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.

Quoting further from the item, “The museum board has done its due diligence. For five years it has been running a Day Out With Thomas the Tank Engine event, the proceeds from which have been prudently invested for the future restoration.”
“A five-year strategic plan has recently been completed and presented to the public at an open house. Two years in the making, it includes the Public Survey Analysis, an operational review, and an architect’s conception of the future museum. The architectural plans promise to maintain the integrity of the existing building.”
The piece concludes with the question, “A phoenix rising from the ashes of Alma?”
The full story is here.
When city council meets for the last session of the year on Dec. 21, treasurer Bill Day will present an update on the status of the Timken Centre capital fundraising campaign, under the leadership of professional fundraiser Hilary Vaughan.
Because the process has dragged on for an extended period of time, some may have lost sight of the intent of the fundraising committee.
To summarize, the original target was $2 million toward the cost of construction of the $12.3 million facility.
However, in the summer of 2007, and with the blessing of community services chairman Ald. Bill Aarts, the financial goal was upped to $3 million to expand the vision of the centre beyond a twin-pad ice facility to a multi-purpose complex, as outlined in city report PR-09-07 of Aug. 13, 2007.
What are the chances chairman Vaughan will be present that evening to answer questions?
A couple of weeks of debate in this corner attempting to separate fact from fiction in posturing over the national long-gun registry has the City Scope mail bag bulging.
Most insightful is this entry from Chris, a T-J reader who is quite frankly “offended by the silly hoops I had to jump through” when following registry procedures.
He is a gun owner for more than 50 years and has enjoyed his past-time in a safe and peaceful fashion, he writes.
However, here are the obstacles he had to navigate in order to remain compliant with the law.
“I was asked questions about the state of my mental health, the stability of my employment history and the soundness of my marital status. My wife had to sign off on my fitness to own guns.”
Which begs the question, as a motorist, would you tolerate such a foofaraw to renew your paperwork every year?
Sorry honeybunch, I know I haven’t taken the garbage out in months, but would you just sign this vehicle registration thingy here.
“With any other group in society, this would have been considered as violation of the right to privacy,” Chris asserts.
“But gun owners were considered the pariahs du jour. After all, we were just knuckle-dragging potential criminals, guilty before proven innocent.”
So, do you think Chris is just a tad ticked off by the registry?
In any event, let’s get to the gist of his letter.
“When the on-going debate about the registry flared up, an important point was overlooked or ignored,” Chris suggests.
“While the Conservatives were trying to kill the registry, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) was releasing some interesting statistics. On average, drunk drivers kill four Canadians each day an injure another 270.”
Where is the outrage over these alarming stats, Chris queries.
“If guns were causing this kind of carnage in Canada, every last one of them would be confiscated. I think the anti-gun lobby could put their time and energy to better use if they went after impaired drivers.”
This corner seconds that motion, Chris.
“That in the spirit of good will for the betterment of our communities, the County of Elgin challenge the council of the City of St. Thomas for the most pledges to the Elgin-St. Thomas United Way campaign with the second-place finisher providing dinner for the other council.”
Elgin county council throws down the gauntlet in a challenge to its counterpart in St. Thomas to put its money where its collective mouth is, all in the cause of charity.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.

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