Former Elgin MP Ken Monteith was cut from a special kind of cloth

city_scope_logo-cmykHe is remembered as the consummate politician and a mentor to those considering tossing their hat in the political ring.
Former Elgin MP and Southwold resident Ken Monteith died on Feb. 3 at the age of 84.
City councillor Steve Peters recalls Monteith not only was a well-respected politician, but he also continued to give back to the community after he left politics.
“Ken was the consummate public servant. He started in the 1970s on Southwold council. Served as the warden in 1981, and went on to become the MP in 1988.
Monteith served as Elgin MP until 1993.
“But even after his defeat, he continued to give back to the community, whether it was supporting the hospital or the plowing match.”
Most recently he helped fundraise for Hospice of Elgin.
“Ken really had a life-long commitment to helping others in the community. He’s the type of person that is going to be really difficult to replace because a lot of times people will retire, but Ken stayed active until the end.”

St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston has a particularly fond spot in his heart for Monteith who encouraged him to take the plunge into politics.
“He was an incredible mentor,” praises Preston. “Ken and I were probably good friends for a number of years before I decided to enter politics.
ken-and-louella-monteith“I remember the night I did, it was on his porch.”
Preston remembers it was Monteith who taught him you will get much more accomplished making friends than acquiring enemies.
Preston adds Monteith was a great family man who thought of family first. We have lost a great one, stressed Preston.
And if a cause had anything to do with agriculture, Monteith was there stresses MP Karen Vecchio, who was related to Monteith and knew him her entire life.
“Like the Elgin Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the schools like Ridgetown and Guelph.
“And of course, Kiwanis was a huge part of his life.”
Going back in time, Vecchio remembers 1985 when Monteith was running to become MPP when he was pitted against Bob McCaig and Ron McNeil.
“That’s when I bought my first membership (to the Conservative party).”
But he was not a mentor as such to Vecchio.
“He had found other loves in the community that he was working on and he jumped in with both feet.”
He was cut from a special kind of cloth, notes Vecchio.
“People who are really there with integrity and their community always first in mind. And that’s what you found with many of our past politicians.
“Ken, John Wise, Ron McNeil, all of these people who represented with such dignity.”
Steve Peters remembers Monteith’s influence in so many aspects of community life.
“The tentacles of Ken Monteith extended into a lot of different things in the community. Whether that was supporting agriculture, an active member of the Fingal Masonic Lodge and other events in the community, Ken was really, really community-minded.”


Minutes before city council on Monday (Feb. 13) unanimously approved supporting Project Tiny Hope to the tune of $3 million, Coun. Gary Clarke cut to the chase on the YWCA’s financial ask.
He called the request “the deal of the century . . . there are so many bullet points for the city.”
The city is going to be the beneficiary of 40 affordable housing units for an investment of $3 million.
The comment wasn’t lost on Linday Rice, YWCA executive director.
“As soon as Gary Clarke made that comment, I just thought, wow this is incredible.
“Just to hear the support and the commitment and the value was awesome.
“Well it’s true, right? Forty tiny homes, one, two and three bedrooms for $3 million. It’s a great opportunity for the city.”

“Not only will be creating 40 tiny homes and a program house, but also a community where individuals will support one another, garden, access top-of-the-line cooking facilities and meeting rooms providing safe spaces for system navigation and case-based management.”

Echoing the sentiments of Heather Sheridan, director of St. Thomas Elgin Social Services, who calls support for Project Tiny Hope “a great investment for the city.”
There’s a long road ahead for Rice as she completes an application to the CMHC’s Rapid Housing Initiative for $6.7 million, due mid-March.
In addition, she is requesting $3 million from the province.
We talked with Rice on Tuesday to determine when shovels could be in the ground, subject to both funding approvals.
“July,” was the one-word confirmation.
“That’s the rapid part of it and that’s the amazing part that Doug Tarry Homes has brought to the table.
“We said guys there is this opportunity. Is this possible? Can you do it, can you build it in 18 months?
“And they said, yes. And so that was one of the big pieces we needed to know we can do because that means folks will be housed by Christmas of 2024.”
Rice stresses “Not only will be creating 40 tiny homes and a program house, but also a community where individuals will support one another, garden, access top-of-the-line cooking facilities and meeting rooms providing safe spaces for system navigation and case-based management.
Project Tiny Hope fundraising campaign Feb. 2023“I just am so excited for the residents who will be residing at 21 Kains Street through this project.
“Thinking about the comfort, the wellness, the dignity and the stabilization that’s going to be created.
“And then access to the YWCA supports, the program house, the food initiatives, the life skills programs, all the things we’re going to bring to the table.”
And here is where the community can get involved.
One week remains in the YWCA Brightening Lives & Building Community fundraising campaign.
The organization is asking individuals, families, estates, not-for-profits or local organizations to help financially support Project Tiny Hope.
To donate, click here.

