No throwing caution to the wind in this chapter of the Sutherland Saga


city_scope_logo-cmykThe Sutherland Saga forecast for next week?
Cautious for the next few days.
With the 30-day appeal period having expired this past week and no indication Sutherland Press building owner David McGee intends to challenge the June 28 decision handed down by Justice Peter Hockin that, in essence, the four-storey downtown edifice is in fact unsafe, is that the wrecker’s ball we hear approaching?
Not so fast, advises city manager Wendell Graves who indicated Friday the city is taking a cautious approach at this time.
He advised while no word has been received from McGee or his lawyer Valerie M’Garry an appeal is in the works, it is better to err on the side of caution while seeking advice from legal counsel. Continue reading

Sheba a symptom of the long-neglected animal welfare system in St. Thomas


Pound dogShe has been christened Sheba, after being found abandoned last week in a corn field just outside St. Thomas. Missing much of her fur and blind at this point, the sadly neglected dog “is why we are so concerned about having available funds for vet care for lost pets that come into the city pound,” stresses Lois Jackson, chair of the city’s animal welfare committee and founder of All Breed Canine Rescue.

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Base salary root cause of significant numbers in Sunshine Club – St. Thomas police chief


When 41% of municipal employees appearing on the so-called Sunshine List are members of one branch or service, it’s a surefire way to draw the attention – and the ire – of ratepayers who are on the hook.
That was the case in 2016 when 46 of the 113 municipal employees who earned in excess of $100,000 in 2016 were members of the St. Thomas Police Service. That’s a healthy bump up from 31 in 2015.
But every picture tells a story and it wasn’t a healthy amount of overtime or so-called duty pay that pushed those individuals over the $100,000 bar, stressed St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell, it is the reality base salaries for first-class constables are already hovering around that benchmark.

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Canada’s first elevated park to open Aug. 27 in St. Thomas


While some mocked it as pie in the sky, the city’s park in the sky will officially open this summer.
Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas, this week released details and renderings of what the St. Thomas Elevated Park – Canada’s first such park – will look like when it officially opens Aug. 27. Making good on a promise made last April, “We’ve got a master plan, an executive summary of it and now we’re going to unleash it on the world.”

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There is a great disconnect on winter disconnects


city_scope_logo-cmykFaced with the inevitable, St. Thomas Energy this week voluntarily halted the practice of winter disconnects for unpaid bills. The decision was made a day before the province pulled the plug on such action.
“The OEB (Ontario Energy Board) has strict rules about disconnects and time periods and we have to offer pay arrangements and we’ve always followed the OEB guidelines on that,” advised Rob Kent, acting CEO at St. Thomas Energy.
“We are voluntarily agreeing to the moratorium on disconnects.”
The obvious question is what leverage does St. Thomas Energy now have collecting overdue bills during cold weather months?
“You do lose leverage during the winter months when you can’t disconnect, but what no one has really looked at is what happens when that period ends and the customer has a substantial bill? How do you help them make arrangements and get caught up without getting disconnected in the spring and summer months? That is something we’re going to have to address.”

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Journalists can be a council watchdog


Media jobs are evaporating like water puddles on a hot tin roof, but journalists don’t garner much sympathy. Reporters, auto workers, Bay Street traders — the economic carnage is everywhere so complaints about cutbacks at newspapers and broadcast outlets are generally dismissed as self-indulgent whining.
Then somebody like York University professor Robert MacDermid comes along with a powerful reminder of why dwindling media scrutiny matters. MacDermid, an expert in political campaign financing, recently released his latest analysis of corporate contributions to municipal election campaigns in the Greater Toronto Area. Once again, his research suggests the development industry — most obviously in the suburbs — picks its candidates, co-ordinates financial support for the chosen and usually ends up with friendly faces on council.
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