New London South-St. Thomas electoral district ‘ignores well-established systems of service’


city_scope_logo-cmykNote: Due to the death of Queen Elizabeth, the open house scheduled for Saturday at the CASO station has been postponed. We will update you when a new date has been announced.

At the end of last month, we featured a lengthy discussion with Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio on a proposed boundary alignment for the riding she represents.
Well, it’s coming down to crunch time when it comes to public input and Vecchio is hosting an open house next Saturday (Sept. 17) from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the CASO station to garner feedback from constituents.
We talked again this week about the impact new electoral boundaries proposed by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario could have on the outcome of federal and provincial elections in both St. Thomas and Elgin.
An important area that requires clarification is the adjustment to this riding and others across the country is not gerrymandering on the part of any political party, as is often the case south of the border.

As per the commission’s website, “The Constitution of Canada requires that federal electoral districts be reviewed after each decennial (10-year) census to reflect changes and movements in Canada’s population.
“The current federal redistribution process began in October 2021. It is led by independent commissions working separately in each province to establish electoral boundaries.”
“This is not being done by (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau,” reminded Vecchio. “Let’s not just sit there and rag on that.
“Let’s look at the bigger picture and say this happens every 10 years and let’s get it right.
“And that’s all I am trying to do right now.”

2022 London South-St. Thomas electoral boundary mapPart of the getting-it-right process is reaching out to constituents across the riding to hear their concerns.
“What is going to be the long-term impact for areas like Southwold and Central Elgin when they are going to be divided and put into a different riding?
“We talked about where are municipal offices, where are the municipal services?
“Getting feedback from the people from London. The people from London are saying, ‘We are so different from you, we feel like the lost orphan right now.'”
The new electoral roadmap 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.

“When they’re looking at redrawing boundaries, there needs to be representation from those areas. And, that’s something they really missed when they were looking at these communities and making these boundaries.”

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.
What does all this mean long-term, wonders Vecchio?
That’s why she is having dialogues with area mayors and former elected officials like MPPs Jeff Yurek and Steve Peters.
“Let’s be aware and let’s stay in front of those issues.”
“Long term, what does our community look like and what synergies do we currently have?
“I look at how those may break down. I’m trying to be proactive because I see this could be an issue for us in the future.”
Vecchio insists feedback has to come from the ground up.
“When they’re looking at redrawing boundaries, there needs to be representation from those areas.
“And, that’s something they really missed when they were looking at these communities and making these boundaries.
“It was so based on population that they didn’t look at communities.”
The aim is to have all ridings in the province fairly equal in population, around the 115,500 mark.
She cites an example of how the existing riding is being carved up.
“With Thames Centre, you’re looking at orphaning them with London East. Keep them with the community they’ve been with for the last 20 years.”
A similar fate for Central Elgin.
“You will have a north and a south and what’s the long-term impact on Central Elgin?
“There has to be some thinking there, as well.”
Central Elgin would be split in two at John Wise Line.
So what’s on tap for the open house next Saturday?
“Anyone can come and see the maps and have a discussion with us.
“We chose a central location where people can come in and ask questions.”
Of note, a public hearing will be held – this time in not such a central location – at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28 at the Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre at 551 Windermere Road in London.
To illustrate how short-sighted the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario may be, they originally scheduled this hearing for Oct. 24, municipal election day in the province.
To get a copy of the commission’s proposal, or for more information about the public hearings, visit http://redistribution2022.ca.

Related post:

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

ELECTORAL BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT PART 2

As it turns out, a detailed report from city manager Sandra Datars Bere has been added to council’s agenda for Monday (Sept. 12).
Datars Bere notes, “the proposal to create a new electoral district, removing the City of St.
Thomas from its current riding which includes other Elgin County communities with shared/similar
services for which St. Thomas (as a small urban municipality) is a central point, and adding it to a more
London-centric riding is most challenging.
“The plan ignores well-established systems of service and county-wide collaborations within the community.”
She goes on to point out, “The proposed ridings of Elgin –Middlesex-Thames and London South–St. Thomas does not respect the historical pattern of Elgin electoral districts.
Now here’s a mind-boggling statistic from Datars Bere’s report.
The existing Elgin-Middlesex-London riding measures 3,557 sq. km. The proposed Elgin-Middlesex-Thames riding would be a whopping 6,262 sq. km.
Here is the recommendation Datars Bere is presenting to city council.
“It is recommended that the City of St. Thomas develops a submission in collaboration with other local
municipalities including the City of London and that the head of council and/or other council members/designates make an in-person presentation at the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for the Province of Ontario at its local hearing on October 28.
“The submission will be completed over the next few weeks and will be brought back to council for endorsement in advance of the hearing.”

