New electoral boundaries: ‘It’s about population and not about communities’ – Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio

city_scope_logo-cmykNew electoral boundaries proposed by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario could have a significant impact on the outcome of federal and provincial elections in both St. Thomas and Elgin.
Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio is quick to admit she has concerns with the proposed re-alignment.
The aim is to have all ridings in the province fairly equal in population, around the 115,500 mark.
The new electoral roadmap was unveiled a week ago and it would see St. Thomas incorporated into a new riding to be known as London South–St. Thomas.
It would stretch north to Commissioners Road and the Thames River, east to Springwater Road to include Belmont and Mapleton, south to John Wise Line and west to Sunset/Westdel Bourne/Wonderland Road, but would not include Lambeth (see map).
The London South-St. Thomas riding has a population of over 120,000 right now, the majority of residents living in London.

Elgin-Middlesex-London riding would no longer exist, instead, a much larger riding of Elgin-Middlesex-Thames – with a population of 117,400 – which includes Port Stanley, Port Burwell, Rodney, Ridgetown, Glencoe, Strathroy, Harrietsville and Mossley would be created.
2022 London South-St. Thomas electoral boundary mapVecchio points out that in the present Elgin-Middlesex-London riding – which has a population of 127,000 – the portion that is in London is gone, that goes to London West.
The new London part is Pond Mills and areas that a member of EML has never represented.
“If you look at our riding,” explains Vecchio, “places like New Sarum are part of the proposed London South-St. Thomas riding.
“They’ve split Southwold in half, they’ve split Central Elgin in half.”
Half of each is in London South-St. Thomas and the other half in Elgin-Middlesex-Thames.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, Vecchio says she is really worried “because I do see St. Thomas having a smaller voice.

“It’s about population and not about communities and we need to focus on communities.”

“St. Thomas-Elgin has existed for decades and, really, they’re breaking that down.
“We have to fight this at the federal level to ensure they are not separating and dividing our communities.
“And that is exactly what they are doing. They are not recognizing the boundaries. They recognize the City of St. Thomas as a boundary, but they are not recognizing any of the municipalities in Elgin county and just separating them for the reason of population and not about customer service.
“It’s about population and not about communities and we need to focus on communities.”
There are lots of things that need to be done and quickly, stresses Vecchio.
“I’m working with stakeholders, I’ve put together a proposal. Making sure I’m working really closely with MPP Rob Flack.”
If London South-St. Thomas is approved as is, Flack would no longer live in the riding, instead, he would reside in London East.
The boundary adjustments are at the public input stage and then the process comes back to the MPs, explains Vecchio.
“What I’ve been told is when it comes back to the MPs, it’s almost a done deal and very little can be done.”

“For me, I look at the services. The things we are planning for as a region and how much more difficult it will be after 2025.”

So, calls for changes really have to be presented loud and clear during the public input process in September and October.
“So, working with the mayors is really, really important. Their voices need to be heard on this.
“Right now, I’m trying to unfold all of the issues so when people have questions, they will be able to know.
“So when we go into these consultations in September, we have a very clear definition of what we’re expecting.
“It’s not just saying there is a problem, what are the solutions.
“For me, I look at the services. The things we are planning for as a region and how much more difficult it will be after 2025.
“What does this look like long term? Will the face of our region change because of this?
A virtual public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Hear the full interview with Karen Vecchio here.

For details on how to make a written submission, visit


Is aerospace giant Boeing circling over SW Ontario intending to strengthen ties with the region?
Charles Sullivan, president of Boeing Canada was in London earlier this week and then made stops elsewhere in the area with the hope of exploring new opportunities and partnerships.
The London meeting Tuesday brought together mayors along with business and academic representatives.
Boeing logoJoining the casual discussions was St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston who stressed it was an opportunity to present a sales pitch to Boeing on the economic attractiveness of SW Ontario as a region.
“You know,” noted Preston, “what could Boeing do in Canada and how could we do it and is southern Ontario the right place?
“I think we told him how well southern Ontario works and we’re an incredibly good workforce and a welcoming area of municipalities.”
With Boeing testing the waters in the region for potential suppliers, it’s a win-win stressed Preston.
“Boeing doesn’t just go looking for good suppliers. They go looking for suppliers they can help.
“If Boeing has a technology that would help a supplier, then they bring the supplier on board, share that technology with them and make them a better supplier.”

“I expect a fair amount will happen in the way of supplier chain activity in the next very short period of time.”

It is Preston’s opinion there is a shopping list of prospective suppliers already located in SW Ontario.
“We supplied them with about 30 names of people they should probably talk to.
“They did one large Zoom session with all of those suppliers . . . and then they were doing one-on-ones with them over the last two days.”
With the Boeing team departing the area at the end of the week, we asked Preston what the next step is.
“I feel very comfortable. Some of the businesses that expressed interest, some of the manufacturing and technical industries that had expressed interest and now had gone through this two-day thing are going to be offered preferred supplier status with Boeing.

