Province’s COVID-19 compensation tardiness leads to cashflow concerns for Southwestern Public Health


city_scope_logo-cmykLike the situation faced by numerous individuals and families over the last two years, Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) this week let it be known it has “significant cashflow concerns.”
Of course, that would be related to COVID-19 expenditures and “the delay in reimbursement by the Ministry of Health.”
The situation is outlined in a letter to city council for Monday’s (Oct. 18) meeting and signed by board chairman Larry Martin and CEO Cynthia St. John.
How many times have you heard Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott pay tribute to the province’s health units for the yeoman work undertaken during the pandemic?
Work that includes a vaccination program executed remarkably.
So how about thanking these health units by coughing up the money promised to them in the early going of the pandemic.
The tardiness has reached such a critical stage, SWPH has had to dip into cash on hand from the 2019 year-end surplus and increase its line of credit to the maximum of three million dollars from $800,000.

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The long and winding road toward a firm – yet fair – community grant policy in St. Thomas


city_scope_logo-cmykPerhaps the city’s alleged new community grant process isn’t quite yet carved in stone.
We wrote about the grant policy last week in advance of Monday’s (Sept. 13) council meeting where Dan Sheridan, the city’s director of finance, recommended members deny small funding requests from the STEAM Education Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Thomas Elgin because the money, according to Sheridan’s interpretation, is to be used for operating expenses.
Council heeded Sheridan’s advice but there was a notable sense of discomfort with the decision from several quarters.
Which, once again, opened up a debate over what is and what should the community grant policy look like.
Prompting this opening salvo from Coun. Steve Wookey.
“For the benefit of myself and everyone watching, I just want to review this very quickly.
“These grants are not meant for day-to-day operations. That’s where I have a little bit of a different assessment of it currently than the folks in treasury do.
“In my mind, the over-arching concept here is, does this help get something off the ground.”
A critical consideration put forth by Coun. Wookey as it could be applied to both funding applications before council on Monday.

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Setting the switch to the appropriate track forward for the Elgin County Railway Museum


city_scope_logo-cmykProposed residential development on land currently owned by the Elgin County Railway Museum is an opportunity to revitalize that portion of downtown St. Thomas, stresses developer Doug Tarry.
He is proposing to purchase eight acres of railway land immediately west of the museum at $300,000 per acre for a low-rise residential development that would front onto a new street to be built off Ross Street and north of Jonas Street.
We talked with Tarry on Tuesday of this week (Aug. 3) and he stressed nothing is carved in stone at this point as museum members have yet to approve the sale of the property.
He started by noting the museum is a gem and, “There is such an opportunity to incorporate how that building works and what it is being used for and how we can expand that into a real revitalization of the centre of downtown.”
As to what the housing would look like Tarry advised, “We’re talking apartment units and we don’t have a design done yet because we obviously haven’t bought the property yet.
“But we’re also wanting to bring our expertise to the table to help with the museum revitalization.”

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The Lake Margaret debate: Coun. Steve Peters argues for ‘healthy living and healthy lifestyle for the environment’


city_scope_logo-cmykFishing and canoeing are now permitted activities at Lake Margaret after Monday’s (May 10) 6-3 vote in support of a couple of motions brought forward by Coun. Gary Clarke.
The turn of events caught city staff off guard as no policies are in place, let alone any signage or launch areas for watercraft.
In speaking with city clerk Maria Konefal this week, her initial advice is “stay tuned.”
She added, “We’ll have a plan that will be coming forward so people are aware how and where . . .”
On Friday the city sent out an advisory of additional items for Monday’s (May 17) agenda including “an overview of measures that will be implemented to provide for non-motorized boating and fishing on Lake Margaret.”
Coun. Clarke calls Lake Margaret, “a positive recreational place for the city to add to Waterworks and Pinafore. It has some features those two don’t have, in terms of accessibility.”

