Stop skating around the issue: Is it time to open up Lake Margaret for recreational activities?


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My, how words can come back around to bite you.
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about Lake Margaret attracting skaters of all ages for an afternoon of gliding across the frozen water.
A scene right out of a Tim Hortons’ tribute to life in Canada.
Which led to queries from several readers as to summertime use of the lake for fishing and canoeing.
As the signs lakeside warn and reiterated two weeks ago by Ross Tucker, Director of Parks, Recreation and Property Management, a big negatory to those warm-weather activities.
The decision to prohibit fishing in Lake Margaret was a recommendation of the 2010 Lake Margaret Environmental Plan.
It came up for discussion back in April of 2017 when Coun. Steve Wookey proclaimed, “In my world, there should be fishing and canoeing.” Continue reading

A caring environment in a stable, permanent home is the foundation for transformation in people’s lives


city_scope_logo-cmykThis past Monday was a busy day for Mayor Joe Preston as he noted the city was able to undertake a decade’s worth of work in a day.
Preston was referring to the city’s three-year strategic plan setting out priorities, guiding principles, goals and commitments as laid out at the Dec. 14 reference committee meeting.
One of the pillars of that plan is creation of a compassionate community and the commitment to build an emergency shelter for the homeless. It is to be constructed in a single location and be open by September of this year.
Well on Monday the city released a blueprint as it moves forward on its compassionate community strategic objective.
It’s a sweeping paper with many more objectives than just a homeless shelter.
The most immediate action point involves the city entering into a memorandum of understanding with Indwell Community Homes to develop supportive housing projects.

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Talks begin next week on how to spend our tax dollars


city_scope_logo-cmykCity council will hold two meetings this coming week to begin deliberations on 2021 proposed operating and capital budgets.
The first will start immediately after Monday’s (Dec. 7) council meeting which begins at 5 p.m., with the second to be held the following day starting at 5 p.m.
As it stands now, the budget calls for a 2.48 per cent increase to the property tax levy next year.
Capital projects as proposed would require just under $41 million in funding and, if passed by council, would mark the largest capital budget where debt was not drawn.
Items in the capital budget recommended for approval include up to five electric light-duty vehicles as the city begins to make good on reducing its carbon footprint.
The biggest project at $10.8 million is rebuilding Fairview Avenue from Elm Street to Southdale Line.
Annual road rehabilitation comes in at $2 million and the ongoing Complete Streets program next year will require $6.8 million.

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Casting light when a council meeting goes dark


city_scope_logo-cmykFor many of us, we’ve settled into a pandemic dictated routine where our days are punctuated with Zoom meetings interspersed with live-streamed gatherings, exponentially increasing our screen time.
Leaving us to wonder how much of this will pivot over to the new reality?
But what happens when one of these feeds fails or the audio stream is so out of whack it is impossible to follow along?
It has happened twice this month with city council: once with a reference committee meeting dealing with community grants and again this week with the scheduled council meeting.

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‘We get this protest in, we move it out of town and do it as peaceful as possible’


city_scope_logo-cmykMayor Joe Preston and Police Chief Chris Herridge have both cut to the chase when talking about today’s (Saturday) Freedom Rally in St. Thomas: “We do not want this protest.”
It’s the third such rally in less than a month in the region at a time when the province is tightening up restrictions due to a rapid increase in COVID-19 infections.
In speaking with Herridge this week, he stressed “should they come here they could face charges.
“But if you say ‘no’ to the arena (Memorial Arena, where the protesters are meeting up) they’re going to show up. And, we do not want what happened in Aylmer (where the march through town forced detours at numerous locations).”

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In a mere 38 seconds, city council passed a motion that could result in a dozen people losing their jobs


city_scope_logo-cmykThe recommendation before council at the Sept. 21 meeting appeared straightforward enough: That council grants permission to proceed with a procurement process to designate three operators for the
EarlyON system in St. Thomas-Elgin.
Now, either the mayor and councillors did not fully read the report from Teresa Sulowski, supervisor of children’s services – it was two pages in length – or they failed to comprehend the possible implications of what she is proposing.
In any event, the opportunity was there for any member of council to seek clarification or request further information.
Instead, the far-reaching report was approved in a matter of 38 seconds with nary a question or comment.

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Keeping the wolves from the front door and the homeless from the back


city_scope_logo-cmykLove 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.

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The funding is not a concern, the worry is the financial accountability on the part of city hall


city_scope_logo-cmykWell, wasn’t that quite the diatribe this week from Vishal Chityal and his counter ego Charlie Duke over at SupportiveLiving.ca. The lengthy Facebook posting was in response to last week’s item on COVID-19 precautions that may be in place at Walnut Manor, a home operated by SupportiveLiving.ca.
There hasn’t been pushback like that from Vishal/Charlie in the six years we’ve documented conditions at Walnut Manor, beginning with the closure of the kitchen by the health unit in 2014.
So, why is that?
And, the detailed itemization of the many protocols now in place at the facility including increased sanitization, temperature monitoring and PPE for frontline staff.

