City’s negotiations on Valleyview labour deal deemed ‘bizarre’ and ‘ludicrous’

city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s a case of “inefficiency, it’s disrespectful to the employees and it’s going to cost the city a fortune.”

Not a flattering assessment of labour negotiations between the city and Valleyview Home employees, represented by Unifor Local 27.

In fact, Unifor national representative Robert Buchanan calls the turn of events since May 25 when a settlement was reached with city administration both “bizarre” and “ludicrous.”

To recap, on June 8 about 100 City of St. Thomas employees at Valleyview voted in favour of the May 25 settlement.

The three-year deal provides for a two per cent wage increase in each year of the deal in addition to health and welfare benefit improvements.

The employees have been without a contract since Dec. 31 of last year.

The union’s bargaining team also secured a commitment from the city to maintain full-time jobs and add more staffing hours to the laundry department.

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It’s full steam ahead in spite of railway museum audit


Disturbing news emanating this week from the Elgin County Railway Museum hinting at possible financial irregularities.

We’re hearing of the treasurer either being dismissed or asked to step down; a new treasurer brought in; speculation about an upper level government funding application and HST submissions.

A call to museum executive director Michael Adams resulted in this official statement from the executive committee.

“It has come to our attention that recent financial statements presented were neither audited or reviewed. The audit report attached to the statements were not issued or authorized by the accounting firm involved in the preparation and review of those statements.

“The person involved with the creation and delivery of the subject audit report is no longer associated with the Elgin County Railway Museum Inc. Arrangements have been made for proper audits to be conducted for financial years 2010 and 2011.”

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Pharmacist takes up challenge and foregoes flattery


You had to know this would be coming. One week ago, City Scope documented a totally unsubstantiated claim by Ontario health minister Deb Matthews, tossed out at last Saturday’s liberal nomination meeting where Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands was acclaimed, that PC leader Tim Hudak is running pharmacists as candidates across the province.

An obvious jab at St. Thomas pharmacist Jeff Yurek, sporting the Tory banner in Elgin-Middlesex-London for the fall provincial vote. And a claim Matthews is unlikely to repeat beyond a room full of her supporters.

In a letter to the T-J, (read full letter here ) Yurek writes, “While I am flattered Ms. Matthews would think that I was hand selected by the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, Tim Hudak, her statement is false.

“Through a democratic process, I was elected from a field of five candidates by members of the Elgin-Middlesex-London riding association.
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St. Thomas consolidated courthouse project moves ahead

For Immediate Release February 8, 2011

Preserving the past; building for the future

ST. THOMAS – Steps to preserve the unique heritage aspects of the historic Elgin County Courthouse on Wellington Street are underway, as the process to build the new St. Thomas Consolidated Courthouse continues.

Salvage operations will begin this week on some of the buildings on the courthouse property including the former Governor’s Residence.
Workers on the site will begin salvaging the bricks and slate roof from the former Governor’s Residence. Most of the salvaged materials will be presented to the City of St. Thomas for use in the restoration and repair of municipal buildings. The remainder of the materials will be available for sale to the community, the proceeds of which will go to the St. Thomas Municipal Heritage Committee for preservation work in the area.
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A new council, a new attitude, a fresh start


Whither the Sutherland Press building? That was the point to ponder last week in this corner, and it didn’t take long for Suzanne vanBommel to take the bait.

Speaking on behalf of owner David McGee, she answered in succinct fashion.

“A new council, a new attitude, a fresh start.”

There is hope yet for the derelict and semi-roofless building that two years ago prompted the closure of Talbot Street.
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Complete transcript of Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman’s inaugural address – Dec. 6, 2010

Tonight begins a revolution. Together, we, as a community will begin
the hard work of embarking on a path toward economic renewal and
community revitalization. Together, we will pave the way to the future
for St. Thomas.

Imagine: anticipating possibilities, creating a vision and a direction,
assessing alternatives, scanning terrain and mapping our route ahead.
It is not about predicting the future, it is about mapping a course and
building the road for getting from here to there. The process will
require many skills and there will be room for many voices to be
heard: Members of Council, City employees, community volunteers,
students, Members of the business community and the social sector
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Will pending CAO debate trigger a flip-flop frenzy?


Mark Dec. 13 on the calendar, because it should trigger the process that will witness the return of a CAO to city hall.

The position has been vacant since 2004, when council determined Roy Main just didn’t fit into the city’s plans.

City clerk Wendell Graves would sure fit the bill now, however.

In a chat this week with Times-Journal reporter Kyle Rea, incoming mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman said she fully expected a notice of motion would come forward on that date to initiate debate on a CAO.

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Heritage legislation means nothing if local politicians not on side

Posted by Ian:

Built heritage wasn’t even on the radar at the onset of the Oct 25 municipal election campaign in St. Thomas. Certainly not a lot of candidate literature went into any detail on preserving the city’s heritage and it was a non-starter in the Chamber of Commerce member survey found here.

By the final weekend of the campaign, with full revelation of the $3 million lawsuit filed against the city, Mayor Cliff Barwick and others by developer David McGee, details here, heritage may have proved to be a critical factor in the final outcome.

Here are thoughts taken from Acorn, the newsletter of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, including comments from president Lloyd Alter and two St. Thomas residents …
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Our built heritage should be a treasure for future generations

EDITOR’S NOTE: To clarify information contained this week in the Times-Journal, in fact the vote was 4-3 to repeal the heritage designation. Ald. Heather Jackson-Chapman joined Ald. Bill Aarts and Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands to vote against the motion. Ald. David Warden was absent from Monday’s council meeting.

Dear Minister Chan,
We are now at risk of losing heritage status for 96 Moore Street. St.Thomas city council voted 5-2 to notify the public and property owners of its intention to repeal the heritage designation for the entire historic Moore Street property,including the now-destroyed school building and grounds,as covered under the Ontario Heritage Act.Will the ministry of culture step in to protect the chapel,music building and outdoor amphitheatre,or will you stand on the side lines,as did former culture minister Aileen Carroll,and allow the destruction to continue,and take what little remains on this historic piece of land.What will it take for the McGuinty government to opens it’s eyes and see the value in protecting not only historic buildings,but historic properties.Our built heritage should be treasured,so we can pass it down to future generations.Our ministry of culture has no teeth,instead of being a guard dog for built heritage,they are a lap dog for developers,who know very well the Ontario government could careless about built heritage and given enough time,demolition by neglect will do the job for the developer,ensuring they can bulldoze the past,and build a condo building and completely erase our built heritage.We are losing our built heritage at an alarming rate and the McGuinty government needs to step up and protect what little remains,and a good start would be telling the owners of 96 Moore Street ENOUGH IS ENOUGH,the 2 remaining buildings and outdoor amphitheatre cannot be torn down,and keep the heritage designation so future generations will not have to fight this battle again.
Bob Foster