:

It’s a very harsh economic environment, especially for the many who have or are about to lose their jobs and for those who must live off retirement funds that have taken a severe blow in the investment markets.

The excuse of provincial downloading seems to be back. The potential loss of $500,000 from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) may be real but it’s a red herring. All municipalities will be effected by this chop of funds. It doesn’t change the fact that Central Elgin is one of the most highly taxed municipalities in Ontario. The Municipality of Central Elgin and the County of Elgin have historically done a poor job of keeping tax increases near inflation. Only a roll back of the municipal and county tax levy and costs over the next five years will placate voters in Central Elgin. Our membership and the public are becoming more vocal about this issue.
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Investing in our past keeps us on track for a brighter tomorrow

The crew over at the Elgin County Railway Museum, in addition to their yeoman service as guardians of this area’s railway heritage, are now the subject of a news item in Built Heritage News, published by Toronto architect Catherine Nasmith.
The on-line journal applauds the efforts of the city in acquiring railway lands and assisting the ECRM in negotiating the purchase of their home (the former Michigan Central Locomotive Repair Shops) from CN.
The direction is lauded as an investment in rail history tourism in light of the “devastating blows to the St. Thomas economy.”
However, praise is tempered with the following admonishment.
“Infamous as the city that stood by as Alma College suffered demolition by neglect and destruction by arson.”
My, how our reputation has spread far and wide.
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