It has been a significant week for housing news in St. Thomas.
A pair of announcements mid-week covered off a broad swath of the residential spectrum.
At Wednesday’s site plan control committee meeting, conditional approval was granted to Fast Forward Ventures of London for their 14-storey, 162-unit apartment building to rise on the south end of the former Timken Canada property near the intersection of First Avenue and Talbot Street.
The Timken plant closed in 2013 and was demolished and the site cleared in 2017.
The next day, the province announced $3 million in funding to develop 20 supportive housing units inside Phase 2 of the city’s social services and housing hub now under construction at 16 Queen Street.
Let’s take a closer look at both developments – which Mayor Joe Preston described as “one more step in attacking the city’s housing shortage.”
My, how words can come back around to bite you. A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about Lake Margaret attracting skaters of all ages for an afternoon of gliding across the frozen water. A scene right out of a Tim Hortons’ tribute to life in Canada. Which led to queries from several readers as to summertime use of the lake for fishing and canoeing. As the signs lakeside warn and reiterated two weeks ago by Ross Tucker, Director of Parks, Recreation and Property Management, a big negatory to those warm-weather activities. The decision to prohibit fishing in Lake Margaret was a recommendation of the 2010 Lake Margaret Environmental Plan. It came up for discussion back in April of 2017 when Coun. Steve Wookey proclaimed, “In my world, there should be fishing and canoeing.” Continue reading →
Earlier this month, council unanimously approved recommendations from the planning department concerning amendments to the city’s official plan to support hotel and apartment use at Elgin Centre (formerly Elgin Mall). The report from Jim McCoomb, manager of planning services for the city, followed a public meeting held July 15 where some residents expressed concerns about noise emanating from the hotel, snow removal and storage, fire safety for the upper levels of the hotel and parking and traffic. A traffic assessment study submitted to the city concluded, “the proposed redevelopment of a portion of the existing Elgin Centre shopping mall will not significantly change the existing roadway traffic volumes and on-site parking accommodation.” It was noted a petition had been received signed by 40 individuals opposed to the proposal.
Monday’s meeting (Nov. 19) marked the end of term for council and with it the departure from the chamber of Mayor Heather Jackson and councillors Steve Wookey and Mark Burgess.
While the latter two chose to forego any closing words, Jackson took the opportunity to deliver an emotional farewell after 15 years on council, the last eight as mayor.
Calling it a great honour and opportunity to serve as mayor, Jackson opened her remarks by thanking “all of you who have allowed me this opportunity to serve you and I wish to thank you for your exemplary citizenship that has allowed this city to become a higher, more just and beautiful and liveable city.”
Jackson noted the job of mayor “is very fulfilling in that the responsibilities are not abstract or theoretical, but rather direct, specific and intimate.
“The responsibility for you and your children’s safety at home and at work, on the streets, for your neighbourhood parks to be safe, beautiful and active for you and your children’s play.
“Your garbage and recycling need to be collected, your neighbourhood peaceful and tidy.
“An economy bustling benefits your livelihood. A city growing in fiscal strength and fairness. The inspiration of art is accessible to all. Lovely and positive civic spaces.
“Your reason for optimism for the future. And to serve you in time of crisis and so much more.” Continue reading →
The municipal vote is Monday and for the first time in St. Thomas, advance polling is available via internet and telephone. As of 11 a.m. Friday, 12.73 per cent of the 28,034 eligible voters in the city had cast their ballot, with 3,300 voting via the internet and 268 by telephone. By comparison, 9.67 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot through in-person advance voting in the 2014 municipal election. The total voter turnout that year was 37 per cent. Tim Hedden, one of 19 candidates running for councillor, asked the obvious question in response to a City Scope Tweet on this year’s advance polling system. “Curious to see if it drives voter turnout up or just made it more convenient for those that already vote.”
The St. Thomas mayoral contest was a four-way race, however at the all-candidates meeting Thursday (Oct. 11) you couldn’t help but feel one of the hopefuls had all but conceded. In front of a gathering numbering about 100 at the Knights of Columbus hall, Malichi Male used his allotted five minutes to talk not about himself but, instead, praised his three opponents. “The rest of the candidates are amazing,” he observed. “Heather (Jackson) has stood strong,” he added. Turning his attention to Joe Preston, Male noted “Joe creates something out of nothing. Joe cares.”Continue reading →
We plan to open up space in this corner on occasion to allow a guest columnist to present their point of view on issues impacting St. Thomas and Elgin. Are you so passionate about some element of community life that you are compelled to organize your thoughts to share with others? It could be the upcoming municipal election, the proposed development on the Alma College site, the city’s infrastructure, the provision of municipal services . . . well, you get the idea. Submit your editorial to us for consideration and, who knows, we just may give you the podium. Our contact info is on this page.
Kicking off this feature is an individual who is no stranger to politics at any level. Bob McCaig is not shy on opinion and the city developer was riled up enough during the municipal vote four years ago he commissioned Oraclepoll Research to produce a St. Thomas Municipal Election Report, based on the responses of 400 individuals. You can read that report here. The following is McCaig’s take on this month’s mayoral race.
Let’s start with the mayor’s office. Heather Jackson has held the job for the past two terms. Current councillor Steve Wookey, a popular secondary school teacher, wants to be mayor. He has a pile of signs on lawns, an obvious sign of considerable support. Joe Preston, who served two terms as Member of Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London, enjoys public service and can’t wait to get back on the job. He figures sitting as mayor of St. Thomas, he will be the right individual to serve constituents while getting home for supper each night. That’s a task truly difficult for MP’s and MPP’s alike. The fourth candidate is a newcomer to the city – an entertaining rapper/entrepreneur named Malichi Male – who makes friends easily but, being so new to the city, he is likely to garner but a few votes this time out. Continue reading →
Although their backgrounds and platforms embrace a broad political spectrum, we discovered Wednesday (Sept. 19) the four St. Thomas mayoral candidates agree on one aspect of city life. Incumbant Heather Jackson, Coun. Steve Wookey, former Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston and entrepreneur/artist Malichi Male contend it is time to throw the transit routes and schedules under the bus. The four were participating in a town hall forum at the CASO station, hosted by young & free press, a new media outlet in St. Thomas composed of a trio of 16-year-old high school students working in tandem with STEAM Education Centre board member Andrew Gunn, who served as moderator for the evening. Continue reading →
Any concerns about having to endure a lengthy dissertation from Rob Kent of Entegrus on the utility merger with St. Thomas Energy were quickly put to rest Monday evening. And, we do mean quickly. His presentation on the 15-month process to complete the merger, which was executed on April 1 of this year, came in at four seconds shy of two minutes. That’s right, two minutes, with little in the way of enlightenment or answers to the many questions surrounding what is more a fire sale than a merger. The city gets a 20.57 per cent stake in Entegrus Inc., meaning we will have little say in the operation of the entity. Continue reading →