‘It just sits there.’ Is the Sutherland Press building a monument to something or an over-sized bird house?


city_scope_logo-cmykWhen we last looked in on the Sutherland Saga, one question remained unanswered. Is the four-storey structure looming over the downtown core unsafe?
After a day-long hearing Friday at the Elgin County Courthouse – in which lawyer Valerie M’Garry, representing owner David McGee, and John Sanders, representing the city’s chief building official Chris Peck, parried over the definition of unsafe and is there a definition of a safe structure – little headway was made in what has become a dizzying debate over semantics.
And, as was the case on the opening day of the hearing a week ago, it was Justice Peter Hockin who dominated proceedings. Pondering aloud at one point, “What if this place is not insurable from a liability point of view?”
To backtrack for a moment, the purpose of the two-day hearing is to get down to business and deal with the decision of a three-member court of appeal panel handed down last month in which it ruled in the city’s favour, advising a lower court erred in its determination last September that a notice issued in March of 2016 warning of demolition of the four-storey structure for failure to comply with a previous work order was null and void.

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What’s in a name? In this case, $2.7 million


city_scope_logo-cmykThe city this week locked in place two more pieces of the Talbot Street West redevelopment puzzle with announcement of the purchase of two properties from London developer Shmuel Farhi.
The acquisitions are the Mickleborough Building at 423 Talbot Street – the home of Ontario Works since 2000 – and a parcel of land on the south side of Talbot St., between William and Queen streets, and stretching south to Centre Street.
While a conditional offer was announced last April the delay, according to city manager Wendell Graves, revolved around environmental issues.
“We have done due diligence over and above so we know exactly what we are facing,” stressed Graves. “In our approved city budget this year we have funds allocated there to begin some cleanup. Because we are looking to use pieces of that site for residential, under the Ministry of the Environment regs, that is the highest order of cleanup that will be required.”

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Sheba a symptom of the long-neglected animal welfare system in St. Thomas


Pound dogShe has been christened Sheba, after being found abandoned last week in a corn field just outside St. Thomas. Missing much of her fur and blind at this point, the sadly neglected dog “is why we are so concerned about having available funds for vet care for lost pets that come into the city pound,” stresses Lois Jackson, chair of the city’s animal welfare committee and founder of All Breed Canine Rescue.

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Jail term and 10-year ban for St. Thomas man in animal neglect case


A St. Thomas man who abandoned two dogs and a cat in a sweltering apartment with no food or water was sentenced to four months in jail Tuesday afternoon.
In addition, 20-year-old Cody Yeo was slapped with a 10-year prohibition on owning any animal.
In sentencing Yeo, Justice Marietta Roberts – who was handed “graphic” photographs of the squalid apartment unit and the two dead dogs – said she hoped the jail time would act as a deterrent, adding “this is the most appropriate sentence to take you out of the community.”
St. Thomas animal welfare activist Lois Jackson called the term of incarceration “reassuring.”

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There’s specificity in one area, a date in court


city_scope_logo-cmykHeld over for another big year . . . The Sutherland Saga.

Watch the City of St. Thomas and David McGee, owner of Sutherland Lofts, pick up where they left off in 2016 . . . back in court.

That’s right, after issuing another work order late in October against the owner of the four-storey Sutherland Press building, McGee has tossed it back in the city’s corner with the declaration, see you in court.

On October 28, the city slapped a new unsafe building order on McGee with what city manager Wendell Graves called a very specific time line.

“They have until Dec. 15 to provide a detailed work plan and schedule to get the thing remedied and then work has to commence by the 9th of January,” Graves told this corner. Continue reading

There’s no shortage of work orders in the Sutherland Saga


city_scope_logo-cmykRound 3 is coming up momentarily. Of course we’re talking about the Sutherland Saga, the seemingly endless courtroom soap opera.

In the last episode, culminating on Sept. 27, Justice Gorman accepted Sutherland Press building owner David McGee’s submission at a May hearing in the Elgin County Courthouse that Sutherland Loft Inc. did not receive notice of a building order issued by the city and its president was unaware, specifically, the building might be demolished if not remediated by the owner.

McGee’s lawyer, Valerie M’Garry, argued in March of this year the city did not properly deliver via registered mail a letter warning demolition of the building would begin at the end of that month because of noncompliance with a property standards order. The order called for immediate replacement of spalling or damaged bricks and securing the roof, which had suffered a partial collapse. Continue reading

Do we move homes and schools because of neighbours?


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Exactly one month ago, a petition calling for the removal of a meth clinic from its present downtown location at 217 Talbot St. garnered space on the front page of the Times-Journal.
The petition was spearheaded by area performer Traci Kennedy, and stated in part: “The people that grace that clinic are a disgrace to our community because they just don’t care how they behave or how their behaviour reflects on us. We as business owners and residents of St. Thomas should not have to feel like we are no longer safe in our home community.”
Reporter Nick Lypaczewski’s story – and a follow-up with clinic users who charged Kennedy’s generalizations detract from the positive strides former addicts have made – generated response from both sides of the fence.

The St. Thomas Medical Pharmacy’s Clinic 217 shown is located on Talbot Street at the New and Wlliam Street intersection near the west entrance to the city.

And the feedback continues, with increasing support for the efforts of the meth clinic, as witness passionate letters submitted this week from two readers.
“To read Traci Kennedy’s heartless rants, one almost gets the feeling that she lives in a glass house, albeit with a sordid, decrepit view of Talbot Street,” writes Sharon Hodgson of St. Thomas.
Hodgson is a community service worker and continues with this observation: “I am not surprised she believes she has the perception of support to eliminate Clinic 217, along with any addiction clients, as the city does have a well-known reputation for victimizing its vulnerable.
“Whether those vulnerable be addicted, alcoholic, homeless, women fleeing domestic assault, sole-mother families, disability recipients or homosexual.”
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