Is jockeying for position underway for the 2018 mayoral race?


city_scope_logo-cmykThe plug has been pulled – at least temporarily – on Mayor Heather Jackson’s vision of a fibre optics network for St. Thomas.

Her plan for a fibre optics information session was voted down in a closed-door meeting on June 20 and Jackson was so infuriated she fired off an email to various players in the business community pointing the finger at councillors Jeff Kohler and Gary Clarke, who put forth the motion that “The Information Session regarding fibre planned for July 19, 2016 be postponed until a date agreeable to Council.”

Council voted 6-2 in favour of the motion.

The cost of such a network would be tens of millions of dollars according to an individual in the know and this may have played a role in council putting the brakes on the mayor’s plans. Continue reading

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Dodging the wrecker’s ball . . . again


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Proving to have more lives than the proverbial cat, the Sutherland Press building appears to have dodged the wrecker’s ball one more time.

Toronto owner David McGee has advised city hall he is not prepared to demolish the four-storey structure and, instead, is proceeding to stabilize the building that dates back to around 1910.

After a partial roof collapse discovered Sept. 11, the city hired a structural engineer to update staff on measures needed to minimize risk to the public until the future of the building – a significant example of the city’s early industrial heritage – could be determined.
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The Sutherland Press building is on a slow simmer


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It’s been compared to Alma before the former school for girls succumbed to a fiery death.
It’s been the centrepiece of a $3 million lawsuit launched immediately prior to the 2010 municipal election. And, it’s had its top floor shaved off at the front in a questionable attempt at reducing the danger of the structure falling to its knees.
The sad legacy of the Sutherland Press building over the last decade is another example of the city handcuffed by absentee landlords.
In this case David McGee of Toronto, who had high hopes of turning the hulking structure into luxury suites.
It was a similar script with the Zubick family of London, who subjected Alma to death by neglect. Continue reading

Not knowing the price is a good thing


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Don’t fall for this scam. Someone insists they know the true cost of a new police station and they’re willing to share the figure with you.
The information doesn’t exist and it never has. Oh, there have been estimates attached to various consultant reports, but they are nothing more than that — rough costing based on a conceptual plan that has no bearing on the final reality.
That was the message driven home Thursday at the initial meeting of the police building committee. A body whose mandate is to do just that — come up with a firm price based on a concrete design.
So, who sits on the committee?
It is chaired by Ald. David Warden and includes aldermen Mark Cosens and Tom Johnston, CAO Wendell Graves, treasurer Bill Day, director of engineering John Dewancker and St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell.
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Should we still use a pencil or can we now click here?


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In the last municipal vote, a paltry 39% of eligible voters bothered to cast their ballot in what proved to be a bitter mayoral showdown.
The anybody-but-Barwick election of 2010 should have been motivation enough to flood the polling booths after one of the nastiest campaigns in many years.
But, when little more than a third of voters participate, you know the system is broken, or worse, irrelevant.
Is it a case of constituents who are so weary of lies and deception at all levels of government?
Do young people — especially those voting for the first time — feel politicians of all stripes are not reaching out to them?
Or, is it overall apathy on the part of voters who have given up at having their concerns dealt with?
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Survey says: So you think you know your city


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Earlier this summer, the city participated in a survey of households carried out as part of a training program by members of the Survey Skills Development Course of Statistics Canada.
The purpose of the undertaking “was to collect data from the residents of the City of St. Thomas to assess the quality of municipal communications as measured through residents’ awareness, participation and use of available services and amenities in the city.
The target population for the survey was defined as adults aged 18 and older, who were residents of a private dwelling in St. Thomas during the period of June 17 to 21.
It was a “simple random sample of 1,587 privately occupied dwellings, selected randomly from a total of 16,450 dwellings,” according to the report.
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A committee: a group that keeps minutes and loses hours


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Now that he has officially tabled his motion, we can approach Dave Warden on the motivation behind adding another alderman to the council mix.
We wrote at length about this proposed change to the structure of council last week and in a conversation with Ald. Warden on Tuesday, he filled in some of the blanks.
Most important, Warden stressed, he is not going to support his own motion when it comes up for discussion on July 15.
“In fact I will withdraw it if council will deal with the bigger and more costly system we are presently working under – the committee system – which needs to be overhauled.”
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