Will the city advocate for its most vulnerable citizens?

city_scope_logo-cmykLast month, we noted the city is looking at a bylaw to deal with non-licensed residential care homes in St. Thomas. The move is prompted, in part, by the situation at Walnut Manor, operated by Niagara Supportive Living out of Welland.
Well, a report from Tim Welch Consulting out of Cambridge – which undertook the city’s 10-year housing and homelessness plan – is before council Monday (June 11) and in it is a section dealing with informal residential care facilities (RCF) like Walnut Manor.
These homes “provide supportive housing to non-senior individuals who require assistance for daily activities due to physical disabilities, mental health and addictions challenges,” as defined in the Welch report.
“Level of supports varies depending on individual need but are most commonly in the form of meals, administration of medicine, bathing, supervision etc.,” the report continues.
They are found in a wide variety of settings from converted, single-family homes (boarding or group homes) to large-scale facilities.
Walnut Manor garbagejpgSt. Thomas is exploring the possibility of creating an RCF licensing bylaw to:
• Ensure RCF’s are safe and that they comply with building/fire code and property standards;
• Provide requirements for staff and general administration for RCF’s to ensure tenants safety and rights are respected;
• Ensure that suitable supports are being provided to tenants;
• Track the number of informal/unlicensed beds in St. Thomas.
In the report to council, it is recommended the city create a bylaw to license care facilities and beds not licensed by the province “To help protect the health and well-being of RCF tenants.”
Furthermore, “The City should explore the preferred structure of the licensing bylaw such as separating the licensing standards from the city’s Standards of Care or having both in the same bylaw.”
Changes to existing city policy should include annual inspections “to ensure that the RCF meets all applicable building, fire, property and health codes and standards.
The city should also establish “a confidential complaints process/telephone line and create financial penalties for RCF owners who do not comply with the policies in the city’s licensing bylaw and associated Standards of Care.”
20 jt 04 walnutmanorjpgAnd the report concludes, “It is recommended that the city’s department for administering and monitoring business licensing be responsible for the proposed Residential Care Facility bylaw. Compliance with the city’s requirements could be undertaken by various city departments and support service agencies such as CMHA Elgin.”
Such a bylaw is long overdue in dealing with the 11 facilities dealt with by Elizabeth Sebestyen, director in the St. Thomas-Elgin Social Services Department.
In an interview earlier this year Cathie Walker, director of health protection at the former Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, put things in perspective.
“I think it helps to keep the lens on places,” stressed Walker. “These are people who can’t necessarily effectively advocate on their own behalf, so they do rely on their relatives and other concerned members of the community to take up the banner for them. I believe we owe that to them.”
The ball is now in council’s court.

Related posts:
Will municipal property taxpayers be on the hook?
Do what is necessary to provide appropriate care for our most vulnerable citizens


The extent of Doug Ford’s Ontario makeover may have surprised some, however the only element of surprise in Jeff Yurek’s re-election in Elgin-Middlesex-London was his margin of victory.
Yurek totally dominated the race – done and decided in mere minutes – picking up 55 per cent of the popular vote and out-distancing himself from his nearest opponent, Amanda Stratton, by almost 13,000 votes.
yurek-legislaturejpgTo be honest, Stratton and Carlie Forsythe were nothing more than sacrificial lambs thrown into the ring by, respectively, the NDP and Liberals. Forsythe managed to garner just 3,857 votes, seven per cent of the popular vote.
That’s well below the Liberals’ anemic 19.3 per cent total across the province.
Most encouraging in EML riding, a voter turnout of 60.9 per cent.
The transition of power at Queen’s Park will take place on June 29.
Is a ministerial post in the cards for Yurek?


The decision to change the name of the Timken Centre to the Joe Thornton Community Centre was made late last year although the official ceremony won’t be held until June 23.
Curiously, the move to rename the twin-pad arena was made in a closed session of council, which always raises doubt as to what actually transpired.

