The city’s newest supportive housing project in partnership with Indwell is to be known as The Station, offering ‘hope and homes for all’

city_scope_logo-cmykBased on the demonstrated success as a Built for Zero Canada community and the recent recognition of St. Thomas-Elgin as the second community in Canada to achieve functional zero veteran homelessness, city manager Sandra Datars Bere had the opportunity this past week to showcase local efforts to end homelessness.
She participated in a three-person presentation Thursday at the Ontario Small Urban Municipalities (OSUM) conference in Paris, Ontario.
The session recognized the challenges of homelessness are not exclusive to large urban centres.
Datars-Bere highlighted some of the best practices being employed to address homelessness in St. Thomas and Elgin starting with compiling a quality By- Name List of approximately 130 individuals identified as actively experiencing homelessness in the community.
It is updated frequently and supports local processes for matching people to resources and making data-informed decisions.
Multiple service providers meet bi-weekly to review this list to match individuals to available resources.

Local priorities include chronic homelessness, high hospital recidivism, Indigenous, veterans and youth.
The city sees the solution to ending occurrences of homelessness as being housing and housing with supports.
And working closely with partners like the YWCA and their Project Tiny Hope initiative and Indwell which operates the Railway City Lofts downtown and owns/operates the 45 units on Queen Street scheduled for occupancy this summer.
Indwell Phase 2 artist renditionEarlier this week we spoke with Julie Ryan, Indwell community engagement coordinator, about the Queen Street project to be known as The Station.
In addition to the 45 one-bedroom suites, there will be a common room and staff offices.
“We’ll have about 10 staff in different roles that will help support our tenants,” explained Ryan.
“Some of those roles include nurses, addiction support, food security, peer support and housing support workers.
“Tenants can engage in different kinds of programming, fun stuff as well as learning new skills.

“We work to create an individualized plan for folks based on what they are looking for and supports they have identified they want.”

“It’s to help them get back on their feet and get their health stabilized and look at what they want to do in their future.”
The Station will offer permanent housing as opposed to Railway City Lofts which is transitional housing with some tenants moving over to the Queen Street units.
And that is where the By-Name List comes into play and, as a result, The Station units will fill quickly.
“We’re already doing some intakes now,” advised Ryan, “and getting ready for our summer opening. It is quite an involved process.
“We work to create an individualized plan for folks based on what they are looking for and supports they have identified they want.”
A third Indwell project will follow to bring the total number of housing units available up to the 100 mark.
No firm location has been identified for this undertaking.
“We’re working with the city which is putting forward several locations for us. We hope to have a third location chosen and underway soon.
“We choose locations that are well suited to transportation and other amenities like grocery stores. Most of our tenants don’t have cars.
“It’s really about situating in a place where there are services nearby that our tenants use.”
Indwell, a Christian charity, has over 1,100 units in seven Ontario communities with more in development.
“Our vision is hope and homes for all.”

Indwell Opening New Doors

Indwell’s birthplace was Hamilton with the development of a group home in that city.
To learn more about Indwell and The Station, the public is invited to an open house on May 18 from 5 until 7 p.m. at the St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre.
It’s an opportunity to hear more about Indwell’s plans in St. Thomas to create more affordable, supportive housing. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and activities, with remarks at 6 p.m.
Before the event, all registrants are invited to a hard hat tour of The Station. Register for the tour and reception by May 12 at The cost is $15.
And, put aside some time this week to read about Craig Coyner. He was once the mayor of Bend, Oregon. He’s now homeless in that very same city.
You see, homelessness embraces inclusivity.
You can find the story here.

Related post:

St. Thomas-Elgin has developed a rapid response system for supporting unhoused veterans . . . a system that can work for other vulnerable populations.