THE CITY’S ‘CLEAR, HONEST, CHOICE’

Following in his father’s footsteps, Joe Docherty Jr. is vying for one of eight seats on city council in the Oct. 24 municipal vote.
It’s his first run in the political field and a concern of his is the amount of negativity on social media directed at the city’s leaders.
joe-docherty-jr-sept-2022-1-1A situation his father did not have to address when he campaigned in the 2010 election and finished 13th in an 18-candidate race with 2,114 votes.
Docherty says the comments generate more negative feedback which  “feeds the beast.”
He continues, “It just seems there is a lot more of the negative stuff coming out from constituents than the other way around, positive stuff coming from council.
“I think there needs to be more involvement in promoting positivity in the city.”
As other candidates have alluded to, Docherty notes there are many issues in St. Thomas that require attention however they are not solely the responsibility of the city.
“When it comes time for things like the homeless, mental health and drug addiction, we can do as much as we can do, but ultimately it needs to be a partnership with all levels of government and the private sector.
“We need to get everyone involved.”
Docherty correctly points out, however, that municipal government is the level of governance residents see every day.

“I think what needs to happen is to take that information that’s being discussed and bring it out on a more public level so people see what is going on.”

“They walk out of their house and they see in the winter their streets getting plowed, street lights being worked on. That’s what people see.
“I think municipal government is that which affects people the most on a daily We need to be more involved with things going on in the city and, at the same time, we need help from all levels of government to make that possible.”
Docherty believes city council needs to do a better job of communicating what it is undertaking with other levels of government as a way of counteracting the negativity on social media.
“I think there is a good relationship with all levels of government in communication. I think what needs to happen is to take that information that’s being discussed and bring it out on a more public level so people see what is going on.

“I want to be able to give the answers to the people and, hopefully, it will open up doors to a more positive, reinforced relationship between the municipal government and its constituents.”

“Going back to the negative social media, put it out there and, for lack of a better term, challenge those misconceptions that are out there about the government and what they’re doing.
“A lot of stuff out there is that the government isn’t doing anything, the government isn’t doing enough.
“I think the municipal government needs to do a little bit more in pushing back to say this is what we’re doing, this is what we’re trying to do and how about we get some feedback from those people involved and see if there is something maybe we’re missing.”
Docherty is campaigning on a simple message.
“I want to be clear and honest with people. If people have a question, I’ll find the answer.”

“So, I really think it’s important that people who can vote, vote. It would be nice if they vote for me but, more than anything, I want people’s voices to be heard.”

He continues, “The best way to sum up what I want to do is I want to be St. Thomas’ clear, honest choice.
“I want to be the person people can come to ask questions about things they’re not aware of.
“I want to be able to give the answers to the people and, hopefully, it will open up doors to a more positive, reinforced relationship between the municipal government and its constituents.”
And because municipal government is so important in people’s daily lives, Docherty is stressing the need to get out and cast your ballot in the October election.
“The municipal government, in my opinion, is the most interactive level of government that people in St. Thomas deal with.
“So, I really think it’s important that people who can vote, vote. It would be nice if they vote for me but, more than anything, I want people’s voices to be heard.
“So, the people of St. Thomas, if you’re able to vote, please vote.”

Here is the full interview with Joe Docherty Jr.

ONE TO WATCH

At Monday’s council meeting, Hilary Vaughan will be in attendance on behalf of downtown merchants to discuss problems and concerns related to homelessness, drug addiction and mental health being experienced by the business and property owners in and near downtown St. Thomas.

THE ECHO CHAMBER

In response to last week’s tribute from Anna Maria Iredale to her son Mathew, pharmacist Amin Dharamsi forwarded this observation.

“Loved reading Matthew’s Story. Society is so quick to judge. Even those who have chronic pain and seek treatment end up on opioids, without adequate pain control and are stuck.
“There is very little support from the government to help those who fight to reduce their pain medications. Instead of offering alternative therapies, the government will pay for more drugs which makes little sense to prevent relapse in stressful situations.
“We need a multifaceted approach.”

Contrast that comment with this stupefyingly simplistic screed from David Smith.

“Addiction is not a disease. It is a learned behaviour. The addict values short-term gains over long-term benefits.
“The addict has no positive vision for his life beyond his next fix.
“If he did he would kick.”

That prompted pushback on a couple of fronts. Jim Russell put it bluntly.

“Have another drink, Mr. Smith.”

In a similar vein, Darlana L. Treloar responded with this.

“Have some respect Mr. Smith.”

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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One thought on “New London South-St. Thomas electoral district ‘ignores well-established systems of service’

  1. Mathew’s Story September 3, 2022

    This young man’s story is the perfect example of addiction as a choice and not a disease.

    He finally had vision of what his life could be without substance abuse and gave up drugs, became a successful businessman.

    Unfortunately the physical damage had been done and he lost his life.

    You can’t decide not to have, cancer, heart disease, MS or a multitude of other diseases after you get them.

    You can decide not to abuses substances. The power to do that comes from a vision of what you want from your life and pursuit that goal.

    Take a look at this book:

    the BIOLOGY of DESIRE
    why addiction is not a disease

    Marc Lewis, PHD

    Addiction as disease results in more prescribed pharmaceuticals as the solution and the outcome is usually prolonging addiction.

    Addiction as choice has two possible solutions:
    -just say no
    or
    -cultivation of openness, insight and perspective changes, a developmental process

    ‘harming yourself is easy’
    ‘living is hard’

    Thank you,
    Stupefyingly Simple

    David Smith

    Like

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