Pleasant surprises have been in short supply the past two months in a world locked in the grip of a coronavirus that introduced us to social distancing, self-isolation, face masks, makeshift home offices and the vulnerability of those housed in long-term care facilities who often died alone with loved ones unable to say goodbye.
So, Friday’s announcement by the Ford government that, beginning Monday, the door to recovery is going to open just a crack is welcoming news
There is a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel.
The day before, there was a prelude to the shape of things to come with the introduction of the province’s Jobs and Recovery Committee which, according to the media release, “will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.”
Hopping on a bus bound for London may soon be a reality for St. Thomas and Elgin county residents.
The city is about to pitch a pilot project to the province seeking funding support for regional transit connectivity for residents of St. Thomas, Central Elgin, Southwold, Malahide and Aylmer.
The undertaking was a recommendation of the Transit Strategic Plan presented to city council a month ago, although the pilot project would go beyond the one-year test suggested in that report.
As outlined Monday (Dec. 16) by Mayor Joe Preston at the reference committee meeting, the three-year undertaking would see a Monday through Sunday service operating from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The bus would leave St. Thomas on the hour for each trip, although Preston stressed these times and hours of operation could be adjusted.
The past few days were a good news/bad news rollercoaster ride for the St. Thomas Police Service. On the positive side, the service was the recipient of $870,000 in provincial dollars under the new Community Safety and Policing (CSP) Grant program over the next three years. In total, the province is investing $195 million in the initiative. According to a media release announcing the investment, the police service “is collaborating with several community agencies to better support survivors of human trafficking as they go through the investigative process. “The funding will help provide ongoing training to enhance frontline officers’ knowledge and abilities in supporting survivors, add a new Street Crimes police officer, provide the necessary resources to maintain the position of Technological Crimes Investigator and help develop a social media awareness campaign to encourage the public to be an active police partner on the issue of human trafficking.”
It’s official, the residential development proposed for the Alma College property will be a gated community, but there will be no similarity to large undertakings of the same nature south of the border. That’s according to a letter from developer Michael Loewith, whose Patriot Properties is seeking to begin construction of a three-tower project on the Moore Street property. The letter and several updated supporting documents are in response to questions and concerns raised at a site plan committee meeting held Nov. 13. In his clarification letter, to be presented with the other reports at the next site plan committee meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 12), Loewith responds to questions relating to public access to the 11-acre site and, in particular, the amphitheatre. Loewith writes, “While we attempted to provide a clear response regarding these concerns at the meeting, we may not have been as descriptive about our plans as we would have like, and so we are providing this letter to make our intentions clear.”
After dealing with a devasting forest fire season that blazed a swath through Northern Ontario, Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek is on the move. Literally. As announced Monday morning (Nov. 5), Yurek fared prominently in Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet shuffle that sees him replace John Yakabuski as Minister of Transportation. Yakabuski, in turn, will assume Yurek’s previous post as Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, a position he took on after Ford swept into power in June of this year. The cabinet tweaking, involving a half-dozen MPPs, was necessitated by the resignation last Friday of Economic Development Minister Jim Wilson who, according to Ford, stepped down to deal with an addiction issue related to alcohol. Global News and other media outlets have since reported allegations of sexual misconduct prompted Wilson’s sudden resignation. Continue reading →
After considerable negotiations, a settlement has been reached in a labour dispute involving staff at Closing the Gap in St. Thomas. On May 2, a final offer from the employer was presented to OPSEU members who unanimously turned down the deal. The outstanding issue remained wages, with Closing the Gap earning, on average, $165 per client visit while paying their employees $46 to $48 per visit, some of those lasting almost two hours. Lynne Easter, staff representative at the OPSEU London Regional Office, confirmed Wednesday (June 27) “We reached a deal . . . and it was ratified by the membership on Monday (June 25).” The deal was reached through mediation and members “voted overwhelmingly in favour. The reality is nobody wanted a strike. And, given the current political climate, under the newly elected government, public servants are fearful in terms of anyone working for a public dollar is conscientious of that. You really don’t want labour unrest.” Continue reading →
Last month, we noted the city is looking at a bylaw to deal with non-licensed residential care homes in St. Thomas. The move is prompted, in part, by the situation at Walnut Manor, operated by Niagara Supportive Living out of Welland. Well, a report from Tim Welch Consulting out of Cambridge – which undertook the city’s 10-year housing and homelessness plan – is before council Monday (June 11) and in it is a section dealing with informal residential care facilities (RCF) like Walnut Manor. These homes “provide supportive housing to non-senior individuals who require assistance for daily activities due to physical disabilities, mental health and addictions challenges,” as defined in the Welch report. “Level of supports varies depending on individual need but are most commonly in the form of meals, administration of medicine, bathing, supervision etc.,” the report continues. Continue reading →
The 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 →
She 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.