Are advance polling numbers an indication St. Thomas voters are engaged?


city_scope_logo-cmykThe municipal vote is Monday and for the first time in St. Thomas, advance polling is available via internet and telephone. As of 11 a.m. Friday, 12.73 per cent of the 28,034 eligible voters in the city had cast their ballot, with 3,300 voting via the internet and 268 by telephone.
By comparison, 9.67 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot through in-person advance voting in the 2014 municipal election.
The total voter turnout that year was 37 per cent.
Tim Hedden, one of 19 candidates running for councillor, asked the obvious question in response to a City Scope Tweet on this year’s advance polling system.
“Curious to see if it drives voter turnout up or just made it more convenient for those that already vote.”

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Over-capacity and under-used, aye there’s the rub


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A special meeting of council on Tuesday which included invited officials from the Thames Valley District School Board did little to heal the great divide in the Pierre Elliott Trudeau French Immersion School community.

In fact, if anything, the rift has widened.

The tone was established early when manager of facility services Kevin Bushell admitted the board “mis-read the community” when dealing with overcrowding at the French Immersion school.

He then announced — and which was confirmed later that evening at the scheduled board meeting in London — an area attendance review would be undertaken beginning in the fall to be completed before the end of the year.

So, there will be no busing of senior students from the school to Port Stanley Public School to deal with severe over-crowding at the former Homedale Senior Elementary School. Continue reading

Hey, you can’t threaten us in that tone!


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The Times-Journal has referred to it as The Great Divide: the emotional rift at Pierre Elliott Trudeau French Immersion School that is the result of a school board decision to bus more than 200 students to Port Stanley Public School in the fall due to overcrowding at their home school.

Only 30 or so parents attended a January forum held by the school council to propose options to alleviate the crush of students at the former Homedale Public School.

The population at the school has swelled from 494 students in 2010 to 780 in 2014. Continue reading

St. Thomas Cemetery Company: Who needs to reach out to who?


At the April 13th council meeting, Coun. Linda Stevenson suggested members should revisit the $59,000 St. Thomas Cemetery grant that was denied during budget deliberations in March.

West Avenue Cemetery in St. Thomas

West Avenue Cemetery in St. Thomas

Mayor Heather Jackson stressed on several occasions Monday the cemetery had not contacted the city and she re-iterated, “I’m surprised we have heard absolutely nothing from them.”

However we have obtained a copy of a fact sheet provided by Lesley Buchanan and the St. Thomas Cemetery Company to Mayor Jackson and all members of council outlining in fairly detailed fashion the current situation. Continue reading

Bible Baptist Church tax exemption bylaw on hold


Bearing Precious Seed
The paperwork was ready Monday, however members of council were hesitant to seal the deal.

The desire by two councillors for further information on a tax-exemption request for church-owned property at 320 Highbury Ave. led to temporarily shelving a ready-to-endorse bylaw.

Councillors Joan Rymal and Linda Stevenson sought input from city staff on possible repercussions from the pending bylaw to waive the municipal property tax at Bearing Precious Seed, where printed material produced for Bible Baptist Church is assembled for mailout to households across Canada.

Mayor Heather Jackson backed both councillors, noting she “supported further dialogue.”

A motion to postpone proceeding with the bylaw was approved by a narrow 4-3 margin with councillors Jeff Kohler, Mark Burgess and Gary Clarke opposed to further delay.

Coun. Steve Wookey was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Rymal told the Times-Journal on Tuesday, “I am just pleased we can at least get the input from staff. I think it’s a bit dangerous of council to go ahead and make a decision without getting all the input from staff because we’re not the experts.”

Rymal added she has heard feedback from some ratepayers on the request from Bible Baptist Church.

“I’ve heard concerns we are setting a precedent and we’re going to be having all sorts of organizations . . . looking for the same tax relief.”

Stevenson, meantime, had asked for a staff report last week following a deputation to council by Pastor Al Stone of Bible Baptist Church. Continue reading