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.
1Password creates password management software used by millions of customers around the world.
They are another one of those quiet St. Thomas success stories.
We caught up with Sara Teare the day after the announcement to discuss what will surely become her family’s legacy.
“I hadn’t thought of it as a legacy, but I’ve been told that a few times now.”
Her family has had a lengthy association with the St. Thomas Soccer Club, which was the driving force behind the substantial monetary commitment.
“We’ve been playing soccer since our kids were first eligible to start playing,” Sara explains, “and we’ve been loving that. David has been coaching for a few years now, so it is definitely something that we’ve grown to love over the years.”
She says the new outdoor complex will result in “a great opportunity for people to come to St. Thomas and it’s a great opportunity for our soccer club to have a home to call their own.”
The fields replace those used by younger players south of St. Thomas, behind the former regional mental health facility.
“Having a place on site in the city they can call their own is really a great opportunity.”
Sara admits she never imagined her family’s connection to soccer would translate into a half-million dollar contribution to the game they love.
“No, we hadn’t ever thought soccer would be where things would end up. We just let it grow organically with where the kids are interested and so.ccer has been a sport my son, in particular, really likes.
“And, as the opportunity came up over the years, where the soccer club was always looking for parent coaches, being able to get out there and volunteer and help kids, their enthusiasm really makes it a lot easier.”
The family’s financial contribution will be completed over the next four years, Sara advises.
“We’ve already got the first one (instalment) done and under our belt. We wanted to make sure we showed up with some actual money on the table and let them know we were serious.”
She adds, “1Password is well known in the tech community on a number of different fronts. In terms of actually being a St. Thomas business, that’s something a lot of people don’t necessarily understand exactly what we do.
“Once we get the sign that says 1Password Park and it’s all lit up, it’s really going to hit home.”
“We wanted to make sure they knew it’s not just fly-by-night, we’re a serious company that’s been around for a long time.”
The behind-the-scenes player in all of this is Coun. Joan Rymal, Sara’s mother.
“She came home after a council meeting and said, ‘Hey, look what I’ve got.”
What the member of council had was a proposal for funding opportunities for the St. Thomas Outdoor Recreation Complex.
“We knew this was something David and I wanted to make happen,” Sara stresses.”
As to the reaction of her mom, “I think she was super excited. I think this was something she wasn’t sure of. For us to say ‘Yes, we’re going to do the $500,000,’ that was a big deal for her. She was definitely excited. She was waiting to say it loud and proud.”
In May of last year, city manager Wendell Graves told council opportunities exist to include the soccer and football clubs in fundraising initiatives. This would help pay for items not included in the base tender price, including a shade shelter, a score clock for the artificial surface field, optional bleachers and an equipment storage building.
The St. Thomas Soccer Club has already committed to a donation of nets with an estimated value of $140,000.
So, what will be running through Sara’s mind when entering the park next summer during the soccer season?
“I think it’s going to be really exciting. I don’t think it’s all come together yet. Once we get the sign that says 1Password Park and it’s all lit up, it’s really going to hit home.”
PERFORMANCE VERSUS SPEED
Just ten days after the announcement he was to become the province’s minister of transportation, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek finds his department prominently highlighted in the PC government’s fall economic outlook released Thursday (Nov. 15).
The statement details how the province plans to achieve a fiscal balance.
And, according to finance minister Vic Fedeli, it will “require everyone to make sacrifices without exception.”
Could one of the sacrificial cuts include the high-speed rail (HSR) proposal promoted by the previous Kathleen Wynne government, linking Windsor and London with Toronto?
The economic statement promises a review of high-speed rail, noting “Planning work is underway to analyze a range of transportation options to meet the needs of the people and businesses of Southwestern Ontario.”
The document continues, “The Province is exploring the potential for a faster and more reliable passenger rail service, including options to either upgrade existing rail corridors, create new ones or utilize other forms of transportation.
“The results of this planning work will include input from stakeholders such as rural and farming communities, and will help inform future transportation decisions . . .”
We spoke with Yurek yesterday (Nov. 16) about the status of the high-speed rail corridor.
“What we’re doing with high-speed rail is expanding the review to look at all of the possible alternatives, including high-speed rail, to see what would be the most feasible,” advises Yurek.
“To make sure we take a closer look at everything on the table. Whether that’s high-performance rail, expanding the 401, other rail or bus services, we’re taking a look at all of that, now.”
