Downloadable app would alert and advise St. Thomas residents

city_scope_logo-cmykThe Town of Aylmer is already on board and now St. Thomas has the opportunity to partner with that municipality on the implementation of a community notification/alert system.
Last year Aylmer, in conjunction with a pair of local industries – the Integrated Grain Processors Co-op ethanol plant and Air Liquide – entered into an agreement with ICEsoft Technologies of Calgary to purchase their Voyent Alert system.
The firm’s website notes, “The flexible platform serves the dual purpose of alerting and advising residents during a critical incident as well as providing targeted day-to-day communication services.”

With this technology, the city would be able to provide residents with a variety of information including severe weather alerts; police, fire and EMS situations; evacuation or shelter-in-place updates; boil water advisories; road and school closures; and snow removal information to name just a few items.
Voyent AlertjpgThe information can be provided through the download of a free app; text messaging; e-mail; or voice dial for landline phones.
In a report to council Tuesday (Feb. 19), St. Thomas Fire Chief Bob Davidson is seeking council’s approval for staff to investigate the potential partnership with Aylmer and then enter into an agreement to supply the software for the Voyent Alert system.
The city’s 2019 budget includes $12,000 for such a system which would allow up to 18,000 residents to utilize the technology.
However, that is only 45 per cent of the city’s total population.
As was witnessed last week, not everyone appreciates an Amber Alert squawking on their phone late at night.


From an installation hugging the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Toronto to a perch high above St. Thomas, local artist Christine Dewancker is soon to become more visible in the city in which she grew up.
Her major art piece, The Faraway Nearby, will be visible along the St. Thomas Elevated Park, joining the growing collection of works now on display.
STEP ART 1 JPGThe Faraway Nearby – comprised of a dozen separate block towers topped with softly-lit columns – debuted at the Winter Light Exhibition at Ontario Place.
In unique fashion, it relates to and interacts with the Lake Ontario horizon (see photo).
For its placement along the Michigan Central Railway bridge, Dewancker will find new reference points to “give the piece relevance and visual interest,” according to a release issued by Serge Lavoie.
STEP ART 2 JPGDewancker, a St. Joseph’s High School grad, explains this piece “was conceived for its lakeside location at Ontario Place but I’m looking forward to re-imagining it at its new site on the St. Thomas Elevated Park.”

Christine Dewanckerjpg

Christine Dewancker

The work will initially be on loan and following appraisal, a fundraising campaign will be undertaken to purchase it.
One of her paintings hangs in the foyer at St. Anne’s Catholic Elementary School in St. Thomas.
The sixth art installation in the St. Thomas Elevated Park, The Faraway Nearby is slated to be installed in July, in time for what is hoped to be the official opening of the entire elevated green space in advance of the fifth annual picnic in late August.
Down the road, the goal is to add other art pieces as they become available, melding in with raised beds, oversize planters, and native plants.
The 300-metre approach at the east end of the park has been adopted by the St. Thomas District Horticultural Society to nurture a pair of distinct gardens.
The western approach features an array of 300 trees planted with the assistance of TD Friends of the Environment.
For more info on the St. Thomas Elevated Park, visit

Related posts:

St. Thomas Elevated Park: An exciting ‘piece of the puzzle’ for the city

Silently pointing the way atop St. Thomas Elevated Park

High praise for first art installations at St. Thomas Elevated Park


What began as a mapping project is about to further connect the city via free books.
STEAM Education Centre board member Andrew Gunn and his team of three multi-media journalists who are the young & free press have teamed up with Hayhoe Homes and the St. Thomas/Elgin campus of Fanshawe College to place Little Free Library boxes in neighbourhoods throughout St. Thomas.
If you remember, the young & free press team hosted a pair of all-candidate meetings prior to last year’s municipal election, including a memorable session backdropped against the city’s iron horse heritage at the Elgin County Railway Museum.

Andrew Gunnjpg

Andrew Gunn and Maddie King

Well, the opening chapter of their latest tale began when Gunn and Maddie King brainstormed around the concept of crafting names for city neighbourhoods, based on history and culture.
These include Kettle Creek Village, Flax Mill Neighbourhood, Art Village and Alma Village. Links to the neighbourhood mapping can be found here.
That morphed into the decision to place a Little Free Library box in each of those named neighbourhoods.
So, what are these boxes?
Gunn describes them as small installations where neighbours can deposit and withdraw books, free of charge.
Hayhoe Homes loved the idea and students at Fanshawe College will construct 35 boxes unique to the Railway City.
Gunn orchestrated a $15,000 fundraising campaign and young & free press is looking to formally launch the project this spring with a summer rollout of the boxes.
Ironically, at this past week’s council meeting and independent of the young & free press proposal, city resident Sue Dodds pitched members on locating a couple of little boxes in neighbourhoods.
Gunn approached her with an offer to supply a pair of their boxes to support her.
If you are interested in hosting a Little Free Library box in your neighbourhood or for more info, call Gunn at 519-709-5227, or via email at


During debate this week on allocating grant money to various organizations, Coun. Lori Baldwin-Sands requested information on a sum of $10,000 the Elgin County Railway Museum apparently owes the city.
baldwin-sandsHer query caught everyone in the chamber off guard and no member of council or staff could shed light on the matter.
Instead of nickel-and-dime matters like that, why doesn’t Baldwin-Sands – or any member of council for that matter – delve into how much money St. Thomas Energy/Ascent may owe the city or what became of its long-term debt.
Surely there is plenty of administrative knowledge available to provide an answer on that one.
Perhaps Mayor Joe Preston might like to get the ball rolling.


Patriot Properties new proposal

An artist’s rendition of the new Patriot Properties proposal for the Alma College property.

No work can proceed on the proposed three-tower residential development on the Alma College property until a 2008 Ontario Municipal Board order requiring any development to “include a faithful and accurate representation of the front facade of the college building” is rescinded.
Last September, city council unanimously endorsed a motion to initiate that process with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) – which adjudicates matters related to land use planning, environmental and heritage protection, property assessment, land valuation, and other matters – to have the OMB order removed from the Alma property.
The city has been working on a heritage easement agreement with the developer, Patriot Properties, and city staff will provide an overview of the components of that proposed agreement during council’s reference committee meeting 6 p.m., Tuesday (Feb. 19).

Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

Visit us on Facebook






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s