Yes, the insurance was indeed paid


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Tony Hofstee sure lit up the T-J Facebook page with his letter to the editor documenting the efforts of volunteers and committee members associated over the years with the Holiday Fantasy of Lights.
His long list of items and services paid for by the Fantasy of Lights will come as a revelation to many, including mayor and members of council
These include electrical work and supplies, upgrades to the washrooms, trees and plants for Pinafore Park, donations to other worthy organizations and the list goes on.
Tony closed his letter with the hope “the mayor and parks director Catharine Spratley apologize to the volunteers who ran the Fantasy. Yes mayor, we did pay our own insurance!”
His letter elicited dozens of responses, including this sampling:
Lori Calvert posted, “Well done Tony. I am glad someone put into print all that we (all previous and current members) did that went unnoticed. But sadly this will fall on deaf ears … if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say ‘why didn’t they ask for volunteers?’ The bottom line is always missed. FOL didn’t ask for hand-outs and money just stop putting up road blocks and charging fees when it is for the betterment of the entire city!!!” Continue reading

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Ah, about that $30 million price tag?


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Don’t believe a drum roll was ordered but years of bickering, speculating and fear-mongering were laid to rest Thursday at city hall.
That’s when tenders for construction of the new St. Thomas Police Service headquarters were opened with 11 contractors pre-qualified and nine of those submitting quotes.
At this point in the process, the lowest bid is $10.7 million from a Brampton firm, M.J. Dixon Construction.
“The Ventin Group, our architects, have all of the information and will be analyzing all of that to make sure there wasn’t anything missing from the tenders and qualifying all of that like we do with all tenders,” CAO Wendell Graves explained on Friday.
“It will take them a couple of days to do that,” Wendell continued. “Our intention is to have a report to council for Aug. 10 relating to the tender. Continue reading

Diplomacy has disappeared at the top


city_scope_logo-cmykFriday afternoon we received a copy of a release from the Holiday Fantasy of Lights committee advising it is pulling the plug on the popular Pinafore Park winter festival.
“For 21 years, Fantasy of Lights has made Pinafore Park a beautiful winter wonderland of lights and display, with many families and people coming to the park to enjoy,” the release notes.
“With the retirement of our chairman and many senior committee members two years ago, we had to fold for a year. With a lot of effort over the last few months, we got a new chairman and some committee members, and had great ideas for the upcoming year.
“We have worked hard to get up and running for this season, but with all of the challenges that have been handed to us from the City and Parks Department, we have decided to fold the Fantasy of Lights for good.” Continue reading

No bins means more garbage on Talbot Street. Surprised?


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Honestly, you cannot make things like this up. When walking along Talbot St. on Wednesday to take photos of garbage in the downtown core, homeless advocate Jason McComb commented on a study undertaken by the city this winter to determine what happens when you take away most of the garbage cans.
Seriously.
Now Jason, employed in the past by the Downtown Development Board — at minimum wage — to clear Talbot St. of garbage each day, doesn’t mince his words but I had to challenge him on the veracity of this so-called study.
He stood his ground and that left this corner to call Earl Taylor, DDB chairman, to get the skinny on downtown garbage and why Jason is no longer permitted to pick up trash, even on his own time. Continue reading

My acclamation? Sorry, no comment on that


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He’s the hottest and sexiest political commodity in the country right now and surely any number of eager, imaginative up-and-comers would love to be a player on the Justin Trudeau team as it readies for the 2015 federal election.

And yet we are expected to believe not one single motivated individual stepped forward to challenge Lori Baldwin-Sands for the Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London?

The former St. Thomas alderman will be acclaimed on Nov. 20 at a nomination meeting to be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

That’s right, it was no contest.
Continue reading

Has waste contractor got act together?


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The city’s new waste contractor takes to the streets in a couple of weeks and we can only hope the launch is a smoother affair than the day-to-day operations up in Whitchurch-Stouffville, north of Toronto.
The new contractor, Green for Life, takes over from BFI in St. Thomas, which in turn replaced Green Lane Environmental.
Green for Life not only serves Whitchurch-Stouffville, but several other municipalities in York Region where it has been experiencing mechanical issues with its trucks, leading to missed collections.
That has been compounded by a lack of communication from GFL on the service disruptions.
Continue reading

A bold step forward in tourism promotion for St. Thomas


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The city has been relatively coy of late on whether it will continue its participation – and to what extent – in Elgin county’s tourism program.
In 2013, the city’s share of the tourism budget is almost $122,000 and more than once in the last couple of years there have been suggestions the city go it alone in the marketing and promotion of tourist-related opportunities.
Well the wraps are about to be thrown off the new tourism model at Monday’s council meeting.
CAO Wendell Graves suggests with an upcoming strategic review of the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation, it would make sense to deal with many of the tourism-related ventures as economic development opportunities.
Continue reading