There was more pruning over at Ascent/St. Thomas Energy this week, leaving the city’s utility pared back to the bone.
A release issued Thursday announced Alltrade Industrial Contractors Inc. of Cambridge, Ont., had acquired Ascent Utility Solutions for an undisclosed amount.
This small division of Ascent dealt with traffic and streetlights in the Greater Toronto Area and employed four or five non-union staff and any union staff were retained through a union hiring hall, according to Ascent acting CEO Rob Kent.
Alltrade operates in numerous sectors including automotive, food and beverage, manufacturing and its energy group works within the renewable energy sector, solar, water and wind and within the power and utilities sector.
The transaction does not include St. Thomas Energy, the local distribution company owned by the city and Ascent Energy Services which deals in fibre optics and provides IT services in the city.
“We’re really down to what would have been the original company a number of years ago,” observed Kent.
We asked Kent if the plan is to hold on to the fibre portion of Ascent Energy Solutions.
“That’s one of the things we’re going to be looking at. Could it be part of a merger discussion?
Back in June, city council made the decision to start looking at potential merger opportunities for St. Thomas Energy.
“There is an opportunity for a number of proposals to be received,” city manager Wendell Graves told City Scope back in June. “We’ll have criteria that talks about things such as like-minded philosophies and the importance of community and size.”
What progress has been made to date?
“We really still in the preliminary identification stage,” Kent noted on Friday. “The utility is doing really strong and we’re taking our time and going through the process.”
Could the shedding of excess baggage at Ascent entice potential tire kickers?
“I’m honestly not sure what a potential suitor would look like and what those opportunities may or may not have been to them,” admitted Kent. “We’re doing what we do well and we’re doing well at it. We’re going forward with the utility and the fibre and it helps us narrow our focus and reduce a lot of risk.”
Bottom line in any merger scenario is the substantial long-term debt that would spark concern with any suitor.
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ONE TO WATCH
An intriguing proposal added as a last-minute item on Monday’s council agenda.
A group of local volunteers would like to establish a War Memorial Park that would “recognize the sacrifice of so many from St Thomas & Elgin county made during the many conflicts of the last 100 plus years,” writes Herb Warren in a letter to council.
Warren is chairman of the volunteer committee.
He adds the proposal is to consolidate all of the city’s war memorials in one downtown location by moving the First World War soldier from its current location at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital and transferring the Second World War and Korean War memorial at Princess Avenue to this new site.
The site being considered is the London & Port Stanley Railway corridor, west of the BX Tower on Moore Street.
The approximate cost is pegged at $250,000, with the committee seeking to contribute $100,000 of that sum through public fundraising.
City council is being asked to endorse an Ontario 150 funding application to cover the rest of the cost.
In recognition of Canada’s 150 birthday, funding is being made available through the Ontario Trillium’s Ontario 150 Funding Program.
One of the project categories eligible for funding is the redevelopment of cenotaphs.
The funding deadline is next Wednesday so council would have to give the green light to proceed with the application Monday.
GOT AN ANSWER
We noted in this corner last week several readers encouraging us to delve into what’s up on the fifth floor of the hospital.
Well we’ve snagged an answer to the soggy situation at STEGH.
It comes courtesy of Nancy Lawrence, the Strategic Communications and Stakeholder Relations Lead.
“During the significant rainfall a few Fridays ago, we did experience a leak and some water damage on the fifth floor,” she advises in an email.
“Our staff took corrective action and we were waiting on an external contractor to arrive to complete the repairs. The contractor had prior obligations (work needing to be done in some local schools) so the work began here last Friday (Sept. 2). They are back on the roof today (Tuesday) to continue with the needed repairs.”
Thanks to Nancy for the quick response.
In the lead-up to hospital CEO Paul Collins‘ retirement on June 30, 2010 – and his subsequent re-hiring the next day – is it true Nancy Whitmore voiced her opposition to the shenanigans at a board meeting?
Of course, Whitmore was introduced as the new hospital president and CEO just last week.
And it’s not difficult to draw comparisons with Collins’ 2010 contract and her new deal allowing her to continue her clinical duties one day a week and collect a stipend from OHIP, over and above her $205,569 CEO pay packet.
She learned from the master.
So is former hospital board member Coun. Linda Stevenson still calling for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to review the practices of governors or has that already transpired?
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City Scope appears Saturday in the St. Thomas Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope