The city’s newest trail project may very well involve one of the older, well-established foot paths in St. Thomas.
Homeless advocate Jason McComb has walked his way through June and on this last weekend of the month, he will spend time in Sudbury
We caught up with Jason on Friday as he departed Sturgeon Falls — and above the roar of passing big rigs — he recounted his meeting in that community with a small group of elementary school students and their teacher on an outing.
Needless to say it was the type of first-person encounter those impressionable young people will long remember.
And it was an opportunity for him to stress again, his cross-Canada trek is not about fundraising, instead it’s about raising awareness for those who are homeless — society’s lost souls whose numbers now include Canadian veterans.
Jason put it this way. Continue reading
It has been strangely quiet on the police headquarters front, albeit the petitions are still available to sign in city businesses and, no doubt, hundreds of individuals have registered their opposition to construction of a new police building.
Oddly, few if any of these ratepayers have attended the bi-weekly police building committee meetings at city hall, where both sides of the picture are being presented in a fashion that will allow an apples-to-apples cost comparison.
At the July 16 meeting, a representative from the Ventin Group confirmed a presentation will be made to council on Aug. 11 which will include the best estimate to date on the cost of a new police HQ adjacent to the Timken Centre.
Most revealing, however, was the update from Sean Panjer of SPH Engineering, which is in charge of detailing the cost of renovating the existing police station.
At first glance, the proposal seems entirely counter intuitive. Let an absentee owner off the hook and reach out to the community instead for their help and support.
But, that is exactly the tact lawyer Elena Dempsey is proposing to turn things around at Walnut Manor — an independent supportive living home operated by Niagara Supportive Living in Welland.
The Times-Journal has already run a couple of stories on the plight of 14 residents in the home who are served up meals described by Dempsey as appalling not appealing.
A situation that generated enough concern Elgin St. Thomas Public Health shut the kitchen down for three days earlier this month.
Dempsey is hoping local businesses and concerned citizens can assist with food donations in the short term in order to pressure the home owners into cleaning up their act.
Dempsey doesn’t mince her words.
“This owner has to get a mindset review,” she asserts. “He has to recognize when he comes into a community, you start to develop relationships with the community.
“If we could get local produce; if they start to donate stuff then maybe once we get this owner on track he could start setting up contracts with people.”
In spite of its length — a mind and rear-end numbing four-and-a-half hours — the demeanor observed throughout Monday’s budget deliberations was surprisingly amicable and focused.
Faced with a property tax hike hovering around six per cent, by dipping into reserves and cutting back on contributions to those same funds, council was able to approve a 3.8% municipal tax levy.
All the while approving more than $300,000 in community grants to more than a dozen groups and organizations.
The real financial picture of the city lies not in dozens of pages of line items, but instead in the notes, advisories and warnings from treasurer Bill Day.
Tidbits like the fact the city has projected a 2013 operating surplus of $176,000. A figure much less than in previous years and chump change when dealing with a $110 million corporation.
It was standing room only at Caring Cupboard’s Talbot St. storefront Monday, Feb. 24 for their annual general meeting . . . an AGM board chairman Ward Houghton and several board members in attendance have not experienced in the past.
Uncomfortable would best describe the reaction of the board during the one-hour session terminated by Houghton with members of the general public – clients of the food bank and representatives of several community organizations including the YWCA and the Central Community Health Centre – still eager to vent their frustration and offer suggestions.
We’ll deal at length with the AGM later this week but here are a few random quotes:
“No one chooses to use a food bank.” – food bank client
“The way people are treated (at Caring Cupboard) is demoralizing . . . They are losing people, they are scared, they are terrorized.” – food bank client
“I want this noted. There is a problem here with the way people are treated.” – food bank client
“We have clients come in who are in tears. They are devastated. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.” – Judith Willey, CCHC
“As a board member I feel horrible. To hear your stories is horrible.”
With no formal complaint process, Houghton suggested clients or those denied food can contact him. His phone number is: 519-631-2212.
Since they are not listed on the Caring Cupboard website, here are the other members of the Caring Cupboard board: Marilynn Andrews, Anne Ashfield, Susan Cole, Rev. Mavis Currie, Maureen Ferguson, Jim Miller, Ken Money, Joyce Shippling, Ted Sturk, Tammy Tolman, Suzanne Van Bommel and Esther Wendel-Caraher.
Mayor Heather Jackson’s announcement at the close of Monday’s council meeting is, if anything, long overdue. In fact, her first step in establishing a code of conduct for city council is a process that should have been jump-started ten years ago during the bitter debate over a new twin-pad arena for St. Thomas.
If you ever bump into former alderman Sharon Crosby, have her recount the tale of why she didn’t cast a vote on the final arena motion.
What prompted Heather’s motion to initiate a code of conduct – among several factors – is the drip, drip, drip of leaked information trickling out from in-camera council meetings.
That is why she has turned to CAO Wendell Graves and Human Resources Director Graham Dart to craft a binding document designed to keep this and future councils on the straight and narrow.
The real insight come budget time is not the capital projects that receive council’s stamp of approval, it’s the myriad items that fail to pass muster.
There’s the true indication of how well departments are heeding calls from treasurer Bill Day to haul in the reins.
Here are some gems gleaned from the 2014 Part 1 capital budget that remain in limbo.
How about $400,000 for a baseball practice facility at the Centennial Sports Complex.
Then there’s the $600,000 skateboard park, $102,000 of which would be funded by ratepayers.