Joe Thorntonjpg

Photo courtesy NHL.com

At the time, city manager Wendell Graves explained the need for secrecy.
“It was in a closed session because it was about an identifiable individual.”
Well we wouldn’t name the arena after someone we can’t identify with.
Going back in time, Timken Canada paid $350,000 for the naming rights, with the city initially seeking $500,000. Some confusion, however, as to the length of the deal.
In any event, the public is invited to attend the event which begins at 12:45 p.m. with the naming presentation and Wall of Fame picture unveiling.
From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., there is a youth skate (for those 17 and under) with Thornton.
There is no doubt Thornton is one of the NHL greats. He is currently the 16th leading scorer of all-time in the National Hockey League with 397 goals and 1030 assists.
Quoting from the city’s media release, “Growing up in St. Thomas, his talent on the ice was obvious from a young age and was confirmed during his standout 1994-95 season with the local Jr. B team, the St. Thomas Stars. In that year, he scored 104 points in 50 games. Thornton played the next two seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. He was selected first overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1997 National Hockey League Entry Draft.”
In the 2005-06 season, Thornton was traded from Boston to the San Jose Sharks, and racked up 29 goals and 96 assists, which earned him the Art Ross trophy as the leading scorer and the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
The arena should be packed for this ceremony as the city recognizes an individual with a long and illustrious career in a sport so closely aligned with this country.

Related post:
Will transit continue to take a back seat in St Thomas?


He has been following politics since the age of nine, and now Timothy Hedden wants to serve the greater good of St. Thomas by seeking a seat in the council chamber at city hall this fall.
If politics is, at times, so very much theatrical in nature, then Hedden is perfectly suited to the arena.
THeddenFINALBorn and raised in St. Thomas, the Arthur Voaden Secondary School grad got a diploma in Theatre Arts Performance at Fanshawe College and went on to pursue a career in theatre for six years before moving to Toronto to work in film and television.
He returned to St. Thomas in 2014 and began volunteering with the Elgin Theatre Guild.
By day, Hedden is an independent business consultant in Woodstock, helping small businesses develop and grow.
And that is one of the focal points of his platform, attracting small businesses to the downtown core. In addition to addressing youth and mental health issues and, naturally, advocating for arts and culture.
He stresses the latter is a quality of life issue.
“People coming from Toronto expect these cultural institutions,” noted Hedden in an interview this week.
“You don’t want to lose the tourism dollars and arts and culture dollars to London which has those infrastructure pieces 25 or 30 minutes away.”
In addition to helping others start their own businesses he has launched his own business, Rail City Theatre to work with young people and ultimately bring live productions to the city.
So, what would Hedden bring to council if elected on Oct. 22?
“I’m very pragmatic. I don’t care if the solution comes from the left or right side. If it works, I’ll do it.
“I’m very open-minded and I’m not afraid to speak my mind, even if I’m the only one doing that. I think that comes from my theatre background.”
Hedden points out theatre is about taking something that’s on a page and trying to bring truth to it, adding “My theatre background has given me a lot of confidence to stand in front of people and say who I am and what I believe without fear.”
Entering the political forum was not a spur-of-the-moment decision for Hedden.
“I’ve been following politics since I was nine. My mom studied political science and she used to take me to her classes.
“Ideas tend to marinate with me so I don’t tend to speak up about them. I sit there and think about them. I like politics, but I hate partisan politics because I think a lot of truth gets lost at the next couple of levels (of government).”
He has set up a Facebook page  to serve as an open forum.
People can drop by and ask Hedden a question and he promises an answer within 48 hours.
“By having an open door policy, I am hoping to foster direct, two-way
communication between myself and the voter. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I will do my homework, and answer you honestly.”
Ultimately for Hedden, it comes down to “What are the ways I can make things better in St. Thomas.”


No one stepped forward this week to file their nomination papers for mayor, councillor or school board trustee.
The deadline to file is July 27.

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