Seems the PM just can’t get enough of St. Thomas.
For the second time in just over a month, Justin Trudeau dropped into the city Thursday afternoon for a quick lunch at Legends Tavern and then a stop at The Atrium for a sit-down session with local small business entrepreneurs before a quick jaunt over to Streamliner’s to greet customers.
Of course, Trudeau was on hand at the Elgin County Railway Museum at the end of April for the announcement Volkswagen, through its subsidiary PowerCo, had chosen St. Thomas as the home of its first EV battery gigaplant in North America.
Ostensibly this trip to the Railway City was to play up the economic benefits to small business owners after the massive battery facility opens in 2027.
Mayor Joe Preston joined Trudeau for the short walk from Legends to The Atrium and both appeared in high spirits with shirt sleeves rolled up the PM’s trademark down-to-business look.
He calls it great for St. Thomas.
St. Thomas Fire Chief Dave Gregory likens it to winning the lottery.
Of course, we talked about the announcement earlier this month that Volkswagen is coming to town where it will construct what it refers to as a gigafactory for battery cell manufacturing.
We talked with Gregory earlier this week to get a sense of what that will mean for the fire department in the way of needed resources and planning for when the plant opens in 2027.
“As far as resources and stuff go, I’m unsure at this time because I haven’t seen a footprint or layout of any sort.
“But, it’s what we do,” stressed Gregory. “We have Magna, we have Presstran.
“All the equipment we have, the manpower and the training we do, we’re prepared for anything they will bring to us.”
Gregory doesn’t feel they would need to construct a substation in the new industrial area.
The news release Friday (Jan. 7) afternoon seemed to come out of nowhere and caught many by surprise.
MPP Jeff Yurek announced he would not seek re-election in the June provincial vote and he would resign from his seat at the end of February.
He opened the release with this observation.
“When I entered politics over ten years ago, I made three promises to myself: represent the people of Elgin-Middlesex-London to my fullest ability, remain authentic and true to my values and beliefs, and recognize when it is the right time to step down.”
The reason for Yurek’s decision to pack in provincial politics perhaps lies in the second promise noted above.
Values and beliefs are important to Yurek and, pandemic aside, his insistence on remaining true to those core truths surely put him in a philosophical conflict with Premier Doug Ford and his values and beliefs.
Earlier this month, Jeff Yurek celebrated 10 years in provincial politics as MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London.
Now a decade employed in the same field may seem fairly insignificant, however in the world of politics – at any level of government – that can feel like a lifetime.
Moreso of late with the transformation of the playing field into a highly divisive, confrontational and threatening battleground.
We talked at length this week with Yurek about his political career to date.
As we jokingly asked Yurek, what would possess a successful and popular downtown pharmacist to throw his hat in the political ring?
He admitted he has always had an interest in politics.
“I think it was the combination of being involved with the government of the day dealing with pharmacy issues. Everyone always looks back and wants to do better for the next generation.
“Opportunity arose and I thought I would put my name forward.”
Earlier this week, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek announced $928,000 in funding to support the purchase of a new building for a permanent emergency shelter.
A facility Yurek noted that will be, “a stable facility from which dedicated local service providers can continue to carry out their important, lifesaving work.”
Such a shelter was one of the areas touched upon last month during a meeting between Mayor Joe Preston and downtown merchants who vented their frustration with the lack of attention paid to the plight of the homeless in the core area.
What Preston referred to as “solving the problems of the people causing the problems.”
To follow up on last week’s item on the pilot project to be undertaken by the St. Thomas Police Service to evaluate body cameras, Chief Chris Herridge indicated the small police force in Kentville, Nova Scotia may prove to be a valuable resource during the evaluation. We contacted Kentville police and exchanged emails with Deputy Chief Marty Smith who was most helpful with his responses to our questions. As to how long the service has employed body cameras he noted, “The Kentville Police Service started with a pilot project in 2015 under retired Chief Mark Mander. “In the beginning, we only had a few members outfitted with Body-Worn Cameras to see if they would be beneficial for our members and the public. In 2018 KPS developed a policy and every patrol member wears a BWC when working.”
It was a three-year battle to save a couple of rural schools in Elgin, but in the end, it may have been a last-minute letter of clarification that sealed the deal. Tuesday evening (Nov. 26) Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) trustees voted overwhelmingly in favour of rescinding a motion to shutter New Sarum and Springfield public schools next year. The motion had initially been introduced in October by Elgin trustee Meagan Ruddock, with the support of fellow area trustee Bruce Smith. After the school board completed an accommodation study of a dozen area schools, it was recommended four of them be closed: South Dorchester, Westminster Central, New Sarum and Springfield public schools. A fifth, Sparta Public School, was to be repurposed as a French immersion school. Several trustees had opposed Ruddock’s motion in the belief such a move could jeopardize the business case for the construction of a new school in Belmont.
The mayors from a pair of Elgin county municipalities along with Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek made their best pitch Tuesday (Nov. 19) at a special meeting of Thames Valley District School Board trustees. But it was a member of the Wilson family of Malahide who hit the ball out of the park in a bid to rescind a TVDSB motion to close New Sarum and Springfield public schools. The meeting was held to allow public input on a motion introduced last month by Elgin trustee Meagan Ruddock to reverse a decision to close the pair of schools next year. After the school board completed an accommodation study of a dozen area schools two years ago, it was recommended four of them be closed: South Dorchester, Westminster Central, New Sarum and Springfield public schools. A fifth, Sparta Public School, was to be repurposed as a French immersion school. Fifteen delegations were presented during the two-hour meeting with Yurek suggesting the construction of a smaller school than originally proposed in Belmont could allow the two threatened schools to remain open.
We’re going to start off with our Belmont Library. We started this actually the previous year (2015) and finished up in 2016 with the help of the county. It is now totally accessible . . . and this enables us to continue on a great library . . . and if Belmont is lucky enough to get a school, it certainly is going to help them.
With our Lynhurst projects, engineering is finished and it’s mainly to do storm drainage and new roads. The roads are in terrible shape in that particular area, this is the old Lynhurst. We had hoped we were going to be doing it starting the construction this year, but after going through budget and reviewing our priorities, and we know this is going to be a three-year project, we decided we needed to do some other things because of health and safety . . . so the tenders will go out hopefully in the fall so they can start construction early January in 2018.
This is a big thing we’re doing and has to do with healthy communities. That’s our Master Trail Plan. We’ve asked people to send in their requests, information and their ideas on how we can improve our trails throughout the municipality. Now for Central Elgin, that means anywhere from Belmont, heading all around St. Thomas, heading south through Union and Sparta and ending up in Port Stanley.