Former skate park pitched as site for proposed food garden


What once was the home of flips and verticals may soon play host to fruits and vegetables.
At its reference committee meeting Monday at city hall, members of council listened to a pitch promoting the Moore Food Garden, proposed for the site of the former skateboard park – at the east end of the Moore Street parking lot – condemned and demolished by city staff during March Break, 2012.

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Who suffers when you can’t get there from here?


city_scope_logo-cmykLow-income families, young people, seniors and those with disabilities are the most disadvantaged when a rural area does not have access to good public transportation.
That was the message Thursday (March 23) at a rural public workshop hosted by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and  attended by close to 30 participants.
The aim of the three-hour forum was to get the ball rolling on development of a community transportation system for St. Thomas and Elgin county.
Opening speaker Dr. Joyce Locke, the area’s medical officer of health, noted 35 per cent of Elgin’s population lives in rural areas, with personal vehicles being the most popular form of transportation.
In fact, advised Locke, 86 per cent of those living in St. Thomas/Elgin drive to work, with the average annual cost of operating a vehicle running in the neighbourhood of $7,300.

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Trouble remembering the name Ascent? Don’t worry.


city_scope_logo-cmyk Aldermanic also-ran Jacqueline DeLeebeeck feels revealing candidate expenses/contributions in the 2014 municipal vote is of little interest, as outlined in a note passed along this week.
Well Jacqueline it’s all about transparency and every ratepayer has the right to know who spent what, how much was contributed to a campaign and by who.
As we reported previously, she spent $2,800 on her bid, with a $200 contribution from Bob McCaig.
Rounding out the field, Ken Boe ran his campaign with just over $700 in expenses.
Gary Clarke spent $1,741 in his successful trip to city hall.
Rose Gibson, a campaign veteran, incurred $2,471 in expenses this time around.
According to Walter Green’s filing, he spent nary a penny on his bid. Continue reading

Why do we allow warehousing of the vulnerable?


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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.”
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Food for thought over at the food bank


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A young mother this week posted on the Times-Journal Facebook page her desperate plea for assistance. “I needed bread and milk. Quite desperately. I have a week left until I get CCTB (Canada child tax benefit) and I am almost out of both.”
She did what many in St. Thomas would do, she gathered up spare change and headed to the Caring Cupboard food bank.
On her arrival, she discovered numerous changes, including a new executive director, Janice Kinnaird.
The young mother had previously complied with the need to show personal ID, proof of income and rental information so she could receive much-needed food assistance in the future simply by arriving with an item of identification.
She was denied assistance this time out because she could not comply with the new policy of presenting full ID.
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Restaurant closure re-opens debate on visible rating system


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The recent closure of Kings Buffet in St. Thomas for the better part of a week due to a cockroach infestation in the kitchen area re-opens debate on the merits of a colour-coded rating system for local food premises, similar to the program in place in London and other municipalities.
In fact Elgin St. Thomas Public Health does visit food premises to conduct routine inspections and re-inspections, according to a fact sheet on their web site here.
Food premises are any premise where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale.
According to the health unit, public inspectors do a risk assessment for every food premise in St. Thomas and Elgin county every year.
So, what are they looking for?
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An ambitious plan to elevate the status of St. Thomas


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At Monday’s city council meeting, Matt Janes, representing On Track St. Thomas, will officially unveil plans to purchase and develop the Michigan Central Railway bridge over Kettle Creek at Sunset Drive. The bridge was constructed in 1929 and at one time carried over 140 trains every day.
In his deputation to council, Janes will announce a vision to honour one of the most iconic structures in southwestern Ontario through the creation of Canada’s first elevated park.
According to Janes, the St. Thomas Elevated Park Project is the single most ambitious undertaking of On Track St. Thomas, the community development organization that assured the preservation of the CASO station and brought the rail-themed murals to downtown.

Easterly view of the Michigan Central Railway bridge, which spans Kettle Creek, Fingal Line and Sunset Drive, clearly shows the massive concrete piers that support the bridge, built in 1929 and last used 2005. Tracks and ties were removed this year.


Janes points in his report that, along with the Elgin County Railway Museum and the restored CASO station, the MCR Kettle Creek bridge is a prominent reminder of the city’s status as the Railway Capital of Canada.
“It is a signature attraction for rail aficionados nationally and internationally,” Janes advises. “As a public place it will be a high profile addition to the CASO-Trans Canada Trail and offer stunning views of the Kettle Creek valley in all directions.
Janes continues, “The On Track vision for the MCR bridge goes much farther however. Through an international design competition, it will become Canada’s first elevated park, joining similar structures such as the High Line in Manhattan and the Boulevard Plantée in Paris.
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