A new home for health unit and it’s not on Farhi property


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Over to you Shmuel.
Elgin St. Thomas Public Health made it official this week: they are seeking a new home and it won’t be on property at the west end of Talbot Street owned by London developer Shmuel Farhi.
As reported in the Times-Journal, the health unit is close to a deal for two acres of property at a yet-to-be-disclosed location, with a budget of about $10 million to design and build a new, 30,000-square-foot-home.
Their current abode is 27,000 square feet at 99 Edward St., and the proposed move prompted T-J reader Bill Petryshyn to post on our website: “10 million dollars for an extra 3000 sq ft? Seems pricey.”


If all goes according to Hoyle, the health unit will be in its new headquarters by the end of 2013.
Replacing them on Edward Street would be Family and Children’s Services of St. Thomas and Elgin.

That would require a minor zoning variation to keep things neat and tidy legally and that will be dealt with by city council at its Tuesday meeting.
One can only assume this would be a unanimous decision, although the matter of a new home has consumed several years of heated debate amongst city and county reps on the health unit board of directors under former chairman Bill Aarts.
Cooler heads have since prevailed and so any dissenting voice on city council would certainly be based on allegiance to Farhi – who is convinced he has a deal in place with the health unit for the Talbot street property – rather than to city ratepayers.
Now that the health unit has laid its cards on the table, will Farhi hold to his threat to settle the matter in court. He has made it clear “… I am not afraid of courtrooms, especially when I have a case like this.”
Who needs reality television with real-life drama like this.

DISSENSION AT ASCENT?
Ia there truth to the rumour Ald. Tom Johnston is no longer the chairman of Ascent’s board of directors?
We understand he was ousted following last Monday’s council meeting in which he voted against an increase in remuneration for Ascent board members.
Is there a connection, or would this have something to do with the recently shuttered Talbot Rental business?
We’ll pursue this for next week.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK
So if council members and department heads are to be in receipt of new iPads, who at city hall will monitor for any possible abuse of a personal nature?
Remember the cell phone and city credit card abuse back in 2005?

TAKE TWO
So much for Million Dollar Neighbourhood.
It would appear the mayor’s decision to nix filming the popular reality show in St. Thomas is proving unpopular with a segment of the population.
Writing on the T-J’s website, ‘guest’ observes, “It seems to me that the Jackson-Chipper made a staggeringly stupid decision when she decided to roam all over town convincing people the community should turn down the Million Dollar Neighbourhood.”
Employing just a smidgen of exaggeration, our reader continues, “In terms of goofiness this is right up there with that earlier cluck who went to a ball game and put $6,000 worth of personal hot dogs on his city credit card.”
To be fair, it was more like a hundred bucks worth of chips and pop, but a point well taken.
In any event, there remains keen interest in filming something or other in St. Thomas.
Seems the CBC is working on a new project entitled The Big Decision which features companies that are in need of a financial investment and that are also looking to receive business advice from one of Canada’s top investors. The expertise in this case is provided by a Dragon from the popular Dragons’ Den series.
Well the Mother Corporation is testing the waters here.
Based on its first season, The Big Decision can have a substantial impact on a community, with reinvigorated industries and help keeping key businesses running, according to an email forwarded our way.
The producers are encouraging area businesses to apply by June 8 to participate in the new season.
Now, this is a production the city should aggressively support and do all it can to assist interested businesses with their applications.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“But regardless of what this comes up with, unless there’s volcanoes going up in the middle of the ground, it wouldn’t alter my decision on what we’re doing here.”
Nice to know our elected representatives, in this case Ald. Mark Cosens, keep an open mind on issues before council until all of the facts and figures are presented. Cosens was commenting on the engineering study underway on the current home of the St. Thomas Police Service.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions or comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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