The city has been recognized as one of 50 new Tree Cities of the World for 2022, one of 21 Canadian cities with this recognition.
The organization was founded in 2019 by the Arbor Day Foundation, the world’s largest non-profit membership organization dedicated to planting trees,

Industrial land tree clearing 1It’s a global effort to recognize communities committed to ensuring that their urban forests and trees are maintained, sustainably managed and celebrated.
St. Thomas was selected because of its commitment to meet the following program criteria:

  • establish responsibility for the care of trees
  • set rules to govern the management of forests and trees
  • maintain an updated inventory or assessment of local tree resources
  • allocate resources for a tree management plan, and
  • hold an annual celebration of trees to educate residents

Good thing the city was recognized in 2022. The Great Tree Massacre of 2023 doesn’t appear to neatly fit into any of the above criteria.


An indication of just how nasty, divisive and you could go as far as to say dangerous politics is becoming is contained in Monday’s (May 1) city council agenda.
It’s a motion from the Regional Municipality of Waterloo addressing the requirement that all municipal candidates, school board trustees and donors contributing over $100 must include their address on forms filed with the municipal clerk.

“There has been concern expressed about those who hold public office and those who support them that they have been the subject of unnecessary attention and excessive scrutiny.”

This list is then made public and in the case of the last municipal election in St. Thomas included not only address but phone number and personal email.
The Ontario Municipal Act specifies this information is not protected under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The motion notes “There has been concern expressed about those who hold public office and those who support them that they have been the subject of unnecessary attention and excessive scrutiny.”
Furthermore, this revealing of personal information may discourage candidates from seeking office.
The motion calls for the removal of the requirement for street addresses to be listed on publicly available forms.
For donors contributing in excess of $100, the information would be submitted on forms protected by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and not made public.
Once elected, most municipalities only reveal a corporate email address for political officials as contact information.


Also included in Monday’s agenda is a letter from Diane Noble to Coun. Gary Clarke.
She is writing on behalf of The Women of Ontario Say No and their support of Bill 5: The Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act.
The issue being municipally elected leaders do not have an appropriate accountability structure when it comes to perpetrating violence and harassment in the workplace.
We are not immune to this locally where in 2019 the previous council dealt with a complaint from a city employee alleging a member of council of the opposite sex “removed a cell phone from a hip pocket, brushed their body against the complainant’s back and casually touched a forearm and elbow multiple times, making the employee feel very uncomfortable.”
That member of council continues to hold office in St. Thomas.
Bill 5 – a private members bill – addresses three areas of concern.
It would require councillors to comply with workplace violence and harassment policies of the municipality.
It would permit municipalities to direct the integrity commissioner to apply to the court to vacate a member’s seat for failing to comply with the municipality’s workplace violence and harassment policies.
And, restrict councillors whose seat has been vacated from seeking immediate re-election.
The Women of Ontario Say No have the support of over 50 municipalities for their endorsement of Bill 5.
Noble is urging Coun. Clarke “to bring the attached motion to the table as soon as possible in an upcoming council meeting.”
The motion endorses and communicates public support for Bill 5.
In the past, city council generally has filed similar requests as received for information only.

Related post:

Is sensitivity training sufficient deterrent to deal with workplace harassment at city hall?

Dennis Kalichuk 2023 spring open houseFOR THE CALENDAR

Multi-media artist Dennis Kalichuk and his wife Becky Matthews were scheduled to host their open house art show this weekend, however, a prolonged spell of wet weather has washed away that plan.
It will now be held next Saturday, May 6 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at their home/studio, Happy Rock Studio. Find out more at


In response to last week’s item on the Volkswagen EV battery gigaplant announcement, Ken DeVries forwards this thought.

“When the PM and Premier were in town, it would have been nice if they also stopped to look at the plans and property for the YWCA’s Project Tiny Hope.
“Multi-government cooperation and innovative thinking like this also needs to be noticed and applauded.”

And Dean Paddon has this observation on transportation requirements once the plant opens.

“Hope that we can now afford to improve conditions to meet the steadily increasing traffic conditions by extending the highway No. 3 route beyond Centennial Ave. “I cannot believe that the Ontario Government has totally cancelled this project. It will be needed now more than ever.”

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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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