Unlike London, carding is not a trending topic in St. Thomas


city_scope_logo-cmykIt was what we called in radio, a cluster-buster.

A Tweet from Police Chief Darryl Pinnell Friday morning sure cut through the clutter.

“Let the @STPSmedia “Collection of Identifying Information in Certain Circumstances” training begin!” proclaimed the message, with accompanying photo.

Sounded for all the world like they’re delving into carding, a trending topic up the road in London.

A phone call to St. Thomas Police media contact, Const. Jeff DeLeeuw, confirmed they were in training but it’s not what you think. Continue reading

Last stand imminent for Alma College chapel


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter years of broken promises, neglect, vandalism and the ravages of weather, the final countdown has begun for the Alma College chapel.
Mind you little remains of the chapel — opened in 1948 and, in more caring times, known as Ella D. Bowes Chapel — save for the brick walls and a barely hanging together roof.
Friday morning, new owner Gino Reale of London was given permission by the city to demolish the chapel in which many St. Thomas and area couples were married.
He told this corner the structure was far beyond any hope of restoration and had become a serious safety hazard after several small fires and a roof courting collapse.
Final rights for the chapel could come as early as the beginning of the week.
Most frustrating in all of this is previous owner George Zubick had been issued a list of cleanup priorities by Wade Woznuk, at that time property standards officer for the city. Those included repairs to the chapel roof with an engineer “to inspect to determine extent of structural damage and required repairs.”
Those repairs were to include new asphalt roof shingles. Continue reading

Is this how you promote living downtown?


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It’s taken close to a week but the city sent a building inspector over to 554 Talbot St. to ascertain what needs to be undertaken to at least bring one or both of the ‘forgotten’ apartments across from city hall up to minimum property standards.
This follows on the heels of two visits by fire prevention officers last week to document fire code shortcomings in the upper units adjacent to the former Capitol Theatre.
So are the four residents any closer to more hospitable accommodation?
Chief Fire Prevention Officer Bill Todd said Friday, “The smoke alarms were installed and the junk and everything moved out of the hallway. I think the only thing left is the owner had to order fire doors.”
Take note if you happen to live in any of the similar upper apartments along Talbot Street. Second-story apartments only require one way out, advised Todd. Such is the case at 554 Talbot Street.
“Third storey, then they require a fire escape,” explained Todd.
Do all units downtown meet this requirement?

Continue reading

The city’s forgotten apartments


TalbotapartmentsjpgThe first thing you notice are the gaping holes where the ceilings have fallen away.
Patches of paint which have not yet floated to the floor cling tentatively to the walls.
In other areas, vast expanses of paint blister like badly burned skin.
Missing tiles in one of the showers have been replaced with duct tape and garbage bags. 23jt04talbot1jpgThe remnants of a skylight are stuffed with a blanket and when it rains, water drips to the floor and down the front stairs.
The pair of apparently forgotten apartments are clearly visible from the window of Mayor Heather Jackson’s office.
The upper dwellings at 554 Talbot St. — seemingly off the radar of several departments at city hall — are home to four tenants who have reached their limits of endurance, shivering in poorly heated residences devoid of proper insulation and plagued by drafty windows.
What’s most shocking is the owner of these apartments has been approved by St. ­Thomas-Elgin Ontario Works for funding to add 10 one-bedroom units next door at 560 Talbot St., above the former Capitol Theatre. Continue reading

Permanent solution to a temporary fix


city_scope_logo-cmykIt has to be one of the longest temporary fixes in this city’s history. Of course we’re talking about the Bailey bridge installed at Dalewood dam in 1983, at a cost of $35,000.
More than three decades later — and after a bridge load of studies and reports — the one-lane structure is front and centre again on Monday’s council agenda.
More than a year ago — Nov. 17, 2014 to be exact — council authorized staff to engage Stantec Consulting to complete an environmental assessment to help determine the preferred solution for a crossing of Kettle Creek.

Continue reading

Kains St. ‘disaster’ doomed?


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Chalk up another small victory for a Kains St. resident who has spent the past four years “living next door to a disaster.”
Pauline Wimbush, whose 1890’s-era house abuts an abandoned and derelict cottage-style house at 46 Kains St., has battled Mayor Heather Jackson and city hall in an attempt to have the vermin-ridden structure demolished.
Due to increasing difficulty navigating stairs in her large home, Wimbush is anxious to sell her home and move to a single-storey residence. To date, no real estate agent has shown any interest with what she calls “a tragedy in waiting” lurking to the west of her residence.
In July, after a visit by fire prevention officers Bill Todd and Brian Leverton, the broken windows, missing brickwork and collapsing rear roof were boarded up. Continue reading

Another case of demolition by neglect


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The frustration was clearly evident in the voice of Pauline Wimbush. “It’s like having a child or a pet that you are neglecting.”

Friday was her “day in court,” so to speak, when she was invited to city hall to present her concerns about living next door to a derelict house at 46 Kains St. — whose owner continues to pay property taxes but resides in Holland.

In attendance were CAO Wendell Graves, chief building inspector Chris Peck, bylaw enforcement officer Rob McDonald and St. Thomas Fire Chief Rob Broadbent.

All sympathized with Wimbush but were in agreement there is no quick fix.

To the chagrin of Wimbush who, due to increasing difficulty navigating stairs in her large home, is anxious to sell and move to a single-storey residence.
Continue reading

For homeless advocate Jason McComb, it’s awareness not the raising of funds


city_scope_logo-cmykHomeless advocate Jason McComb has walked his way through June and on this last weekend of the month, he will spend time in Sudbury
We caught up with Jason on Friday as he departed Sturgeon Falls — and above the roar of passing big rigs — he recounted his meeting in that community with a small group of elementary school students and their teacher on an outing.
Needless to say it was the type of first-person encounter those impressionable young people will long remember.
And it was an opportunity for him to stress again, his cross-Canada trek is not about fundraising, instead it’s about raising awareness for those who are homeless — society’s lost souls whose numbers now include Canadian veterans.
Jason put it this way. Continue reading

Unwilling participants caught in a juggling act


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It’s an unenviable position to be in, but for Pauline Wimbush and her immediate neighbours on Kains St., they are unwilling participants in a circus-type juggling act.
If you recall, Wimbush lives next door to what she calls “a disaster” at 46 Kains St. An abandoned and derelict cottage-style house that has been at the mercy of the elements for the past four years with the owner having moved to Holland.
The vermin-infested house is akin to “living next to the St. Thomas zoo,” advises Wimbush.
She contacted Mayor Heather Jackson last year, however the mayor’s lack of response “showed very poor and weak leadership,” asserts Wimbush.
Speaking to the city’s chief building official Chris Peck on Friday, he outlined the process undertaken when a stalemate like Wimbush and her neighbours are facing drags on for years. Continue reading