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?
“I don’t think there is anything that, as far as I know, is prohibiting us from moving forward sent from the courts or anything at this point,” noted Graves.
“So it would be about going through the administrative process of getting the paperwork locked down for the successful tender and the mobilization.”
So, we’re talking a Talbot Street minus the derelict four-story structure some time this fall?
“Yes that’s right, just keep the momentum going.”
As for owner David McGee and lawyer Valerie M’Garry, has the city had any conversation with either party?
“Not that I’m aware of,” stressed Graves. “None.”
Calm before the storm, perhaps?
OUT ON A LIMB WITH THESE BYLAWS
They’re most often taken for granted and left to their own resources. Now the city of St. Thomas is drafting a pair of tree preservation bylaws to protect and enhance the city’s existing cover.
The municipal preservation bylaw is intended to safely maintain trees located on municipal property. The private preservation bylaw would preserve significant trees located on private property while respecting a property owner’s right to make changes to the landscape of their lot in an environmentally responsible manner.
Permits would have to be obtained from the city to remove a dead or diseased tree or remove a portion of a tree that has been determined to be a hazard.
At Tuesday’s (Sept. 5) reference committee meeting, Coun. Steve Wookey cautioned the bylaws could prove an administrative nightmare, “with a lot of ill will.”
He added the bylaws will be a challenge to enforce.
Ross Tucker, director of parks, recreation and property management, advised council that enforcement will be complaint driven, however details of how that will be undertaken “are still up for debate.”
The proposed bylaws – a first for the city – will formally be presented to council this fall for comments and amendments.
PARKING CONCERNS HAVE BEEN PARKED
With parking concerns resolved, work will soon begin on a six-storey, 80 unit retirement residence to be built in St. Thomas on the site of the burned-out Ramada Inn.
The city and Sunray Group of Hotels reached an agreement – approved by council on Sept. 5 – on the number of parking spots needed at the Wellington Street location.
City planners had called for 62 spaces needed for staff, residents and visitors, while Sunray proposed 51 spots for the development, based on a review of similar facilities in St. Thomas and London.
A peer review, conducted by the city and paid for by the developer, confirmed the 51 spots would suffice.
Initial approval for the residence, which will front on Erie Street, was granted in 2012, prior to the fire that heavily damaged the hotel in 2014.
Sunray owns and operates more than 30 hotels in Ontario and Quebec, including properties in Woodstock, Ingersoll and the Comfort Inn, St. Thomas.
WE’RE A HOMETOWN HOCKEY COMMUNITY
Yes, the puck does indeed stop here.
The NHL is coming to St. Thomas this November in the form of the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour.
The city found out this week it would be one of 24 communities to host the tour which is in its fourth season of operation.
On Nov. 18 and 19, Ron McLean and Tara Slone will set up shop in St. Thomas for a memorable weekend sure to whet the appetite of hockey aficionados.
Activities include visits from NHL alumni – although exactly who will drop in has yet to be determined – family oriented activities and an opportunity to watch a game Sunday evening between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers as part of the Sportsnet outdoor party.
All events are free and open to hockey fans of all ages.
“Rogers Hometown Hockey connects Canadians all across the country,” said MacLean in a release. “Every Sunday, we pull out the hockey roadmap and discover a part of Canada and ourselves.”
“We have been welcomed so graciously by Canadians from coast to coast,” added Slone, “and I’m looking forward to feeling that warmth, hospitality and excitement from this year’s group of hometowns.”
McLean and Slone will have plenty of material to work from when they visit St. Thomas. It’s the weekend of the Optimist Club Santa Claus parade and the St. Thomas Minor Hockey Association is hosting their tournament.
And, it’s not the first visit to St. Thomas for McLean. Back in the days of the Colonial Hockey League, McLean was an on-ice official for one of the St. Thomas Wildcats’ games at Memorial Arena.
Location of the activities and detailed schedule of events will be revealed in the coming weeks.
DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Little in the way of firm details at this point, however Coun. Wookey advised at Tuesday’s meeting of council that plans are in the works to name a portion of a city trail after former fire chief Rob Broadbent.
Truly an appropriate gesture as a legacy to the popular chief.