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.
We’ve been down this road before. In the summer of 2008, the first attempt by the city to demolish the structure was halted in late July after Justice Peter Hockin ruled in favour of owner David McGee’s request for leave of appeal, disputing a previous decision made by Justice David Little on July 14 that gave the City of St. Thomas a green light to start dismantling the building.
Following Hockin’s determination, McGee’s lawyer Valerie M’Garry cautioned, “It’s premature to call it a victory. It gives him an opportunity to demonstrate that he always intended to restore and maintain and refurbish that building.”
Well, how did that work out for you, David?
How many photos and videos will be shot as the building dating to 1913 slowly fades into oblivion?
OIL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
They are the scourge of city parks and the Canada Goose Management Plan is to be outlined at Monday’s (Oct. 2) council meeting.
To date, any efforts to keep the bird population manageable in Waterworks Park have had limited results.
At a reference committee in April of this year Ross Tucker, director of parks, recreation and property management, admitted geese control efforts at Waterworks Park appear to have had little impact.
This coming spring, the city is proposing to add Pinafore Park, Lake Margaret and Waterworks Park to their goose management program and use egg oiling as a way to reduce the expanding goose population.
Catharine Spratley is the city’s supervisor of parks and forestry, and in her report to council she explains, “Coating eggs with non-toxic oil blocks air exchange through the pores in the egg and prevents it from hatching.
“The birds will continue to incubate the eggs until it is too late to re-nest contributing to a reduced number of geese returning the following year, also reducing noise, droppings and damage to the parks.”
Lois Jackson, chair of the city’s animal welfare committee, reminds park staff the oiling program didn’t work well last year.
In an email to Tucker, she cautions “oiling is only effective and humane if done before the geese incubate the eggs. Otherwise the chicks smother and die terribly.
“So oiling eggs takes some coordination to time oiling at just the right time. We are not arguing that oiling eggs is wrong. But we would like to see the city investigate natural and humane strategies as well.”
Further in the email, Jackson proposes the following strategy.
“If the city wants to look at the big picture, then making the landscape inhospitable to the birds, habitat modification, is the direction to take – perhaps using the smallest park as a pilot.
“And of course, providing it doesn’t become ‘inhospitable’ for the residents and cost prohibitive.”
Jackson included the following excerpt from Habitat Modification & Canada Geese: Techniques for Mitigating Human/Goose Conflicts.
“Habitat Modification with respect to Canada Geese in urban environments, means making one’s site unattractive to geese by changing the habitat from goose friendly to goose unfriendly through modification of those features or the configuration of those features that attract geese.”
You can bet the residents of Lake Margaret will be monitoring the results of the 2018 oiling strategy with a keen eye.
At that same reference committee meeting in April, area resident David Collins recounted in one day he saw over 1,200 geese fly into the lake.
Another resident graphically described the emboldened geese in the following fashion.
“They pull up the grass and poop everywhere.”
The above photo at Lake Margaret attests to that.
WHOSE HAND NEXT AT THE HELM?
The process to hire a new fire chief for the city is underway, according to Graves.
The search is on both internally and outside the department, he stresses.
“We try to look at this totally unbiased,” says Graves when asked about possible preference to hiring someone from outside the force.
“We’ll look at the candidates we get applications from . . . Graham (Dart, HR director) and I will take a look at the applications once they come it.
As is standard procedure, a short list of candidates will be presented to city council.
“We would usually short list, based on qualifications . . . and we hope to have a candidate selected, certainly by later in October or early November.”
As alluded to last week, candidates will, no doubt, be queried on getting a handle on the burgeoning overtime line in the department’s budget.
Contract deliberations between the city and the St. Thomas Professional Fire Fighters Association are ongoing, according to Graves.
“We have not reached an agreement with the fire fighters association at this point,”Graves indicated Friday (Sept. 29).”
Should the two sides fail to ink a deal, the next step would be arbitration.
As to where the parties remain apart in talks, Graves wouldn’t comment.
“Obviously I can’t say anything there . . . I don’t think talks have fully broken off or anything like that at this point.”
You can bet the matter of 24-hour shifts is one of the major stumbling blocks to inking a deal.
City staff want to advise motorists a new, all-way stop is now in effect at the intersection of Churchill Crescent and Meehan Street, just north of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.