As Canada’s first elevated park, it is already an ambitious undertaking. However, at a ceremony held Thursday (Nov. 22) at the CASO station, a bold new step forward in the design of the St. Thomas Elevated Park was unveiled. An enhanced vision that could see the entire length of the Michigan Central Railway bridge open to the public next summer. This week’s event formalized a $100,000 investment by Doug Tarry Homes Ltd., along with a commitment to reach out to the region’s business community with a Doug Tarry Challenge, a fundraising campaign by the St. Thomas homebuilder. The Doug Tarry Homes End-To-End Challenge has a goal of raising $500,000, which is enough to construct and install the remaining railings and decks required to span the entire bridge, end to end. “The generous donation by Doug Tarry Homes gave us a unique opportunity to rethink our original plans and set a more ambitious timetable for opening,” says Matt Janes, vice-president of the On Track St. Thomas board of directors and a co-chair of the Doug Tarry Challenge.
Monday’s meeting (Nov. 19) marked the end of term for council and with it the departure from the chamber of Mayor Heather Jackson and councillors Steve Wookey and Mark Burgess.
While the latter two chose to forego any closing words, Jackson took the opportunity to deliver an emotional farewell after 15 years on council, the last eight as mayor.
Calling it a great honour and opportunity to serve as mayor, Jackson opened her remarks by thanking “all of you who have allowed me this opportunity to serve you and I wish to thank you for your exemplary citizenship that has allowed this city to become a higher, more just and beautiful and liveable city.”
Jackson noted the job of mayor “is very fulfilling in that the responsibilities are not abstract or theoretical, but rather direct, specific and intimate.
“The responsibility for you and your children’s safety at home and at work, on the streets, for your neighbourhood parks to be safe, beautiful and active for you and your children’s play.
“Your garbage and recycling need to be collected, your neighbourhood peaceful and tidy.
“An economy bustling benefits your livelihood. A city growing in fiscal strength and fairness. The inspiration of art is accessible to all. Lovely and positive civic spaces.
“Your reason for optimism for the future. And to serve you in time of crisis and so much more.” Continue reading →
Although not scheduled to open until midway through next year, the city’s north-side recreation complex will have a spiffy, tech-associated moniker. It was announced late Thursday afternoon (Nov. 15) across the street at Valleyview Home, the 65-acre complex will be known as 1Password Park. The naming rights fall to David and Sara Teare of St. Thomas, who committed to a contribution of $500,000 to support the city’s outdoor recreation complex that will include soccer pitches, a full-size lighted artificial turf football field, a community park with play zone and splash pad, basketball courts, multi-use trail, washrooms, concession stand and change rooms. Orin Contractors Corp. of Concord, Ontario is constructing the $9.1 million complex located on Burwell Road.
At a reference committee meeting in February of this year, he promised to build “something that is beautiful” on the 11-acre former site of Alma College. His proposed development would consist of a trio of seven-storey apartment buildings and the Moore Street property would be laced with a system of pathways, while the iconic amphitheatre would be for the use of “everybody in the community. That’s part of the history of the community and that should be for everybody.” In the intervening months, the residential undertaking has evolved with one of the towers now pegged at nine stories and the amphitheatre will be for the use of residents and their visitors to the complex. And, at a site plan control committee meeting Nov. 13, developer Michael Loewith of Patriot Properties suggested the development would be a gated community, putting public access to the trail system and amphitheatre in doubt.
For the first time in St. Thomas, advance polling for the Oct. 22 vote was available via internet and telephone. However, the hoped-for technological turnaround in voter turnout doesn’t turn up in the numbers. That’s according to a report presented to council at Monday’s (Nov. 5) reference committee meeting compiled by city clerk Maria Konefal. It’s a comprehensive break-out of the balloting and there are numerous surprises, and the data may pave the way for further electronic advances in the 2022 municipal election. Tim Hedden, who was unsuccessful in his bid to win a councillor seat nailed it with his observation, “Curious to see if it drives voter turnout up or just made it more convenient for those that already vote.” In an interview this week, Konefal noted “The thing I found interesting is we didn’t have too much of a change in the percentage turnout. But, of the people who voted, 44 percent of them voted electronically. Most of that was by internet.”
On the one hand, these individuals would not be upset if their seasonal program was terminated because of a lack of demand. However, on the reality side, the coordinators and volunteers at Christmas Care know the necessity of preparing approximately 1,600 food hampers and more than 1,000 children’s presents for close to 4,000 people each December to assist the less fortunate in St. Thomas and neighbouring communities, including more than 300 families at Oneida Nation of the Thames. This is the 38th year the team is making good on its promise to ensure area residents experience the true spirit of Christmas.
After dealing with a devasting forest fire season that blazed a swath through Northern Ontario, Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek is on the move. Literally. As announced Monday morning (Nov. 5), Yurek fared prominently in Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet shuffle that sees him replace John Yakabuski as Minister of Transportation. Yakabuski, in turn, will assume Yurek’s previous post as Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, a position he took on after Ford swept into power in June of this year. The cabinet tweaking, involving a half-dozen MPPs, was necessitated by the resignation last Friday of Economic Development Minister Jim Wilson who, according to Ford, stepped down to deal with an addiction issue related to alcohol. Global News and other media outlets have since reported allegations of sexual misconduct prompted Wilson’s sudden resignation. Continue reading →
Three decades after his introduction to municipal politics in St. Thomas, Steve Peters is returning to the council chambers at city hall. And he’s taking his place at the horseshoe with an overwhelming mandate from city voters. Of the 10,259 residents who cast their ballot in the Oct. 22 municipal vote, 8,197 indicated they wanted the former city mayor and Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP back representing their interests. This past spring, toying with the idea of a return to where it all began, Peters left no doubt as to his intention. “Standing here (inside his home) I can see the city hall tower and my focus is on that.” Several days after a resounding vote of confidence, Peters confessed “I have to admit I’m excited that interest in the community is still there. I’m itching to go. “I’m still humbled by it and pinch myself because a lot of people chose to fill in the round mark beside me.”