It’s been many decades since St. Thomas could hoist the banner, Railway Capital of Canada. Before the end of the decade, however, could the city become the EV Battery Capital of Canada?
The numbers bandied about Friday (April 21) sure point in that direction.
Hosted appropriately enough at the Elgin County Railway Museum, politicians from all levels of government plus officials from Volkswagen and its battery operation, PowerCo, along with city staff were on hand to provide further details on the gigafactory to be located in the new industrial park on the eastern limits of the city.
Technically the EV battery announcement was made last month at city hall, yesterday’s event was an opportunity to fill in the many blanks in order to shed more light on just how massive this facility will be, not to mention the financial gigaincentives dangled by the feds and the province.
In his address to the gathering, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called St. Thomas the place to build the future together.
And he wasted no time addressing the elephant in the room.
St. Thomas-Elgin has reached a significant milestone in the fight against veterans’ homelessness.
In a brief ceremony prior to Tuesday’s city council meeting (April 11), it was announced St. Thomas-Elgin becomes the second community in Canada to achieve functional zero veteran homelessness.
London was the first city in Canada to be recognized.
The goal was achieved in February of this year and Danielle Neilson, the city’s social housing and homelessness prevention supervisor explains why this is a priority.
“It is part of a federal initiative to end homelessness for all veterans across Canada. And they have put money on the table to be able to do that.
“What happens then is Built for Zero works with Canadian communities to establish a system that is set up to immediately prioritize veterans who are identified in the homeless population and assist them with obtaining housing and then housing stability to ensure that they are anchored into their home.”
St. Thomas-Elgin joined Built for Zero Canada – a national movement of over 40 communities working to end chronic and veteran homelessness – in 2021.
We referred to them as the city’s forgotten apartments. A pair of decrepit hovels visible from the mayor’s office in city hall.
The first thing you noticed was the gaping holes where the ceilings had fallen away.
Patches of paint which had not yet floated to the floor cling tentatively to the walls.
In other areas, vast expanses of paint blistered like badly burned skin.
Missing tiles in one of the showers had been replaced with duct tape and garbage bags.
The remnants of a skylight were stuffed with a blanket and when it rained, water dripped to the floor and down the front stairs.
When this corner exposed those units in January of 2016 they were home to four tenants, seemingly off the radar of several departments at city hall.
Links to the trio of items written about those apartments and what might have been in the way of affordable housing back in 2016 can be found at the end of this item.
We reference these residences because how many other out-of-sight, out-of-mind units can be found up and down the Talbot Street core?