The Sutherland Press building is on a slow simmer

It’s been compared to Alma before the former school for girls succumbed to a fiery death.
It’s been the centrepiece of a $3 million lawsuit launched immediately prior to the 2010 municipal election. And, it’s had its top floor shaved off at the front in a questionable attempt at reducing the danger of the structure falling to its knees.
The sad legacy of the Sutherland Press building over the last decade is another example of the city handcuffed by absentee landlords.
In this case David McGee of Toronto, who had high hopes of turning the hulking structure into luxury suites.
It was a similar script with the Zubick family of London, who subjected Alma to death by neglect.
The front page photo in Wednesday’s Times-Journal — submitted by homeless advocate Jason McComb — of the alarming amount of crumbling brick falling off the face of the building is cause to revisit the status of this once-proud tribute to the city’s manufacturing sector.27jt01sutherlandjpg
Talking to city engineer John Dewancker on Friday, he offered insight and historical context over the events of the past five or so years.
“The engineering report done by the owner’s engineer requested and required that a biannual assessment be made to keep the building safe. And to keep an eye on the structure. So we are reminding him when the time comes that it’s time to re-engage for an inspection and a report.
“So from a due diligence point of view, there is a requirement for the owner to refresh the engineering inspection for safety.”
So has McGee been fulfilling this requirement?
“Subject to being reminded,” was the blunt response from Dewancker.
He added there was some movement about a year ago on McGee’s original proposal.
“There was a revival of ideas. (City planner) Pat Keenan has been approached in the last year with a proposal. So it’s kind of a slow simmer. We have been given hope that something will be done that will rejuvenate and rehab the property.
“But then we don’t seem to have a sequel to that initial contact.”
T-J readers have plenty to say about the structure that hulks over the newly established downtown railway corridor.
Tracy Hare writes on our Facebook page, “This town is a disgrace. Tear the building down and send the bill to the owner. Is it going to take a brick to fall on someone to wake up the city and realize how dangerous it is?”

Sutherland Press building in 2008, prior to partial demolition of front face

Sutherland Press building in 2008, prior to partial demolition of front face

Russ Longhurst adds, “Here’s just one of many cases in this city where something has required attention for many years, and continues to be passed over. A few other examples — the Dalewood Bailey bridge, Barwick St. bridge, the embarrassing condition of Flora St, so many vacant lots in the middle of town, while expansion keeps moving north and south . . . There are so many old buildings in town, what happens after they have to come down? It’s just a matter of time.”
Thomas Jonson has a unique alternative. “Let the fire dept. use it for training then hit it with the wrecking ball . . . send bill to owner, (signed) From St. Thomas Taxpayers.”
Tim McNulty has a very valid concern. “I hope they can save the brick work that say’s ‘Join the 91st’ before it is lost. Get it into the military museum where it belongs.”
And the final word goes to Brad Bedford. “Take the city out of this. The morons that own the properties in this city and don’t care one bit about their appearance are the real jerks. The city should implement property standards that have to be met.”

With a Port Stanley busing plan on hold for this year as a remedial option to overcrowding at Pierre Elliott Trudeau French Immersion School, city council on Monday will debate an interim solution to the parking/student drop-off woes that are a reality every single school day.
City staff is proposing no stopping restrictions between 8 and 9 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. on school days be applied to both sides of Churchill Cres., from Chestnut St. to Simcoe St., and similarly on both sides of Brant Ave., from Churchill Cres. to First Ave.
In addition, council will be asked to approve no parking at anytime on the north side of Brant Ave., from Churchill Cres. to First Ave.

Well the last two pages of the May calendar will be torn off this weekend and still no sign of the audited financial statement from Ascent, formerly St. Thomas Energy.
When will the 2014 statement be made available to the ratepayers of St. Thomas, the rightful shareholders in this company?
Surely the picture can’t be that dismal?
Or can it?

PARTING MESSAGE19jt01trashjpg
The above mentioned Jason McComb picks up on his Walking in the Free World 2.5 cross-Canada trek as the sun rises Monday morning. He will be missed as he heads west to his ultimate destination in Vancouver.
We will also miss his stellar effort in keeping the downtown core clean — a cause he is just as passionate about.
With the summer students hired on by the Downtown Development Board not on patrol until the end of June, Jason urges all residents and shoppers in the core area to use the garbage receptacles along Talbot St. and not the sidewalk.
A simple request.

“It was an opportunity to tie the airport in to the community and show the tourism aspect of our airport within the community.”

St. Thomas Municipal Airport superintendent Dale Arndt speaking Thursday as he welcomed approximately 40 small planes, their pilots and guests to St. Thomas and Elgin as part of the 2015 Interprovincial Air Tour

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to

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