City manager Wendell Graves advises Schouten Excavating employees are expected on site at the Sutherland Press building the week of Oct. 16 to begin demolition work. According to the city’s agreement, the contractor has 30 days to demolish the four-storey structure, although as chief building inspector Chris Peck indicated previously, the site itself may not be totally cleared of debris in that period of time. Once demolition has reached a certain stage, re-opening of the adjacent transit centre will be possible. At this point, Talbot Street will remain open during the demolition and Graves adds Moore Street may be opened to traffic sooner than expected if the demolition work can be contained on site. Continue reading →
In his six-month budget monitoring report to city council this past Monday (Sept. 18), the city’s director of financing, David Aristone, is projecting an operating deficit of $25,000 this year. Aristone cautions, however, there are three areas in which “the city may have some exposure for over expenditures but the magnitude is not known.” In other words, that operating deficit could balloon rather significantly. The three areas of concern? Let’s start with 2017 salary negotiations which would include bargaining with city firefighters. They are seeking a 24-hour shift structure and unless an amicable agreement can be reached, this one will end up in arbitration. Continue reading →
Will it be a case of third-time success for the City of St. Thomas? Monday evening (Sept. 18), city council accepted the $197,000 tender from Schouten Excavating of Watford to demolish the derelict Sutherland Press building that looms over the downtown core. Schouten had been the successful bidder in 2016 when it was awarded the contract for $101,000. It’s the third time in nearly a decade the city has attempted to level the building that dates back to 1913. Continue reading →
It was a sign of what lies ahead for city staff in St. Thomas. An overview of the proposed 2017 advertising sign bylaw ran into stiff opposition at this week’s reference committee meeting. Amendments to the existing bylaw to deal with portable signs in the downtown core faced vocal opposition from more than two dozen small businesses and area sign companies. The bylaw would prohibit portable advertising signs in the downtown business area and limit them to one per commercial lot outside the core and three per industrial lot. A-board signs would still be permitted but would have to come in off the sidewalk at the end of the day. It’s a restriction similar to what’s in place in London and Sarnia.
While the owner and his lawyer remain ominously quiet, it is onward and upward – or maybe that should be downward in this case – as the city stays the course on a process that will ultimately result in demolition of the Sutherland Press building. In a conversation Friday with city manager Wendell Graves, he advised a report should come to council for the Sept. 18th meeting dealing with demolition tenders. “The tenders are due next week,” confirmed Graves. “There was a site meeting (this past week) with numerous contractors. It seems like there is a fair bit of interest from contractors who showed up for the site meeting.” Should council approve the winning tender bid, would demolition begin shortly afterward? Continue reading →
As debate swirls around the province’s decision to raise the minimum wage in stages, beginning Jan. 1 of next year, the Kathleen Wynne government has not taken into account the impact on school bus operators, most notably small, independent firms that have safely transported students back and forth to classes for decades. The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) estimates nearly one million Ontario families rely on school buses to get their children to school. The Wynne government’s push to hike the minimum wage could threaten the availability of bus service in the coming year. Continue reading →