Related posts:

The 40 housing units in Project Tiny Hope ‘will make a significant difference in our community however there is much more work to be done’

Project Tiny Hope: ‘More than just housing, it’s a new beginning’


The Elgin Group Police Services Board is adding its voice to the growing demand for changes to the Canadian Criminal Code related to the bail system.
We talked this week with Police Services Board chairman Dave Jenkins and he and Elgin OPP Insp. Mark Loucas stress the system of catch-and-release justice is contributing to a public safety crisis.
Accentuated, adds Jenkins, by the shooting death in December of OPP Const. Greg Pierzchala near Hagersville.
“But when you add that to what has gone on locally, whether it be in St. Thomas or whether in Elgin county or even in the City of London, there are a lot of concerns.”
One of the two suspects charged in the murder of Const. Pierzchala – 25-year-old Randall McKenzie – was out on bail for firearms offences with a lifetime ban on owning guns and was currently out on bail with a warrant for his arrest.
Over four years, Elgin OPP dealt with 55 offenders who repeatedly had interactions with police within days of being charged, according to Insp. Loucas.

“First of all, we want our communities to be safe. And secondly, I think we owe it to our police officers that when they finish their day, they can go home to their family.”

These offences included robbery, assault, break and enter, sexual assault and domestic violence-related incidents.
Jenkins echoes the sentiment of outgoing St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge that remedial help is also a necessary component in the criminal justice system.
“We’re not only asking for a review of bail reform, we are also requesting that there be remedial help for people who are in those situations. Whether they are homeless, there are mental health issues or substance or addiction issues, we’ve got to have a whole package.”
Jenkins notes the opportunity for reform is now, in light of the number of police officers injured or killed in the past year.
The ultimate goal is to manage an offender’s behaviour without enforcement, stresses Insp. Loucas.
But, he adds, enforcement is sometimes necessary to protect the safety of the community. Particularly when dealing with repeat offenders who breach their release conditions.
Jenkins points out it is not just about bail hearings, it’s about a package of reforms to the criminal justice system.
“First of all, we want our communities to be safe. And secondly, I think we owe it to our police officers that when they finish their day, they can go home to their family.”

Related post:

St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge calls for a ‘two-stream’ criminal justice system


A boundary adjustment in Elgin-Middlesex-London riding is turning out to be far less drastic – and disruptive – than first proposed.
The report by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario was tabled in the House of Commons on Feb. 10 and called for Thames Centre to join Middlesex-London and the rest of EML riding remaining as is.
As an aside, Thames Centre is the home of MPP Rob Flack although the change initially will impact a federal election as the province would have to approve the change for Ontario elections.
The new riding of Elgin-St. Thomas-London South is being welcomed by MP Karen Vecchio

“This was not just one person. This was the chamber of commerce, the wardens, the mayors and different organizations all coming together and talking about the same thing.
“And so the fact they were being listened to, the fact the commissioner took all of these suggestions and really recognized the importance of counties and communities staying together, I applaud them.”
The new electoral roadmap would have seen St. Thomas incorporated into a new riding to be known as London South–St. Thomas.
It would have stretched 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.
And both Central Elgin and Southwold would have been split into two ridings, the above riding with St. Thomas and a massive new riding, Elgin-Middlesex-Thames which would have included Port Stanley, Port Burwell, Rodney, Ridgetown, Glencoe, Strathroy, Harrietsville and Mossley.

“I will not be appealing this decision. I look at the name and it represents Elgin, St. Thomas and south London and that’s exactly where we are.”

The proposed changes are part of a review of electoral boundaries undertaken every 10 years.
At the time, Vecchio stressed rejigging the boundaries “was so based on population that they (the commission) didn’t look at communities.”
“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.”
Speaking with Vecchio this week she points out with the Elgin-St. Thomas-London South riding, “I also lose Thames Centre which is a huge part of our riding so, for me, that’s what I lost . . . Middlesex is gone now.
“But that was based one hundred per cent on population. But they (Thames Centre) are now back with the rest of the County of Middlesex because they were the lone wolves out for years . . . yeah, lots of rejigging.”
As for what is next, Vecchio explains the process.
“If members of Parliament want to do anything or change anything, it goes to the procedures and house affairs committees and you have the right to appeal these decisions.
“I will not be appealing this decision,” assures Vecchio.
“I look at the name and it represents Elgin, St. Thomas and south London and that’s exactly where we are.”

Related posts:

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

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

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