For the past four years, the St. Thomas Fire Department has faced the equivalent of an internal multi-alarm blaze. And, it is to be hoped with the announcement this week of Kyle Smith’s promotion to deputy fire chief that the final embers of controversy have been suppressed. You have to delve back to August of 2017 and the death of popular fire chief Rob Broadbent to discover the source of the flames of discontent. The decision was made somewhere in the corridors of city hall to look elsewhere for a replacement for the outgoing, community-minded Broadbent. This is despite a strong candidate in Deputy Fire Chief Ray Ormerod who, according to some sources, was not even granted an interview. We’ll wend our way back to Ormerod shortly. So the search for a new chief ended in Chatham-Kent where the deputy chief in that municipality, Bob Davidson was deemed the ideal replacement. Davidson arrived in St. Thomas in January of 2018 only to abruptly tender his resignation in July 2021.
The evolution began in May of last year when city council endorsed Phase 1 of a project to install eight CCTV cameras along a two-kilometre stretch of Talbot Street, from CASO Crossing to St. George Street.
The locations were selected based on 2018/19 crime-mapping data and motor vehicle collision reporting information.
But, it is not meant to be a red-light camera system to document vehicles running traffic signals.
The CCTV program was pitched to council as “a proactive, local solution modelled on successful networks in other municipalities to enhance community well-being and assist the St. Thomas Police Service with solving crime.”
A report from the service concluded,” a safe, secure and vibrant downtown will provide a canvas for economic development.”
Last month, the entire system was brought on stream and is now in full operation, according to Insp. Steve Bogart, who oversees the CCTV operation.
Considered the poor cousin of enclosed shopping malls by its previous owner OneREIT, Elgin Mall has wonderful potential according to the small, family owned real estate investment company that acquired the 263,000-square-foot property last month.
Brothers Jay and Mory Burstein are adamant their intention is not to demolish the retail centre that first opened in 1975.
“Our goal is to try and lease the vacant space as quickly as possible and try to make this mall the vibrant place it once was,” Jay assured in an interview this week.
An optimistic game plan for a mall that is operating at a roughly 50 per cent vacancy rate. Continue reading →
Well it appears the death of Harold Hill in 2009 has had limited impact on city administrators and members of council.
Hill, 82, was struck by a vehicle while using a crosswalk on Elm Street in front of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital on Sept. 24, 2009. He later died in hospital.
Turns out the crossing was not legal, according to city police, and the city has 15 similar uncontrolled crossings in existence today, where pedestrians are likely under the mistaken impression they can safely enter the crosswalk to navigate the roadway.
Eight of those crossings are located along Talbot Street.
In reality, pedestrians do not have the right of way and must yield to motorists at these so-called courtesy crossings.
A headline in the Times-Journal at the time of Hill’s death alerted pedestrians to the danger of these crossings: “Two crosswalk lines . . . ‘mean nothing’.” Continue reading →