Seems there is a flourishing black market in St. Thomas that — surprisingly — does not involve sex, drugs or rock and roll.
The hot commodity is permits that allow you to park free of charge on residential streets adjacent to the consolidated courthouse on Wellington St.
The misuse of the permits prompted Queen St. resident Gerry Smith to vent his frustration in an email. He alleges the worst miscreants are lawyers and CAS workers, some visiting from London.
Gerry explains, “These parking passes are issued to people that live in the courthouse area for visitors, I have confronted many people that are parking in front of our house and they tell me they have borrowed the pass from a friend so they can park on our street.
“I have sent the mayor and (city manager) Wendell Graves hundreds of photos and emails since the courthouse opened and they of course have done nothing.”
Gerry approached one city lawyer in particular “who has been parking on Queen St. illegally for 4 years now. He told me he uses his partner’s parking pass and that’s just the way it is. I had told him that these passes are not supposed to be loaned out to people to go to work at the Courthouse and . . . he told me that was too bad.”
A call Friday to Graves shed some light on the permit cully-shangey.
“Council approved the (parking) reconfiguration and the actual implementation is going to take place next week,” advised Graves.
Specifically, city council in October approved amendments whereby 24 of the 80 spaces in the Crocker Ave. lot will be designated for courthouse use, the remainder will be made available to the public on a user-pay basis. The lot along Centre St., between Queen and Metcalfe streets will be permit only for courthouse staff.
Meantime, the Centre St. lot between William and Metcalfe streets will now be open to the public with free, two-hour parking.
He continued, “we’re going to be doing a mailing out to that entire neighbourhood and to permit holders saying these things are non-transferable and we expect proper use of the permits or we’ll pull them back.
“There has been migration in a couple of people using them inappropriately and our bylaw staff are monitoring that.”
Graves noted the passes are not just for residents. If you have an office in that designated courthouse parking area, you would be issued permits.
“But it’s where they are giving them out to other people, lending them and we’re clamping down on that. Queen Street seems to be the log jam.”
Can you imagine lawyers acting in such a fashion?
When will the mayor deliver on her parking promise?
And now this week’s parking plan
VOYAGEURS ON THE MOVE
In a report presented at the Nov. 24 meeting of the Thames Valley District School Board, it was recommended Pierre Elliott Trudeau French Immersion School become a senior kindergarten to Grade 6 facility, effective next July.
The recommendation, presented by Kevin Bushell, executive officer facility services and capital planning, was made on behalf of senior administration and is in response to chronic overcrowding at Elgin’s only TVDSB French Immersion school.
The population at the school has ballooned from 494 students in 2010 to 780 in 2014. To handle the crush, 11 portables are now housed on the school grounds.
In March of this year, the school board determined for the 2015-16 academic year, French Immersion students in Grades 6-8 and Grade 7 and 8 Extended French students would attend classes in Port Stanley.
In April, the plan to bus 240 students to Port Stanley Public School was put on hold.
In October, the board presented six new options to parents, most involved sending students to Port Stanley.
The report presented Tuesday also recommended Port Stanley Public School become an interim dual-track facility, offering both junior kindergarten to Grade 8 in English and Grades 7 and 8 in French Immersion and Extended French Immersion, effective July 1, 2016.
In a conversation with Bushell, he stressed these were recommendations only, “the public have an opportunity on Dec. 15 for delegations to the board to discuss that and the decision won’t be until Jan. 12.”
The recommendation put forth Tuesday “was after we went through the attendance area review and had input from the communities . . . and delegations can now speak to the board about our recommendation.”
The overcrowding and how to accommodate students remains a contentious divide in the community and we can only imagine there will be requests for delegations to present at the Dec. 15 board meeting.
WE FEEL YOUR FRUSTRATION
Recently, we observed St. Thomas is home to numerous individuals with expertise in a variety of subject areas. Well, after Monday’s car explosion in the city, add forensic and fire investigators to that list.
St. Thomas Police took a pasting on social media for declaring cause of the blast was not suspicious. Police then handed the scene over to the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office who will issue their findings.
That evoked disdain from several posters who lambasted police for their supposed lack of due diligence, prompting this response on the Times-Journal Facebook page from the police service.
“We just want to clarify a few items that seem to have people confused. When providing information to the public via our media outlets we strive to provide the most up to date information as possible. However, there is some information that we must not release to keep from ruining the integrity of the investigation.
“We know the facts surrounding this incident and we also know that cars do not just explode for no reason. We have deemed this incident as not being suspicious based on what we know and that is all that we can say at this time. The Fire Marshal must complete their part of the investigation and share the findings once complete.”
We can sympathize with the police service. It’s not easy living in a community chock full of experts.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“As a result of bumping provisions within our collective agreement we will not be able to determine a definitive number of staff who might be laid off until the process has been completed. We are confident that, in total, it will include less than 10 individuals.”
Tom McCallum, executive director of Community Living Elgin, following release this week of a financial review of the organization by the province which revealed no irregularities.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.