The city has been relatively coy of late on whether it will continue its participation – and to what extent – in Elgin county’s tourism program.
In 2013, the city’s share of the tourism budget is almost $122,000 and more than once in the last couple of years there have been suggestions the city go it alone in the marketing and promotion of tourist-related opportunities.
Well the wraps are about to be thrown off the new tourism model at Monday’s council meeting.
CAO Wendell Graves suggests with an upcoming strategic review of the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation, it would make sense to deal with many of the tourism-related ventures as economic development opportunities.
Putting tourism under the EDC wing would afford the chance to assist in the coordination and promotion of events such as Day Out With Thomas, the Iron Horse Festival, the Fire Muster and St. Anne’s Festival.
Graves also recommends relocating the tourism information booth from the caboose at the Jumbo monument to the London & Port Stanley replica station to be situated in the rail corridor near Talbot Street.
The big question: Will there be consensus on council to shift the focus away from the partnership with Elgin county to a more city-centred tourism program?
And what impact will this have on city-county relations in the future?
A SMART MOVE
The decision in November, 2009 to purchase historically designated Wellington Street School is proving to be one of the more prudent decisions to come out of city hall.
Then mayor Cliff Barwick told this corner at the time the acquisition was part of the master plan to provide future parking needs for the consolidated court facility.
However, he went on to say, “We haven’t got any specific use for the school, except we’ve made the determination the Wellington Street School will be preserved. I don’t want to speculate what will happen there.”
Less than two years later, Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie announced it would offer the first two years of its bachelor of arts program in St. Thomas at the former Wellington Street School site.
And now, an application is before the city from Omnicom, a private, for-profit company specializing in teaching English as a second language for citizenship and academic purposes. They would like to lease space in the school to offer their training services “as a pathway partner of Algoma University.”
Proving investment in the city’s heritage properties can indeed be profitable and not just through the provision of parking spaces.
FEELING LEFT OUT
Revelation of the lacklustre response rate to the most recent community survey distributed by city police certainly generated plenty of feedback on our website and Facebook page.
As reported this week, less than 200 residents completed the survey, of which 1,000 copies were randomly distributed throughout the city. The 18% return rate compares poorly to the 40% average achieved in the previous four surveys.
Plenty of speculation from police and at city hall as to why this is, but our readers raise valid issues.
Enola G posts, “I’d have loved to have done the survey but didn’t receive one. I asked around and no one that I personally know received one. People don’t have the time or the inclination to bother to use snail mail these days. The amount of participants and the results would have been very different indeed had there been an online survey available. This is a modern world folks and I’m sure both methods, by mail and online could have been used if what they were looking for was a way to change things and make things better.”
Scott 63 adds, “I think you’ll find the citizens of St. Thomas are just sick of surveys. The message in them is fixed to an agenda to come up with a predetermined objective. Any ideas presented outside of that thinking are ignored or left off these reports presented to policy makers.”
HopperRox continues with the online theme, “Put it on-line and print up a few for anyone who does not have computer access and would like to fill one out.”
And finally, Shawn Hofstee notes, “People want to sit at home on their computers and do surveys. It would be cheaper in the long run, as you wouldn’t have to use paper or mail things out. The numbers could be calculated easier with a survey program. It would also be easier to distribute to more that 1,000 people considering we have over 30,000 living in St. Thomas. Is 3% of the population getting an accurate reading of what the City really feels about police services?”
NARROWING THE FIELD
Still with the police service, newly re-elected board chairman, Ald. Dave Warden, advises the deadline has now passed for applications to replace out-going chief Bill Lynch, who will retire at the end of May.
The board, in conjunction with consultants hired for this purpose, have reviewed the applicants and compiled a short list of candidates.
Sure hope Deputy Chief Darryl Pinnell is on the list and we await further updates from Warden.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s frustrating because people will sit back and complain but they won’t bother to fill in a simple survey or come out to a meeting or do something, so I don’t know how we deal with this.”
Mayor Heather Jackson on low community involvement when it comes to filling out surveys or attending public meetings.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope