The magnificent edifice at the corner of Talbot and Mary Streets, formally known as the Mickleborough building, has had a bit of an uncertain future over the past three years.
It was the former home of Ontario Works before the city purchased it from London developer Shmuel Farhi in March of 2017.
It dates back to the early 1900s and was designed by St. Thomas architect Neil Darrach. Its appraised value at the time of the sale was $4 million.
Under the deal, Farhi Holdings was to donate $2.3 million in exchange for a tax receipt and the city would pay the remaining $1.7 million.
The intent at the time was to partner with the Central Community Health Centre in hopes of consolidating their operations into the structure that once housed the British mainstay Marks and Spencer in the 1970s and Huston’s Fine Furniture into the 1990s.
Added to its functions this year was transforming a portion of the stately building to serve as a day shelter for the homeless.
A far cry from the home of fine furniture.
Hopping on a bus bound for London may soon be a reality for St. Thomas and Elgin county residents.
The city is about to pitch a pilot project to the province seeking funding support for regional transit connectivity for residents of St. Thomas, Central Elgin, Southwold, Malahide and Aylmer.
The undertaking was a recommendation of the Transit Strategic Plan presented to city council a month ago, although the pilot project would go beyond the one-year test suggested in that report.
As outlined Monday (Dec. 16) by Mayor Joe Preston at the reference committee meeting, the three-year undertaking would see a Monday through Sunday service operating from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The bus would leave St. Thomas on the hour for each trip, although Preston stressed these times and hours of operation could be adjusted.
At one time it appeared to have stalled in its tracks and now a hospice to serve the residents of St. Thomas and Elgin has been given a guarantee of moving forward to completion. The push began in 2002 with a fundraising concert for Serenity House Hospice, featuring Canada’s singing priest, Rev. Mark Curtis. Thursday afternoon (Dec. 20) at the CASO station in St. Thomas, MPP Jeff Yurek announced he has received a letter from the province’s health minister supporting a six-bed facility and encouraging the hospice planning committee to submit a capital program application. “After strongly advocating for a hospice in my riding, I am thrilled to receive a letter from Christine Elliott,” advised Yurek in a media release. In the letter, Elliott stressed, “Building new hospice beds across Ontario will provide people with end-of-life care and support in a more comfortable setting.” Continue reading →
This is a horrible time of year to revisit this story. But can there ever be a good time to tackle what has been described as warehousing of our most vulnerable residents? In June of 2014, this corner profiled a disturbing situation at Walnut Manor, an independent supportive living home in St. Thomas operated by Niagara Supportive Living of Welland. Fourteen residents in the home were served up meals described as appalling not appealing by St. Thomas lawyer Elena Dempsey. She had become an advocate for the residents and was reaching out to the community for their help and support to turn things around at Walnut Manor. Things had gotten so bad, Elgin St. Thomas Public Health shut the kitchen down for three days. Four-and-a-half years later and it would appear history is repeating itself. Continue reading →
It’s been almost a year since we exposed the city’s forgotten Talbot Street apartments across from city hall and owner Antoine Trad, who had been approved by St.Thomas-Elgin Ontario Works for funding to add 10 one-bedroom units next door at 560 Talbot St., above the former Capitol Theatre.
Two of the apartments were to be reserved for clients supported by the YWCA of St. Thomas-Elgin and the remainder are for Canadian Mental Health Association clients.
In the intervening 11 months, Trad has shuttered his furniture business and the status of the apartment project – along with the pair of decrepit upper units at 554 Talbot Street – is hazy.
With a demonstrated need for affordable housing in the city, we queried acting director of St. Thomas-Elgin Ontario Works Elizabeth Sebestyen this week on whether this project will proceed. Continue reading →
Deliberations begin 3:30 p.m. Monday into the proposed 2016 capital and operating budgets for St. Thomas.
In his opening remarks contained in the budget binder, director of finance David Aristone indicates at this stage of the process, city ratepayers can anticipate a 2.32% hike in the property tax levy.
The proposed levy for this year is $48,721,653, up from the actual 2015 levy of just over $47 million.
Proposed capital projects this year would require almost $21.8 million in funding. Continue reading →
It has to be one of the longest temporary fixes in this city’s history. Of course we’re talking about the Bailey bridge installed at Dalewood dam in 1983, at a cost of $35,000.
More than three decades later — and after a bridge load of studies and reports — the one-lane structure is front and centre again on Monday’s council agenda.
More than a year ago — Nov. 17, 2014 to be exact — council authorized staff to engage Stantec Consulting to complete an environmental assessment to help determine the preferred solution for a crossing of Kettle Creek.