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A response to our “shocking statement” last week regarding Walnut Manor


The following is a response to last week’s item on Walnut Manor. It was submitted by the owners of the facility, SupportiveLiving.ca. We have included the submission in its entirety.

As background to the six years spent documenting the plight of the individuals warehoused at this facility, the following is a link to MPP Jeff Burch’s private member’s bill to protect vulnerable Ontarians. The home in question in this backgrounder is Walnut Manor, right here in St. Thomas.  https://www.ontariondp.ca/news/ndp-mpp-jeff-burch-tables-legislation-protect-vulnerable-ontarians-supportive-living-homes

On Dec. 28 of last year, City Scope posted the following item detailing part of the back story to MPP Burch’s bill. “An Award-Winning Team? What an Insult to Walnut Manor residents” can be found here. https://ianscityscope.com/2019/12/28/an-award-winning-team-what-an-insult-to-walnut-manor-residents/

In a shocking statement by Ian McCallum posted to his blog with regards to Walnut Manor, he has once again raised questions as to the operations of SupportiveLiving.ca in St. Thomas.

Ian McCallum chooses to attack SupportiveLiving on a constant basis to serve his own political agenda. For many months, well before COVID-19 was even a current topic, SupportiveLiving.ca was monitoring the situation closely.

Through this pandemic, SupportiveLiving.ca has been weeks ahead of public health guidelines in the fight against COVID-19, protecting our residents and frontline workers alike.

As of today, we are proud to say that our homes and residents are safe and well protected, which is a huge accomplishment, considering the number of residents we serve. Management and frontline workers are monitoring this situation on a minute-by-minute basis during these trying times and adjusting our policies and procedures accordingly.

SupportiveLiving.ca will continue to be a front runner in the fight against COVID-19 and will do everything in its ability to keep residents and frontline workers safe.

Under the guidance of our CEO, Vishal Chityal, who has tirelessly championed the rights of the homeless, the vulnerable and the weak, we will get through this pandemic and set a shining example of how homes for the vulnerable should be operated in Ontario.

Previous blogs written by Ian McCallum have perpetually reported false information on how SupportiveLiving manages Walnut Manor and its residents – today’s post is no exception.

For weeks, we have worked hand in hand with our communities, public health departments and stakeholders at large to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our frontline staff, external healthcare workers and most importantly, our residents.

We began enforcing strict policies within our homes since March 2, 2020 which include the following:

1. No visitor policy, including contactless delivery of supply chain essentials, weeks before anyone else in the industry

2. Mandatory screening of essential medical/psychiatric service workers to the residents of our homes, five weeks prior to the advice given by public bodies

3. 24-hour telephone support for our residents from doctors, family members and supports

4. We have halted new admissions as of March 26 to protect our front line staff and residents

5. Increased sanitization practices in commonly used areas within our homes – in addition to our already stringent policies on cleanliness within our operations

6. Temperature monitoring of our residents and an immediate 14 day isolation/quarantine of anyone exhibiting fever, cough, or other known COVID-19 symptoms

7. PPE available to all of our frontline staff. Gowns, masks, gloves and face shields have been in place in all SupportiveLiving homes and are available to staff, well before recommendations from public health officials. This PPE have been provided personally by our CEO Vishal Chityal and is not publicly-funded

8. Increased activities, supports and individualized mental health support has been made available to our residents on a 24-hour-a-day basis, all personally provided by our CEO due to the lack of public funding

The strict guidance that has been provided to us by our CEO has kept Walnut Manor as well as all of our homes across Ontario safe and infection-free thus far.

Our website and social media channels have consistently communicated the policies and measures that we have put into place, even before the crisis began in Ontario.

Pre-pandemic, SupportiveLiving.ca sounded the alarm in St. Thomas, Ontario and is on record with public health officials questioning the practices of other care homes and businesses with the intent of keeping Walnut Manor’s frontline workers and residents safe. SupportiveLiving.ca had taken swift action with regard to community spread weeks before official guidance in order to protect our frontline workers and residents.

Our mandate is to ensure the health and safety of our residents – pre-pandemic and now.

If Ian McCallum questions, “Is anybody monitoring,” the answer is a resounding YES. The real question to be asked here is what is his political agenda and why has he been spreading false rumours about our operations at Walnut Manor for years?

As a community, we need to be asking Ian McCallum what he is doing for the city of St. Thomas when it comes to our vulnerable population. His constant attacks in a time when communities are coming together now need to be questioned.

The community in St. Thomas is an intelligent community and will no longer accept the tabloid falsehoods that he spreads.
Future articles exposing these falsehoods and why Iancityscope.com continues to perpetuate his slander about SupportiveLiving.ca will be released shortly.

We wish all citizens of St. Thomas the best during this crisis and give special recognition to all the Frontline Workers in healthcare, retail, logistics, as well as all other industries that are keeping our city running.

Stay safe and stay well,
The Management and Frontline Workers of SupportiveLiving.ca

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