Market study recommends more retail in downtown core; revitalization of Elgin Mall


city_scope_logo-cmykIn the period 2000 to 2015, St. Thomas experienced an almost three-fold increase in vacant commercial retail space. That’s one of the key findings in a 2015 retail market study to be presented to council Monday.
The study, undertaken by Dillon Consulting and W. Scott Morgan & Associates, sought to “analyse the ability of the city’s commercial policy framework to support the health of its retail market, while identifying the evolving retail market trends that may affect St. Thomas.”
The city has 2.46 million square feet of retail commercial space – an increase of 15 per cent since 2007 – but in that total, 313,000 square feet is vacant, up from 114,000 in the year 2000.

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Is Ascent realignment sign of a turnaround at the St. Thomas utility?


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Is the latest grim news over at Ascent in reality a turning point for the beleaguered St. Thomas utility?

In a phone conversation Friday with acting CEO John Laverty, he confirmed rumors swirling on social media of further layoffs.

“We had a small number of folks we let go,” noted Laverty, “but we added the same number back in different areas of the company. So the net loss to the corporation is zero.

“It’s realigning some of the business units, ones that were not being financially productive and we were running out of work for them. Continue reading

A campaign promise better left unfulfilled


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The Jan. 19 council meeting in which Part 1 of the 2015 capital budget was unanimously approved is undeniable validation a new home for the St. Thomas Police Service did not play a significant role in the 2014 municipal campaign.

Members of council were united in committing $13 million to construct a purpose-built structure immediately west of the Timken Centre. It should be noted Coun. Jeff Kohler was absent from the vote due to a personal family matter.

In a presentation that evening by The Ventin Group, given direction by council to undertake the tendering process, a Class B cost estimate of $10.6 million for construction of the single-storey building was tabled.

A far cry from projections of up to $30 million floated in some corners during the bitter October election campaign.
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My acclamation? Sorry, no comment on that


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He’s the hottest and sexiest political commodity in the country right now and surely any number of eager, imaginative up-and-comers would love to be a player on the Justin Trudeau team as it readies for the 2015 federal election.

And yet we are expected to believe not one single motivated individual stepped forward to challenge Lori Baldwin-Sands for the Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London?

The former St. Thomas alderman will be acclaimed on Nov. 20 at a nomination meeting to be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

That’s right, it was no contest.
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Forget slamming and trashing, get out and vote


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He is the first to admit when people hear Dave Warden will not seek re-election this fall there will be no shortage of fists pumping the air in jubilation — those of ratepayers and several peers on council.

Citing a loss of passion and the desire to spend more time with family, Warden made the announcement Friday after serious deliberation.

“I’ve lost the passion for politics and, basically, I want my life back,” Warden advised. “I’m leaving politics with my head held high. And, I’m leaving on my terms.”

The story on page 3 of today’s Times-Journal fills in the details so we’ll get to the candid stuff.

Regarding Ald. Mark Cosens’ alluding to corrupt dealings in the council chamber, Warden says don’t go there.

“Don’t accuse me of things I was accused of the other day. But I won’t lower myself to his level. Instead, I am very grateful to the people who supported me. And, it’s been an honour for me to serve the people of St. Thomas.

“To turn around and resort to this mud-slinging bullshit, I’m sorry. Municipal politics has changed. You think St. Thomas is immune to this? You wait until this election heats up. It’s started already.”
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Who is in and who has suffered enough


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With the very distinct possibility we’ll undertake a couple of trips to the polls in 2014, the wind and water are coming together for what should prove to be an entertaining year in the council chamber at city hall.
Thursday was the first day nomination papers could be filed for the Oct. 27 municipal vote and, to the best of our knowledge, no sitting member of council has taken the first step on the road to re-election.
So, let’s do a little armchair quarterbacking and go around the horseshoe and speculate on who is going to do what this year.
Starting at the top, Mayor Heather Jackson will certainly seek a second term at the helm. Will she retain her voter base and has she managed to gain the confidence of a significant number of ratepayers who shied away from her in 2010?
There is a good possibility she will be in at least a three-horse race; has she the stamina and resources to fend off challengers?
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Revitalized Tories feel a Wynne is in sight


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A reinvigorated party, ready to head to the polls and unseat Kathleen Wynne and the scandal-plagued Liberals.
That’s the prognosis from Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek as his party emerged from last weekend’s pep rally in London.
“All of the caucus left pretty invigorated and ready to go behind Tim (Hudak),” Jeff told City Scope on Thursday.
“Tim has even come out on fire in the legislature all week and really focused on jobs and the economy. He has really loosened up and he’s ready to go for the next election.”
We’ll zero in on jobs in a moment, however we had to peg Jeff down on the party’s leader who just doesn’t seem to resonate with the majority of voters.
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