Casting the net in hopes of snaring a partner

city_scope_logo-cmykNo formal nuptial news as of yet, however a St. Thomas Energy merger partner could be unveiled as early as this coming week. City council, the sole shareholder of parent company Ascent Group, met in closed session Tuesday to pour over a summary report from Grant Thornton, the financial consultants hired by the city to explore potential utility partnerships for St. Thomas Energy.

“We’re working through some things and we hope that will lead to an announcement, hopefully next week,” advised city manager Wendell Graves in an interview Thursday.

Speculation has run high a potential suitor might be London Hydro and we asked Graves how many offers are under consideration.

“I can’t be too specific,” said Graves, “but I will say . . . we cast the net across the entire province with all of the municipally owned electrical distribution companies . . . it did garner some interest so we’re happy about that.”
Ascent Group acting CEO Rob Kent added Tuesday’s meeting “went well.”

stthomasenergyjpgHe confirmed, “We’re definitely closer to announcing a merger partner . . . and there may be an announcement next week.”

In a conversation last week with Ascent Group board chairman John Laverty, he shed light on whether the pending transaction would be a merger or purchase.

“In a lot of mergers there is a money transfer so in many cases mergers are a partial purchase,” Laverty noted. “So the city could be giving up some percentage of control of the utility . . . True mergers where two partners come to the table but don’t put any money on the table, that’s fairly rare. It’s more common there is some exchange of money.”

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It all started with a letter from Dave Mathers questioning signage at the community recycling centre.

“One would naturally assume that the city, having spent a reputed $3.5 million on the new transfer station, would have gotten the signage correct,” writes Dave in an email.

community recycling centrejpg“Spring and summer hours are Tuesday to Saturday while fall and winter hours show Wednesday and Saturday. My day timer indicates fall started September 22. The city’s Environmental Services Department, however, seems to think winter hours start December 1. Which is it?”

A couple other emails similarly questioned the hours of operation.

According to Michelle Shannon, the city’s waste management coordinator, the South Edgeware Road facility is proving more popular than anticipated and therein lies the rub.

“The sign is perhaps misleading because it does say fall/winter hours,” she noted, “but the intention was we were actually going to reduce hours earlier in the fall but the response has been a little overwhelming so we thought we would give people more days.”

She explained the hours of operation are based on the practice in other municipalities like London and Strathroy and will be reviewed for next year.

“We’re going to look at this and say we were swamped on those two days (in the fall/winter schedule) so maybe we add a third or fourth day.”

If you do have concerns or complaints about service from staff on site or hours of operation, Michelle Shannon is your go-to person at city hall. She can be reached at 519-631-1680, ext. 4258.

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Opened in soft fashion Thursday, CASO Crossing provides a convenient link between Wellington and Talbot streets, an alternative to busy First Avenue.

Wendell Graves said the no-frills opening was by design.


The CASO Crossing roundabout in front of the new St. Thomas Police Service HQ.

“We want to let traffic settle in around that whole intersection. We will do a major grand opening later on but we just wanted to let people navigate it themselves.”

The new home of the St. Thomas Police Service is scheduled to open in the spring and there could be further development on the roadway.

“On the west side of the street, across from the police station, the city owns a piece of land (approx. two acres) and we’ll probably manage that next year,” Graves said on Friday.

There is a possibility the city could declare it surplus to needs.

“The site has full commercial zoning on it, so now we’ve got our work complete we’re doing some analysis to see if that’s something we might declare surplus. It would be a great little development site. It could be office-commercial.”

And, there’s still the matter of a proposed ball hockey rink adjacent to the Railway City Skatepark.

“That is something we’ve got our eye on,” confirmed Graves. “I think that’s going to be more a matter of finding community funding partners to come onside with that. But there is a desire to see that happen.”

Related post:

Sizzle and sparks at prospect of London-St. Thomas utility union


new-sarum-p-sQUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We’ve done a parent survey and everyone who’s responded to that is in favour of keeping our school open. The parents are really passionate about New Sarum because it is such a great school … It has an amazing reputation and it has for many years.”

Amy Hoogsteen, member of the New Sarum Public School review committee. The school has been recommended for closure in an initial report by Thames Valley District School Board senior administration.

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

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