The Horton Market: Getting it right in a ‘COVID-19 2020 world’


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter enduring a painful three months of coronavirus cancellations, curtailments and closures, this has been an extraordinary week for positive, time-to-move-forward announcements.
Let’s begin with Monday’s (June 8) meeting where council revisited its May 19 split decision to leave the tables empty this summer at the Horton Market.
Five members of council – Mayor Joe Preston and councillors Jeff Kohler, Gary Clarke, Joan Rymal and Mark Tinlin – reconsidered their previous non-support which resulted in a unanimous vote to proceed with opening the popular market on June 20.
The market board of directors submitted a revised plan of operation with enhanced COVID-19 restrictions which assured all members of council the health and safety of both vendors and customers would be a top priority.


For the time being, it will be an outdoor market only and limited to 75 customers at any one time and the market building will remain closed except for use of the washroom.
The day following the reconsideration, Preston was cautiously optimistic about the turn of events leading to a Saturday morning market, “if the board can do it and if, indeed, there are a number of vendors who want to.
Horton Market“Closing the inside building and spreading things out and barricades to keep traffic in line, that’s what we were looking for the last time and now we got it and we’re ready to go.”
Preston reminded, “The devil is in the details. The first Saturday it opens and there are 500 people in line, what are you doing about it.”
The mayor would prefer to call this a trial, to which Coun. Kohler noted it is a trial run because if things are not done in proper fashion, the health unit is going to close it down.
“I love my market,” continued Preston, “but 75 people is a small number of people in the outdoor section of that market.
“We have to go with what we know today and make our decision based on today. If in seven days, something else is different or we’re not able to work the plan, then that will be a new plan then.”

“We’re going to make a lot of noise to ensure that is the case. Let’s do this in a COVID-19 2020 world properly.”

At this point, Preston cuts to the chase.
“This is not a family gathering. You are going to the market alone. It is a shopping event. If you don’t, we don’t have the ability to deal with the number of people we’re talking about.
“We’re going to make a lot of noise to ensure that is the case. Let’s do this in a COVID-19 2020 world properly.”
Beginning June 20, the onus must shift from council to the vendors and customers to ensure the Horton Market season is more than just a brief trial run.

Related post:

https://ianscityscope.com/2020/05/23/the-horton-market-an-event-or-a-shopping-experience/

BIGGER, BRIGHTER, GREENER

Two days following the Horton Market turnaround, the spotlight shifted to the Michigan Central Railway bridge where. on an unseasonably hot and windy morning, the St. Thomas Elevated Park’s ambitious expansion plan was introduced.
The undertaking, to include the installation of grass, pathway lighting and a 3.5 km linear park, is made possible courtesy of a $100,000 investment through the Elgin – St. Thomas Community Foundation from the estate of Donna Vera Evans Bushell, whose passion was the planting of trees and community building.
STEP Western GatewayThe announcement was made by Maddie King and Andrew Gunn, consultant for the estate. Bushell died November 9, 2019, at the age of 100, the last of her family.
She and her two sisters were descendants of pioneer families who lived in Yarmouth Township.
At the announcement, On Track St. Thomas director Serge Lavoie outlined the bigger, brighter, greener theme of this year’s elevated park expansion project.
“Bigger, because we are developing the trail all the way out to Lyle Road (in Southwold) as a linear arboretum which we’re calling The Arboretum Line.”

“Specifically the focus on tree planting, community-building, and sustainability. We look forward to watching the continued growth and development of the St. Thomas Elevated Park.”

