Poverty to possibility: ensuring affordable and supportive housing is on the radar of EML candidates in the June provincial vote


city_scope_logo-cmykThe first Elgin-Middlesex-London candidate forum for the June 2 provincial election was held this past Tuesday at the St. Thomas Public Library.
Hosted by the Elgin-St. Thomas Coalition to End Poverty, the two-hour session featured 10 questions from coalition members relating to poverty, homelessness, a living wage and mental health issues.
The three hopefuls present were PC candidate Rob Flack, Liberal candidate Heather Jackson and NDP candidate Andy Kroeker.
Moderated by the myFM news team featuring Kennedy Freeman and myself, the event kicked off what will be a hectic 28-day runup to the election itself.
Not present for the forum but who have now declared their candidacy are Matt Millar from the New Blue Party of Ontario, Brigitte Belton of the Ontario Party and Amanda Stark of the Green Party of Ontario.

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St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge calls for a ‘two-stream’ criminal justice system


city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s a great question. How are police supposed to keep this community safe when the courts continually release or deal lightly with repeat offenders?
Some with dozens of outstanding and fail to comply charges.
A revolving door police are stuck in while attempting to deal with a record number of service calls, many involving social and mental health issues.
All of which tax police resources at a time when there is a hue and cry to defund police.
We presented this to St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge this week – which coincided with the release of the service’s 2020 annual report.
A document which revealed a 10 per cent increase in incidents last year while the overall use of force rates for the service dropped by 33 per cent.
The report notes, “This is a very strong indicator of officer awareness, de-escalation skills along with education and training capabilities of our officers.”
Herridge began the conversation by suggesting, “We’ve got to figure out a way to deal with this issue we are having. It’s been termed catch and release and we have to find a way to protect the victim and how do we look after vulnerable people as well.

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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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It’s not a loss, it’s simply an adjustment


city_scope_logo-cmykAs referenced in this corner last week, city council will be in receipt Monday of a report outlining the tender results for construction of the new St. Thomas Police Service headquarters.
The low bid is $10,733,000 from M.J. Dixon Construction, a Brampton firm.
That figure includes construction of the one-storey facility just west of the Timken Centre and the T-intersection at the north end of Third Ave.
Eleven firms were pre-qualified for the process and nine of those firms submitted bids.
As confirmed by CAO Wendell Graves, all of the firms have experience in the construction of police facilities or similar structures. Continue reading

Shuffling deck chairs further erodes hospital credibility


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The woman of mystery T-J reporter Nick Lypaczewski writes about today certainly has the hospital board chairman and foundation chairman flustered.

Why they can’t even get their stories in synch.

To quickly re-cap, Ald. Dave Warden has relinquished his seat on the STEGH board of directors so Ald. Sam Yusuf can move over, freeing up his spot on the foundation board for his girlfriend.

STEGH board chairman Bruce Babcock insists city council is behind the musical chairs, but that doesn’t pass the litmus test.

In a conversation with City Scope this week, Warden didn’t pull any punches.

“Sam came to me a week ago and said, ‘Dave, would you be interested in switching?'”
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You ain’t seen nothing yet, teases Andrew Gunn


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In a week filled with grim economic developments, news of Algoma University’s proposal to open up shop in the former Wellington Street Public School is an intriguing scenario.

While it will not be hailed as a significant job generator, the undertaking is notable for nudging the city down the path of diversification.

University president Richard Myers is looking to utilize the city-owned heritage building as a campus offering the first two years of its bachelor of arts program.

The news, emanating from Monday’s city council meeting, did not impress T-J reader Scott Northcott, who wrote a letter to the editor to suggest what is needed at the Wellington Street site is “a specialized program, which develops creativity and innovation with the right mix of theoretical and practical skill and really places St. Thomas as a destination for specialized education.”
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End of the line for Navistar’s Chatham plant


The end has finally come.

Nearly a decade after it was first announced Chatham’s Navistar plant would close, it has become a reality.

The final death knell came Tuesday — more than two years after the Richmond Street truck assembly facility has sat idled — when Navistar International Corporation issued a news release announcing its plans to close the plant.

The company blamed the inability to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers union as the reason operations were halted since June of 2009.

However, the union has continually stated it couldn’t get the company to the bargaining table.

CAW Local 127 president Aaron Neaves said, “it’s hard to negotiate, quite frankly, with yourself.”

Read the full story here

It’s another body shot to southwestern Ontario, the province’s manufacturing engine that has been decimated over the past couple of years with the loss of several thousand jobs alone in St. Thomas/ Elgin – which is bracing for the closure of Ford Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant this fall.

The announced closure of Navistar International Truck’s Chatham facility today is a devastating blow to the workers, their families and the entire community, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

“Despite our relentless efforts since 2009 to reopen the idled facility and get our members back to work, Navistar has remained rigid and is now moving ahead with plans to shutter the plant,” Lewenza said, following the company’s formal announcement.
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CAW study finds job gains aren’t as great as they seem


Ford Canada St. Thomas Assembly Plant


The economic recovery is leaving workers behind, while others are toiling in “survivor” jobs with low pay and little security, states a report released Monday by the Canadian Auto Workers union.

The study, called the Workers Adjustment Tracking Project, followed a group of laid-off workers in three communities — Kitchener, Toronto and Brampton — for one year and concludes they’re struggling to find work.

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Ontario looks beyond the struggling auto sector


Ford Canada St. Thomas Assembly Plant


Ontario’s auto industry is facing ongoing consolidation with the upcoming closing of a Ford Motor Co. plant in St. Thomas in 2011. Last year, General Motors Corp. closed a light truck plant in Oshawa. Auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. in Richmond Hill, Ont., says Ontario’s auto industry has lost 50,000 jobs since 2006 and has been hurt by long-term structural change as well as cyclical issues related to the economy.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult to compete with lower-cost plants in parts of the U.S. and Mexico that are not unionized, he says. As a result, he expects Canada’s share of total North American auto production — virtually all of which takes place in Ontario — to drop to as low as 12% during the next four to five years from its current perch of 16%.

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