The flag drops on 2018 municipal election race in St. Thomas


city_scope_logo-cmykWell a pair of Steves kicked off the 2018 municipal electoral race, on opening day no less. That would be Steve Wookey, in his bid for the mayor’s seat after one term on council and Steve Peters, in a city hall comeback effort.
Both filed their nomination papers early Tuesday.
You have to love Wookey’s assertion he has the endorsement of all members of the present council. Of course, that would be with the exception of sitting mayor Heather Jackson, who has basically been handed a vote of no confidence by councillors.
Wookey has been pushing for a complete overhaul of the city’s transit system, likely a popular move with those who shun the bus but a bitter pill for those who rely on a traditional service, including low-income users and students. Continue reading

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An August start on Alma property? ‘Technically it’s possible.’


city_scope_logo-cmykMichael Loewith of Loewith-Greenberg Communities made an impressive presentation to city council Tuesday, outlining his proposal for developing the Alma College property.
There have been proposals in the past for the site of the former school for girls, so is this latest presentation the real deal?
“He (Loewith) is the right guy,” insisted London Developer Gino Reale, current manager of the Moore Street property.
“It took a little while to find him. But, I think we found the right guy . . . I’m not a builder, but if I find the right guy then that’s who is going to buy it. And this guy, in my books, is the right guy.”
Loewith has a conditional offer to purchase the property, as Reale explained earlier this week.
“There are conditions on the offer until April. As far as he (Loewith) is concerned, it’s a done deal. Until he sends me the paperwork and says he waives the conditions – which was primarily this meeting with council and a couple of other minor things – it will solidify or fall apart by April.” Continue reading

We deserve more than a false sense of security


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Well it appears the death of Harold Hill in 2009 has had limited impact on city administrators and members of council.
Hill, 82, was struck by a vehicle while using a crosswalk on Elm Street in front of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital on Sept. 24, 2009. He later died in hospital.
Turns out the crossing was not legal, according to city police, and the city has 15 similar uncontrolled crossings in existence today, where pedestrians are likely under the mistaken impression they can safely enter the crosswalk to navigate the roadway.
Eight of those crossings are located along Talbot Street.
In reality, pedestrians do not have the right of way and must yield to motorists at these so-called courtesy crossings.
A headline in the Times-Journal at the time of Hill’s death alerted pedestrians to the danger of these crossings: “Two crosswalk lines . . . ‘mean nothing’.”
Continue reading

Ma Ferguson offered equal justice to the little people


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A last-minute addition to the City Scope lineup this week, predicated by the death Tuesday of Edra Sanders Ferguson in her 105th year of “an overflowing life.”

The Times-Journal, and this corner in particular, championed “Ma Ferguson” as she was known for many years by Toronto lawyers.

The photo on the front page of Friday’s T-J offers a tantalizing taste of the individual who served as the first woman alderman in St. Thomas; to initiate a Red Cross Clinic in Guelph; and to be appointed the first Division Court judge in Ontario (later to become the Small Claims Court).

St. Thomas native and Order of Canada recepient Edra Ferguson, left, and Tara Muzumdar, the Belmont House Nursing Home employee who nominated her.


We will forever cherish the personal note from Edra’s nephew, St. Thomas lawyer John Sanders, sent this past June after the announcement she was to receive the Order of Canada for her contributions in the fields of law and women’s rights — the oldest person ever to receive the Order of Canada.

Better yet, today’s (Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011) Bygones photo on page 2, sent along by Gina Coady at Elgin County Archives, transports us back to 1926 and a striking Edra as a member of the Alma College debating team.
Continue reading

Heritage legislation means nothing if local politicians not on side


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Posted by Ian:

Built heritage wasn’t even on the radar at the onset of the Oct 25 municipal election campaign in St. Thomas. Certainly not a lot of candidate literature went into any detail on preserving the city’s heritage and it was a non-starter in the Chamber of Commerce member survey found here.

By the final weekend of the campaign, with full revelation of the $3 million lawsuit filed against the city, Mayor Cliff Barwick and others by developer David McGee, details here, heritage may have proved to be a critical factor in the final outcome.

Here are thoughts taken from Acorn, the newsletter of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, including comments from president Lloyd Alter and two St. Thomas residents …
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Dialing out for votes turns the tide on mayoral race


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It was a game-breaker. It, being news that broke last Thursday of the law suit by London developer David McGee, filed in August, against the city, Mayor Cliff Barwick and numerous other defendants.

Did the timing of the $3 million suit, and the hiring of political strategist Suzanne Van Bommel, impact the mayoral vote in the final weekend of the campaign?

A study of the advance polling numbers would appear to indicate the front-page story filed one week ago by the T-J’s Kyle Rea, and picked up by the Free Press in London, took the wind out of Barwick’s campaign sail.

As of last Friday, Barwick led the advance polls with 585 votes, followed by Heather Jackson-Chapman at 454 and Al Riddell with 432 votes.
Continue reading

St. Thomas-Elgin Branch of ACO applauds preservation of Elgin County Courthouse


Elgin County Courthouse

Members of the St. Thomas-Elgin branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario applaud the decision to preserve the historic Elgin County Courthouse by consolidating the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice under one roof.
“We’re thrilled that the project preserves the heritage of the 1853 courthouse,” branch president Suzanne van Bommel said. “Credit must go to where it is due – to Steve Peters, our member of provincial parliament. I know first hand his commitment to this project and how hard he has worked over the years to preserve this beautiful building.”
The decision illustrates that heritage conservation is fully compatible with modern requirements. The city and county get a modern, fully accessible courthouse facility that will create short and long term jobs located in the heart of downtown. ACO branch members believe that the project will have additional spin-off benefits, spurring further development in the west end of the city. It will also act as a model for other creative re-uses of the city’s many heritage properties.
The St. Thomas-Elgin Branch of ACO was formed in April of this year in response to the devastating loss of historic Alma College due to neglect and arson.
The Architctural Conservancy of Ontario was formed in 1933 with the express purpose to “preserve buildings and structures of architectural merit”.
For further information, contact:
Suzanne van Bommell, branch president, 519-200-6700
Serge Lavoie, branch secretary, 519-859-7763