High-performance rail is a concept detailed in this corner exactly one year ago.
Toronto transportation writer and policy adviser Greg Gormick, at the time, was consulting for Oxford County to document concerns about the province’s high-speed rail proposal.
Gormick warned HSR will further contribute to the decline of VIA passenger rail service to Woodstock, Ingersoll, Brantford, Stratford, St. Marys and other communities in the region.
Gormick is promoting an alternate concept known as high-performance rail (HPR). This would build on conventional rail service by upgrading and expanding shared passenger and freight lines and investing in modern cars and locomotives.
Yurek confirmed talks are continuing with VIA Rail, CN and CP “because we use their rail lines for GO Transit in the province. We are having ongoing discussions with them on the use of their tracks.”
Metrolink, the regional transportation authority in the Greater Toronto area, had its boundary expanded westward to Waterloo, and we queried Yurek as to whether it would make sense to extend through to London for the provision of GO train/bus service.
“We’ve expanded trips to Waterloo on the GO service and we’re looking to expand it even further. Those talks are still underway. What we’re looking to do with Metrolinx is make some amendments to it in our review. It’s going to be a regional planning and delivery service for the Golden Horseshoe area.”
He continued, “I think at this point, the focus is just on the Golden Horseshoe, but as the complexity of transit planning grows, it might be Metrolinx, down the road, is more of a regional planner for most of Ontario and not just the Greater Toronto Area.”
Is all of this a signal high-speed rail will take to a siding in favour of high-performance rail?
EXTENDED BOOZE-BUYING HOURS
Alcohol reform was another area highlighted in the economic statement, whereby “The government is committed to modernizing the rules for the retail and consumption of beverage alcohol in Ontario by acknowledging that the province is mature enough for this change and ready to join other jurisdictions in making life a little more convenient.”
As part of this commitment, “a level playing field will be encouraged by expanding the sale of beer and wine into corner stores, grocery stores and big-box stores based on market demand as opposed to government decree.
“To inform this plan, a comprehensive review of the beverage alcohol sector will be completed.”
An immediate first step “will align the permissible hours of operation for retailers, including the Beer Store, the LCBO and authorized grocery stores, by enabling them to sell beverage alcohol from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.”
Yurek notes this change “will offer more options for people, but it will be up to the individual stores to decide whether they expand those hours.”
Yurek continues, “What we’re doing is giving them the opportunity to meet the demand wherever they are located. They won’t be limited by regulations, they can stay open later and open earlier.”
The revised hours of operation, according to Yurek, will be introduced “in the next few months.”
THE READERS WRITE
Coverage earlier this week of the site plan control meeting at city hall dealing with technical aspects of the proposed residential development on the site of Alma College generated differing points of view from readers.
Joe Docherty writes, “The initial plan as presented was to allow the public access to the trails within the development and to the amphitheatre. At no time was a gated community mentioned, nor was the term ‘condos’ ever used. As noted in my original comment, my concern is the ever-changing scope of the development.”
That prompted this response from Donna Robertson, president of the Alma College International Alumnae Association.
“Again, it is private property. Imagine the liability issues with the amphitheatre. When Alma College was there, the public was not welcome to wander around the property either.
“The new development will be a condo development with all the condos owned by the developer and rented out. As such, the owner can put in place whatever restrictions he wants.
“I think the owner has gone above and beyond to try to accommodate the Alma College Alumnae (who are overwhelmingly in favour of this development) and the citizens of St Thomas who, based on comments, also seem to be looking forward to getting on with it.
“I hope no more roadblocks are thrown up. Every new development plan evolves. This is a good thing for St Thomas.”
Dave Mathers, who unsuccessfully sought a seat on council, forwarded this observation of the proceedings at city hall.
“I attended the Site Plan Control (meeting) for the Alma College site this morning at City Hall. Once again it was hijacked by one person whose personal agenda delayed the meeting ad nauseum.
“This person’s questions were outside the scope of the meeting but this person still persisted. Several other supposed experts, with no monetary involvement whatsoever, offered their opinions on how things should be changed.
“Is there any wonder that developers are so averse to building in St. Thomas?”
FOR THE CALENDAR
This year’s Optimist Club Santa Claus parade will be held today, starting at 6 p.m. The route will take it along Talbot Street, from First Avenue to Elgin Street.
The incoming city council will be officially sworn in at a ceremony to be held Dec. 3, beginning at 6 p.m. in the council chamber at city hall.
Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope
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