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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We welcome your business, but not right there


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It should be a fair assumption the city has an open door policy to welcome new business to St. Thomas and make the move here as seamless as possible. Why would you operate in any other fashion?

So why are city staff — and to a lesser extent some members of city council — throwing up roadblocks and mounds of red tape in the direction of Kristie Morgan, who operates a much-needed adult day nursery at 24 Elizabeth St?

A nursery that operates six hours each weekday and employs five people in a city starved for jobs.

Yes she was afforded a small victory Monday when council allowed her to continue to operate her Time For You 2 facility in an area zoned residential, which permits churches, private schools and day nurseries limited to children under 18 with a developmental handicap.

Morgan’s operation deals with those over 18 years of age who benefit greatly from the life and social skills offered by Morgan and her staff. In the process affording much needed relief for the parents of these individuals.
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And now, this week’s parking plan


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If you don’t live in or frequent the courthouse neighbourhood, you likely are not aware of the confusing – not to mention frustrating – parking situation residents and businesses have been dealt.
Too best sum it up, the consolidated courthouse parking plan is a page right out of last year’s Sunset Drive detour playbook. It seems to have been poorly strategized and is ever evolving as witness the changes adopted by city council on Monday.
The following is typical of the observations and complaints that have been forwarded our way.
“As a resident in the courthouse area who has attended meetings, met in person at city hall with staff, written suggestions, sent no less than 50 emails, sending photos of parking infractions, etc., I must certainly say that all has fallen on deaf ears,” writes one individual on the Times-Journal website. “Residents in this area have been through severe stress and personal sacrifice. The problems continue after 2 1/2 years of compliance to all of their hoop-jumping. We have ensured their job security but in turn almost nothing has been done to improve the situation for residents. We have fought tooth and nail for resolution and to no avail.”
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Sorry, we’re very busy getting our house in order


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It’s a gutsy call . . . turning down an opportunity to have St. Thomas profiled on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Mayor Heather Jackson and other city officials turned thumbs down on feelers from Force Four Entertainment in Vancouver requesting the city consider serving as a backdrop for the second season of Million Dollar Neighbourhood.
Promotional material touting the series gushes, “Million Dollar Neighbourhood is a groundbreaking television series about taking control of finances, the power of community and guiding people toward their best lives.”

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Some choice … cut services or hike municipal taxes


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Hit taxpayers in the pocket or scour the corridors of city hall for cost-cutting opportunities.

That’s the options facing council and staff in the finals days before the 2010 operational budget comes under scrutiny a week from Monday.

Mayor Cliff Barwick has made numerous references to tough decisions that have to be made this year and in to 2011, so we went right to the source this week for a status report on the financial health of St. Thomas and the implications for residents.

“I think you’re in a situation where the taxpayer is going to be hit to some degree, but at the same time, we have taken a substantial number of items out of the budget,” Barwick told City Scope on Thursday.
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Will St. Thomas – London GO train service ever get on track?


A commuter train service between London and St. Thomas means a greener region: financially and environmentally.

That was the word from Rod Morley, vice chair of London’s Advisory Committee on the Environment, during a public meeting last week (Nov. 25).

Morley, along with John Lucas, Division Manager – Transportation Engineering for the City of London, and members of the St. Thomas and London Commuter Rail Association (STALCRA), discussed the initiative with the public during a meeting at City Hall.

Besides reducing car emissions and urban congestion, implementing the train service could stimulate economic growth in Southwestern Ontario, Morley said. It could create numerous jobs and attract more businesses to the region.
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High-speed rail is coming to the U.S. so when will we get on track in Canada?


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It’s one of Obama’s greenest ideas–even though it may be underfunded–but news broke today (April 16-09) that a massive high speed rail is officially on the way. The president’s announcement included an outline of 10 corridors around the US that will each likely see rail begin construction. So buckle up. Obama’s serious about getting our transportation system up to the cutting edge—here’s a guide to his plan, and a breakdown of the cities slated for a high speed transit future.
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