Bible Baptist Church tax exemption bylaw on hold

Bearing Precious Seed
The paperwork was ready Monday, however members of council were hesitant to seal the deal.

The desire by two councillors for further information on a tax-exemption request for church-owned property at 320 Highbury Ave. led to temporarily shelving a ready-to-endorse bylaw.

Councillors Joan Rymal and Linda Stevenson sought input from city staff on possible repercussions from the pending bylaw to waive the municipal property tax at Bearing Precious Seed, where printed material produced for Bible Baptist Church is assembled for mailout to households across Canada.

Mayor Heather Jackson backed both councillors, noting she “supported further dialogue.”

A motion to postpone proceeding with the bylaw was approved by a narrow 4-3 margin with councillors Jeff Kohler, Mark Burgess and Gary Clarke opposed to further delay.

Coun. Steve Wookey was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Rymal told the Times-Journal on Tuesday, “I am just pleased we can at least get the input from staff. I think it’s a bit dangerous of council to go ahead and make a decision without getting all the input from staff because we’re not the experts.”

Rymal added she has heard feedback from some ratepayers on the request from Bible Baptist Church.

“I’ve heard concerns we are setting a precedent and we’re going to be having all sorts of organizations . . . looking for the same tax relief.”

Stevenson, meantime, had asked for a staff report last week following a deputation to council by Pastor Al Stone of Bible Baptist Church. Continue reading

French Immersion students ‘re-designated’ to Port Stanley


The sheer popularity of the program will send senior students at Pierre Elliott Trudeau French Immersion School on to buses and out of St. Thomas.

And that has one parent taking to Facebook to challenge the decision by Thames Valley District School Board to “re-designate” students to Port Stanley Public School, beginning in September.

A letter was sent home with students Friday outlining the plan to address overcrowding at the board’s lone French Immersion school in Elgin.

“Parents in the Pierre Elliott French Immersion Public School community have expressed concerns about the overcrowding and have asked the Thames Valley District School Board to look at options for accommodating French Immersion students in more than one school,” writes Don Macpherson, superintendent of student achievement. Continue reading