It will be a linear park that will function as a living tree museum with at least one example of every native tree in this region of southwestern Ontario, explained Lavoie.
He continued, “Brighter because we’re going to electrify the bridge and put in path lighting.”
The introduction of an electricity service atop the bridge also allows for the installation of video surveillance to curb vandalism to art installations in the park.
“And greener,” noted Lavoie, “because we’re installing grass and trees all the way through.”
As to a timetable for the expansion, Lavoie indicated work will begin right away.
“We’re going to start some tree-planting right away, those that can be grown right now. A lot of them we will wait until September.
“The electrification will be starting very soon. Every part of this project is in the planning  stage right now.”
Noting the elevated park has become “one of the landmark tourist attractions for our region,” Gunn observed the expansion project fits in perfectly with the goal of the Estate of Donna Vera Evans Bushell.
“Specifically the focus on tree planting, community-building, and sustainability. We look forward to watching the continued growth and development of the St. Thomas Elevated Park.”
Gunn took advantage of the park funding announcement to outline the involvement of the St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre, the recipient of $115,000 in funding for an “Art, Trees and Trails” project.

“We’ve given Laura free reign to create what the signs look like and then match the artwork with the spaces where the signs will be installed.”

Laura Woermke, executive director of the art centre, will curate examples of artwork from the permanent collection and have those pieces reproduced onto high-quality signs that will then be installed on trails through Springwater Forest, at the Dalewood Conservation Area and at the elevated park.
Gunn explained, “The idea is that we’re taking the art centre and we’re getting it out into the community for people to see and interact with.
“We’ve given Laura free reign to create what the signs look like and then match the artwork with the spaces where the signs will be installed.”
And, one more exciting announcement that morning.
A $100,000 gift from the Estate will be used to create the Evans Tree Fund to be established through the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation.
As Gunn advised, “It will provide funds to plant trees in the community for decades to come. Organizations locally can apply to receive funds to plant trees throughout Elgin county and St. Thomas.”
A memorable 15 minutes or so at the elevated park that will impact the community in a positive fashion for future generations.

DOWNTOWN COMMUNITY HUB

And, to cap off a week of inspirational announcements, Thursday morning at the site of the former Colin McGregor Justice Building, Andrew Gunn and Maddie King unveiled what is to become the Westlake-Evans Civic Park.
The community hub in the downtown core is courtesy of a $500,000 gift from the above-mentioned Estate.

Westlake-Evans Civic Park

Maddie King and Andrew Gunn

The vacant lot adjacent to St. Thomas Public Library will be transformed into a much-needed green space and activity centre with a difference, as noted by Gunn.
It will contain a small structure, “in the same style as the library that will house a baby grand piano so people can come up and play the piano in the park.
“There will be ping-pong tables and then we thought about the library and all the kids at the library and there’s also going to be a childcare centre built across the street so we needed things for kids.

“But mostly, we’re excited about being able to be part of the animation of this space. This is what libraries do.”

“So there will be an outdoor classroom and play area for children because we really wanted to build a park that spoke to people of all ages.”
A theme embraced by library CEO Heather Robinson.
“It is so incredible for the library to have something like this right next door to it. And actually, the plans give a nod to the library because the structure where the piano is going to look much like our building.
“But mostly, we’re excited about being able to be part of the animation of this space. This is what libraries do. We have been looking for outdoor space to be able to do programming . . . and just be able to connect with our community in a new way.
“We very much look forward to giving out the keys to the piano and also the ping-pong balls and the paddles. We are really looking forward to animating this space.”
Work will begin shortly on the civic park with completion expected next summer.

DOCUMENTING IT ALL

This Forest City Youth Film Festival premiered last year as a venue to encourage students to produce films. And this year, courtesy of another gift from the Estate of Donna Vera Evans Bushell, grants will be made available through the film festival for high school and post-secondary school students to make short documentaries about three of the projects funded through the Estate.
Forest City Film FestivalYoung filmmakers are invited to apply for three grants of $8,000 each to produce a short documentary on the downtown St. Thomas “Track to the Future” mural project which is an effort by the city to redefine the look of the downtown core in conjunction with the above-mentioned Westlake-Evans Civic Park.
Project 2 is the “Arts, Trees and Trails” undertaking with the St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre which is an opportunity to highlight art in both an urban and rural setting.
Project 3 is documenting the construction of the new, sustainable stage at Springwater Forest.
The deadline for grant submissions is July 15 and more info and applications can be found at forestcityfilmfest.ca.

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