“I’ve got to tell you, it feels St. Thomas is right near the heart of that now.”

“And so that is the next step for sure. Build up the supply chain here in southern Ontario.”
Preston continued, “If nothing happens tomorrow it was still that positive of a meeting to me.
“I expect a fair amount will happen in the way of supplier chain activity in the next very short period of time.
“And look, Boeing has got to build a number of airplanes and they currently don’t build in Canada.”
In light of the package of land the city is assembling east of Highbury Avenue, Preston hinted it is not just Boeing that is shopping around for future partnerships.
“We’re back into that time where there are some fairly good businesses really looking.
“And with the industrial land we’ve purchased, lots of people are looking for what the next big thing is.
“I’ve got to tell you, it feels St. Thomas is right near the heart of that now.”


Having the opportunity to take a deep dive into a couple of progressive city documents convinced Dawn Docker to pursue a seat on city council this fall.
“Urban design guidelines for the City of St. Thomas and the strategic plan,” advised Docker.
“It’s made its first draft and is going forward. I so want to be a part of that.”
Not that Docker – familiar to most under her married name Dawn Doty – is a stranger to the comings and goings at city hall.
Dawn Docker Aug. 2022Since the 1990s she has been branded a heritage advocate but Docker has stressed she is more than that.
“Our downtown, it’s a mess. If we don’t hurry up it will be the last kick at the can. The buildings will be gone.
“I’m known as a heritage advocate, but I’m more than a heritage advocate.
“I’m an advocate.”
That she is and this corner has been documenting her advocacy efforts since 2008.
“I’ve been going to council doing deputations, reading reports and that all started in 1998.
“And, I truly feel very comfortable about this. I feel like I know a little bit about a lot of stuff.
“And, what I don’t know, I love reading the reports.”
Docker has long been known as ‘that Alma girl’ for her painstaking efforts to preserve the former school for girls which was located right across the street from the properties she owns on McIntyre Street.
So tenacious this corner pegged her as the Alma watchdog.
“I’m just hoping that people aren’t only going to associate me with ‘oh, you’re that Alma girl.’
“There’s more to me. There’s a lot to me. I am that Alma girl. That project taught me so much and brought me to where I am today.”
Docker may cringe at the following sidetrack, but it is worth turning the calendar back to 2008 for a chapter in the Alma preservation efforts that illustrate her tenacity.
That fall, City Scope received a report authored by the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, which the former Minister of Culture Caroline Di Cocco and her successor Aileen Carroll withheld from the public for more than two years.

“I’ve always been self-employed. I have an entrepreneurial spirit. And I would be thrifty with your money.”

In April 2006 the Executive Committee of the Ontario Heritage Trust resolved that Alma College, including the chapel, music building and amphitheatre “is a property of cultural heritage value or interest of provincial significance.
The report further recommended “the Minister should encourage the municipality to continue to work with the owner, (Ontario Heritage) Trust and Ministry of Culture staff and other stakeholders to find a creative solution to the preservation and adaptive re-use of the property.”
The report encouraged the ministry to direct its staff “to assist the owner and municipality by determining if there are any provincial sources of funding, or other incentives that could assist in the stabilization, repair and long term conservation of the college.”
It took a Freedom of Information request in June of that year by Doty/Docker to finally pry the document from the steely grip of the culture ministry.
The Honourable Lincoln Alexander concluded his summary to the ministry with words of optimism – “Thank you for your efforts to preserve Ontario’s built heritage.”
Just another example of that Alma girl at work.
You can read the full account of that post from Nov. 1 of 2008 here.
Back to the Oct. 24 municipal vote, and the property manager whose row of houses now overlook the Alma College Square development.
“I’ve always been self-employed. I have an entrepreneurial spirit. And I would be thrifty with your money.
“I’m a thrifty, thrifty person.”


Dave Mathers raises a critical issue following our profile last week on mayoral hopeful, Gregg McCart.

“Gregg McCart may be addressing a noble cause but the mayor’s job is much more complex than one issue. Infrastructure, housing, employment and policing are as important as homelessness if not more important.
“A ‘one-trick’ pony will not succeed.”


Third Annual International Overdose Awareness 2022The Nameless, in partnership with Southwestern Public Health, is putting on a Third Annual International Overdose Awareness event this Wednesday (Aug. 31), from 5 until 8 p.m. at White Street Parkette in St. Thomas.
It’s a chance to support and be supported. An opportunity to learn about services in the community and what you can do to help. A number of activities are planned as outlined on the poster on the left.
Perhaps a good opportunity for many in St. Thomas to come out and become acquainted with the community-based, peer-led, harm-reduction group of volunteers who are proactive boots on the ground.

Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.


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