Love where you shop.
That’s the branding employed by the St. Thomas Downtown Development Board as they promote shopping in the city’s historic core area along Talbot Street.
Although in this exceptional year, the downtown merchants have faced a double whammy: shuttering for several months due to the coronavirus and having to contend with the homeless who wander Talbot Street and frequent the back lanes.
Although they are now open again, for the most part, many shoppers are leery to venture downtown citing the less than inviting atmosphere.
It was not your typical venue in which Mayor Joe Preston was able to meet with constituents.
Thursday morning’s face-to-face with frustrated downtown merchants played out along a back alley that every morning is littered with discarded drug paraphernalia and other detritus of the downtrodden.
It’s a habitat for the homeless and those with mental health issues who utilize back doorsteps and alcoves as personal relief stations.
Hidden from passersby on Talbot Street, it’s where staff often find the less fortunate huddled, unconscious or attempting to harm themselves.
It was against this desperate backdrop that a dozen or so core merchants – already pummelled financially by the pandemic – pleaded with Preston to return this stretch of the downtown corridor to a more inviting destination for shoppers.
Video surveillance will soon be keeping a watchful eye over the city’s downtown core. At Tuesday’s (May 19) meeting, members of council will be asked to endorse Phase 1 of a project that will see the installation of eight CCTV cameras along a two-kilometre stretch of Talbot Street, from CASO Crossing to Queen Street. The locations were selected based on 2018/19 crime mapping data and motor vehicle collision reporting information. In a report to council from city police, it is noted the CCTV program “is a proactive, local solution modelled on successful networks in other municipalities to enhance community well-being and assist the St. Thomas Police Service with solving crime.” Right now when a crime is committed downtown, police need to canvass businesses to see if they have surveillance footage as evidence.
It’s one of those unperceived neighbourhoods in St. Thomas . . . life beyond the hump of the Barwick Street bridge. The residents, who enjoy a tranquil setting west of the railway track, may soon be joined by a couple hundred new neighbours if the city approves a proposed subdivision in the Hill and Barwick streets enclave. The Ostojic Group of St. Thomas is proposing a 75-lot subdivision west of Hill Street with Nick and Joe Ostojic making their pitch to council this Monday (June 17). It’s not the first time the Ostojics have sought to develop the open field nestled between the St. Thomas bypass and Kettle Creek. The stumbling block in the past has been the restricted access across the wooden bridge that spans the CN line to London.
It was a sign of what lies ahead for city staff in St. Thomas. An overview of the proposed 2017 advertising sign bylaw ran into stiff opposition at this week’s reference committee meeting. Amendments to the existing bylaw to deal with portable signs in the downtown core faced vocal opposition from more than two dozen small businesses and area sign companies. The bylaw would prohibit portable advertising signs in the downtown business area and limit them to one per commercial lot outside the core and three per industrial lot. A-board signs would still be permitted but would have to come in off the sidewalk at the end of the day. It’s a restriction similar to what’s in place in London and Sarnia.
An independent player in the movement of people and parcels around St. Thomas and environs since 1944, taxis branded as Cox Cabs picked up their last fare early this year.
A victim of a market re-brand or idled by bankruptcy?
The former, insists owner Jamie Donnelly, who purchased Cox Cabs from the late Terry Banghart in 2011. Banghart took part ownership of the company in 1993 and sole ownership in 2003. He began as a driver with the firm in 1973.
“We started re-branding about three months ago and we have completed it now,” Donnelly told City Scope recently.
The first of three 2017 budget meetings was held Monday at city hall with the second in the series on tap this coming Monday at 4 p.m. where the focus will shift to proposed capital projects and grants.
The 2017 draft budget requires a municipal tax levy increase of 3.44 per cent. However when you factor in an additional $41 million in residential assessment, that reduces the proposed levy to a 2.32 per cent increase.
Proposed capital projects this year total $36.3 million in expenditures. Continue reading →
It is unfortunate that Earl got the impression that the message was “nasty” but that was not my intent. I had sent my email to request further information, as I am concerned about the downtown area and want to gather as much information as possible to make sure I have all the facts before making any decisions.
I am concerned about the amount of time that the DDB is focusing on waste management with the many issues that are facing our downtown core.
I had requested a meeting last week with the Mayor regarding this issue and there is a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 31 with the Waste Management committee.
I am also concerned about costs as the City does provide a second garbage pick up to the Talbot area between Stanley and Balaclava. This is in an effort to assist with the waste management of this area and is at no additional cost to the DDB. I wanted more information from the DDB, as I am wondering if further education needs to be done for the storeowners and tenants in this area.
I want to ensure our downtown streetscape is welcoming for all.
Honestly, you cannot make things like this up. When walking along Talbot St. on Wednesday to take photos of garbage in the downtown core, homeless advocate Jason McComb commented on a study undertaken by the city this winter to determine what happens when you take away most of the garbage cans.
Now Jason, employed in the past by the Downtown Development Board — at minimum wage — to clear Talbot St. of garbage each day, doesn’t mince his words but I had to challenge him on the veracity of this so-called study.
He stood his ground and that left this corner to call Earl Taylor, DDB chairman, to get the skinny on downtown garbage and why Jason is no longer permitted to pick up trash, even on his own time. Continue reading →