Canada’s first elevated park to open Aug. 27 in St. Thomas


While some mocked it as pie in the sky, the city’s park in the sky will officially open this summer.
Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas, this week released details and renderings of what the St. Thomas Elevated Park – Canada’s first such park – will look like when it officially opens Aug. 27. Making good on a promise made last April, “We’ve got a master plan, an executive summary of it and now we’re going to unleash it on the world.”

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Jail term and 10-year ban for St. Thomas man in animal neglect case


A St. Thomas man who abandoned two dogs and a cat in a sweltering apartment with no food or water was sentenced to four months in jail Tuesday afternoon.
In addition, 20-year-old Cody Yeo was slapped with a 10-year prohibition on owning any animal.
In sentencing Yeo, Justice Marietta Roberts – who was handed “graphic” photographs of the squalid apartment unit and the two dead dogs – said she hoped the jail time would act as a deterrent, adding “this is the most appropriate sentence to take you out of the community.”
St. Thomas animal welfare activist Lois Jackson called the term of incarceration “reassuring.”

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Roundtable on rural poverty: Is the province out of touch?


yurek-legislaturejpgIs the goal of this provincial government to encourage migration from rural areas to urban centres, as suggested by one Elgin county mayor? That was one of the issues raised at a roundtable on rural poverty held Feb. 24 at the CASO station in St. Thomas and hosted by Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek.
Attended by two dozen municipal and social/community agency representatives, the forum was designed to get a sense of what rural poverty is and its impact on St. Thomas and Elgin county municipalities, explained Yurek afterward.
“What’s available and what barriers are out there for people. Too often policies are developed in Toronto with an urban lens and we need to look at it with a rural point of view. It’s different living in rural Ontario and we need to have a balance in policies to ensure we can help get people out of poverty in rural Ontario.”

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There is a great disconnect on winter disconnects


city_scope_logo-cmykFaced with the inevitable, St. Thomas Energy this week voluntarily halted the practice of winter disconnects for unpaid bills. The decision was made a day before the province pulled the plug on such action.
“The OEB (Ontario Energy Board) has strict rules about disconnects and time periods and we have to offer pay arrangements and we’ve always followed the OEB guidelines on that,” advised Rob Kent, acting CEO at St. Thomas Energy.
“We are voluntarily agreeing to the moratorium on disconnects.”
The obvious question is what leverage does St. Thomas Energy now have collecting overdue bills during cold weather months?
“You do lose leverage during the winter months when you can’t disconnect, but what no one has really looked at is what happens when that period ends and the customer has a substantial bill? How do you help them make arrangements and get caught up without getting disconnected in the spring and summer months? That is something we’re going to have to address.”

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Southwold: Home of North America’s fastest snowplow driver – Mayor Grant Jones’ remarks at the State of the Municipalities lunch


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Township of Southwold Mayor and Elgin County Warden Grant Jones

This past year, Southwold has been very busy. In a smaller community it’s important that we help business where we can and all the events and organizations within the community. 
Rosy Rhubarb, our cornerstone festival, showcases Southwold and volunteer organizations within the township. This year Rosy is celebrating its 25th year. Because these organizations were the main drive behind fundraising for our new library, they’ll be hosting the grand opening on June 9.
The Shedden Tractor Pull continues to be one of the best pulls in Ontario with record crowds year after year. Organizers donate many dollars back into the community each year and they are one amazing small bunch of people. Around 5,000 people come each year.
Our Canada Day celebrations at Fingal Park are always well attended and we are planning a bigger and better celebration for Canada’s 150th birthday this year. 
Last year we hosted our first Tour of Southwold by Tractor, which covered about 40 km. It was a great tour followed by a barbecue. These tractors are all at least 25 years old, with a few well over 50 years old.
The Shedden Fair is another one of our cornerstones, for well over 100 years now. They exemplify traditions that are a real heritage. 

Port Stanley harbour: “We are in total control of this” – Central Elgin Mayor Dave Marr at the State of the Municipalities lunch


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We’re going to start off with our Belmont Library. We started this actually the previous year (2015) and finished up in 2016 with the help of the county. It is now totally accessible . . . and this enables us to continue on a great library . . . and if Belmont is lucky enough to get a school, it certainly is going to help them.
With our Lynhurst projects, engineering is finished and it’s mainly to do storm drainage and new roads. The roads are in terrible shape in that particular area, this is the old Lynhurst. We had hoped we were going to be doing it starting the construction this year, but after going through budget and reviewing our priorities, and we know this is going to be a three-year project, we decided we needed to do some other things because of health and safety . . . so the tenders will go out hopefully in the fall so they can start construction early January in 2018.
This is a big thing we’re doing and has to do with healthy communities. That’s our Master Trail Plan. We’ve asked people to send in their requests, information and their ideas on how we can improve our trails throughout the municipality.  Now for Central Elgin, that means anywhere from Belmont, heading all around St. Thomas, heading south through Union and Sparta and ending up in Port Stanley. 

‘We have a very bright future – Excerpts from Mayor Heather Jackson’s State of the Municipalities address, Feb. 22, 2017


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Sean Dyke with a #stthomasproud button.

I am St. Thomas Proud. Why? Because of all the great and wonderful things I’d like to share with you. St. Thomas Proud is not just a tag line for those engaged in social media. It is now a key part of an award-winning campaign.

The International Economic Development Council  Excellence in Economic Development Award for the first time ever has recognized St. Thomas with a silver award in the category of video, multi-media promotion for the #stthomasproud campaign.

The IEDC awards recognize the world’s best in economic development, programming and partnerships in marketing materials. As well as influential EDC leaders. Congratulations to our very-hard working staff in economic development, tourism and our small business enterprise centre for their continuous work in promoting St. Thomas as the best place in the world to live, work and play.  Continue reading