C.J. Allen delegation to St. Thomas council Monday to focus on “bureaucratic and redundant red tape and restrictive bylaws”

city_scope_logo-cmykThe agenda for Monday’s (Jan. 16) council meeting reveals what should prove to be a no-punches-pulled deputation from C.J. Allen.
He is the chair of the Good Vibes Community Association (GVCA)board of governors.
If you are not familiar with the GVCA, it was the producer of last year’s inaugural Summer Harvest Festival held in Pinafore Park.
A well-attended event that is to become an annual attraction in the park.
Allen has outlined four areas of discussion and with deputations limited to 10 minutes, he’s going to have to move quickly through his presentation.
First up is GVCA’s experience and feedback concerning the city’s special event process and the interaction with city departments, specifically in relation to last year’s festival.
Next up is a look at the city’s strategic plan and specifically Commitment 1 under the Vibrant Community banner.
This area of the plan has a mandate to “Enhance opportunities for connection and development to promote growth for people and businesses in the city.”

Turning to Commitment 1, it is aiming to develop one new community event each year through 2023. There is no indication as to the size or scope of such an event.
Would it be fair to assume GVCA would like to be involved in the creation and production of such events?
The third portion of Allen’s deputation presents recommendations for opportunities to streamline and improve the special event permit process and subsequent requirements.
And the final topic for consideration is a request to allow GVCA to become the issuer of busking licences for street performers in the city.
Plenty to ponder in Allen’s pitch to council.

“Elected officials are not solely sworn into office to hear complaints about road closures and attend service club breakfasts. They’re given public office to be thought leaders, innovators and genuine advocates for each sector of the community.”

Allen is not afraid to tell it like it is and that was clearly evident in a lengthy conversation we had with him following the festival and just prior to last year’s municipal election.
Allen observed at the time, “The Summer Harvest Festival was an interesting experiment in the psychology of politics.
“Some candidates used the event as an opportunity to mix and mingle and chat with a demographic of the community that otherwise may have been unreachable by traditional guerilla campaigning.”
Allen continued, “One candidate that Justin Maki (musician) and I approached to greet and say hello to just awkwardly shook our hands and walked away like we were street groupies looking for a selfie.
“Some candidates didn’t show up at all.”
He turned his attention to the role of our elected officials.
“Elected officials are not solely sworn into office to hear complaints about road closures and attend service club breakfasts. They’re given public office to be thought leaders, innovators and genuine advocates for each sector of the community.”
With that in mind, Allen wondered, “where are the ideas about arts and culture? Where are the ideas about attracting tech startups and support for entrepreneurs?”
His greatest bone of contention?
“What about the bureaucratic and redundant red tape and restrictive bylaws that make events like the Summer Harvest Festival almost impossible?”
Doubling back to Monday’s agenda, we see that is Allen’s lead discussion point when he stands before mayor and council.
You can read last year’s item with Allen here.

Related post on the city’s strategic plan:

‘An enjoyable couple of nights’ pays off for St. Thomas ratepayers


As referenced last week, council last Monday quickly approved the capital and operating budgets for this year. Including a couple of words of praise for city staff, the entire confirmation process took less than two minutes. The difficult work had been undertaken last month by holding the increase in the municipal property tax levy to the 2022 level.

Related posts:

‘We’re aware of sensitivities, but where is the best spot for a shelter?’ – Brian Elliot, executive director of The Inn, St. Thomas

Leaving ‘bookmarks as to how we can move forward’ – St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston


In addition to being one of the city’s primary recreational facilities, the Joe Thornton Community Centre is going to be put to work.
At least the roof of the twin-pad arena will serve an alternative purpose.
As detailed in a report to council on Monday (Jan. 16), a study has determined the roof of the structure could house a solar panel installation.
All city facilities were reviewed for feasibility.
Joe Thornton Community Centre solar panelsThe study indicates, with no modifications to the roof, it could support a 614 kW DC (kilowatts direct current) array at a capital cost of $1.34 million and take 13 to 14 years to pay down.
With modifications to the roof, a larger installation of almost twice the size could be achieved at a cost of $2.5 million.
Nathan Bokma, the city’s manager of development and compliance, advises council that installation of the panels can be done in phases with the smaller project done now and the remainder of the panels completed at a later date (see illustration).
Funding is available from the province through a transit grant which has a renewable energy component for solar panel installation projects.
To complete the smaller installation, the city’s portion of the bill would be about $185,000 which would be drawn from the infrastructure reserve.
The energy produced through the installation would be fed back into the provincial grid with the city earning revenue.
The rate of return would be 7.5 per cent.
With the smaller installation, the greenhouse gas reduction is projected at 90.8 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Council will be asked to green-light the smaller installation.


The city will be sending a delegation to the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference to be held Jan. 22-24 in Toronto.
To support the delegation, a Provincial Advocacy Plan has been produced outlining the priorities of council with the document provided to participating ministry staff.
Provincial advocacy plan 2023The city’s delegation already has confirmed meetings with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The former is to deal with regional transit and accessible transit options, priorities for the city with the opening of the Amazon facility and the Maple Leaf Foods processing plant early this year.
As per the plan, “Connecting the City of St. Thomas and the City of London via accessible and convenient transit is vital to the ongoing success and growth of our region.
“Enhancing our interregional connectivity will improve the movement of people, goods and services between St. Thomas and the surrounding areas.
“For too long, our residents, businesses and visitors have had to rely on inefficient and expensive transportation options.”
The city’s call to the province is to “deliver increased support for inter-community transit initiatives.”
Oh for the days of the London & Port Stanley interurban service.
The timing of the second confirmed meeting with the Ministry of the Attorney General couldn’t be more appropriate with the targeted shooting and three-hour standoff city police are having to deal with, both transpiring over the course of the past week.
The city wants the ministry to strengthen the bail system with more substantive consequences.
We’ll delve into that delegation next week as the conference prepares to get underway.
Representing the city at the event will be Mayor Joe Preston, Coun. Gary Clarke and City Manager Sandra Datars Bere.

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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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