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SW Ontario lagging behind in job creation, income growth, warns economist


city_scope_logo-cmykA sobering report released this week that brings into perspective the impact manufacturing’s decline has had on southwestern Ontario’s median household income through 2015 (the last year of available census data).
The report’s author Ben Eisen, a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute, notes Windsor falls from 10th highest median household income to 25th while London falls from 15th to 27th (out of 36 Canadian metropolitan centres).
St. Thomas is included in the London Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) and so the report has important local relevance.
Eisen’s work covers the period between 2005 and 2015 and so it is a look back in time and the next census in 2021 may give a clearer picture of where we are today.

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A mistake to link emissions reduction and job creation to the province’s electricity system


Ontario has so far approved thousands of green energy contracts, ranging in size from a few solar panels on the roof of a family home to industrial-scale projects, in which they agree to pay several times the going electricity rate for periods of up to 40 years. It has also signed a controversial $7-billion deal with a consortium led by South Korean giant Samsung that includes a massive investment in wind and solar electricity. The hope is that all the spending will seed a new green energy industry in Ontario (all projects must source a percentage of materials locally), creating some 50,000 new jobs in the process.

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National food strategy rooted in Elgin


Posted by Ian:

With no clearly defined picture as to what Canada’s agri-industry should look like in the coming decades, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is taking a lead role in devising a national food strategy. OFA vice-president Mark Wales, who farms near Copenhagen in east Elgin, is a vocal advocate for a clear, defining agricultural template that can be adopted on a national scale.

City Scope conducted a lengthy interview with Mark on March 9 of this year. What follows is the entire unedited version of the phone interview with Mark in Toronto that delved into a national food strategy, a similar undertaking in the U.K., GM foods and other agri-industry topics on the radar.

City Scope: Mark, define for us what has led up to the push for a national food policy.

Mark Wales: There never has been any clear defining, overarching national or even provincial food strategy in this country. Some municipalities, like Vancouver, have a food strategy and I think Manitoba has a bit of one, but those are mainly focused around very local food. But there is nothing overall to say what should Canadian agriculture look like, whom should we be trying to feed, what should we be trying to produce and who should be doing it and under what standards and so on.

There is a myriad of policies but none of them with any overarching vision or strategy. So, that’s what we’re working on here, both in Ontario at the OFA level, and at the national level through the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
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Despite bubbles, governments keep pumping air into alternative energy


While investment analysts are telling their clients to get out of solar power firms and warning about the continuing risks in wind and bioenergy schemes, Ottawa and the provinces are on a mad populist stampede to throw billions of dollars at the green energy monster. The politicians don’t seem to be keeping up with the trends. “Don’t try to catch a falling knife,” warned J.P. Morgan this week in a report that told investors the market continues to fall out of the solar panel module market. It downgraded a bunch of solar companies that have already been in a tailspin since the fist signs of a solar crash back in 2008.

Other alternative energy sectors are hitting walls. Jurisdictions with wind power regimes face continuing issues related to the fact that the wind often doesn’t blow much, turning investments in wind farms into cash-draining albatrosses. In Ontario, the 1,100 megawatts of built wind turbine capacity are often running a few megawatts at a time, and even on the best of days have trouble producing 150 megawatts.
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Wind power is unreliable, expensive and doesn’t result in lower C02 emmissions. Why is Ontario still rushing ahead with it?


Erie Shores Wind Farm


In October 2007, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) — the government’s own agency, tasked with planning Ontario’s power system and now entering into long-term contracts with renewable energy producers — published its Integrated Power System Plan, where it analyzed a “high wind power” scenario for the province, and concluded: “Since wind generation has an effective capacity of 20% compared to 73% for hydroelectric generation, additional generation capacity with better load-following characteristics would need to be installed.

“This needed capacity will likely have to be obtained by installing additional gas-fired generation. Thus, in addition to incurring further capital costs for the gas generation installation, higher gas usage would be expected to make up for the reduced amount of renewable energy from wind compared to that from hydroelectric generation or this alternative. Therefore, this alternative would result in higher greenhouse gas emissions.” The OPA concluded: “Wind and solar power will never be more than a niche supplier of power in Ontario.”

For an hour-by-hour comparison of generator output and capability, visit the IESO website. Scroll down to wind total. In particular for Elgin county, follow the meagre output from the Erie Shores Wind Farm near Port Burwell.

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