Neither of the combatants in the City of St. Thomas vs. Sutherland Lofts hearing was the star of the show Wednesday at the Elgin County Courthouse.
That honour went to his honour, Justice Peter Hockin , who had no qualms about speaking his mind, sharing his thoughts and guiding lawyers Valerie M’Garry and John Sanders down the path of least resistance.
Or as he stressed, “I don’t want to spin our wheels on collateral issues.”
Now remember, this is the same Justice Hockin who, in 2008, overturned a ruling from Justice David Little that gave the city the go-ahead to demolish the four-storey structure.
In reference to the boxes of evidence accumulated since then, Hockin cut to the chase. “Is it unsafe right now . . . there were recommendations of what could have been done but never was done.”
Having received overwhelming response from area residents, city council unanimously endorsed the concept of a courthouse neighbourhood Monday and authorized staff to “communicate existing programs and information to community leaders.
Approximately 75 residents of the courthouse area responded to a survey distributed to all property owners and renters last November, a rate of return Justin Lawrence, director of environmental services, called “a very high percentage” in his report to council.
As if playing home to this country’s first elevated park wasn’t high enough honour, St. Thomas could be one starting point for an ambitious trail project – an undertaking pinned to the pending merger of St. Thomas Energy and Entegrus, based out of Chatham-Kent.
Earlier this week Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas, released details of what the St. Thomas Elevated Park will look like when the gate at the eastern approach swings open Aug. 27.
When the organization acquired the former Michigan Central Railroad trestle – built in 1929 at a cost of $689,000 – the purchase included 4 km of railway right-of-way at the western end of the structure running to Lyle Road in Southwold.
It has served the city well over its 33 year lifespan however the knackered Dalewood bridge is well past retirement.
The Ministry of Transportation supplied the single-lane Bailey bridge in 1983 as a temporary measure and the structure has major issues relating to the abutments and embankments.
A report coming to city council Tuesday outlines the preferred replacement solution: a structure consisting of two vehicle lanes and a sidewalk on the east side. So no more pausing at either end to let opposing traffic proceed.
While no final design is being put forth at this time, the report from David Jackson, manager of capital works, paints an imaginative picture of possible options.
“Bridges remain visible pieces of the community for over 100 years,” writes Jackson. “With some creative design and cost effective engineering they can become icons that contribute towards community identity. Continue reading →