With our beautiful consolidated courthouse comes ‘a substantial hit to our operating budget every year’


city_scope_logo-cmykThe city’s portion of the cost of providing court security and prisoner transfer (CSPT) has been steadily increasing since it first received money from the province beginning in 2012.
That year, the province contributed $75,224.
The net budgeted costs to provide the service this year is just over $1 million, with the province providing the city with a grant of $713,000 to offset the expense. That works out to just under 70 per cent of the total cost, down from 74 per cent last year and 83 per cent in 2018.
That diminishing financial support was the topic of discussion at a council meeting earlier this month when members unanimously supported a motion to craft a letter to both the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and MPP Jeff Yurek outlining concerns on the mounting court security costs and to seek their assistance in having the province review this matter.

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As St. Thomas positions itself for growth, the financial reality looms


city_scope_logo-cmykBy the year 2041, the city’s population is projected to exceed 50,000.
To accommodate this influx, the city will need to adjust its urban area boundary as part of a review of its official plan.
The city is undertaking – with input from residents – a project it identifies as Positioned for Growth.
The study will assemble the required planning and engineering reports to support the preferred expansion lands and bring them into the urban area boundary to designate for development.
Concurrently the city is identifying recreational and cultural infrastructure and the fire protection services required to support this growth in the coming decades.
Representatives from Dillon Consulting in Kitchener met with council at Monday’s reference committee meeting with a draft copy of its fire station location study.

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Proposed Wellington Block revitalization: Over-the-top excitement or cause for concern?


city_scope_logo-cmykWhile one St. Thomas councillor expressed concern over further investment in the city-owned Wellington Block, an architect working on the social services and housing campus at 230 Talbot Street is “over-the-top excited” about the possibilities inside the now-vacant structure.
That’s according to city manager Wendell Graves, who updated council on the status of the former Wellington Public School at the April 15 reference committee meeting.
And, one of those possibilities is converting each classroom into a residential unit, with the wainscotting and chalkboards in place so that some of them could be live/work spaces.
Graves envisions a total of 19 units of various sizes on the three floors, with each having its own heating/air conditioning system.
Not all units would be of the geared-to-income variety, with a number of them to be market driven. Continue reading

Jail term and 10-year ban for St. Thomas man in animal neglect case


A St. Thomas man who abandoned two dogs and a cat in a sweltering apartment with no food or water was sentenced to four months in jail Tuesday afternoon.
In addition, 20-year-old Cody Yeo was slapped with a 10-year prohibition on owning any animal.
In sentencing Yeo, Justice Marietta Roberts – who was handed “graphic” photographs of the squalid apartment unit and the two dead dogs – said she hoped the jail time would act as a deterrent, adding “this is the most appropriate sentence to take you out of the community.”
St. Thomas animal welfare activist Lois Jackson called the term of incarceration “reassuring.”

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Yes, the insurance was indeed paid


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Tony Hofstee sure lit up the T-J Facebook page with his letter to the editor documenting the efforts of volunteers and committee members associated over the years with the Holiday Fantasy of Lights.
His long list of items and services paid for by the Fantasy of Lights will come as a revelation to many, including mayor and members of council
These include electrical work and supplies, upgrades to the washrooms, trees and plants for Pinafore Park, donations to other worthy organizations and the list goes on.
Tony closed his letter with the hope “the mayor and parks director Catharine Spratley apologize to the volunteers who ran the Fantasy. Yes mayor, we did pay our own insurance!”
His letter elicited dozens of responses, including this sampling:
Lori Calvert posted, “Well done Tony. I am glad someone put into print all that we (all previous and current members) did that went unnoticed. But sadly this will fall on deaf ears … if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say ‘why didn’t they ask for volunteers?’ The bottom line is always missed. FOL didn’t ask for hand-outs and money just stop putting up road blocks and charging fees when it is for the betterment of the entire city!!!” Continue reading

When will mayor deliver on her parking promise?


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Not unlike the vehicles using them, the city’s consolidated courthouse parking program has required several major tuneups over the past year or so.
And the tinkering is nowhere near completion, based on the frustration level at Metcalfe Gardens where staff, residents and visitors are calling for a policy overhaul.
Prior to the opening of the new court facility in March, 2014, friends and relatives visiting the seniors residence could always park on the surrounding streets with nary a worry of being ticketed.
All that changed when the city and province reached an agreement whereby 315 parking spaces would be provided within a 300-metre radius of the courthouse.
That led to construction of the Crocker St. parking lot and several along the north side of Centre St., combined with a major crackdown on free on-street parking in the courthouse neighbourhood. Continue reading

Forget the petition, file nomination papers


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Were you one of the hundreds (thousands?) of individuals who signed the Bob McCaig petition which warned the city cannot afford to construct a new police facility?

What were your expectations with this document? No doubt most concerned ratepayers believed the petition would be presented to members of council. Perhaps in the form of a deputation. A barometer of voter frustration.

So, what exactly has happened to the petition? Is it still on display in downtown businesses awaiting further signatures?

The call to action prompted a letter to the editor Wednesday from St. Thomas lawyer Thomas Por.
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