Land-use planner warns St. Thomas is suffering from ‘sign disease’


city_scope_logo-cmykIt 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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Will Ontario’s new minimum wage result in maximum economic stress for school bus operators?


city_scope_logo-cmykAs debate swirls around the province’s decision to raise the minimum wage in stages, beginning Jan. 1 of next year, the Kathleen Wynne government has not taken into account the impact on school bus operators, most notably small, independent firms that have safely transported students back and forth to classes for decades.
The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) estimates nearly one million Ontario families rely on school buses to get their children to school. The Wynne government’s push to hike the minimum wage could threaten the availability of bus service in the coming year. Continue reading

“Difficult decision” made to cancel this year’s Fire Muster


The St. Thomas Professional Firefighters Association and the St. Thomas Fire Muster Days committee have made “the very difficult decision” to cancel this year’s Fire Muster which was to run Sept. 2 and 3.
Fire Musterjpg

In a release issued Wednesday, the move to cancel was announced so that members of the association can pay their respects to Fire Chief Rob Broadbent, who died Monday of cancer.
In the release, Fire Muster chairman Daryl Smith noted, “We did not make this decision lightly as a lot of planning has been invested into this event. However we are confident our decision is appropriate in these circumstances.”
Smith added, “We appreciate the community’s understanding with regard to this difficult decision.
“I would also like to thank colleagues, friends and the entire community as we pay our respects to Chief Broadbent and support his family over the next few days.”

The muster, which has drawn close to 10,000 visitors in past years, is being cancelled for the first time in its 35-year history.

The service for Rob Broadbent will be held 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 at Central United Church, 135 Wellington St., St. Thomas.

Visitation is Thursday from 7-9 p.m. and again Friday from 1-3 and 7-9 p.m. at Shawn Jackson Funeral Home, 31 Elgin Street.

St. Thomas fire chief succumbs to cancer


Rob Broadbentjpg

St. Thomas Fire Chief, Rob Broadbent, died Monday (Aug. 28) after a brief battle with kidney cancer at age 56.

Broadbent had been on sick leave from the department for much of the summer.

He was born in St. Thomas and served with the fire department for 32 years, including fire chief since 2010.

St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson paid tribute to Broadbent, and his leadership role with the service.

“The entire City family is devastated by the loss of a tremendous leader and a strategic director of our Fire Service. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Chief’s wife Deb and his entire family.”

Broadbent will be remembered in this corner for his refreshing sense of humour, his love of running, his eagerness to work with the media, his invitations to join firefighters in training sessions and demonstrations and his overall concern for the safety and well-being of those who served – both past and present – in the city’s fire service.

Full obit and funeral arrangements can be found here

After nine years, it’s time to pony up and listen


After nine years of legal wrangling, a bevy of engineering reports, much dizzying debate over semantics and hair-splitting, we finally have a definitive answer from on high.
The Sutherland Press building is unsafe. That’s the determination of Justice Peter Hockin handed down this week along with confirmation building orders issued in 2015 and 2016 have been confirmed as valid.
All right, but now what?
City manager Wendell Graves advised the next step for the city is consultation with legal counsel John Sanders, but “In the absence of any action by the owner, the city will want to make the area safe again as soon as possible.” Continue reading

Neighbourhood blight to be demolished in favour of seniors’ residence


city_scope_logo-cmykFor several years it was a pot-mark on the Wellington Street landscape. The burned-out hulk of the former Ramada Inn proved such an eyesore, Craig Geerlinks and Adam MacLeod across the street at Geerlinks Home Hardware wrote a letter to council in December 2015 pointing out “The building has been abandoned for more than a few years. We are concerned this blight on the neighbourhood, and the city in general, will continue with no end in sight.”
They concluded their missive with the fact many customers leave the store “having purchased home improvement materials, those customers look across the street and cannot help but be disheartened that their efforts at improving their properties are offset by derelict and abandoned buildings such as this one . . . Out-of-town visitors attending activities at the Timken Arena and railway museum drive past the remnants of this now abandoned building and must wonder about our community spirit.”

Continue reading

Retirement payouts to firefighters enough to make you sick


city_scope_logo-cmykYou have to look very, very carefully to find this gem in last Monday’s council agenda.
We’ll help you out. It’s on Page 65. A warning from the city’s director of finance, David Aristone.
“The various reserve balance are adequate in the short term,” advised Aristone in his 2016 year-end update to council. “However, for the longer term, the city is financially exposed in the following areas.
Aristone lists four areas with the final being “future retirement payouts for the fire department.”
No amount is listed, but we confirmed with human resources director Graham Dart the amount at the end of 2016 was approximately $1.3 million.
A tidy sum, that. And what is the $1.3 million earmarked for?

Continue reading