Prior to his death in February, Ed McLachlan spent years as a member of the St. Thomas Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee and filed many reports to council on accessibility issues in all city-owned facilities.
Lesley Buchanan is now chair of the committee and the annual site audit is on the agenda for all to see.
Here is a sampling of the ongoing barriers the handicapped face.
At the former Wellington Public School, there is no designated parking for a handicap van; three sets of stairs lack contrast colours for the visually impaired; a lack of grab irons in the washrooms; and no automatic door in one of the washrooms.
At the Horton Market, no van parking space; repairs needed to the parking lot; and an improperly placed exit sign.
Over at the St. Thomas Public Library — which has undergone several rounds of renovations — stairways lack contrast colours; interior stairs poorly lit; no clear signage to washrooms; and no automatic door and a lack of grab bars in the washrooms.
And in city hall itself, safety issues with a water fountain; stairways still lack contrast colours; poor ceiling lighting in the elevator; no directional signs for washroom; lack of grab bars in the washrooms; and accessibility concerns in the council chambers.
The sad part — no, make that embarrassing — is most of these shortcomings were documented time and again by McLachlan.
So while mayor and councillors talk the talk on accessibility, the track record of this council, based on Buchanan’s scorecard, would have the Professor shaking his head.
City manager Wendell Graves has conversed with this corner in the past about possible changes to the method in which ratepayers cast their ballots in the municipal vote.
Well this week, the province approved legislation that would allow for the use of ranked ballots in the 2018 municipal election.
So instead of voting for a particular candidate, you would rank them in order of preference. This could be applied to the mayoral vote or for mayor and councillors.
The advantage of ranked ballots, according to Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin, is the winning candidate would have a higher percentage of the vote and, as a consequence, a broader mandate.
A spinoff, it is hoped, would be more civil campaigns with a focus on debate and issues rather than negative campaigns.
St. Thomas is no stranger to the latter over the past couple of municipal votes.
Are you in favour of ranking candidates or would you rather employ the current first-past-the-post system? Check in with your thoughts.
You know there will be mixed emotions this weekend in London as the Alma College International Alumnae Association holds its 115th reunion.
The former school for girls once again found itself in the headlines as the property was sold to London developer Gino Reale, who immediately began clearing the rubble from the site — an instant turnaround from years of neglect.
However, in the process the forlorn remains of the Ella Bowes chapel were levelled with the music building likely next. On the positive side, the McLachlin Hall cornerstone, complete with time capsule, was recovered from and Reale donated the block, dating back to 1888, to the Elgin County Museum.
Reale, by the way, has been asked to attend today’s luncheon to address attendees and the hope is he will announce plans for the amphitheatre, which remains relatively intact.
Withheld Alma report may have saved college
ONE TO WATCH
An odd situation developing over at Valleyview Home.
Earlier this month, employees at the home, members of Unifor Local 27, voted in favour of a settlement reached with the City of St. Thomas on May 26.
The settlement provides wage increases in every year of the three-year agreement, health and welfare benefit improvements. The union also secured a commitment from the City to maintain full-time jobs as well add more staffing hours to an understaffed department.
Word is the city may balk at the wage hike and Unifor national rep. Robert Buchanan has concerns as to whether the city will run the agreement past council for approval.
We’ll have an update early next week.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Students learn best when they have a reason to care about what they are doing. If they don’t care, they will only do what they need to do.”
Comment from a teacher contained in a 63-page report called Rethink Secondary Learning made public this week by the Thames Valley District School Boa
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